Fair warning this is a very long Store Championship report, that begins quite a bit earlier then last weekend. If you are just looking for lists and stats, here is the tournament on List Juggler.
Over the past 6 months or so I have been making ample use of the Wave 7 EPT Crack Shot. I love how it pushes through damage to get results even out of a puny 2 Red Dice ship.
When it was originally released last August it was greeted with a universal “Meh.” Mid September however, it received an FAQ entry that triggered after the compare results step, which was a real game changer, forcing your opponent to overspend their defensive tokens or else you might just ‘Crack’ on through a hit if they just have enough canceling dice to stop your attack. More ramblings of a crack addict after the jump.
For the first couple months I was using Crack Shot on Aggressors, but having only 2 Crack Shots to work with you have to hold on to it and wait for the perfect, or what you think is the perfect moment. Which is great, when you guess right, but sometimes you think back on a game and say to yourself, nope you should have used it then.
Around early December I was getting a bit burned on the Brobots. One mistake and that’s it. Pretty unforgiving list, with definite weaknesses you must continually compensate for.
I started thinking it would be nice to return to the TIE swarm. TLT’s had chased Dash Rendar away, who the last time I was rocking a TIE Swarm wreaked havoc, one shotting fighters every round. After a while I started to take notice of all the talk of Black Squad TIE Crack Shot swarms. I took note that Jean-Cristophe “Icareane” Hu the French National Champion, who I had a chance to hang out with at Worlds played a TIE Swarm at Worlds without Howlrunner, instead he had 5 Black Squad’s with Crack Shot, a PS 3 Obsidian and a good old PS 1 Academy TIE. With four, five, or even six (!) Crack Shots I could just let them go off like Chinese New Year on first engagement.
I took it out for a spin and thought it was a pretty good squad. Used them in a couple tournaments and did pretty well. I surprised myself, in that I found planning movements for six or seven ships for multiple consecutive rounds not as fatiguing mentally as I had expected, in fact compared to the the strain of running 2 Aggressors or 3 Interceptors, it had a lot more resilience.
Omega Leader sucked me into giving the previously ignored new TIE FO’s a try and they solved a lot of “TIE Fighter” problems that have always been part of them. The extra Shield and ability to Target lock, plus the Green Hard 2 Turn and 2 Sloops really made them be able to knife fight and hold their own the way the original TIE never could. Plus I had tons of them from buying 2 of the new Core set to gain access to 2 Wired Cards for the Brobots and a couple of the FO Expansions to get the Godly Omega Leader, Juke and Comm Relay cards. Paired with the new TIE Fighter options from the Gozanti expansion also released in December, I was having a blast with all the newly possible TIE swarm permutations. Always wary of the new Twin Laser Turret (TLT) not anywhere as bad to deal with as Dash was though.
March 17, Wave 8 drops and I have a feeling Turrets will abound at least at first while this new Meta is still so bloody raw. I started thinking TIE Fighter swarms would be much better if somehow they could equip the worth its weight in gold card Autothrusters. TIE Fighters of course can’t , TIE Interceptors can but I didn’t want to do an Ace build I still wanted a swarm with Crack Shot.
As a hardcore X-wing player my Facebook feed is coming from X-wing Facebook groups all over the world. I noticed Iain Hemp, a fellow SWX playtester, who had been rocking an Obsidian “Crack Free” TIE swarm this winter and doing quite well with it, had used an A-wing swarm March 19 and made top 4 with it at a Store Championship in the US Southwest where he lives. He called it the Chihuahua Storm – I won’t hold the name against him, it is still a good squad. I saw the squad list just before I went to bed Saturday night and when I woke up Sunday I thought I would give it a shot. Now I needed to rustle up all the cards, and an A-wing because I couldn’t quite pull it off on my own. Thankfully I have a great community that I was able to fall back on and lend me what I needed to fill out my squad.
So after a year’s hiatus from playing Rebels in a tournament, I went to the Rebels. A-wings without PTL how did that make any sense? TIE Fighters did just fine without PTL. A-wings are actually very comparable to the FO TIE. Hopefully it wouldn’t feel like they were made of paper.
5x Green Squad A-wing w/Crack Shot, A-Wing Test Pilot, Chadaran Refit, Adaptabilty, Autothrusters
I mentally went through a check list comparing the squad to the squad I had planned to use. 4x Omega Squadron FO w/ Crack Shot +Wampa & Chaser TIE Fighters.
Both ships can Target Lock, very useful for maximizing shots for later, especially when tracking down hard targets.
Both have 4 HP, bonus Shield over Hull, really a wash on crit mitigation as a Direct hit will kill an A.
