Well, that didn’t go quite as I had hoped!
My first foray into the X-Wing tournament scene, and I must remind myself that I play games for fun. Is that the goal of my opponent? Only they will ever really know, unless they openly reveal their transition to the Dark Side!
You would be right to question why anybody who dislikes tournaments actively participates in them. Sometimes there are few options available. I am certainly yet to see any X-Wing event that is based upon a narrative formula, even the limited narratives we have used for Animosity events, in which its more about getting together socially, to play (don’t let that fool you though, there is a hell of a lot of works goes into it).
At the close of the event I felt deflated. I wasn’t furious, or spinning out, just flat. I could identify a number of influencing factors that contributed to this (I can only add the terrible football result suffered by Newcastle United later though as I was flat before I found out about their abject failure).
It was made clear to me by those of you who know me, that I would be the weird foreign bloke who pitches up out of nowhere… it happens. And this was true. I don’t suppose I did anything to dispel this, I discovered the tables each had rotating stools and I spent the first ten minutes of language barrier induced silence, spinning on said stool and staring at the Games Workshop posters that were all in German.
I can’t blame the language barrier. Continental Europe does an outstanding job, (in the cities at least) in my opinion, when it comes to foreign languages. Every match I played my opponent was happy to speak English for the duration, and when I was in the uncomfortable position of having to sit out one round, the two guys who lined up on the table next to me offered to play each other in English so I could follow. Mat, and Hannes, thank you. The players in attendance all had an excellent grasp of English. Had the roles been reversed and Animosity, hosted a German player with next to no English, it could be extremely awkward.
I lost my first two games. More on those later. Which left me (with odd numbers) being selected to sit out the third round. Without the gracious offer of the players previously mentioned it would have been a painful 75 minutes sitting around staring into space (or a table painted as such anyway). I think it was this situation that started to sour my experience of the day. Animosity events try our damnedest to ensure nobody has to sit out. We can do this very easily at a narrative event. A bit of juggling here and a bit of two on one there, solves so many potential issues. It must be far more troublesome at a tournament (Our only genuine tournament event has been BMGTUK, in which we were graced with even numbers).
The fourth round was my third game, another loss. And that was that. Three games. I had anticipated a five round event, and maybe that is my own expectations clouding the situation, but to pay and only play three games was an anti-climax. I had been looking forward to this event since January.
I did get an alternate art C3P0 crew card… it is in German, but I can deal with that. It tells a little story in itself. A small positive to take from the adventure.
Did the games have a bearing upon my demeanor at the end of the day? One did…
Here is my squadron for those who missed the previous blog…
Round One vs Rebels.
My opponents list consisted of two B-Wing and two Y-Wings. The Y-Wings had Twin Lasers, one equipped with a seismic bomb. The B-Wings has Fire Control System. The squadron was made up of Blue and Gold pilots as they were all PS2.
I formed up in the first round at the opposite corner to my opponent. The asteroids were placed evenly in the centre making any attempt to cross the table diagonally a difficult proposition. They had a startling effect on the outcome.
The Rebels were in a tight 2×2 block, and proceeded to cling to the opposite flank. My intention was to speed up the other flank, around the asteroids and engage from their rear.
One asteroid altered my intent. I looked at its positioning and determined that if I broke Omega Ace and Vader off to take a ‘short cut’ they could rejoin the formation on the other side.
At this point my opponent committed his B-Wings to two hard turns, and the Y’s began to bank into the centre of the table. I was left with a decision to make. Divert Vader and Omega Ace, to intercept or risk taking unanswered shots! I turned to intercept, placing two bank manoeuvres on my dials, taking the remainder of the flight the long way around the asteroid field. Did I reveal two bank manoeuvres? No. The F/O dial is extremely loose and had turned, in handling, into green 2 forward. This cost me dearly. I lost a shield as Omega Ace careened into an asteroid, and Vader lost his supporting fire. The dogfight played out, Omega Ace was dropped relatively quickly but Vader chipped away at the Rebels.
Vader wouldn’t last long on his own. I had to bring the TIE flight into the fight. Through the asteroids. Two rounds of stunted shooting and a hit on every asteroid collision as they closed. The TIE support accounted for a B-Wing, but Vader did not have much left and as he left the fight to line up for re-engaging on one hull, he was clipped. Howlrunner and the TIE’s did an admiral job of getting into position to chase the Y’s and removed one with relative ease. The B-Wing behind them was unharmed and when time was called only Obsidian and Academy Pilot were left.
A win for the Rebels.
I elected to split the formation for a perceived short cut. That did not workout well, and the dodgy dial on Omega Ace, cost me greatly. Dragging my TIE’s into the tight confines of the centrally placed asteroids was the only option I had if I was to salvage anything and that also went drastically wrong. All things said and done, my list had the firepower and manoeuverability I had planned for, it just was not built for crashing through asteroids in order to bring it to bear.
Round Two vs Scum
Immediately I was intrigued by my opponents list. Slave 1 and Boba Fett, with Hounds Tooth, and Bossk. Crewed up with Gunners and Recon Specialists. I determined to target Hounds Tooth from the outset, with the intent to smash him early and reveal the Nashtah Pup with enough time to left to take out Boba Fett. Sounds simple… I know, I know!
