Buckle up, as you will see I am a long-winded old geezer and I’ve got a lot to say.
I’ll admit, even though by all accounts I’m a seasoned player, I’ve been around the competitive X-wing scene for the most part without spectacular results. Sure I can usually hold my own, but I tend toward risky play, which usually edges me out of the upper echelons.
I’m not the most intelligent person, but gaming in general tends to draw out smart people who enjoy using their big brains. I have to work at playing well to compete.
Last month in Toronto, we had our 2016/17 Regional for the truncated season. 99 players showed, and I placed much higher than I was expecting. Spoiler alert, I didn’t win the Regional, but I did have an opportunity to and that’s not too shabby in my book.
X-Wing is in a weird state at present. Hitting with a massive amount of Damage is very much a thing (Fenn Rau, Nora Wexley, Rey, etc.) as is shrugging off all that Damage output with a boatload of Green dice, tokens and other effects (I’m looking at you X7 Defenders and Countdown).
We’ve also got a lot of shiny new possibilities of attacking out of the usual order of things, with Snap Shot, Quick Draw and Dengar. The oldest way to put Damage on a ship out of the Attack phase, of course is with Bombs.
In late October of 2014, just in time for Worlds (and Canadian Nationals) Action based Bombs or Mines placed right on top of a ships base would go off immediately. Sounds great, but bombs over the years, much like Ordnance was just too much of a hassle to pull off. In the fall of 2015, just as Wave 7 was released, hope for bombs was ignited and soon snuffed out again. With the release of the K-Wing and the TIE Punisher, the game also got two new Action based Bombs, the Conner Net and Cluster Mines, which were eclipsed by the arrival of the Twin Laser Turret.
Cluster Mines were also hampered by the fact that they only triggered on a 3/5th success rate. Bombs were very much still NOT a thing. The next big boon for Bombs was the release of the Ghost the following year with the addition of the Sabine Wren crew to add a bonus damage when a friendly bomb is triggered once per turn. Still bombs fizzled.
The following year (2016), Cluster Mines (with the errata) triggered on both hit and crit results giving them a 50/50 success rate for each of the 6 possible dice, plus the one auto damage from Sabine Crew.
Provided you can place them properly they are now reliable damage that cannot be defended against. Add to that the Deadeye Errata which effectively removed the Triple Jumpmaster from contention altogether, along with lists becoming smaller, led us to the perfect environment for the K-Wing to finally make Bombs an actual thing.
The ingenious man known to the world as Sable Gryphon and to his parent’s as Mark Fletcher saw this list waiting to happen and debuted the list dubbed “Galaxy Note 7” at World’s 2016, making the top 32.
The list is
Warden + Advanced Slam + Cluster Mines + Extra Munitions + Seismic Charges + Chopper crew
Warden + Advanced Slam + Cluster Mines + Extra Munitions + Seismic Charges + Intelligence Agent
Warden + Advanced Slam + Cluster Mines + Extra Munitions + Sabine crew
Rather than tweak or put any type of twist on this list, out of respect for its pure design I played it exactly as is. The only conscious choice I made was to use the Original Damage Deck because, this list has no Secondary Weapons (that’s right only cards with the “Attack” header are) and I have no Pilot Abilities or Elite Pilot Talent, so Munitions Failure and Injured Pilot crits are basically no effect, blank cards.
This list finally got me to crack open my third K-Wing I had in the pack since release back in August 2015. The first time I played it against one of my regular sparring buddies, I felt really bad, because the Galaxy Note takes down other lists leaving brutally, opponents little recourse to fight back. Still, 2 dice primaries even with a 360 arc made me nervous that this list might not have it over the long haul. Over the next couple of months I would occasionally bring it out because it was really whack to fly. I hardly ever have used K-Wings, having much more experience going against them, and know how quickly they can be focused right down by concentrated fire.
With Regionals upon us so quickly this year, I was at a loss as to what to bring. I had little tournament practice in the preceding couple of months with any list I felt could take on all comers. Still, I had always wanted to use a bomb centric list in a major tournament.
What have been the options for a bomb carrier over the years? Emon Azzameen, TIE Bombers, Y-Wing Bombers, IG-88 Bombers, Decimatior bombers – try as you might they were always a big waste of time. Finally, with Advanced SLAM, these K-Wings could make bombs work like no other ship in the game. I recalled an excellent article Khyros wrote on how to make the Advanced SLAM bomb work. I found it novel at the time.
The major weakness of the list, apart from terrible attack dice and almost non-existent defense dice, is that it is almost completely shut down by a “fortressed” squad positioned in such a way that it doesn’t move. This is how Sable Gryphon was denied a Regional win earlier this season in his home state of Texas against a triple G1-A + Leachos build in the Final Round. Link.
