I take my front loaded swarm leader build of Quickdraw, Pure Sabaac, Scourge, Howlrunner and a packed lunch to the Aldershot Store Championship.
I’ve not done a fully fledged tournament report for a while so I’m stamping out the excuses by getting the template down a week or so earlier. I have reasonable hopes going into this one as I have done a reasonable amount of groundwork on the build since December when I first got my hands on Swarm Leader. I have mucked about with a variety of four ship Imperial Swarm Leader builds and I started to refine the chassis and tweak the smaller elements. I’ve drawn inspiration from David Sutcliffe’s Slaughterhouse Squad and Nick Yun’s #Nickdraw, as well as getting a good suggestion from Phil GC of Firespray issues.
When squad building I always run through the offensive capabilities but I have never overly gone into it in the same amount of minute detail as I did with Warhammer 40K armies that I built. To me it did not seem that it required the same amount of number crunching to incorporate all ranges and potential modifications. When building a squad I did always considered whether I could alpha strike a Y-wing off the table in one or at least stop it shooting as well as how much damage it could inflict on Dengaroo, (RIP). This time I fired up excel and put finger to keyboard with the help of some X-wing stats calculators.
Pure Quick Swarm (Working Title, (considering ‘Occidentali’s Karma’)).
Quick Draw Tie FO SF: Swarm Leader, Fire control Systems, Light Weight Frame, Targeting Syncroniser, Special Ops title.
Pure Sabaac Tie Striker: Veteran Instincts, Light Weight Frame, Adaptive ailerons title.
Scourge Tie Fighter: Adaptability
Howlrunner Tie Fighter: Draw their fire
I know from number crunching that I can inflict on the target the following amount of damage averagely at range two incorporating the defender having a focus token to spend:
Agility zero: Average damage suffered 12, average variance range of damage 10 -13
Agility One: Average damage suffered 10, average variance range of damage 9-13
Agility Two: Average damage suffered 8, average variance range of damage 6-10
Agility Three: Average damage suffered 5, average variance range of damage 3 -7
This means that averagely if I point my ships with tokens at a Y-Wing, a focus on Quickdraw and Pure Sabaac, evades on the other two, even at range three, it should die.
One of the interesting things that the numbers do not quite portray is that the attack gets more deadly the earlier in the exchange that the target ship has to spend tokens. Furthermore the attack gets stronger if Pure Sabaac and or Scourge only need to use Howlrunner’s re-roll as opposed to Quickdraws target lock courtesy of FCS and the Targeting Syncroniser. And this does not include the possibility of a return attack from Quickdraw either.
First up Aldershot on a Sunday does not offer a gourmet selection of eateries. I found this out once before so unless you are keen for a Sub McFC King Way there is only a slightly disappointing toasted panini or sandwich at an independent café up the hill. There is CostaBucks too but I’m trying to keep the caffeine low. I’d already brought this up with Mr Gibbon two weeks before about whether he was going to be pack lunching.
“Seriously, you are thinking about this already?” he says.
I say, “I feel it’s a consideration considering it’s a Sunday with limited options.”
In terms of flying the actual squad I’m up to 8 games going in although one Ketsu/Bossk match was rather short as I deleted one ship per turn in the space of five minutes over four rounds. The previous incarnations of the squad all had either the Inquisitor or Backdraft as the swarm leader coupled with two tie fighters of varying flavours and an ace type ship like Targeting computer Soontir, Colonel Vessery or Maarek Steele Tie Defender.
Upgrading Backdraft to Quick draw and the ace to Pure Sabaac added a bit more oomph and slotting in Howlrunner, (thanks Phil),effectively gave the swarm leader alpha strike a target lock. After all, if rolling four dice you averagely roll two hits, an eye ball and a blank every time, right? Pure Sabaac also scratched that Echo itch and is a bit like a cut price Echo, could be useful if facing a swarm. Flying it effectively and working out openings is still in its infancy but I’m enjoying the list.
