Hi I’m John Wainscott- I recently came 7th at Battlefield Hobbies Regional and Ian kindly asked me to write about my journey here from tournament beginner to picking up the sparkly dice.
I won’t bore you pouring over every decision I made up to this point, but let’s start where all good stories start-at the beginning. I had bought a couple of red starter sets years before I ever actually attended tournaments and played a couple of games with a friend and…never picked it up again until January last year! I didn’t know that there were clubs and tournaments so the sets went under my bed, not to be uncovered until I read about Chris Thusten’s experiences on Shut Up & Sit Down; I was immediately hooked. I purchased a Phantom (because it was all Waterstones had that looked cool!) and attended my first tournament in Aldershot in January 2016.
With Echo and a Tie Mini swarm on me, my first opponent was Zombie Squadron’s very own Mr Courtney who tabled me and kindly showed me where I went wrong. That day I also met Confessions of a Mid Table X-Winger’s own Tom Tattersall who was at his first tournament too. Everyone I met was friendly, helpful and inclusive so I was addicted to that sweet plastic crack…even if I came dead last. No surprise flying Echo and a Mini Swam, sheesh that gave me a head ache.
Let’s skip forward a year to January 2017, with a few tournaments under my belt I had been doing fairly well, usually netting myself tokens at quarterly tournaments. However, with the current meta I had not been having as much fun as I had in pervious waves and was adrift in the vacuum of space. The people I was playing were keeping me interested in the game over what the game had become. Working through so many lists looking for something enjoyable and competitive: Bro Bots, Dash Maranda, Swarm Leader Inquisitor, Ventress and 2x Y-wings and different variations of Bossk and a wing-man.
FInally, by the beginning of March, I had settled on this list.
Wham Bam Thank you Ma’am
Bossk : Fearlessness, Cluster Missiles, Guidance Chips, Dengar 3pts, Zuckuss, Inspiring Recruit, Scavenger Crane
Ketsu Onyo: Push the Limit, Engine Upgrade, K4 Security Droid, Shadow Caster, Black Market Slicers.
Why I hear you cry? I love tractor beams, they’re fun and effective, especially in the hands of Ketsu. Being able to apply a token just for being in her primary and mobile arcs can be devastating, also using the title to apply a further one is even nastier. Ketsu’s upgrades are very self-explanatory- Push the Limit and K4 Security Droid for action efficiency and Black Market Slicers for trying to deal with Imperial Aces. Engine upgrade is important to keep in range one and gives me an element of range control and arc dodging.
Bossk is a great partner for Ketsu. He has the option for hitting like a truck especially with this build that has the possibility to deal 10 damage in a single turn of combat. So far, I have managed 9 damage from a single cluster (I know, I am a bad man). Fearlessness is great on Bossk; as a large base ship he will end up at R-1 at some point in his life and it applies to his auxiliary arcs and his secondary weapons, for a point it’s great. I’ve touched on Cluster Missiles already but the damage potential with Bossk’s pilot ability is impressive. Dengar is a must have on every ship ever and works well in mitigating the lack of a focus when firing the clusters. It also gives me more options for when I use guidance chips. Chimps allow me to change one die to a crit but I must be careful as it’s once use per round.
I had placed Zuckuss and Inspiring Recruit together on Bossk the week before the FAQ which was nice, but it’s not a big ‘main stay’ of the list. Traditional party Bossk will stress himself to the high heavens forcing re-rolls which wouldn’t work with my list as I need the TL for the ordnance. Also with Ketsu I don’t need to force anyone to roll too many dice and exists as a failsafe for when I need to push that extra damage through. Inspiring Recruit serves two purposes: clear stress from Bossk and to help Ketsu clear any additional stress she might gain from Ventress. Scavenger Crane is what pulls this list together, allowing me to regain clusters time and time again keeping up the damage potential.
(Note I had no intention in writing about this so I have taken no note of lists or the game)
Back to the point- this is the first Regional I have ever attended, and went with the intention of only going for the first day. Expecting to not make the cut I went into my first game happy with a refillable cup of coffee.