I was still on the fence about this list but my buddy Drew, who humoured me playing against it a few times and hating every minute of it, encouraged me to use it. “Why not?” I thought, “Every squad has a weakness, I’ll take this one in.”
With my standard “I barely practice a list before a major tourney” I’d have to just wing it (oh the puns!) and fall back on my 700+ previous games of X-Wing to carry me through the day. Worst case, I would probably finish in the low 20’s as per usual for the last couple of years. Whatever, it would be fun to drop some bombs!
I normally wouldn’t play a Primary Weapon turret squad, but if I had to rely on my primary weapons with this squad I would be sunk.
Fresh out of the gate I am paired up against Colin, a player I’d recognized from the local GTA X-wing scene, playing an Original Han Solo Falcon flanked by a fancy decked out Poe Dameron T-70.
Han Solo w/Determination, Engine Upgrade, Lando Calrissian, Rey, Millenium Falcon
Poe Dameron (PS9), Push the Limit, Pattern Analyzer, R2-D2, Autothrusters, Black One
We played long and hard all the way to time. When the dust settled I had won. Colin would go on to make the top cut with me being his only loss in Swiss for the day. 1-0
This round I move all the way up to table 3, playing along side 2016 Canadian National Champion Alan Fung and the only man to make the Ontario Regional Cut every single year without fail, Joe Silva. My opponent Ryan was playing Poe Dameron, once again decked right out, this time accompanied by Dash Rendar with Mangler Cannon.
Alan and Joe both finished off their opponents with a decisive swiftness of 30 minutes tops. While I slugged it out to time once again, losing on points, because I couldn’t take out that sneaky regenerating Poe. My opponent was very good at using his positioning actions to get himself into safe positions making it difficult for me to put a bombing run on him. I only surprised him once with a hard 2 I wasn’t even sure I could make to sneak a slam in and drop a bomb on Poe to dig into his Hull. So down to the mid tables I go for my next match. 1-1
Third round, I play against Poe Dameron once again this time appearing along side a U-wing and an ARC Fighter. I was able to flank around behind my opponent, who kind of got hung up crashing his ships into each other and I took out the U-wing first using just my primary weapons. I piled the bombs all over Poe for 2 rounds with 2 K’s while the third kept the pressure on beating up the ARC dropping Clusters on it than attacking with primaries. Once Poe was toast the ARC flew away and I managed to fly all three of my ships into each other creating a little house made of K-Wings. Of course once again we went to time. Exhausting. Inching back up the ladder. 2-1
Fourth round, I end up playing against my buddy Drew, who I have played with this list a few times already, so he is prepared and knows how to defeat it. Drew is playing Quick Draw, Maarek Stele Defender and Death Fire. We get to a point where I have a single K left and he has a shieldless Maarek and 20 minutes left on the clock. His Maarek is worth 1 more point than my K and it’s all out of Bombs. I fly off the board to get a bit of a break MOV be damned. 2-2
Fifth round, I am refreshed after having some food and ready to go. My opponent is flying Rey w/Expertise and Finn Crew and Jan Ors Hawk. Just before we begin, he stares me in the eye and says “I’m just here to have fun ok!” Wow, ok.
Then first exchange he plows one of my K-Wings with a Range 3, 5 Dice attack and they all hit. Pow. Jeez. My primaries do very little in return.
Next round, I Slam up the injured K and drop a Cluster Mine right in front of the Falcon not quite bumping into it but my base is slightly right of his front nubs. The other K’s just move up and Focus. The Falcon’s 3 Bank template goes down and sets off all 3 nodes of the Cluster Mine. He rolls 5 Damage total +1 for Sabine. Ouch. The Falcon has no where to go because the other K’s are blocking him in so it stays in place touching the very damaged K.
Rey and Jan beat up one of the other K’s. I do some primary attacks on Rey, maybe get another damage or two on her. Next round the first very damaged K jumps over Rey and drops his other full Cluster Mine right on her, causing a whole lot of pain. The other very damaged K hard 2 turns and drops a Cluster Mine on Rey too finishing her off.
The third K, one banks and drops a Cluster Mine, hitting the Hawk with one and leaving the other two nodes right in front of it. Jan Ors moves and goes out in a bang. All in all the game is over in 30 minutes. Finally the quick kill I had been hoping for all day. 100-0 victory really helped bolster my MOV and now I had a chance to just hang out a bit. 3-2
24th table, I’m in 24th, if I can just pull off a decent MOV win this game, I just might make the Top 16. My opponent sits down, U-wing, Z-95 and K-wing.