My first attack run was impressive. I removed the Hounds shields as all my fire was focussed on him. My formation had to scatter though, as it encountered the two large footprints of these ships early. Omega Ace and Vader had managed to find themselves at the rear of the Tooth (ideal) with a combination of K-Turn and S-loop. They piled on the damage as the other TIE’s tried to run interference. I had not anticipated the Ion shots from Boba Fett’s rear arc though, which ultimately left Darth Vader stranded and out of position. As the rest of the flight tried to chase Hound’s Tooth, Fett caused enough damage each turn to pick apart my TIE’s.
The Tooth’s 180 degree firing arc brought the stranded and out of position Vader into sight and he was the first casualty.
Both Scum ships were gleaning double focus from the Recon Specialist. Something which I identified as the game winner. As I tried to pick apart the Hound’s Tooth, and took occasional pot shots at Fett when I could, the double focus was rendering most of those shots ineffective. His firepower became more telling as mine was reduced, ship by ship. In the end, only Academy Pilot was left, chasing in the wake of the Hound’s Tooth with Boba Fett in his six. The game did not go to time!
A win for the Scum.
During my first attack run, and successfully getting behind the Hound’s Tooth with my two big hitters, I felt I had the advantage. I had never anticipated the endless stream of focus that would be dished out by the Recon Specialists though. In the aftermath, I could have protected Vader after the Ion spurts with better positioning. I elected to take him on a straight four, to evade arcs, only to fall into the 180 as the Hound’s Tooth surprised me with a stress inducing hard turn. I had the firepower, but after my first successful run, returning to a formation that could bring it all to bear once more, and overpower the double focus, was not an easy feat.
Round Three vs Twiddling my thumbs!
I was able to observe two competitors play out their third round game. Rebels, Wedge, Poe and an E-Wing (Not Corran Horn) took on Imperials, Vader and two further TIE ADV pilots (Juno and Marek if I recall correctly). The Rebel player split his three ships across his base line, whilst Vader and the TIE ADV’s formed up tight. They made for the lone E-Wing, and but for some awful dice, should have torn it to pieces and then mopped up the remaining X-Wings with ease. The fickle dice failed and the lone E-wing survived to fight on. Soon he was supported by the X-Wings, though sporadically, and ultimately was the first casualty. The Empire won this battle but it played out longer than it should have due to the spectacularly bad dice.
Round Four vs Imperial Aces.
It was time to get a taste of Imperial Medicine! My opponent had Vader, Soontir Fell and Carnor Jax. I knew if I could focus on one at a time, try my best to ignore and shrug at the further ships until the target was gone that i would have some chance of beating an Imperial Aces list. It didn’t work out like that unfortunately…
I formed up my five ships perfectly, committing a well moved hard turn towards the centre of the table and bringing all guns to bear on the first and closest ship, Carnor Jax. His pilot trait is very effective at this range against a swarm. His presence directly in front of my perfectly formed flight meant that nobody could use their focus (or evade) tokens. Those that arrived after his move could not even assign them. The combined fire power reduced him to one hull, but the effect was longer lasting, as the fire from the other Vader and Fell stripped a point of hull here and there.
I had to split the formation again in order to pursue targets. It was a long game in which little damage was done to my own flight initially, and little done to my opponents; thanks to Autothrusters…
I lost the three TIE’s led by Howlrunner over the course of the game, but just could not do the damage I had sought to finish one hull Jax or get at Fell. Opponent Vader was stripped down to two Hull when time was called, but ultimately my inability to remove any of his ships from play, won him the game.
A win for the (wrong) Imperials.
By this point I had discovered that there were only four rounds, and the deflation began. I would not have a further match to put into practice any of what I had learned from the day and having missed a round felt a little saddened.
I was disappointed. I did not feel like I had challenged my opponents. I was confident my list was capable, but it seemed to be easily countered once it was split up. Oh, and Autothrusters, lets not forget them…
I never will.
Not when I returned home to check their wording. I don’t own the expansions which contain the card, but that does not mean they are not available to me. To us all. There are a number of good squad building tools online which details the contents and abilities of every card and upgrade. I saw the card on the table opposite, attached to both TIE Interceptors. I couldn’t read it, it was in German. My understanding of it would probably still have been better had I bothered to look though.
Every round of shooting, Autothrusters kicked in and managed to negate my last hit. Every round. At range three, at range two and I am certain on occasion, at range one. So when I got home to find it was range three or out of firing arc bonus, well…
Jax should have fallen, and following that so would the others. Needless to say, my experiences have taught me a great deal. If you are going to succeed with competitive play, in any format or game system, you need to know what your opponent can do and what his list can do.
One of our Animosity administrators was highly competitive in the worlds of Games Workshop. It was necessary for him to own and digest each codex (every update), not just his chosen army; in order to know what his opponent had, what his opponents special rules and abilities were at each stage.
Much like this, I should have been aware; especially with the importance placed upon Autothrusters by the arc dodgers and their place within the game. As a relatively new X-Wing player this is a big lesson, but one I should not have forgotten from other gaming systems.
Know your enemy.