Aldershot Store Championship 2017
This looked like it was going to be a bit of a knife fight as a lot of the localish squadrons had turned up from 186th Squadron, The Womp rats,(home team), Firestorm squadron in Basingstoke and those scrubs at Zombie Squadron. Thirty seven players with only a top four cut., if not going undefeated only a 4-1 record with a stonking MOV would get you into the cut. A vague similarity to Eurovision in that they now have semi-finals to get out some of the garbage.
If you’ve not got a feeling of dread already, this article’s main pictures and references will be from the world’s most watched television event for a single evening, the Eurovision song contest. 2016 had 204 million viewers globally. This was on the night before the tournament and some were bleary eyed from mixing the intoxicating entertainment with drink.
Round one Croatia
Singing a duet by himself, half tenor, half Michael Jackson impersonator, this had the ear marks to be a complete train wreck. Somewhat surprisingly it was a good performance and left me slightly befuddled by the outcome.
Joel North (186th Squadron)
Biggs: R4-D6, Integrated astormech
Jess pava: adaptability, R6-D2, proton Torpedoes, guidance chips
Norra Wexley: Push the limits, Kyle Katarn, R2-D2, Vectored thrusters
Much like the game, (where I could see potential issues such as Jess Pava’s highly accurate torpedo shot coming my way whilst only being able to shoot at Biggs), there was potential for this to go horribly wrong. We both set up in formation in opposite corners, flew along opposite gutters flicking the bird from the cockpits before we turned in through the rocks.
We came at each other diagonally and Joel messed up his turn in slightly which caused him problems. It was a tricky turn in but if he did not do it, it would have allowed me to either get behind him or on his flank. I nuked Biggs then Nora dropped Sabaac to one hull and a primary weapon malfunction for LOLs. I then riddled Nora down to two or three Hull before turning my guns onto to Jess whilst Nora ran away to regenerate with three stress tokens.
The previous bumping with Jess had taken here out of the game for a bit and although she managed to fire her torpedo at Quickdraw the return shot finished her off. A quick turn around and chase down of Nora closed the game out.
I expected to lose a ship or two and the end result was a pleasant surprise. Initially I had considered the straight up joust down the edge, (or gutter as Mr Heaver calls it), which I would be happy with. On the other hand engaging in the middle would give more options to Pure Sabaac to reposition after the initial engagement. This was something I continued to do as the day went on.
Result: Win 100-0
Round two Sweden
Slightly odd opening down a corridor before jumping on a treadmill. I’ve never seen treadmill dancing and have now ticked that one off.
Luke Berry (Womp Rats)
2 x concord dawn aces: attanni Mindlink, title, auto thrusters, one with sesmic torpedo
Guri: Attanni Mindlink, advanced Proton torpedoes, scavenger crane, Fire control systems, Auto thrusters
The treadmill combination of attanni mindlink, protectorate title and auto thrusters. We set up in opposite corners and the concord dawn aces shot diagonally down through the corridor of rocks at me. One broke off to try an audacious block into my formation whilst the other peeled off to join Guri now down in my bottom quarter.
Fortunately I sailed past the blocker and left it to turn about whilst I bimbled over to the other two ships to take them out. I didn’t particularly want a ship coming up my rear but I figured this was a good opportunity to stomp the other two. This is effectively how it transpired before dropping the other concord dawn ace that tried the drive by.
The ability to PS kill the scum ships really helped as well as trying not to close too fast as the title makes them very hard to drop at range one and auto thrusters kept them in it at range three.
Result: Win 100-19
Round Three Italy
It started off quite reasonable and was a tight affair then came the moment the man in the monkey suit entered the stage and started break-dancing.
Omega Leader: Juke, Comms relay, stealth device
Backdraft, Veteran instincts, Fire control systems, light weight frame, targeting syncroniser
Quickdraw: Draw their Fire, Fire control systems, light weight frame, pattern analyser
In terms of an approach it was very much like my round one game against Joel but the Imperials are easier to reposition and Omega leader broke away from Back draft and Quickdraw to come inby a pincer move by herself. I had two options which were either to put the foot down and go across the board towards omega leader, or sweep down and attack Qucikdraw. Maybe Omega leader was the better option as I had initiative to block or maybe having crack shot on Howlrunner.
