Preparing for a big regional championship is a lot of fun. In the current meta it was a bit stressful trying to find a list that could adequately handle triple U-boats, Palp Aces and crack swarms; talk about the full spectrum of lists there. I have had good success with Soontir Fel in the past, flying him to a Canadian national championship last year, and winning a small store tourney with him last month. I had decided to go with a standard Palp aces build, of the ‘Howard’ version to be specific.
The night before the tournament, I was afraid that I would just be terribly bored flying this list . So I panicked. I’d played around on Vassal with some Dengar/Manaroo lists and the morning of the tournament I quickly play tested a couple more games against myself on Vassal, packed up my stuff and headed out. I brought both lists with me, but ultimately decided that I’d have way more fun flying the Dengar/Manaroo list than boring old Palp aces, and so I dove into the largest tournament I’ve ever played in with a list I’ve never played on the table before. I flew:
The Love Boats
DENGAR w/ Lone wolf, Punishing One, Zuckuss, R5-P8, Counter-measures, Glitterstim, Plasma Torpedo
MANAROO w/ Push the Limit, Unhinged Astromech, Recon Specialist, Engine Upgrade, Feedback Array
For those unfamiliar with the list, it is basically a 1-ship list. Dengar flies in solo against the opposing force, firing his torpedo in the first engagement, and accumulating a TON of stress using Zuckuss at literally every opportunity. Manaroo flies off on her own supplying Dengar with 2 focus tokens every round. Manaroo has the ability to run away using her boost/barrel-roll combo, and Dengar has the ability to fly right into the thick of things and shrug off a ton of damage in the early engagements using Counter-measures.
Round 1 – Phil Whicher
INQUISITOR w/ PTL, title, Autothrusters
SOONTIR FEL w/ PTL, title, Autothrusters, Stealth
CAPTAIN YORR w/ Palpatine, Electronic Baffle
Palp aces was the exact type I was looking forward to testing my list out against. I was definitely hoping that R5-P8 and Zuckuss would get my day off on the right foot. Unfortunately for me Phil is an excellent player who ultimately just ran out of time.
I set up Manaroo in the middle of the board then he set up all three of his ships roughly in the centre as well. Dengar set up in the bottom right and we were off. Dengar moved forward hoping to engage the inquisitor and eliminate him early. Manroo ran off around the left side of the board. I got my plasma torp off and managed to strip the Inquisitor’s shields, but some outstanding flying by Phillip ensured that my only good shot for the next several rounds was against the shuttle. After much bumping Phillip decided to send the Inquisitor after Manaroo. Manaroo tried to run and I dialed up a 3 bank to get the heck out of dodge. At this point Phillip showed some great sportsmanship; I asked him to perform the maneuver for me, but I felt that there was quite of a bit of unintentional jostling involved in getting the template in the front guides of my ship. Ultimately after Phillip moved Manaroo, she was off the board. I couldn’t believe it, because I was positive the maneuver would keep her on the board. Phillip agreed to let me reposition Manaroo to where I believed she was before the nudging, he then re-performed the maneuver and she was able to stay on the board.
The match dragged on past the hour mark with only Dengar and the shuttle being at half points each. Then in a furious final 2 turns I was able to kill his shuttle and his Fel, while Dengar died in exchange. Philip then turned to attack a 5 health Manaroo with his Inquisitor. 1 more damage would’ve given him half points on her and swung the game in his favour, but time was called and I won a game that I would’ve lost had it gone 1 more round.
Modified win 68 – 59
Round 2 – Emily Parker
OMEGA LEADER w/ Comm Relay, Juke
BLACK SQUADRON PILOT w/ Crack shot (x4)
I always run into Emily at big tournaments. I seem to have her number, and she was facing an uphill battle this time, as my list is really tough on swarms. She set up her Ties in a group with Omega Leader set up to trail behind them. I drew the swarm into the asteroid field with Dengar, while Manaroo flew off on her own. The first round of engagement saw the lead 2 tie fighters in range with the rest of the swarm slightly behind, and OL slightly behind them. My plasma torp, combined with Zuckuss, erased the lead Tie, and when the 2nd tie in range fired, my Dengar return fire + R5-P8 (again with help from Zuckuss) finished him off as well. 1st engagement and Dengar is unscathed while 2 Tie fighters have died.
