Special Rules: Players build two lists, one Imperial and one Rebel. Only ships that appeared in the original three movies (not special edition) can be used. All pilots and upgrades are free to use, however TLT is banned. Every match will be played Imperials vs Rebels… The player with the most plays of one faction will play the opposite faction. If players are tied for factional plays the Rebel player will be determined by die roll. Every match is classic ships, Rebellion against the Empire. Sounds pretty cool, right? A return to Star Wars?
This wonderful format provided by dockingbay416 was being played at 401 Games with some new tweaks to the rules. It had a steep entry fee for me but the participation prize was acrylic ship placement markers, there was to be a draw for custom painted ships and it’s just over an hour from home. I mentioned it to my wife and she pushed me into calling that night to see if tickets were available. It sounded like a fun day, so I made the call to go!
A bit of background on me. I’ve played X-Wing since just before wave 7. I’m only an average player, at best, so while I can make plans several turns ahead and predict some of my opponent’s maneuvers, I still make significant mistakes. I can become too focused and make some very “unusual” choices. I go to tournaments more to get game time than to actually win anything, which is good because I’m consistently right in the middle of the pack. As I am content with this situation, I’ll show up with some rather different looking lists that are ill prepared to take on the current hot choices. I’ve actually flown X-Wings through the majority of the past year at tournaments and I’ve come to actually enjoy the simplicity of the ship. Everything you need for your strategy is in that little dial. Normally I go to a tournament, greet a few familiar faces, and have a good day playing X-Wing before I go home again.
So, designing my Rebel list for the Classic Trilogy tournament hosted by 401 Games was actually quite easy.
Rebel – 100 points
- Hobbie – Targeting Astro, Integrated Astro
- Tarn Mison – M9-G8, Integrated Astro
- Gold Sqdn – Ion Turret, BTL-A4, R2 unit
- Gold Sqdn – Dorsal Turret, BTL-A4, R3-A2
I’ve just flown a variation of this at a Store Championship in London with my typical 2-2 record, so with dropping one Red Sqdn for another Gold Sqdn, I was ready to go. There’s not a lot of strategy to my choices. For those wondering, I don’t like to use Biggs in this four ship formation since I’d rather my opponent is shooting the more durable Y-Wings. I’ve referred to my cheap stresshog build as my 23 point Biggs at previous tournaments as it attracts a lot of attention away from my main strike force. It’s not as effective as the true Stresshog build with TLT, but it’s cheaper and can be more effective in those rare occasions I get behind something.
Tarn Mison with M9-G8 is a solid choice for a support ship that can still hit very hard on his own. The choice with Hobbie is an odd one, I admit, but on rare occasions his ability kicks in for impressive results.
The Gold Squadron Pilot with the Ion Turret was the new comer to this list, adding some durability and a secondary control element.
Imperial – 99 points
- Vader – Engine Upgrade, TIEx/1, Adv Targeting Comp, Veteran Instincts
- Mauler Mithel – Snap Shot
- Omicron Group Pilot – Emperor Palpatine
My Imperial list was something that got tossed together quickly and I knew this wasn’t an area I had a lot of experience with. As I make bad decisions now and then and my green dice never bail me out when I mess up, TIEs tend to pop quickly when I fly them.
I do like the potential firepower Backstabber and Mauler Mithel have, and with Snap Shot Mauler can potentially be a game changer.
I’ve had these two in a rather gimmicky list for a while so I’ve come to enjoy flying this pair. I had a couple of other TIEs at first, and Lone Wolf on Vader, and tossed the idea out for suggestions. The return brought it closer to the final list… On Friday night though I decided to change things up and add the Omicron Group Pilot with the Emperor. I never flew with the Emperor during his peak and the thematic imagery of Vader with his two wingmen from A New Hope as escort was powerful.
Also I just got wrecked in London by a well flown Palp-Aces list, so I had little doubt it was still a good value. My Imperial list may not be the most optimized, or even strategically thought out, but it was thematic and I was going to have some fun flying it.
Round One – John
- 2x Red Sqdn, R2 unit, Integrated Astro
- 2x Dagger Sqdn, FCS
I admit I don’t really remember this match too clearly, which is not to say anything against my opponent’s skills or the importance of the match. It took me another day after the tournament to remember I even flew against B-Wings.
I remember enough now to look back and say I got lucky. I pretty much jousted his list, coming in on an angle with the TIEs and straight on with the shuttle. The shuttle attracted a fair amount of fire, but with the PS advantage I managed to knock out an X-Wing before it had a chance to do much. We didn’t really travel around the map much and I maneuvered rather poorly, but I was aggressive enough on the first pass, regularly calling upon the Emperor for additional criticals in my attacks, that I was able to kill enough of his ships for a win at time.
I killed one of each of his ships, in return he knocked out the shuttle and I believe Backstabber…
W 50 – 45?