As it was I piled down towards Quickdraw and back draft and opened up at mainly range three. Having done the maths, this should be obvious that I would need a slight spike in the averages to drop Quickdraw in one and left him on one hull. Crack shot on Howlrunner would have been useful at that point. Howlrunner got smoked by omega leader and then the breakdancing monkey entered my head.
I could and should have turned to my right to attack Omega leader but decided to go for the kill on Quickdraw by flying mine over a rock to trigger his attack. I took a shield and did a 5 dice range one attack on his. Two hits, no modification, two evades. Then back draft and Quickdraw peeled away and showed mine their rear arcs. It went down hill from there but was a good game and somethings to think about.
Result: loss 36-100
Round Four Azerbaijan
It started normally enough but very soon a moment of madness enters the scene with a man standing on a ladder with a horse’s head. Things returned to some normalisation once one gets used to the horse on the step ladder but the damage was done.
Actually quite a good song but more suited to mainstream charts than Eurovision. Staging was to say the least, interesting.
Richard Greenaway (Bristol Vanguards)
Contracted Scout: Swarm Leader, Dengar, Title, Rigged cargo chute
G-1A Ruthless Free lancer: Fire control systems, Intel agent, vectored thrusters
G-1A Ruthless Free lancer: Fire control systems, Intel agent, Mist Hunter, tractor beam
Eurovision mirrors X-wing. Well at the point of forgetting flying formation basic rules when it matters.
Same old story opposite corners, flying half way down the edges then turning in down the middle to joust. I want to joust, I have more front loaded damage but if I hard turn in wrong and bump and concertina up? School boy error, but it was rectifiable and we were not yet engaged. But if at first you don’t succeed, bumps all round again except for Pure sabaac.
Still despite only a focus token on pure sabaac everyone was at range one of the contracted scout, (or Swarm Master?). Only dropped the shields and a hull. Poor play by me as tokened up at range two I would expect it to be on one hull, range one, if I’m tokened up, dead. Lack of optimum modifications always hurts to smooth over the dice.
That being said the dice were quite even in their at times oddness. Richard rolled a lot of dice at Pure Sabaac over the game to try and kill it, often when it was only on one hull and it just didn’t happen. Howlrunner, Scourge and Quickdraw got cargo chuted for their troubles too, but it was not overtly game changing as I have a variety of reroll mechanics that are not affected by stress. Quickdraw even suffered a crit when moving through the debris to do a range one shot on both the scout and a G-1A.
It was still tight and ended up with Quickdraw facing off against the swarm master on two hull and a full health G-1A. I needed to kill one and then stay alive or drop the other. All quite possible as the two scum ships had separated but the G-1a and Quickdraw killed each other and that was that.
Result: loss 78-100
Round Five Romania
Being on a 2-2 record means that it’s now just for fun, and what can embody fun more than the intoxicating combination of yodeling and rapping with big glittery cannons? I actually quite liked this song despite it seeming doomed from that get go. I wouldn’t buy it, but I would listen to it.
Mike Dennis (186th Squadron)
Rear Admiral Chireneau: Predator, Gunner, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Engine Upgrade, Dauntless title
Carnor Jax: Push the limits, Royal guard title, Auto thrusters, Hull upgrade.
One of the reasons for Draw their fire on Howlrunner was to act as a counter to Kylo Ren crew. The main reason was just to suck damage away from either Pure Sabaac or Quickdraw which shortens their pilot abilities but potentially stopping a blinded pilot or PS 0 crit going in is a nice fringe benefit.