Next round I risked a hard turn towards Omega Leader and it paid off, I landed directly in front of him, just avoiding the bump. OL had his evade token saved up, but used his action this turn to target lock me. I am in the middle of the swarm so I drop Counter-measures (stripping OL’s lock) and Glitterstim. I am now taking a modifiable R1 shot at OL and do a couple damage, and Emily chooses to return fire with naked dice. Counter-measures + Lone wolf + glitterstim means I don’t take any damage, and I return fire killing OL. The swarm proceeds to shoot a bunch of R1 shots at Dengar, stripping a few shields thanks to Crackshot, but nothing too significant. With the heart of the list gone it takes a few more rounds to clean up the rest of the ties.
Round 3 – Jonathan Hon
DASH RENDAR w/ PTL, Engine, HLC, Outrider, Kanan
LOTHAL REBEL w/ Autoblaster Turret, FCS, Hera, Flechette Torp
This matchup was one that I feared the most coming into the day, two 4 dice attack ships, both with a significant amount of Hull, and not many defense dice for Zuckuss to pull off his shenanigans against.
I got the opening engagement I wanted, managing to fire off my plasma torp at Dash, however I only got 1 hit through, stripping 2 of his shields; not a great start. After that it was pretty much just a slugfest between Dengar, Dash and the Rebel, all of them slowly being worn down. Dash took way too long to kill, and when he finally went down, the Rebel still had all his hull and my Dengar was left on 1 hull. Dengar died the subsequent round leaving a half health Manaroo to face off against an 8 hull rebel.
This was an incredibly close finish and it came down to one last turn where Manaroo managed to get the Rebel down to 1 hull, left, hiding in it’s rear firing arc. John spent his target lock to fire his Flechette Torp out his butt at a 1 hull Manaroo. He rolled hit-hit-hit and I was done for. An incredibly close match that could’ve gone either way; full credit to John who deserved the win.
Loss 100 – 79
Round 4 – Devon Monkhouse
HOWLRUNNER w/ Crack shot
BLACK SQUADRON PILOT w/ Crack Shot (x3)
ACADEMY PILOT (x3)
I wasn’t feeling too confident at this point, with a record of 1-1-1, knowing there was no margin for error if I wanted to make the top cut. Devon is known locally for his skill flying swarms, but I felt that my list gave me the upper hand. He set up in a block on the top right of the board, and I started both my ships in the bottom left. Once again I split my ships apart with Dengar attempting to draw the swarm into the asteroid field and Manaroo flying off around the top of the map. Devon didn’t bite on Dengar and I had to fly back into open space to engage his swarm. The first round of shooting saw 1 tie fighter take a couple of damage. Next round we turned in to face each other head on, with 4 tie fighters ending up at R1 and the other 3 at R2. Time for some Dengar magic. I pop glitterstim and counter-measures and fire off my Zuckuss-aided torpedo at Howlrunner, killing her before she shoots (and, more importantly, before helping her buddies shoot). His first Tie fires from R1 taking 1 shield off Dengar, and my return fire one-shots him (Thanks again Zuckuss!). Then the 1 health tie fires, doing no damage and I use my R5-P8 hoping for a third kill in one round….it comes up blank. The other tie’s plink away, but with Lone-Wolf /Glitterstim/ Counter-measures, Dengar only takes 3 damage.
The next couple rounds see one more tie fighter go down as half his swarm turns to face Manaroo, removing one of her shields. Next round he turns his remaining 4 Ties to face Manaroo, and I accidentally fly Manaroo off the board, trying to squeeze in a 3 bank.. Oops. The truth is that Manaroo probably would’ve been in big trouble this round, possibly even dead, so I really just robbed Devon of the opportunity to finish her off himself. This leaves Dengar to face the remaining 4 Ties on his own with a boatload of stress on board. Lucky for me all the Ties were facing the wrong direction with Dengar directly behind them. I killed a tie every couple of rounds and he was unable to do any more damage to an action-less Dengar.
Win 100 – 40
Round 5 – John Currie
LOTHAL REBEL w/ Autoblaster Turret, FCS, Hera, Sabine, Engine
MIRANDA w/ TLT, C-3PO, Advanced Slam, Connor Net, Thermal Detonators, EM, Homing missile(?)
Another Ghost, ugh. This list has many counters to my Dengar: no amount of lone wolf re-rolls or focus tokens will protect you from an Autoblaster Turret shot, or a double damage bomb. The match started out with us both flying very carefully, circling each other around the board. Eventually Dengar and the opposing force met in centre of the board with Manaroo off by herself doing her supportive spouse thing. I was able to strip Miranda’s shields and set her on the run. The Ghost was able to get some shots off but didn’t roll particularly well leaving Dengar fairly healthy. 2 turns later I was able to block Miranda with Manaroo which spelled the end for her, though she did manage to drop a thermal detonator in Dengar’s face on her way out.
