My first experience with Dengaroo was at the 401 Regionals in Toronto and already excellently chronicled here by SP3NC3R. I’m the guy who lost three TIEs in a round. Not my best moment, but I saw what was coming and just swung the elegant sledgehammer that is the TIE Swarm head on at it and just bounced. The rest of the game I just sat there in shock.
That was the first time I saw Dengaroo and the last time I’ve lost to it.
Dengaroo is scary because of just the raw damage it can do to low hit point ships that rely on high agility to survive. Zuckuss allows for massive mitigation of green dice while lone wolf and extra tokens shift Dengar’s damage percentages way up, allowing him to just nuke low hit point ships, and with his pilot ability he can achieve it twice a round.
The advice in this article is primarily aimed at other Swarm players, but I think there are plenty of takeaways for other players in here too. Us Swarm players need to stick together though, I’ve got your back local Swarm player!
I’ve found that killing Manaroo is essential for the swarm to be able to kill Dengar, if she continues to pass him tokens throughout the first third to half of the game it becomes much too difficult to push enough damage through in time.
The Toronto Community is really great and the PTL has really upped my game. It fosters an amazing Fly Casual attitude and is a friendly community. We are very lucky to have such a great group of guys to play with. If you are ever in the GTA come out and fly with us!
There was a major discussion about what to do in our group after the Toronto Regionals when most/all of us were surprised by Dengaroo post the US Nationals Meta.
The debate centred around who to kill first; Dengar or Manaroo. Many of us thought that it would be better to kill Dengar first, as he was the primary threat. However Manaroo is the real reason Dengar is a threat. Her ability to pass him tokens is a force multiplier. Once she is dead, and she is easy to kill, Dengar is easier to deal with. I would rather deal with an easy kill followed by a medium/difficult kill, than deal with an extremely tough kill first followed by an easy kill.
I, and a few, others convinced the group that Manaroo was the correct first target. Mostly through repeated success.
Throughout the store champs season I was going back and forth between running Howlrunner, Zeta Leader, and 4 Blacks all with crackshot, or Howlrunner, Mauler, Scourge, and 3 Blacks all with crackshot. I really liked these lists and how they performed against meta defining lists like Palp Aces and Uboats but was never really comfortable flying that few ships after 2 years of running 7 & 8 ship TIE Swarms. It’s certainly not enough TIE’s to run against Dengaroo.
After Store Champs Season, the Madrid regionals video went viral in our group.
I’d never seen someone fly a swarm like Mario. It wouldn’t be a lie if watching that game made me feel like a new player. When I saw the list it was certainly an ‘oh my god why didn’t I think of that!’ moment. I started flying it and haven’t looked back. Since then I’ve been flying Howl with crack, three Blacks with crack and three Academies.
For our last Regionals in August, nine of us drove from Toronto to New Brunswick to take part in Canada’s Maritime Regionals. It was an unforgettable road trip and one of the best tournament experiences most of us have had. Some of those games and the crazy late finals won by the PTL’s own season 4 winner Alan will be airing on the Northern Gaming Network narrated by the Wookies.
The guys also made this picture of me after I took out 3 Dengaroo players in a row at the Maritime Regionals we went too:
1) Manaroo will usually deploy on your right and run left
2) Dengar will deploy central or on your left and rush to joust in the middle
3) Dengar player beings debris
A Dengaroo player will bring the biggest debris because they are under the false illusion that they are immune to stress. Manaroo isn’t, and in the first three rounds Dengar isn’t either. Use this assumption to punish them.
You need to set up the debris to channel Manaroo (mostly to induce panic in the Dengaroo player) and restrict Dengar in the opening engagement.
My suggestion is to limit escape routes for Manaroo so the play feels trapped and to limit the number of approaches that Dengaroo has to enter the middle of the table.
To do this I recommend filling your top left corner – how is up to you. I’ve included a diagram below. I tend to try to force Dengar to engage over a debris on the engagement round and to funnel Manaroo into a PTL stress-induced debris tunnel. Generally, you’ll also want to build a lane from your centre to about 1/3 in from the top left corner. This encourages the Dengaroo player to pass tokens from Manaroo and to Zuckuss too early.
A poor player will bury rocks at your 2-2. This is heaven for a swarm, a 5 forward clears the rocks, and you want to push the engagement to their end into the debris anyway. Protip for combating Swarms Rocks deployed at R3 and another R1 out from it can really constrict where a swarm can go.
In order to win, you must be willing to do the unexpected. In this match up that means splitting the swarm – but as Napoleon said, ‘March divided and fight united.’
I always deploy my Academies in a line on my right, across from where I assume Manaroo will deploy. These guys are the chasers. Their job is obvious and direct – chase Manaroo. It’s obvious, but you also want Manaroo running scared. If Manaroo is boosting and barrel rolling it’s denying actions to Dengar. A boosting and barrel rolling Manaroo is just as good as having Manaroo off the board.
