Yesterday was the first event in the 2015 Store Wars tournament series for X-Wing. For those reading this that may not know what that is, six stores in Ontario between St. Catharines and Mississauga are working together to hold a twelve-tournament series (two at each store) where players earn points cumulatively based on how they place in each tournament. The top 16 players by point standings will take place in an invitational “finale” tournament in the fall (disclaimer: I haven’t seen this officially announced by the Store Wars organizing body yet but I’m told by those more informed than myself that this is the plan).
The Hobby Kingdom in Burlington was the location and 20 people showed up to fight it out. Last year, I ran a bunch of different lists for Store Wars but in the tournaments post-Store Wars I ran lists comprised of various Decimators and Whisper. I haven’t flown a Phantom since the change to de-cloak and don’t anticipate my doing so but I did like the way those two ships flew together so I’m using the following as my baseline 99-point list for this year’s Store Wars:
- Rear Admiral Chiraneau (Veteran Instincts, Engine Upgrade, Ysane Isard, Rebel Captive, Gunner) – 63 points
- Soontir Fel (Push the Limit, Royal Guard TIE, Autothrusters, Shield Upgrade) – 36 points
A primary consideration for this list is to counter the following Dash Rendar/Corran Horn list out there (which I facetiously refer to as “Easy Mode”) that are the dominant strategy:
- Dash Rendar (Push the Limit, Engine Upgrade, Kyle Katarn, Outrider, Heavy Laser Cannon)
- Corran Horn (Veteran Instints, Engine Upgrade, R2-D2, Fire Control System)
Both Chiraneau and Fel configured as above have the ability to boost into Dash’s “Donut Hole” when equipped with the Heavy Laser Cannon and having Veteran Instincts on Chiraneau can, theoretically, give him the ability to boost out of Corran’s arc, assuming he survives that long! I agonized over taking Veteran Instincts or Determination on Chiraneau. I had one glorious game with a Decimator when Predator discarded three Pilot critical hits in the same game but it’s been more often the case that I’ll go an entire tournament without a Pilot critical hit coming up once.
The good news with this list is that my Fel build will likely remain unchanged. Some have told me to take a Targeting Computer instead of a shield, which I may try at some point but I like the security of being able to cancel that one fluke end-of-the-round range 3 obstructed critical hit against which I roll all blanks on defense with Fel.
Fel at 36 points also is cheaper than the typical Whisper I would take at 45 points, equipped with Gunner, Veteran Instincts, Advanced Cloaking Device, and Fire Control System so that allows for more configuration options on the Decimator with which I will likely experiment over the course of the tournament series.
Round 1 vs. Nelson C. (Imperials)
I’ve seen Nelson at a few tournaments before but we’ve never played against each other so I was glad to get to play a new opponent. A big part of what I like about Store Wars is that it gets everyone out of their local scenes to more outlying areas and you wind up playing people that you don’t see every week. Nelson commented that he had a grudge against a list similar to mine so he was definitely fighting with a purpose. His list was as follows:
- Colonel Vessery (Heavy Laser Cannon, Lone Wolf) – 44 points
- Kath Scarlet (Mangler Cannon, Gunner, Predator, Engine Upgrade) – 56 points
The Mangler/Kath combo did very well for Nelson early on and left Fel with three stress on him and down his shield after the initial exchange. I had a chance to recover but Fel rolled all blanks to a token-less HLC shot that yielded three hits. Vessery’s green dice kept him on the board with one hull remaining for the rest of the game. Even with Fel gone, I think I still had a decent chance to win by boosting in Kath’s side-arcs but having to defend against two ships with a 0-agility Decimator is a tall order, particularly after suffering a Blinded Pilot in an early round which had a chance to finish off Vessery.
Result: Loss 0-100
Round 2 vs. Phil B. (Imperials)
Phil, who came all the way from Pickering to play, was relatively new to the game and a real pleasure to play. His list was a throw-back to the days when TIE Interceptors were brand new:
- Soontir Fel (Push The Limit, Royal Guard TIE, Stealth Device, Autothrusters) – 35 points
- Carnor Jax (Push The Limit, Royal Guard TIE, Hull Upgrade, Autothrusters) – 34 points
- Dark Curse – 16 points
- Night Beast – 15 points
Simply stated, Phil being new to the game contributed heavily to how this match turned out. That is said without a shred of arrogance as we were both at the bottom table having sustained 100-0 defeats the prior round. Phil lined up his ships at more-or-less equidistant intervals along his table edge to which I responded by lining up Chiraneau and Fel directly opposite his Fel. An unfortunate collision into his own ship left his Fel token-less and he was taken out promptly. From there, fortune was cruel and dealt Jax a Blinded Pilot and I was able to boost Chiraneau out of Jax’s arc for three or four turns before Jax got a shot off. Eventually it came down to Jax on his own against Fel and Chiraneau and, while Autothrusters did their job and made the task take quite a few turns, I was able to win without losing a ship. This was important because I would need very strong margin of victory on my remaining matches to have a chance to make the top 8 cut.
Result: Win 100-0
Round 3 vs. Darren C. (Scum & Villainy)
Darren and I have played each other a few times and he’s an opponent against whom I really enjoy playing. The last time we played was about a month ago at a tournament at Black Knight Games where he was flying a list similar to the one he flew today:
- IG-88 B (Veteran Instincts, Inertial Dampeners, Autothrusters, Advanced Sensors, Heavy Laser Cannon) – 50 points
- Boba Fett (Veteran Instincts, Ion Cannon, Tactician, Inertial Dampeners, Engine Upgrade) – 50 points
The last time Darren and I played I was running a list with Fel, Vader, Dark Curse, and an Academy Pilot and we went the whole game until the very last turn without a single ship dying when he took down Darth Vader to win. My mistake that game was trying too hard to get into range 1 of Boba Fett and his re-rolls on defense were what kept him alive. This build with Boba Fett was compelling because, at every range band, he punishes you in some way:
- Range Band 1: Re-rolls on attack and defense from Boba Fett’s ability.