Round Two – Greg – Streamed!
- Kath, Mangler Cannon, Andrasta, Bomblet Generator, Veteran Instincts, Tactician
- Soontir Fel, PTL, Autothrusters, Royal Guard TIE, Stealth Device
Hey, I’m on Twitch TV! I’ve been on camera before, but never for an X-Wing tournament and never live. It’s a bit nerve wracking in a way, but at the same time kinda fun. I get the impression, based on the texts waiting on my phone after the match, that half the audience must have been people I know. My opponent, Greg, had this wonderfully weird Rebel list of three YT-1300s which everybody was hoping to see but we rolled off for factions and I ended up as the Rebels. I’d really like to know how he did with his Rebel list through the day, actually.
So, Greg’s Imperial list wasn’t an expected one. I’ve flown against everything there in pieces of other lists, minus the bomblet generator, so I pretty much knew what to expect.
The bombs on Kath gave me some additional concern, a Firespray can be used quite effectively against X-Wings as I was already well aware.
I deployed in a pretty standard close formation, and when Wampa went across from me I put Hobbie off a bit so I could come in on an angle if Greg chose to joust with his list. Of course, that’s not what he did with Fel and Kath. Kath and Fel went down on the other corner, Kath to come in diagonally and Fel was clearly going to go wide and flank. Well, there wasn’t much I could do about Fel in my current situation, and ignoring the other two ships would be lethal if I threw misses at Fel, so I moved forward slowly and hoped for an opportunity to present itself against the ace.
Wampa was a decoy, bailing out of the joust with a hard turn, but I hadn’t taken the bait so the TIE Fighter was out of position for the most of the game. That left Kath coming in and Fel who was nibbling at my flank very quickly. Fel got a bit too close too fast though, and would need to break off his attack or suffer some unpleasant consequences. I moved my Y-Wings inward, hoping to catch the Interceptor as it turned away, and covered them with the X-Wings. If Fel escaped, I could continue to pound on Kath. Unfortunately for Greg, he was very aggressive and tried to pick a hole to put Fel and bumped Tarn. While he avoided all my arcs except Hobbie, the green dice were fickle, and four dice came up with a lot of blank and one focus result.
With my ships set up to continue pounding on Kath for the remainder of the turn, Fel didn’t even buy any time for his wingmates. It was a lucky die roll on a single mistake in this match to make a huge difference in the rest of the game. I made my own share of mistakes, some pretty blatant ones, but the timing on my mistakes weren’t as critical as that one moment for Fel.
W 100 – 27
Round Three – Robin
- Howlrunner – Crackshot
- 3x Black Sqdn – Crackshot
- 3x Academy Pilots
This was a list I didn’t want to face with my Rebels. I had actually spent some time thinking about this list before the tournament and hadn’t come up with a valid strategy on how to beat it.
I didn’t want to joust it, but it was faster and more maneuverable than my ships so it could force the joust. I tried anyway to force some angles and flew along my board edge at the same corner that my opponent’s force was pointed. Maybe I might force some range three shots on some of his force… I guess this kinda worked. Robin didn’t really deviate from his plan at all, just banked softly in to fire away at my ships. A Black Sqdn pilot went down to a lucky hit before it popped it’s crackshot, but one of my Y-Wings gets wrecked in the exchange. It survived, and I go evasive with it, turning out of formation and heading to his side of the map while my remaining fighters push further into the joust. This turn my second Y-Wing gets smashed, but maybe I get another Black here? Next turn? Not entirely sure, there’s a lot of k-turning TIE’s as I try to avoid bumping and escape the worst of the return fire. Now both of the Y-Wings are burning back toward his edge of the board hoping to escape the slaughter, Hobbie turns away from the fight to get some space, but Tarn bumps and gets shot up.
The thing about TIE swarms is that unless you are very good with them, and your opponent (in this case me) is making all the expected responses, the dials take a lot of time. We’re running out of time on the clock and I’ve still got all my fighters, technically, while Robin has lost a couple TIEs. The trick is keeping my losses minimal. I turn Tarn towards my board edge and continue to send my Y-Wings further away from the fight. Between the two Gold’s I have three hull points so they are not going to last if Robin makes a play towards them. I move Hobbie to take on any pursuers, but Robin moves every remaining TIE Fighter to eliminate Tarn, which he does quite easily at the end of time.
W 30 – 26?? Did I get another TIE in this? Maybe I did? Uhg… It was close! I breathed a heavy sigh of relief having plodded my way through a TIE swarm. I wasn’t happy at all with how the match-up went and I know I got through with a lot of luck. This match was easily Robin’s to take had he been able to finish off those crippled Y-Wings. Right up to the very end I was mentally prepared for him to do it so I wasn’t feeling wonderfully triumphant with the victory.