Whether or not you have initiative has little effect on where you deploy the pin wheel block of Blacks and Howl. If the Dengaroo player has initiative and deploys in the middle – a rare choice – you may want to deploy on your far left in the outside lane. Otherwise I generally just deploy in the centre.
Both blocks of TIEs should 5 Forward into the middle of the map. The block of Blacks should do a 2 or 3 forward and bump Dengar while retaining actions on round 2 (remember the white sloop). This should allow for Howl backed tokened shots on Manaroo from most of your ships. This should be followed by another 5 forward or 3 bank to corner Manaroo and finish her off at R1.
For the Academies, I usually do a 3 hard with the left most TIE on round 2 and 3 bank with the other TIEs followed by a 5 forwards on round 3, closing the trap on Manaroo.
In this sample game I’ve moved Manaroo faster than is normally done by Dengaroo players Usually I see a 1 forward on the second turn they don’t expect you to come in so hard and fast. The left most debris is also perfectly placed to obstruct Dengar and force him to deploy further left or to stress on the way in as well you can see if he goes faster to get around the debris he is easier to block. These moves also force the Dengaroo player to engage the swarm in Lone Wolf nullifying range if he wants to engage with both ships.
As well I’ve demonstrated that a Range 1 shot from Dengar isn’t the end of the world for Howl. At range 2-3 in the first engagement Dengar will most likely be shooting a torpedo at Howlrunner. So she’ll be taking a 4 dice attack anyway. She should survive if you’ve taken an evade action and don’t blank out completely on the re-rolls.
This process of chasing Manaroo to the left and baiting Dengar into the middle should also force the Jumpmasters within range 2 or close enough that the Dengaroo player will have to be careful about their maneuvers and may restrict how hard Dengar stays in the fight as they try to keep distance from Manaroo.
Always evade with Howlrunner until Dengar is dead; your opponent can’t Zuckuss an evade token. Hopefully Howl will be out of range 3 on round 1 or bumped and out of arc on round 2. With Crack, Howl is 19pts. That means Howl plus an Academy pilot is 31 points – over ½ of Dengar’s points total. If Howl can survive until the end game it allows you slack in keeping ships alive in the endgame. Howl survives into the endgame in 50% of my Dengaroo matches. The easiest way to do this is to use her as the blocker after Manaroo dies. Dengar can’t shoot her if they are touching.
On round 2, your block of Blacks should have arcs and Range 1 shots on Dengar; DO NOT TAKE THEM. Take R3 shots on Manaroo, usually I’ve been able to push through damage this turn, you can use crackshot; Manaroo needs to die.
At some point in here the Dengaroo player also has to make an important choice. If you kept Howlrunner out of range the first round of combat, the Dengaroo player has to choose between shooting Howl or a damaged Black from a torpedo, this seems to happen in about 50% of my games. Howl is the correct target, Dengaroo players. Howl should survive, if you evaded.
As a general rule I don’t shoot Dengar until he has three stress. It’ not particularly the stress I’m looking for but to me it is a signal that we have moved on to the next phase of the game. Generally I’ve found that I can kill Manaroo in 2-3 turns once I’ve got guns on her. Usually because of the threat to Manroo and if Countermeasures or Glitterstim were baited in the first few rounds of combat the Dengar player will start stressing early i.e., on the round Manaroo is likely die in. Either because Dengar is token starved due to action denial against Manaroo or in desperation to get damage in before Manaroo is dead. So for me the stress signifies that Dengar will be tokenless for the rest of the game and that I can begin to hunt him hard without worrying about barrel roll or focus actions.
Here the variables really start to pile up. If the Dengar player popped both Glitterstim and counter measures on the first round of combat – you’ve won. Because as I’ve discussed you aren’t shooting Dengar. A good Dengaroo player will pop Glitterstim and Countermeasures on different turns. The better players will save glitterstim for the turn after Manaroo is dead to keep up the high damage output.
Once Manaroo is dead Dengar is a tough JMK but just a JMK and will go down – especially because he won’t have tokens. Zuckuss will hurt, but remember to evade with wounded TIEs or rotate them out of the fight. As I stated earlier, if Howlrunner lives to this stage I use her to block Dengar, this keeps her out of harm’s way and preserved more points allow you to be more aggressive with your Blacks and Academies.
Also, I’d like to add some common mistakes made by Dengaroo players you should watch for:
1) Not having enough tokens (see Player materials in tournament regulations)
2) Re-rolling eyes with Lone Wolf
3) not passing all tokens from Manaroo
Happy hunting and good luck out there! Now, can someone tell me how to beat Palp aces without 6 crackshots?