- Range Band 2: Stress handed out from Tactician.
- Range Band 3: No bonus green dice versus the Ion Cannon.
I gave Darren the initiative and he started by placing IG-88 in a corner and I responded by deploying Fel in the opposite corner. He surprised me by placing Boba Fett in the corner opposite to his IG-88 so I placed Chiraneau right next to Fel. The initial exchange went very much in my favour. I was able to remain at Range 3 with Fel and avoided an Ion Cannon shot and, between Chiraneau and Fel, was able to take down Boba Fett before IG-88 crossed the board and made a meaningful contribution to the fight.
There was one moment in this match when I felt my head really took over my natural inclination and showed, in some small way, that I’ve gained a speck of wisdom over the past year. Fel had already lost his shield and IG-88 B fired the HLC at him after a S-Loop. The attack yielded two hits and I rolled one evade and two blanks but had an evade token left. I almost instantly declared evading both shots but reflected for a moment and opted not to use the evade token and sustain one normal damage to have the attack end. Although this was fully 1/3 of Fel’s remaining hull it wound up being the wise choice as it not only ended the attack but, given the placement of the ships, made it unlikely that Fel would have to even defend another shot for two more rounds as IG-88 had made an S-Loop to be in position to shoot at Fel at all and would need to clear stress before being able to turn again. At that point, I had Chiraneu and Fel both behind IG-88 and, a few turns later (after an unfortunate asteroid landing on IG-88’s part) finished off the Assassin Droid for the win.
Result: Win 100-0
Round 4 vs. Mike W. (Rebels)
Mike was running a Super-Dash list that had the Dash build I expected to face but a different supporting ship than Corran Horn:
- Dash Rendar (Push the Limit, Heavy Laser Cannon, Outrider, Engine Upgrade, Kyle Katarn) – 58 points
- Ten Numb (Mangler Cannon, B-Wing/E-2, C-3PO, Veteran Instincts, Fire Control System) – 42 points
I’ll just come right out and say it: I hate Super Dash. What I hate even more is that I built my list specifically to counter it and it Dash still cleaned my clock. I have not encountered any ship that so thoroughly turns every lemon thrown at it into lemonade. Even with Rebel Captive handing out stress Dash just smiles and turns it into a focus token with Kyle Katarn, not caring if he collides with obstacles or ships. It did not help the Chiraneau suffered a “Damaged Sensor Array” critical that kept me from being able to boost within Range 1 of Dash and the HLC just whittled me down bit by bit.
I managed to take down Ten Numb but it was too little too late. Fel got in one lucky shot on Numb but then suffered the Damaged Engine critical and couldn’t clear stress by making the 2 hard right maneuver and just kept taking an unavoidable critical hit every turn until he died.
Result: Loss 42-100
Round 5 vs. Rick W. (Scum & Villainy)
Rick was flying a two-ship Mercenary list that made some unconventional but innovative choices:
- Guri (Push the Limit, Virago, Autothrusters, Advanced Sensors, “Hot Shot” Blaster) – 42 points
- IG-88 B (Push the Limit, Advanced Sensors, Heavy Laser Cannon, Seismic Charges, “Hot Shot” Blaster, Auththrusters) – 56 points
This list made frequent use of an ingenious combo with Push the Limit and Advanced Sensors that I’d never seen before. Here is the precise wording for those upgrades for reference:
The combo Rick was using went in this sequence:
- Declare use of Advanced Sensors before revealing a maneuver; perform an action.
- With Push the Limit, take the free action after the action performed in the previous step and receive a stress token.
- Reveal a green maneuver and remove the stress from the previous step.
This allowed for risk-free two-action turns where it didn’t even matter if the ship making use of the combo wound up colliding with a ship or obstacle because no denial of actions would take place. I fully intend to steal this idea.
As far as this game goes, there’s not much to tell and I have to acknowledge that I played very poorly. I decided to go after Guri first and focused fire on her with both Fel and Chiraneau. Despite keeping Guri in arc and managing to remove her shield and reduce her agility by 1 her Autothrusters completely shut down the Admiral and timely use of the Hot Shot Blaster took out Fel. I did not help myself by completely forgetting to use Autothrusters and Rebel Captive for the whole game and, once I lost Fel, decided to concede as I did not like my chances taking out a full-strength IG-88 with a Decmiator that had already lost its shields. Remembering to use those abilities could have made for a very different game.
Result: Loss 0-100
Conclusions & Lessons Learned
I must have gone back and forth a dozen times as to whether I would put Determination or Veteran Instincts on Chiraneau when I was making this list. I build it specifically to counter Corran and Dash and valued the pilot skill 10 highly but being able to cancel a critical hit one time in four should increase the survivability of the Decimator. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve flown Decimators with Determination at tournaments and gone the whole day without having any critical hits come up with the Pilot keyword yet, today, the very first critical hit I suffered was Blinded Pilot which had heavy costs and that same critical hit reared its ugly head in round four.
Obviously, a 2-3 record is a disappointment, particularly knowing the mistakes I made. It’s embarrassing to have forgotten Rebel Captive and Autothrusters as many times as I did in round 5. This phenomenon in isolation confirms that I am out of tournament shape. In my first match, although I lost, I made inerrant use of everything that required active memory (Gunner, Rebel Captive, and Autothrusters) but as the day wore on I got more and more mentally tired and things started to slip. If I’m going to have a decent showing for the rest of Store Wars I am going to need to be more disciplined.
Re-posted with permission from engler.ca