Round Four – Evan
- Howlrunner – Crackshot
- 3x Black Sqdn – Crackshot
- 3x Academy Pilots
Oh no. Not again.
Evan slid across to my table, replacing the previous 7 TIE Fighters for his own identical list. Evan admitted he’d never flown the list prior to today and when he deployed his fighters he had a slightly different method of putting down his block of TIEs than anybody I had ever seen play this list. Maybe I could squeak another victory?
My own strategy though wasn’t quite as certain. I decided to try to hit the formation from different angles. We put down rocks in the center of the board and I tried to use them for cover and to force Evan to break formation. I even succeeded, to an extent, in getting my plan to work. His box turned sharply to go head on with my Y-Wings through the middle of the board. I went aggressive with Tarn, zipping through a rock to get to range 1, out of arc, of the lead TIE while having another rock cover me from the rest of his formation. The only flaw was Hobbie. I hadn’t actually expected Evan to turn sharply, I expected a bank. Hobbie was too far out of position. I managed some range three shots from Hobbie but he was of too little threat to be taken seriously. Tarn missed entirely. My Y-Wings took a lot of heat, and both cowardly exploded before I could break off with them. The unreasonably lucky breaks I had managed last time were not available here.
Further, somehow I had managed to get myself in a very unusual position. Howlrunner was dead, but Evan had three Blacks on one side and three Academies on the other, both facing each other… with my X-Wings zipping through the middle of this unhappy situation. The game is pretty much decided at this point, but there’s always a chance to salvage this!
Wait, nope, I was wrong. Evan very much had this in hand and Hobbie dies too. Tarn manages to be an annoyance for the remaining couple of rounds and surives the battle but this has been a one sided battle start to finish. I believe I managed to kill one Black Sqdn in addition to Howlrunner before the end of the match, but it may have only been an Academy Pilot. It was a well flown list and Evan deserved this victory.
L 34 – 74
Well, that’s it for the tournament. I may be 3-1, but my MOV is terrible. I’m not at all disappointed though as I begin to pack up. I had a good day and I’ve had a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ve annoyed anybody too much with my poor attempts at humor all day. There are a lot of really good players present who are well known in the area – The PTL crowd, as usual, putting on a good showing. It’s been fun!
Despite being told I’d likely still make the cut, I’m still pretty pleased and surprised to hear my name called up in the top four to move on. I’ve never made it this far before. I’m also dimly aware that I need to rely on my unpracticed Imperial list here out as I’ve played 3 rounds of Rebels straight. As I await the start of the next round and everybody shifts and moves on I try to clear my head a bit. It’s not near long enough to accomplish this! I barely have time to snack on something I’ve bought at the counter before once more needing to set up and go again.
Round Five – Aaron
- Biggs – R4-D6, Integr Astro
- Tarn Mison – M9-G8, Integr Astro
- Gold Sqdn – R3-A2, BTL-A4, Dorsal Turret
- Grey Sqdn – R2-D6, Selflessness, Dorsal Turret, BTL-A4
I admit I’m pretty fried by this point. I’ve gone to time most matches, I’ve been on camera once and made some dumb mistakes so I’m already mentally drained. That said, this is pretty much my Rebel list I’m facing and I’ve been beat enough with it over the past few months to know what I need to do. I don’t care that it has Biggs or that the Y-Wing can pull some hits off him. If I can just get it to break formation…
I maneuver the shuttle along the bottom of the map, intending to swing up and either decoy his force or flank it if Aaron goes for my fighters. I have no intent to joust that many guns with my fragile fighters so I try to use the rocks as cover as I go for Aaron’s side of the board. Either I’ll force him to turn after Vader and company or he will put himself out of position and go for the shuttle. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, Aaron has predicted my path and Vader gets tagged at long range by the two X-Wings… even with Palp he blanks out so hard he’s gone in an instant.
Whoops, bad play on my part. The shuttle, meanwhile, has closed to range one beside the strung out line of Rebel fighters, fires at Biggs at range one for two turns and some of the damage is spread to the Grey through Selflessness.
I’m able to keep the shuttle pretty much in place for a while, it’s taking some fire for it, but it’s done a lot to Biggs in return, and it’s broken up the Rebel formation. The stresshog has a stack of stress tokens and is circling the rock to get behind the shuttle, Tarn has peeled out of formation, the Grey is off somewhere on it’s own nearly dead. Of course, my own fighters are not exactly useful either.
In the resulting scramble Backstabber has been forced to tour the outskirts to shed some stress without ever firing a shot, and Mauler is well out of position. By the time I’m anywhere near fighting position again both the shuttle and Biggs are dead, but at least the Rebel fighters are spread thinly.
I’m really down on points, so I throw caution to the wind. 3 bank, directly through a rock, so that Mauler Mithel can get some shots on the wounded Grey… Down goes the Y-Wing.
