Duchess and Mini Swarm: A System Open Prep Story


I get hold of one of those laser explosion app things for photos and had a latte from Café Nero. Also played 5 games of X-wing after braving the arctic conditions of deepest Hampshire and sunny Surrey.

A 5 round Extended Championship Wave Mug Cup Saucer event (whatever stupidly long name they are called these days), was being held at my local game store. Making it there was threatened due to a deluge of snow and ice in the surrounding areas, especially where I live and even worse down the road in Basingstoke where the Firestorm lads reisde.

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Traitor Phil and I compared things: his ten inches to my six. Snowfall that is.

Doucheness and Mini Swarm

Duchess: Juke, Fifth Brother

Howl Runner: Crack Shot

Iden: Crack Shot

Gideon: Crack Shot

Seyn something or other, (old Wampa): Marksmanship

200 points

I’ve been running a variety of different Doucheness, (Duchess), and mini swarm since I felt that Whisper Sloane may get nerfed. I had been going with Hull or shield upgrade instead of Juke but wanted to see if the Juke option was worth a punt. The purpose of the event was to get some competitive play practice prior to the System open in two and a half months’ time. March looks very booked up with stuff, so this is probably the last tournament foray prior to the big one. A number of rival squadrons had travelled from near and far like the guys from Portsmouth, Firestorm, TNX, 186th and few Chaps from France like Dale Cromwell.

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The day started really pleasantly as I went off for a latte with one of the enemies from the 186th Mr Ollie Pocknell, he of tournament calendar fame. We managed to wander aimlessly for ten minutes, despite knowing the area, get scared by a life-size statue, (may have just been me), then find a Café Nero. I’m normally a Starbucks or Costa man, so the slight change in menu presentation and additional options are always a bit confusing. Ollie very kindly bought the latte after circumventing the menu.

Round 1

Bernardo TNX squadron

Quickdraw: Elusive, FCS, Gunner, Shield Upgrade

Back Draft: Fanatical

Midnight: Fanatical

Scorch: Fanatical

That’s 192, but I think he had Optics on Midnight, or something, can’t remember.

I got a phone call whilst setting up, to inform me that my four-year-old daughter got her hands on some perfume and decided to spray it in her eye. There was a bye, but the T.O. said that he couldn’t switch it as it was TOME. I’d have to start playing then drop if I needed to. Bernado was cool with me potentially having to drop and run, but my wife phoned back 5 mins later to say that after continued rinsing out with water that it had all calmed down and everything was fine.

Being a Sunday, I was not relishing a trip to our local hospital as the cafes there are all shut on the weekends. Frimly Park hospital does really nice bacon rolls or baguettes, but only on weekdays, nine to five.

Bernado set up opposite my Tie block with all his ships in a block. I thought I’d joust it and see what happened. Below is the second pivotal round of the first engagement.


Now transcribed into the laser app thing I downloaded

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Not quite as pretty as the one Traitor Phil uses but this one is free.

It then snowballed from there after destroying Midnight. My green dice felt a bit kind at times, and Bernado only managed to splash out 4 damage spread out across my ships whilst  I downed Quickdraw, then Backdraft at the death.

Win 162?- 0

Round 2

Tom Zombie Squadron, ( he claimed to have won some invitational Q kit last year in Minnesota as well as current holder of the Zombie Squadron GIT GUD Spoon and John Barrowman T-shirt).

RAC: Darth Vader Crew, Hotshot gunner

Tie Phantom Sigma Ace: Juke

Tie Phantom Sigma Ace: Trick Shot

200 points

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Lesson 1: don’t tweak your list the night before to something that turns out to be less good

Lesson 2: The Decimator still sucks

Win 200 – 103

It was closer than the score it implies, but full health Iden and Douche Bag vs a burning 4 health RAC won’t end well. Tom likes trophies and seems to be continuing his iron-fisted grip on the Zombie Squadron Git Gud Spoon.

Counterpoint: RAC Whisper won a similar sized 5 round event the day before up north with a collection of good players at the event. Maybe the Decimator doesn’t suck?


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The App is truly amazing. Contact  feedback@backtodials.com for details

Grilled chicken burger and endless free  latte at the Wetherspoons across the road with fellow Zombies James and Tom as well as Nick from Windsor. My chicken burger had been very slightly overdone on one side, but that’s being picky. I learnt last time that the coffee machine on the left-hand side of the bar was rancid compared to the one on the right.

Round 3:

James 186th Squadron

Poe: Heroic, R4,

Bastian: M9-G8

Cobalt Bomber: Trajectory Simulator, proton Bomb

199 points

“This is basically a thematic list recreating the bit in Rogue One where Duchess downs a blue squadron with Fifth Brother gunning for her.”

Sometimes a look is more powerful than words, and I didn’t think that James was that much into the fluff.

The habit of trying to lose a game at the death is becoming hard to break. I got the point on the board where  I wanted to engage but had fudged my opening moves to get there. Whilst James lost Bastian cheaply, I failed to maximize Douchness, and had her running at half, (28 points). With Poe left vs Howl, Gideon and Douchness I decided to run with a few minutes left. Somehow I decided that  James would chance to try to swat Douchness on the last roll of the game and chance final salvo, (which I’ve always lost, even when rolling more dice).