5 Crack Shots for the A-wings vs 4 Crack Shots for the FO’S so that is pretty comparable.
A-wings have 4 & 5 Green straights, but basically they have the same amount of Green move options. 5K vs 4K, 3K vs 2 Sloops, let’s call this a wash.
Adaptability, a brand new card allows a ship to raise or lower PS by 1 for zero points. This makes PS tied with the Omegas. Again a wash.
Barrel Roll vs Boost. Barrel Roll is much better for jockeying for position but Boost gives additional speed as well as access to Autothusters.
Autothrusters on A’s, huge advantage there over TIE’s. 6 ships for TIE’s is and advantage over 5 A-wings, but A’s have the edge here in this meta. 5 TIE fighters would douse their drawers with the FCS TLT’s that the A’s give no fuqs about. This even mitigates the TIE FO Swarm numbers advantage and Wampa and Chaser ‘s awesome abilities.
Ok I convinced myself it is worth giving a shot.
March 20, Black Knight Games, Hamilton, Ontario.
Twenty one players showed up, which to be honest, I was expecting when the date was scheduled back in January. We would be busting capacity for the shop. I suppose three other Store Championships in vicinity the day before and being at the tail end of the season contributed to what I consider a nice sized tournament. Not a pushover crowd by any means, as there were a few others there looking to add another plaque to their trophy case.
My opponent Patrick playing the old tournament standby popularised by Nova Squad’s Ron “The Cannon” Brannan 4BZ. I had never played Patrick before, but I knew his list well.
4x Blue Squad B-wing
1x Bandit Z-95
The Asteroids were set up in a big U with a big clear area in the middle. He set up in the top left corner, I set up in the bottom right.
He jet up at full speed doing 3 straights, I crawled forward with 2 straights.
Eventually we met in the clearing, I took out the Z before it could fire. He got a bit of damage on my lead A with the B-wings.
Next round my damaged A 5K’d safely out of his B’s Arcs with a nice Range 1 shot. Our swarms closed in on each other, the Crack Shots started flying and I downed a B-wing before it could fire. He got a bit of damage on another A. He told me I keep hearing ‘Crack Shot,’ ‘Crack Shot,’ ‘Crack Shot,’ ‘ahh now I see, now you’ve got me paranoid.’ And so the bloody knife fight continued to time, with me losing an A-wings and he lost 2 B’s and a Z. Full win, 54-20.
Opponent Evan playing a regenerating X build that I have had the pleasure of being smoked by before. I’d have to hit hard and concentrate fire.
Poe w/Autothrusers, R5-P9, Veteran Insticts
Red Ace w/Autothrusters, R2-D2, Comm Relay
Tarn Mison w/R7 Astromech, Intergrated Astromech
This was a brutal slaughter, that made me feel like I was a really bad person.
First exchange of fire I caught Tarn at Range 3 and destroyed him before he could fire using a minimal amount of Crack as his rolls were lousy. Second round of engagement, I zipped in, blocking his ships actions and took out Red Ace Cracking all the way. One of my ships got the PS0 Crit. Next round I scattered my ships all taking locks on Poe. Poe did a 4 K. Next round I K-turned all my ships, while Poe inched forward. Following round we jockeyed for position, no significant damage landed. Next round I successfully blocked Poe and took him out without losing a ship. Full win, 100-0. 30 minutes into the round it was over and I had a chance to eat some lunch.
My opponent this round was Michael who I have played a few times in the past and knew better than to underestimate, as he is a very solid player with a great attitude.
Hera Syndulla VCX-100 w/Fire Control System, Twin Laser Turret, Kanan Jarus
Chopper VCX-100 w/Fire Control System, Twin Laser Turret, Ezra Bridger
If I wasn’t glad I was packing Autothrusters going into this match I was sure glad I was coming out of it. Micheal’s ships would just snuff out my A-wings like blowing out a match if I was taking primary weapons fire followed by an FCS TLT. Luckily, all I had to do was point my ships at his to do damage using Crack Shot. That mitigated any Evade dice he might get from Range or Obstacles or Evade Actions and eventually I was able to wear down Chopper to try and take out a heavily damaged Hera with 2 A-wings. Autothusters were working overtime against his nasty FCS TLT combo. A Blinded Pilot crit saved me from one round of fire, which surely would have taken out one of my ships and I was able to point both my ships at Hera the next round to burn through her last two hull points. Full win, 100-60.