Mike never showed me the darkside but did offer me a mint or two. I chose the initiative and played chase the Decimator. I cheated by taking a short cut through the rocks and landed some hefty damage on it whilst Carnor was cowering somewhere off to the sides. I’m not a fan of bemoaning or highlighting odd dice but the opening exchange between RAC against Howlrunner and a focused Sabaac at range three through a rock ended with just one shield off the Decimator courtesy of howlrunner while Sabaac, RAC’s target, was still sitting there untouched with a focus token.
After the following proper exchange resulted with RAC left on about five hull and Howlrunner dead, Mike tried to catch me out by not doing the predictable and safe four straight and boost. My ships needed to turn around and he would have been safe from them. Instead he did a hard three onto a rock towards my right corner which to be fair did catch me out but left it with all my ships pointing at him.
We then played a game of cats and mouse with Carnor for a while before he got caught.
Result: Win 100-19
Finished 9th out of 37 players, top of 3-2 and just outside the placing for a Perspex ruler I would never use. Not bad and the two losses all came down to mistakes on my part. Some of my manoeuvring at times in other games could have been better but I feel this squad is moving in the right direction. I enjoyed flying it and will continue to do so moving forward.
Victory in either of the two losses would have enabled me to get into the cut due to the high MOV I had accumulated. Looking at the games in terms of match ups I had in my opinion an advantage in match ups to some degree or another in all apart from the game against Sketch and the triple Imperial aces. It was more of a fifty-fifty one and a poor choice of target priority cost me.
If anything the biggest lesson here is that messing up the initial engagement positioning for a squad that requires getting its actions off is close to suicidal. The squad survives by destroying targets in one or possibly two rounds of shooting. More practice is obviously on the cards and maybe a little refinement.
The Winner: Portugal
Personally I thought the Belgium entry was the best song but was let down by a nervy performance. It’s nice though that Fernando Alonso had time to perform Portugal’s entry whilst waiting for yet another engine change in his Mclaren at the Spanish Grand Prix. At least he will have won something this year for sure.
Meanwhile at the store championships it was Telgar, (or is that Dentel?) that took the day.
The only thorn in my side looking ahead is the new Dengar Tel Trevura combination which Justin Phua won Worlds 2017 with. I had planned for dealing with Dengar partnered with either Bossk or Ketsu but until the weekend before had not considered this refinement on the Dengaroo chassis. With only a week in between my plan had been to deal with it as if it were one of those two builds but I feel this is stronger than both with better all round options. This will require some thinking about to tackle as it will be popular.
1 Point to think about
Howlrunner’s EPT spot has been a tricky one. Options I’ve looked at on Howlrunner and Scourge have been A Score to Settle, Adrenaline Rush, Crack Shot and currently Draw Their Fire. I put adaptability on Scourge more so to make maneuvering easier as well as just pushing him above PS 7 which is probably a good Meta call. Howlrunner was more tricky. Adrenaline rush would allow her to K-turn and spot an evade for Quickdraw but equally the squad is quite fragile and she is the least important ship after the alpha strike has been made. Drawing a crit away from one of the big hitting ships to Howlrunner, the least important as the game goes on, has proved okay.
Crackshot will be back on Howlrunner at a Q Something event in a couple of weeks before my next store championship in July. Forcing that extra spot of damage through in a few of the games would have been more useful, especially in the two defeats. I’ve not ruled out A Score to Settle either as it ups her accuracy and allows me to dictate a primary target as well as leaving me with a one point initiative bid.
Thankfully not back to the drawing board but more practice is required.
Further reading and listening
David Sutcliffe’s Slaughterhouse Squad
Nick Yun’s #Nickdraw
Phil GC’s account of the event with double Firesprays here
Joel North and Oli Pocknell will have their accounts up soon at: 186th squadron
You can also listen to Mike Dennis on the 186th Squadron Podcast discussing playing his nemesis in round four before playing me sometime soon at: 186th-squadron-podcast
I would link to all the fantastic pieces of music but I will just leave it with one of the studio recording of Belgium which I felt was the best, although ‘Yodel It’ was a close second: Blanche, City Lights