The smart decision which James took was to make a double mod attack at Gideon on 2 hull at range three to win 131-128, which I had K-turned for reasons unknown.

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Fortunately, I followed Janus Avivson’s well-worn advice and planned to roll well. This was fortunate as we had a peak at what the first damage card would have been, and it was a direct hit. Looking back now the win feels a bit hollow having done the hard work than leaving myself vulnerable at the end.

Won 128 – 100

Round 4: Such Heroic Nonsense

Phil 186th Squadron

Poe: Heroic, R4

Nein: Heroic, pattern Analyzer, Black one

Ello Asty: Heroic

199 points

My overly cautious opening allowed Nien pop up behind the mini-swarm on round 2 and put a damage and a console fire on Howlrunner, although it allowed Doucheness to pop up behind Nein and shank all his shields off. With Ello and Poe steaming in on the flank of the mini-swarm it would have been rude to not turn in and block and joust whilst Nein floats harmlessly Ionized behind.

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I ran my luck with Howlrunner.  I let the console fire burn whilst I turned in, took two 4 dice attacks in the face from Ello and Poe, (Ello had no mods), and after she put three on Poe in return, she still had her focus token for maximum disrespect. I felt a slight wobble later on when a mauled Nein one shotted a full health focus tokened Seyn, but Iden then slotted him and combined with Douche Bag to clean up Ello.

Won 200 – 100

Round 5

Denny TNX Squadron

Darth Vader: FCS Afterburners

Soontir Fel: Juke

Whisper: Juke

189 points

This was tight and cagey and a great game. Despite both our best efforts, damage in this match was not happening. First Denny was ahead by taking Gideon down to 1 Hull, (and promptly ran away properly this time), I then snagged Whisper down to 2 hull as the clock started to wind down.

At time, rather than run a full health Duchess and take an evade I decided to Sloop for shots, see below.

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Denny also made a mistake by shunting Whisper fractionally onto a rock so the mistake count was even on that final turn. With the direct hit knocking Douchness to half and only pinging off one of the remaining two health on Whisper the win slipped away.

Lost 30 – 44

Overall 3rd with 4-1 and 1372 MOV

Denny deservedly won the event 5-0 picking up the title “Slayer of Swarms,” having knocked out Alex Birt’s Minning Guild swarm the round before.

Denny was one with the force, and the force was with him.


I dunno, all seems a bit CGI to me

Afterthought: Soontir Poe

R4 Poe is seen in some quarters as a rather predictable ship but the dial when stressed is just the same as Soontir in terms of the blue moves, (baring the blue straight 4) and you have access to the boost and barrel roll if required. Soontir doesn’t get the bad rap for being predictable.

It was interesting to see two different approaches to flying R4 Poe. Granted James and Phil had quite different squads, but James flew Poe like Soontir Fel, utilizing Poe’s double mod attacks to pick off the straggling two tie fighters and haul himself back into the match. In Phil’s squad, Nein is the end game ship, and Poe is a bruiser to hit hard and fast early game.

Poe’s advantage over Soontir is that he hits harder and is more reliable in terms of staying on the board. Phil did get caught out as he was expecting me to K-turn the tie fighters back towards Nein, the probable move rather than turn and face, but Poe and Ello just looked too tasty if he thought I might K-turn. Such is the rich tapestry of X-wing.

I’ve now realized that my few outings with R4 Poe had me flying it totally wrong. He is basically a fat Soontir with a 1.0 targeting computer.

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My Squad

Howlrunner and Iden aside, I’ve found all the named Ties to be rather hot and cold in terms of their abilities over a run of games. Gideon and Wampa are the most consistent, and you get great value from the humble academy and Black squadron with crack shot. Although crack shot is nice, it’s not a must-have.

It didn’t feel that Juke was worth it on Duchess, despite evading most of the time for the Force evade token stack, that on two green dice mimics Whisper’s focus evade defence. The pre manoeuvre was golden, especially combined with the ability to turn it on or off even when stressed. Fifth Brother was worth it although it does feel a point or two too expensive still. In extended format, Id staple Fifth Brother onto Duchess, and seriously consider it on Whisper.

Sticking a shield or hull onto Duchess ups the half points threshold by one which is useful in these half point times. Even if I had carried a hull upgrade instead of Juke on Duchess, James would have been able to attempt a potentially winning shot somewhere, and Deny would have had a pot shot with Vader at a Tie Fighter and get half points on something that way. It was all stuff that was decision dependent and one should really be trying not to get shot at.

System Open

I think I’ve found ‘the one’ in terms of the archetype. Ace plus mini swarm has served me well in 2019 so far with two 4-1 outings and mistakes at the death on both occasions stopping it being 5-0, the required target. Six or seven ship swarms if flown well are probably stronger, but I find the ace plus mini swarm a bit more fun to fly and a bit more toolbox. Still, a bit more refining to do in the meantime.

Till next time

Fly Fabulous



Phil’s version of events

James’ version of events on 186th Podcast, yet to be recorded, working title “its so unfair but I heard what happened in round 5. Ha Ha”

186th tournament tracker

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