I was paired up with one of my local buddies Drew. Earlier in the day, he was one of the people I frantically messaged in the morning when looking for cards and told him the list I was trying to build. He came over and told me he didn’t actually think I was going to run all A-Wings. Then the light went on for him when he asked, “They all have Crack Shot right? …. Ok, nasty.”
I could say the same for his list, it was definitely an original build.
Redline TIE Punisher w/Fire Control System, Proton Torpedoes, Cluster Missiles, Extra Munitions, Thermal Detonator, Guidance Chips
2x Shadow Squadron TIE Phantom w/Fire Control System
Oh my. Once I noticed they were PS5 Shadow Phantoms instead of PS3 Sigma Phantoms, I got a bit nervous.
I set up in the bottom right corner. He set up top right middle. I approached slow, but when he didn’t decloak his Phantoms second round, I got sucked in and boosted to hopefully get in some shots on them, knowing they wouldn’t be able to shoot back. It was like the school yard bullies walking into the playground with blindfolds on, my little wimpy A-Wing just wanted a chance to get some free shots in. Redline rolled up fired a Proton Torp for a Shield damage and then I took out one of the Shadows that round.
Then the knife fighting began.
I have not played against many TIE Punishers and I don’t even think I’ve put any of mine on their stands even once, so I was a bit unfamiliar. Drew got me with the Thermal Detonator to double stress and damage my A-Wings I had K turned behind him. I poured what damage out I could, Cracking whenever possible wounding both his ships. The melee ensued, wounded Redline was pursued, all the Crack Shots were used up.
Things were looking grim when we both only had two ships left each. His two combined fire to take out one of mine, and then I got super lucky and landed a Direct Hit Double Damage crit on his Phantom to take it out. So we both had one ship with one hull point left, and all of Redlines toys were used up except one Thermal Detonator.
I raced as far away as possible, to get as much Range 3 as possible, because that was where I had a definite advantage. I was able to get a Target Lock on Redline when he stressed himself and I was certain he would be needing to take a green and wouldn’t be able to fire at me. We both K-turned directly away from each other, Redline with a 4K, my Green Squad A with a 5K. We come out of it both coming straight at each other – I chose a 4 instead of a 5 because I wanted the Range 3 exchange where my A-wing would be an untouchable god, for my action I took Focus.
Redline came out with a 2 straight, his fastest green, being unfamiliar with the Punisher dial I thought he had the option of a 3 straight which I thought he would do. I look at the board and I’m mad at myself for not doing the 5 straight, because now I can see that we are out of range of each other this turn, then Drew Boosts Redline. He puts down the ruler to see if I am still at Range 3, he was trying to avoid the Range 3 exchange as much as I was trying to cause it. When the ruler goes down it is clear that by Boosting he actually caused what he was trying to avoid. I know from personal experience, that plenty of times fatigue will cause your judgement of distance to really warp and it was getting pretty far in the round with only 7 minutes left. So Redline fires and can’t hit me with 4 Green dice, Autothrusters and a Focus token. Now I fire back able to make the most of my 2 Red dice with Target Lock and Focus, it all comes down to Redline’s 2 unmodified Green dice and that is too much to ask, if 1 hit goes through it is over. Of course it does and another full win,100-80.
I finish the Swiss undefeated but in Second place, Drew finishes in fourth with his only loss to me, so we don’t have to play each other… immediately, but we would eventually. Bizarrely enough, it also was the only loss for the players in Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh place as well.
On to the final four.
My opponent this time was a real sweetheart of a guy, Mike. He was playing the new and improved Dash Rendar that I was expecting to see much more of. He said he just threw this squad together as a fun squad – Yeah ok. This Store Championship season Mike has, I believe, made at least Top 8 in 5 different Store Championships after taking a 4 month hiatus from the game – solid player no doubt. Now flying Dash Rendar in super hulk Dash, which he used to thoroughly trash my TIE Swarm last summer using the Dave Clearhue Ontario Regional Winning version.
We talk about it, chasing after these plaques at so many events and never getting one. I was in the same boat as he was, with only a single plaque from the previous season to my name, and thus far despite multiple attempts, walked away with rulers and coins, but no plaque. I told him about what this dude on Nova Squad’s facebook page, who was calling himself Nien Numb a few years back about plaques said,
“What am I going to do with this plaque? My wife won’t let me hang it up in the house, it will probably end up in the garage for a few years and then I’ll throw it out. Or maybe my kids will find it, and ask what it is. I’ll have to say to them, ‘sit down kids, it’s time you knew. Your dad was pretty good at nerd games at one point.'”