Game One – Edward Chantler
100 – 26 (I think)
Edward was flying (at first impression) a mink link list of Ventress, Fenn and a Jakku Gun Runner. My plan was to take out Ventress, then Fenn and finally the Quad Jumper. In the initial exchange, I managed to get Ketsu in R-1 of Ventress and Bossk in R-2 and, letting rip with the clusters missiles, pushed through about 7 damage on her. I didn’t believe Fenn had a shot, but the Quad was sat a R-1 of my Ketsu- this was the theme for this match. I had to break Ketsu off and bring her back around into the fight. The whole time, that little gun runner was barrel-rolling for shots so singlehandedly dropped her to 3 hull. My only option was to break off Bossk’s hounding of Fenn to save Ketsu from the Quad-Jumper. Eventually Edward had to K-Turn Fenn to get him into the fight which put him token-less in range of both ships… and that was game.
That Quad-Jumper had it in for me.
Game Two – Lee Rossi
100 – 23 (I think)
Lee was flying Dengar and Fenn both with Push the Limit. The initial engagement went horribly for him, Fenn ended up in R-2 of Bossk, his dice blanked out and was popped in the first round of combat. I felt bad because that just sucks when it happens. The rest of the game had Ketsu and Bossk chasing a very nimble Dengar around the board. Eventually the weight of fire just took him down. I think he managed to get half points on Bossk, but as I said my memories are hazy already! Big shout out to Lee, he took the death of Fenn like a gentleman and continued to support and cheer me on throughout the tournament.
Game Three – David Cooney
100 – 26 (I think)
David was flying a Quad TLT list which had an unusual selection of astromechs. Only two had them, being R5-P9 and Overlocked R4. I had just seen him defeat Tom Tattersall in a very close match therefore I was very aware that if I messed up my range control I could lose a ship in two turns of concentred fire. David in his first activation had turned to go down his side of the board, so I decided that I needed to move up fast and aggressive. By round 2, Kestu had a Y-wing in arc at R-1, but Bossk was at R-3. I managed to tractor beam the unfortunate Y-wing onto a rock and R-2 of Bossk and hit him with a cluster missile, taking him off the board.
This is where scavenger crane really stood out- I got to do this 2 more times, each time tractor beaming a Y-Wing and hitting him with another cluster deleting a ship with each turn of combat. David tried to skip out of arc at one point by bravely turning towards his own board edge with the one with R5-P9, but had misjudged the distance by millimetres and, when turning him back in, lost him to the board edge. I think it is important to note that his red dice where awful, and my green dice sucked. Realistically, I should have taken more damage than I did. At the end of the game David and I talked about the match and he commented he could do his usual tactic and keep me at arms-length and travel along his edge of the board. This would become quite important as I faced him again in the top 16.
At this point I am was strangely worried that I might go 4-2 and make the cut. I certainly had never been in a cut before and more importantly, I had not intended to go the second day and had nowhere to stay!
Game Four – Wojciech Szafalowicz
20 – 100
Wojciech was flying Parattanni (and he flew it well) making the top 8 at the Yavin
Open this year. My plan was to stack the tractor beams on Fenn then blow him away- simple, yes? Apparently not. Fenn was sat at R-1 in both arcs of Ketsu, and R-3 of Bossk, perfect! On Fenn’s activation, he pushed through blinded pilot crit on Ketsu, losing my shot on him. Bossk fired and Fenn evaded. Next round I leap-froged Fenn and put my arc backwards and TL Fenn with Bossk. Wojciech rightly bumped Fenn into Bossk to deny him a R-1 cluster shot at him but he was fortunately in arc at R-2 of Ketsu.
Ketsu landed her hit and tractor beamed him out of base to base contact with Bossk enabling him to get a shot off. I had miscalculated and forgot to consider his title and pilot ability, which meant even with a tractor token he still could get 4 evades. I managed to push through 3 damage on Fenn with the help of Zuckuss; close, but no cigar.
At this point it was a case of do as much damage as I could before Fenn mopped me up which he rightly did. I will admit I was a little salty at the Blinded Pilot crit, as I immediately realised that loosing that turn of shooting was a death sentence. Which probably was a sign of bad flying and decision making on my part, combined with my shockingly little experience against Parattanni.