I let out a very large sigh of relief as I had managed to get rid of Miranda with only 1 of her bombs being dropped. The rest of the game finished up quickly as the Ghost did not survive long against the two toilet seats.
Round 6 – Sumeet Vats
SOONTIR FEL w/ PTL, Autothrusters, Title, Stealth Device
CARNOR JAX w/ PTL, Autothrusters, Title, Tie Mk II
INQUISITOR w/ PTL, Title, Autothrusters
I love playing Sumeet. He is such a friendly guy and we have great chats about X-wing as we play. I first met him at a league night several months ago when he was a brand new player and, in his words, I destroyed him. Fast forward half a year and here we are, both of us on the bubble, winner makes the cut.
I put Manaroo in her usual spot, centre of the board. He set up Fel on the left, Jax in the centre, and the Inquisitor on right. I set up Dengar across from the Inquisitor. For the first few turns Dengar chased the Inquisitor, my plasma torp stripping his shields, while Fel and Jax chased after Manaroo. Sumeet did an expert job of using the Inquisitor to bait Dengar away with his 2 other ships getting good position, but I caught a huge break when Manaroo managed to land a Stunned Pilot crit on Jax, R2 out of arc. I had actually forgotten to shoot with her and Sumeet pointed it out. I believe I said something like ‘Manaroo doesn’t do any damage anyways’. Bam, Crit. Sorry Sumeet! Next turn he went for the block on Dengar with the Inquisitor but my 2 sloop cleared the block by millimeters. That spelled the end for him and the game snowballed in my favour from then on. The crit on Jax, plus the feedback array threat from Manaroo limited Sumeet’s options. I actually managed to kill Soontir without ever hitting him with an attack (2 x R5-P8 + 1 Feedback array). After a rocky start to the day I had made the cut!
Top 16 – Dave Clearhue
ECHO w/ VI, Agent Kallus, Sensor Jammer, ACD
OMEGA LEADER w/ Juke, Comm Relay, Stealth Device
OMICRON GROUP PILOT w/ Palpatine, Electronic Baffle
This was my chance for vengeance! I had lost to Dave in the store championship final several months previously at this very table. He was running basically the exact same list, so I had some idea how he flies it (and how freaking good he is with Echo).
He set up his 2 aces on one side of the board, and Palp all by himself on the other side. I set up Manaroo in the centre with Dengar directly opposite the shuttle. First turn his Palp stalled and his aces turned in towards the Shuttle. I burned forward with Dengar. Second turn his aces continued to close the distance between themselves and Palp while Dengar ended up at R3 of the shuttle with a target lock on him. I fired off my plasma torp and landed 4 hits, stripping all 5 of his shields. Dave decided to fire back with his Shuttle and that pretty much determined the whole outcome of the game. He didn’t do any damage but did enable Dengar to return fire. This time it was hit-hit-crit, with Zuckuss ensuring all the hits got through. Crit was double damage, leaving the shuttle on 1 hull. R5-P8 missed his chance to take the shuttle off the board in one turn (how sweet would that have been?), but I still had a huge advantage moving forward with Palp on 1 hull.
Next turn he moved his shuttle up to bump Dengar and finally brought his two aces in to engage. Dengar fires at Echo, hit-hit-crit. Echo rolls to defend: blank-blank-blank. Dave either forgets or chooses not to use Palp. The crit is (of course) a direct hit. Echo is 1 shot. The rest of the game was just cleanup for me, with Counter-measures once again proving to be Omega Leader’s kryptonite.
Top 8 – James Dane
DENGAR w/ Lone Wolf, Plasma Torp, Countermeasures, Zuckuss, Punishing One, Glitterstim, Overclock R4
MANAROO w/ PTL, Plasma Torp, Engine, Unhinged Astromech, Gonk, Feedback Array
My first mirror match of the day! I was not happy that this list had 2 munitions in it, I thought that put me at a slight disadvantage. It also wasn’t going to be nice having all the counter-measure & Zuckuss business thrown back in my face. I can’t say this was a very exciting match, as whole turning point really came in the opening engagement where James’ Manaroo ended up just a sliver too close to his Dengar turning off Lone wolf. After the dust settled (believe me, there is a lot of dust with 2 Dengar’s firing at one another, and an R5-P8 added in) my Dengar only lost 3 shields and his was down to 3 hull left. I was able to finish off his Dengar over the course of the next few turns, and he conceded at that point.