Mike’s squad was:
Dash Rendar w/ Heavy Laser Cannon, Push the Limit, Outrider, Kanan Jarus, Engine Upgrade
Lothal Rebel VCX 100 w/FCS, Autoblaster Turret, Hera Syndulla, Chopper, Ion Projector
I decided my strategy would be to take down the VCX as fast as possible rather than chase Dash around. Mike did his best to keep me busy clogging up the lane-ways by going nowhere, trying to get the most out of Ion Projector and Autoblaster Turret, while Dash did his thing. Thankfully I was able to whiz my A-wings around to keep him from focusing fire. Eventually I chewed through all that hull and could concentrate on Dash, who was doing some of the fanciest flying I have ever seen. At one point we thought he was going off the board for sure, but of course it was all just part of the show.
Mike, I believe, had managed to take out only one A-wing by that point, so I had the numbers to chase him all around where ever he might run to. Autothursters were doing a lot of work, turning Dash’s consistent 4 hit HLC shots to 1 damage with rolls of Blank, Eye, Evade. Mike put up an amazing fight, but eventually I was able to Boost a flanker right where Dash wanted to land a Hard 3 to escape the corner leaving him defenseless stranded on a rock. And down went Dash. 100-20
Flashback to round 4
Redline TIE Punisher w/Fire Control System, Proton Torpedoes, Cluster Missiles, Extra Munitions, Thermal Detonator, Guidance Chips
2x Shadow Squadron TIE Phantom w/Fire Control System
I was happy that Drew, my opponent from Round 4 and fellow local, had made it to the top cut, but I wasn’t necessarily happy to have to play his squad again. I got super lucky in our last match, and Drew definitely wouldn’t be making the same mistakes that cost him our last game, so I’d have to hit him with everything I had.
I started my A-wings drunken master style all pointing different directions all along my starting area. I didn’t really want to be in a tight block and try and joust him. Drew however did want to joust me. He set up along the left side gutter and flew straight at 2 of my A-wings that were in the bottom left corner squirming around, holding his Phantoms back a bit to allow Redline to keep up with them. My other 3 A-wings positioned for the flank at mid board.
Drew hit one of my little A-wings with all he had a Proton Torp from Redline and a Range 1 shot from one of the Shadows. The other Shadow shot the dead A-wings wingman, but failed to do enough damage to kill him. I took out one of the Phantoms, between the wounded A-wing and one of the flankers. The other 2 flankers poured a lot of damage on Redline.
Next turn I landed a 5K right in front of Redline hoping he would be doing a slow move, to block him. I was very careful to not have any ships go directly behind him, I didn’t want any of that Thermal Detonator this time. His Phantom K turned, so he was out of the action this round and Redline bumped the 5K guy like I hoped. Redline did what he could but he didn’t have a lock to fire a missile so it wasn’t much. I was only able to concentrate fire on Redline with 2 ships instead of all 3 so Redline survived the round with 2 Hull.
Next round I tried to keep the lane-ways clogged up on Redline to again deny his action and keep from going behind him, as well as get arcs into the fray. The Phantom came back out of his K with a fast 3 green, but Redline bumped again – an asteroid was preventing him from doing the 3 hard turn, he desperately wanted to do to escape my A-wings. Redline’s position was actually not bad though, because I had no arcs on him, so he would definitely be surviving the round. Redline and the Phantom tried to concentrate fire, but without locks on the target they failed to do much. My A-wings concentrated fire on the Phantom and it was at 2 hull with Redline vs my 4 A-wings.
The A-wing Green dice went into overdrive and prevented Redline from taking out another ship before he burned up. Full win 100-20.
As an added prize the store had a tournament tray from WarMage.de, I already had one so I gave it to Drew. Bringing a Punisher to the top table, he earned it.
So, there I was, after a nine Store Champ dry spell over three seasons, I had won my second one. Store Champ season is fun because we, the lucky of the GTA, have tons of them. We don’t have to travel too far either and they bring out the best players – all playing to win.
In Germany the Store Champ plaques say Lokal-Meister and the Range rulers are even cooler saying Lokal-Meisterchaften. I like that so much better, but I guess if our English plaques said Local Champ maybe people wouldn’t be so gaga for them.
The thing I’ve learned from playing in countless tournaments at all 4 levels of X-wing is that anybody has a chance to win and you can over prepare, over think, do everything right and still lose. I won because of a last minute meta call that helped me play to my strengths.
I have owned 5 A-wings for 2 years, but I still have one that has been in the package since 2013 (I borrowed one for the tournament, remember?) because I never felt A-wings could do the job. It is important to keep in perspective, that in the end this is just a game and a tournament is just a tournament. If you are not having fun playing this game even if you lose, you are doing it wrong.