Game Five – Brian Clarke
100 – 73 (probably)
Brian was flying triple jumps with K4 droids, which was a scary prospect for me. I was very aware again I needed to get my range control right or go down in flames. Brian split his JM’s into a group of two and one on its own to give himself the most coverage. As I had pretty much done in every game so far, I rolled up slowly then floored it once it looked like I had something I could pounce upon. I jumped on the lone JM and hit him with both ships while staying outside of the primary arc of all 3 JM’s. I managed to finish the lone ship in the second turn of exchange, and the game turned into a deadly game of cat and mouse trying to stay out of arc. When Brian did fire, his Plasma torpedoes he had the worst luck, blanking out completely twice. He managed to kill Bossk after some sustained fire which left Ketsu to finish of the two damage JM’s. It was a gruelling flight with a lot of bumping to deny shots but eventually I managed to take them both down.
Game Six – Sebastian Brady
100 – 26 (maybe)
Seb was flying Quad TLTs, which was unsurprising as he is famous for his love of Y-Wings. I went into this fight much more confident due to my previous success during the day against this style of list however I was still wary due to Seb’s reputation. To Seb’s credit he was sick as a dog during this match and took the following very well.
I set myself up to roll slowly up then quickly sped up to engage at R-1. Seb turned along his board edge much like how David had before and I pounced on individual Y-Wings like I did before. Although saying that, I did use Ketsu’s title to effect multiple ships to deny shots both Primary and TLT shots, and place ships into R-2 of Bossk. I wasn’t quite deleting a ship a turn this time around but it was enough. Seb’s rolls throughout this were abysmal and struggled to put any damage trough my green dice. In the end Bossk cleared up the last of the Y-Wings with clusters and that put me 5-1 and in the top 16!
I dashed home to sleep, having not expecting to reach this point. I slept badly and woke early to return for my first top 16 match.
Top 16 – David Cooney
100 – 26 (maybe)
My first top game on the second day was against David, who I had faced up against in the Swiss. David had mentioned after the game his mistake was running along his board edge, so I prepared for the joust. David almost went for it, he came forwards then slowed in the centre of the board, and as before Ketsu and Bossk began to isolate and kill individual ships one at a time. This was a longer game, in part because Bossk’s scavenger crane broke early on and party because his Y-wings broke formation which was a good tactic-it takes a while for Bossk to come back around for another shot. The game ended with one lonely Y-Wing boxed into my board edge with both ships in arc and a final salvo of Cluster Missiles.
I came out of this match elated that I had made top 8 (and got my dice, yay!), but otherwise mixed emotions. I felt bad that David had to face me again, and it was a lopsided match up for him. David did take that much up with good humour and did change his tactics from his experience. I think I get worried flying this list about giving people a negative play experience.
Top 8 – Simeon Delapina
Simeon played a perfect game against me, and it was a real eye opener how the top players in the country fly. Simeon was flying “Rastatanni” which I think is the same Paratanni.
I had been advised that taking down Ventress was my best option in this list so I placed my ships opposite Manaroo and the aforementioned Ventress for the joust. That’s exactly what we did, but it was exactly what Simeon banked upon. By putting Bossk into R-3 of Ventress it meant that her 5 forward would place bump her into Bossk, I hadn’t even realised this was possible and had stopped in place. Ketsu landed on debris and took a hand full of damage from the combined fire of Manaroo and Ventress included “Damage Sensor Array” which would stick with me for most of the remaining game. In the following turns, I traded Bossk for Fenn and survived so many shots with Ketsu while she was blocked expertly by Manaroo or Ventress denying me options and damage. Eventually my green dice give out and I was knocked out by the better player.
That ended my day at Battlefield Hobbies and I was surprised and pleased with my performance, and especially pleased with my new shiny dice! I asked myself what I would have done differently when facing off in my final match, and honestly I am not sure what I could have changed other than my initial set up. Maybe I should have gone slower with Bossk, but at the end of the day Simeon is one of the best players in the country. I think he would have had an answer for any tricks I could have tried that day.
I’d like to thank the guys from the Zombies Squadron who were supporting me throughout the weekend via messenger and the 186th boys who adopted me for the weekend and also rooted for me through the event!