Top 4 – Jamie Comely
MIRANDA w/ TLT, Homing Missile, C-3PO, EM, Advanced Slam
EZRA BRIDGER w/ Elusiveness, Autoblaster Turret, Chewbacca crew
BIGGS w/ R4-D6, Integrated Astromech
It was real fun playing against Jame in this one. The guy was in total disbelief that he’d made it so far, and with the single most useless EPT of all time: Elusiveness. I mean what the heck, I’m not even sure that card is still in my binder.
Anyways, I tossed Manaroo in middle of my side as usual, he set up all 3 of his ships top left; I put Dengar bottom right. Manaroo immediately turned away from the opposing force while Dengar maneuvered up slowly to engage them in the central debris field. First round of shooting only Ezra and Dengar were in range of one another, so I fired off my plasma torp stripping both of Ezra’s shields. Next round Jamie moves all three forward slowly, acquiring a target lock on Dengar with Miranda. I moved Dengar directly into their face, bumping the lead ship, Ezra. I promptly activated Counter-measures and Jamie’s face dropped a little.
His beautifully set up 5 die homing missile attack would not be happening this turn. I dropped Biggs to 1 hull, with Dengar taking very little damage in return. Next round I was able to sloop behind his whole force, killing Biggs and stripping the shields off Miranda; his Ezra rolled a painful blank-blank with his ABT. At this point Manaroo came back into the fight as she and Dengar pinned Miranda in a corner before a reeling Ezra could turn around to re-join the fight. Miranda died quickly to focused fire and I was able to finish off Ezra quickly after that.
Final – Evans
DENGAR w/ Lone Wolf, Plasma Torp, Extra Munitions, Counter-Measures, Zuckuss, Punishing One, Glitterstim, Overclocked R4
MANAROO w/ PTL, engine, Gonk, Feedback Array, Unhinged Astromech
It had been a long day so far, but a mirror match final held the promise of at least being a quick game. Evan gave me initiative so I set up in my usual way with Manaroo in the middle and Dengar on the right. He placed his Dengar directly opposite my Manaroo and his Manaroo opposite my Dengar. His Manaroo immediately turned away and ran, and I crept up the middle with mine, prepared to engage/block/target lock Dengar if possible.
On the first round of combat we both used Counter-measures in order to prevent the plasma torpedo exchange. In a virtual mirror match of dice rolling I came out WAY ahead, only losing a couple shields off my Dengar while Evan’s ended up losing all his shields and gaining the injured pilot crit. R5-P8 slapped an extra damage on for good measure and the game was pretty much decided at that point. His Dengar only had 3 hull left and I was able to finish him off over the next couple rounds and then re-group to fire my torp at his Manaroo before finally finishing him off.
Obviously it felt good to win, but it was extra special for me to win at 401 Games. At 401 I’d made it to top 4 in last year’s regional, and I was runner up in this year’s store championship. It was cool to finally finish one off here.
If you’ve read this far, allow me to take a few more sentences to reflect on ‘Dengaroo’. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the list. On the Scum & Villainy Podcast (ep35) Blair Bunke expressed his dislike of Dengaroo. I think I’m inclined to agree with him in his assessment of the list: “It just doesn’t require that much skill”. I can’t say that I REALLY outflew any of my opponents. I’ve flown Fel and Jake lots, and in those games I feel like I really outflew my opponent to earn the win. With Dengaroo, it was more or less point and shoot; sloop and repeat. I am probably oversimplifying things, but I think my game with Devon was the most telling. He literally could not have flown any better, getting his whole swarm into R1&2, and Dengar just laughed at them, almost killing 3 ties in one turn! The thing that really makes Dengaroo powerful is Dengar’s white sloop. The sloop is what enables Dengar to keep enemies in his arc despite piles of stress tokens, and that is the key to the list.
I don’t mean to knock any fellow Dengaroo pilots, 3 of us made top 8, I’m just reflecting on my own personal experience with the list. One thing is for sure, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this list in the future. So how do you beat it?
The short answer would be tanky ships with lots of attack dice and not many defense dice for Zuckuss to abuse. So ships like the Ghost, Decimator, Dash, heck even a good old PS9 Han solo would be a good counter. Do your best to block Dengar’s 2 sloop, if he can’t keep your list in arc then he can only take 1 shot per round and that strips him of his power. If one of these ships is a pretty good counter, then 2 is even better. The one match I did lose was to a Dash/Ghost build that just simply took too long to die. Dash definitely has the ability to dodge Dengar’s arc as well.
Those are my thoughts on what was a very fun regional, many thanks to the organizers and the venue, can’t wait to see everyone at Canadian Nationals!