All his cards are crazy alt-arts that I’ve never seen before. He has a set of Regional dice from 2014 like me, except he has a double set. He also has some funky custom acrylic templates with Spanish writing on them, and the year 2016. “Are you the Mexican National Champion?” I ask him. “Yes I am”, he says.
Hmmmm, my hopes of an easy win this round vaporize.
Next to us are a couple of other old time X-Wing players I know from way back Devon and Rick, getting set up for an old fashioned a TIE Swarm vs TIE Swarm. Lucky me I get to play a light weight, I tell them.
His squad is all PS and Ordnance. I can totally see that his list could very easily Alpha strike the snot out of my K’s and I could lose one before it can even do anything. On the opening exchange I SLAM one of my K’s right into the middle of where his formation is headed. His U-wing bumps my K and the other 2 ships lay right into it.
My K-wings do minimal damage to the U-Wing with primaries. Next round I hop over the U-wing with the damaged K and drop a Cluster Mine on it. The other K’s get right up close as well.
Bumping and positioning prevent him from focusing down and killing either of my Damaged K’s. I am able to eliminate the U-wing due to poor unmodified Defense dice on his part. Next round Craken eats a Seismic and falls to primary fire, because after all, it is just a Z-95; leaving his Miranda to take on all three of my ships solo.
Miranda has Torpedoes and an Autoblaster Turret so I am able to switch around my ships so they all live through to the end and I drop Cluster Mines on Miranda every chance I get for the 100-0 win. 4-2
Checking the posted score sheet confirms I did indeed make the cut, sliding in at 13th place. I finally made my way into a Top Cut above the Store Championship level for the first time since the 2014 Ontario Regional at Phoenix Rising in St. Catherines, where I made top 8 and was knocked out by the kid who won the whole thing. Since then, I have attended and placed well with a 4 and 2 record but never had tie breakers strong enough to make the cut.
My opponent for the Top 16, is my old pal Joe Silva. Of course Joe makes the cut, Joe always makes the cut, that was the only certainty of the day for me. Joe is playing a decked right out 52 pt Miranda and 2 plain Gold Squad Y-Wings with TLT’s. This game was filmed and broadcast live as part of the coverage by TVVT, link to youtube here.
I won the Initiative roll, and chose to take it as I wanted to move first. I set up in the bottom right corner, spread out in the right third of the starting area.
Joe set up opposite way over on the far left. We both cruised up our respective edges with my K’s moving a little faster up the board. Joe had Miranda break off from the Y’s cruising up his starting area edge to intercept me.
I move slowly and focus all my ships. One Y is just in range, the other is out. Miranda is in Range 2 in front of my K’s. Miranda launches a Homing Missile exchanges a Shield for an extra hit, gets all 5 hits to come through, I manage to roll my 1 evade die to only have that hit blow off all a K’s shields. I fire back at Miranda with all my K’s and manage to get her down to 3 Hull. His Gold squad TLT’s, 2 more Hull off, down to 3 Hull. Oooof.
The next round my very damaged K manages to SLAM over Miranda and finish her with a Cluster Mine, leaving the third node undetonated. I get the other 2 K’s in position for next turn facing his incoming Y’s. As the battle rages on, my damaged K falls having done his part. The Y-Wings are both down to a couple Hull each. I run away with the Sabine K and take on both Y’s with my mint Warden.
It doesn’t take long before the dust settles and it is just my 2 Wardens limping around the board alone.
Moving on, I am paired up against Philip with Rear Admiral Chiraneau with Hot-Shot Co-Pilot (HotCop), Gunner, Darth Vader, Predator and Engine Upgrade and Countess Ryad with Lone Wolf and X7. Yowza.
By this time of the evening, I’m getting pretty tired but I am just happy to be still playing. We get right to it exchanging fire early on at range 3.
I end up splitting off 1 Warden, while the other 2 make quick work of Ryad. RAC’s Gunner Vader combo activates much more frequently than I thought possible.
Luckily Old Damage Deck meta call kicks in and nothing gruesome comes up. RAC chews through me almost as fast as I chew through him. My spatial sense is quite fatigued and instead of ending the game with a 3 bank, 3 bank SLAM Cluster Mine direct drop I just 2 bank and Focus.
We measure afterward and have a discussion about it- whoops. In the end I have only the Sabine Warden left with a couple Hull and RAC is floating around with a couple Hull. After a Range 3 exchange where no damage is exchanged and Philip decides not to risk Darth Vadering himself to death in hopes of me pulling a Direct Hit and going to Final Salvo, the game ends when I 3 bank, 3 bank SLAM and drop my last Cluster Mine right in RAC’s path.