Mauler chases after the Gold-Stresshog for the next few turns while Backstabber harasses Tarn. The Gold falls after a couple of rounds so it’s now just Tarn vs Backstabber and Mauler Mithel. I might be up on points, but I don’t let up and try to escape. I don’t trust my treacherous green dice enough and Aaron is a very good player. I’m going all in to continue harassing Tarn in hopes I kill him, or at the very least prevent him from getting optimal positioning. At time all three ships are chewed up pretty badly but are still alive.
I’ve gotten lucky again. I made some good plays in the late game but I made some really stupid ones early on.
W 74 – 64
What the heck am I doing sitting here at the finals table? Oh no, it’s that same guy with the TIE Swarm that beat me in round four… Evan once again… Ok, I’m just happy to be sitting at the final table. I text home letting my wife know I’m running later than expected and try to take in Evan’s list.
- Wedge – PTL, BB8, Guidance Chips, Plasma Torp
- Janson – Adaptability, R3-A2, Guidance Chips, Plasma Torp
- Biggs – R4-D6, Integrated Astromech
Truthfully, I haven’t taken it in at all. I know the pilots, but I’ve forgotten about the torpedoes and the guidance chips on Wedge and Janson. In my head, Integrated Astromech is on all three X-Wings. Alright. I don’t want to joust this either, now what? It’s been a long day, we’re both tired, and neither of us are likely making the same choices we would have early on. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for. I know I’m tired anyway, and I assume that Evan is not at all tired and has a full on plan to kill me with embarrassing ease on camera. So my brilliant strategy? I joust the list with the shuttle!
Ok, I’m trying to catch the list from the side with Mauler and force a snap (spoiler alert: I don’t) and Backstabber/Vader are going to race to get behind while the shuttle acts as a decoy with enough firepower he can’t ignore it. The result of my strategy is that I’m too passive with Vader/Backstabber and pass on potential shots while Evan focuses on killing the shuttle using both torpedoes to rapidly bring it down. I even forget I have the Emperor on board, so I never use him once during this game. I’m lucky to have landed a good shot on Biggs with the shuttle before it goes down in two rounds. Vader and Backstabber round the corner way back on Evan’s side of the board and race back home. Vader tries to finish off Biggs, but the mustache gets away once again.
Wedge breaks off out of formation and the X-Wings set up to k-turn. Being familiar with X-Wings, and fully expecting the k-turn, I didn’t want anything to do with getting stuck in arc of three of them even without their actions. I turn hard with Vader, avoid the potential three arcs and switch target to Wedge instead of Biggs. No shot this round, but I’m surprised when Wedge doesn’t k-turn. Evan had set up a trap for me. Had I aggressively gone in for Biggs I would have had Wedge with a modified shot on Vader.
This unexpected change has allowed Vader to slip onto Wedge’s tail the following turn and shoot down Biggs over the Rebel ace’s shoulder. Wedge and Janson set up to joust my TIE Fighters while Vader picks away at Janson, continually bumping into Wedge. Who blocks with Wedge, anyway? Dang it. I lose Mauler, but a snap shot wrecks up Wedge first before he dies. Vader finally gets Janson, and swings around to take on Wedge, while the Rebel ace targets Backstabber…
And this is where I make my biggest REAL error of the night. Not dial/choice related, so much as during my focused tunnel vision I had failed to put a crit token on Backstabber. I had taken the critical hit, made some stupid remark trying to be funny, put it down on Backstabber’s card, but the token never hit the map. I then run him for two turns with Console Fire without remembering it.
My opponent has forgotten as well, but this one is on me. One of the guys running the stream for VTTV comes over to remind me that Console Fire is not “May.” I look at him blankly, before looking down at my cards and shocked to find that Console Fire staring back up at me. Immediately I roll the red die twice, but don’t explode. My action for Backstabber this round is instantly to get rid of the Console Fire, but Wedge vaporizes the distracted TIE pilot. I so deserved that and I’m feeling quite rattled that I missed the critical hit.
Time is now running out and Wedge is worth more points, but Vader is already moving into position once more behind Wedge. A lucky crit that stresses Wedge prevents another k-turn, keeping Vader behind him. The next turn Vader wins the battle for the Imperials.
You can check out a video of the match here.
W 100 – 65
To say I’m stunned is an understatement. I’m absolutely floored. I stand by my opinion that I wasn’t the best player there that day, but I caught some lucky breaks and apparently was in position to take advantage of them. Hopefully I’ll retain some of the lessons learned and come out a better player. I loved the format and I was surprised by the various list choices that were played that day. I honestly wish I had a chance to play more people in this format, so I’ll be watching to see if another location sets up a similar format in the future. Just like this tournament though, I won’t be looking for final victory so much as having a fun day playing X-Wing.