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Preparing for my first X-Wing Tournament, Part 2

X-Wing Store Championship 2015 Prize Support

So last week I discussed how I went about getting into the X-Wing Tournament, what my background with the game is and what lists went into that initial round of consideration. This week I’ll go into some more detail about narrowing the lists down, specifics of the lists I’m trying and some details of the results of the games I’ve played.

So the first thing I needed to do was to try and narrow down my 6 potential lists to 3 or 4, at least in general terms even if the specifics aren’t set yet. First out of the potential lists is my A-Z Swarm, I’m just not convinced that it packs enough firepower to consistently drop a Phantom at this stage and Phantoms are by far my biggest woe.

Second out is Fat Han. I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ and I’ve also bored a little of running it as a list. My standard Fat Han runs with 3 Bandit Squadron Pilots and kits Han out with C-3PO, Gunner, VI and the obvious Millennium Falcon. I don’t like running Lando as I prefer certainty to possibility and I also think that it Lando works best with Jan Ors crew around and that means running a support ship that is either too cheap and squishy or too expensive and therefore reduces the firepower of the list too much. Obviously others get different results from running their Fat Han lists but my play style works best with Han and 3 Bandits. Anyway, that’s me off on a tangent, Fat Han is out.

I also dropped the idea of triple YT’s. I love the idea of playing this but, try as I might, I simply couldn’t get a workable list out of it. It’d be very tanky but the lack of elite pilots and upgrades means that it wouldn’t be able to deal out much damage, in fact it’s put out less than half the damage potential of the A-Z Swarm list.

However, although I dropped Fat Han, while playing around I discovered that I can fit a Han (whose obviously lost a fair bit of weight) into a list with a couple of upgrades and run him with Leebo in a YT-2400. This seems like a fun set up so it got added to the list of potential candidates. That gives me 4 lists to play with, Super Fast Dash and a Wingman, Chewie and Leebo, Han and Leebo and an XXBB list.

So, onto list design. Han and Leebo was the new flavour of the week and so that was first up-

Han Solo- 46
Millennium Falcon- 1
C-3PO- 3
Veteran Instincts- 1

Leebo- 36
Outrider- 5
Heavy Laser Cannon- 7
Determination- 1

Total- 100

I like this list because it’s got some punch and provides the all-important Phantom protection in Han Solo. Han is equipped with Veteran Instincts to ensure that he shoots first, moves last and his 360 arc means that he should, hopefully, be able to get in range of any enemy Phantoms and shoot them down.
Leebo packs a punch with the HLC and Determination means that he’s more flexible when using his Pilot ability to choose between 2 critical hits. It’s not the most mobile of lists but it’s got a good number of hit points and it’s limited weaponry is able to cause some reasonable damage because it’s all on a 360 degree arc.

I set up to play a few games with a friend, who is also going to the same tournament, on Vassal. If anyone of you haven’t seen or heard of Vassal, it’s a great way to play games when travel is a consideration. It’s a free online program that has various mods built that allow you to play a huge variety of tabletop games, online. It’s a bit clunky and takes a little while to get used to but, for me at least, it means I can playtest a few nights a week when I’d otherwise be restricted to weekends.

First game up was Hanbo vs Super Dash and Corran Horn (which incidentally is one of my YT-2400 and wingman builds) and it was a whitewash in my favour, mostly due to some mistakes made by my opponent early on so I can’t really take credit for it too much.

Game 2 was much closer and admittedly ended early, without a clear winner, because it was late and I lost connection to the server. I’d lost Leebo but Han was unscathed and my opponents Dash was pretty significantly damaged so it could have gone either way but I’m racking it as a loss because I was definitely on the losing end when the game ended.

Game 3 was against a Decimator and Doomshuttle set up. This was a really close game. I lost Han first when my opponent used his Vader crew in the shuttle to cause a final critical that just happened to be a direct hit. The Shuttle went down next as I arc dodged it while staying well out of range of the Decimator, that was down to 6 HP by this point from early combined Han and Leebo fire. I have to say here that the Isgard crew card is a real annoyance, at least as much as C-3PO, and so I’d recommend any Decimator players equipping it. It came down to the wire here with what was practically a head on joust between the Decimator on 3 Hull and Leebo on 4 but I pulled out the win.

At this point though, I was starting to see cracks in the force. The Outrider’s donut hole at range 1 seems awfully big when you have an E-Wing hugging your hull and Han just doesn’t work all that well without being tooled up. It’s not a bad force but it’s probably not going to make the final cut for the tournament.

The 2nd list I tried was a YT-2400 and wingman. I’d been playing around with alternatives to Corran Horn and decided upon Etahn A’Baht to try and up the rate of critical hits and, most importantly, allow the HLC to cause critical hits. The list went like this-

Dash Rendar- 36
Outrider- 5
Heavy Laser Cannon- 7
Engine Upgrade- 4
Push the Limit- 3
Kyle Katarn- 2

Etahn A’Baht- 32
R2-D2- 4
Push the Limit- 3
Fire Control System- 2

Total-100

The idea of this list is to stay hyper mobile with and use Push the Limit along with the Fire Control System and Kyle Katarn to get 3 actions per round, per ship. In the case of Dash the idea would be to use the free Focus from Kyle to supplement attacks, while using PTL to get in position and then, if possible, gain Target Locks. Etahn would use PTL to Barrel Roll into position if needed but otherwise would Focus and Evade while using the Fire Control System to get free locks and making use of green manoeuvres to both clear stress and regain shields with R2-D2.

I’ve only played 1 game with this list so far and I can already see a glaring weakness. I played a fairly common list and one I fully expect to meet in the Tournament, the Chiraneau Decimator and Echo Phantom combination. My plan going in was to try and clear the Phantom as quickly as possible and then focus fire on the much less mobile Decimator. From the start I was on the back foot with the Phantom either out of arc or out of range of my ships. The Decimator took some token fire but I fared much worse. The game overall was done pretty quickly. I managed to get the Phantom down to a single HP before I Lost Dash but Etahn repeatedly failed to get the Phantom in arc and that, I think, is the downfall of this list, Phantoms.

I’ll be testing a Corran Horn/Dash Render list later this week to see how that feels against the Deci/Phantom. In principle I know it should be a much better match up but a lot comes down to play style. However the lesson reinforced here is that the only way to consistently beat a Phantom is to stress it, which isn’t that easy for Rebels, or to have a higher Pilot Skill. The higher Pilot Skill means that all the onus is on the Phantom player to guess where you will move to and try to make sure they end up out of arc instead of knowing your arc and simply using their huge mobility to get clear. It also means that you shoot first, which therefore means that they defend with 2 agility dice and not 4. Phantoms break when you hit them but hitting a cloaked and mobile Phantom is no easy task but it’s a task I’m hoping Corran will be up to.

Going forward I think Phantoms will be the Achilles heel of the 5×5 Chewie/Leebo list, but at least they don’t have to worry about arcs and hopefully weight of fire will bring down the demon machine. Love them or hate them Phantoms are responsible for the rise in prominence of turrets because without them you have to take expensive high PS pilots, with Veteran Instincts, to ensure you have the chance to bring some weapons to bear on them.

To be clear, I’m not moaning and saying Phantoms are broken, they aren’t, they are powerful (probably a shade more powerful than they should be but there is no way to alter that within the confines of the game without making them massively underpowered) but they have very specific weaknesses, like many ships, and it’s exploiting that weakness that is the difference between an average and a good player.

So next time I’ll discuss testing 2 more lists, probably Corran/Dash and the XXBB variant which remains very much undefined at the time of writing.

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