When he drops his 3 bank template, if my K-Wing weren’t blocking the way he would have escaped, but as he was blocked he triggered all 3 of my Cluster Mine Tokens plus one more left over from when Ryad went down. 8 dice rolled 7 damage triggered plus Sabine’s +1. RAC goes down in a truly spectacular ball of flames.
This game was also streamed and can be viewed here. My opponent is a nice young guy named Thomas. I’d never run across him before. He said he was from Oshawa and this was only his third tournament. He was undefeated all day so he must be doing something right.
In a previous game, he one shotted a full health Countess Ryad with his ARC. His squad is Norra Wexley with Expertise, R2-D2, C-3PO, Title, Vectored Thrusters and Dash Rendar with Title, HLC, Push the Limit, Engine Upgrade, Kanan Jarus.
Dash is a tricky one to pin down but that ARC should give me something to work on. At this point as there are only two active tables, the place is getting very quiet and I can hear the video feed commentators talking excitedly about SLAMing and dropping mines.
I hope I can put on a good show. Thomas is very cautious in his approach, keeping the ARC way back, while I cut across the board and get an approach vector lined up well away from the asteroid/debris field Dash will be dancing around in.
At first exchange Thomas gets an extreme Range 3 shot on one of my Wardens with his ARC, this signals to me I can drop a mine on him next turn. I do, but it fails to do too much, and leaves a node undetonated.
I move up slower with the Sabine’s K to get a better opportunity on the ARC the next round, and try to get through C-3PO and R2-D2 with my Primary weapons. Dash of course is way off safe from me, blasting away with his HLC and Norra Barrel Rolls to lay on some pain with her back arc.
The next round I run over the undetonated node, do 1 damage to myself, but do the Sabine +1 to the ARC as it is just barely in Range 1. I SLAM and drop another Cluster Mine on Norra. Doing another 4 Damage on Norra. I drop a Seismic Charge near her as well and Focus with another Warden.
I need to keep the pressure on the ARC to keep it from running off and regenerating all its shields. I get set up for the next round with the damaged K. Dash and Norra do their thing giving one of my K’s the Damaged Engine Crit, which will give it Stress if it does a hard turn. Norra ends up within 1 of the Seismic and removes the newly added R2-D2 Shield. During the combat phase I take a beating but K’s do that pretty well and I’m still standing with all my ships even though my primary shots do next to jack squat for me.
The next round I do a hard 2 turn toward Norra with the Sabine K and SLAM another hard 2 dropping a Cluster Mine right in Norra’s path. With my Damaged Engine K-wing I do a 2 bank toward Dash and 2 bank SLAM dropping a Cluster Mine, hitting Dash with one of the Node’s for a damage. I save the Sabine splash Damage for Norra, because I need that 1 auto damage insurance, no way I want R2-D2 to get any headway, even though, the bombs trigger before R2’s shield regen does. The last K just gets in position way in the back.
When Dash’s template drops it is right on the other 2 bomb nodes and he takes 3 more damage and block him. The commentary booth wails in the background. Then Dash takes a big shot doing 3 damage to Sabine’s K.
The next round was just positioning for my 2 workhorse K’s while Sabine’s K took a breather across the board for a bit. She’s all out of bombs, so her only goal now is to stay alive, while I still have bombs in play.
I misplay the K-Wing right in front of Dash with a 1 bank leaving me too far out to catch him with his last Cluster Bomb. Dash moves between the two Warden’s at range one of both. He barrel rolls and finishes off one of my Warden’s but sets himself up beautifully for me to bomb him next turn. I hit him with 2 of the 3 nodes doing a total of 4 damage total with Sabine’s +1 but that still leaves him with 3 Hull and I am out of Cluster Mines.
Down to my Seismics (which aren’t going to be of much help) and my primary weapons, so I know what that means – I am totally pooched now.
Hey, 1 get one damage through with a primary weapon shot, Dash is down to 2 Hull, I’m ahead on points and there is 20 minutes left on the clock, but my K-Wings are all out of gas. I know I can’t win at this point. I consider conceding but Thomas doesn’t seem to realize it yet.
He runs Dash way across the board, while I huddle my two remaining K’s in the opposite corner waiting for Dash to come back and slaughter me. Eventually, the inevitable happens and Dash comes back around and my primary weapons cannot get enough Damage through. Thomas goes on to the final round and eventually wins going 10-0 for the day.
It’s pretty surreal, as I pack up my kit. Another Regional down, and I’m just happy to be playing.