The 2015 Store Wars circuit continued yesterday with an event at The Dragon in Guelph. Without a doubt, the current meta heavily features two-ship lists. Until the rules change to how the Cloak action works, I did really enjoy flying various builds with Whisper (TIE Phantom) and the various Decimators. In the last Store Wars event I switched out Whisper for Soontir Fel which allowed for a more kitted out Rear Admiral Chiraneau than I was accustomed to flying with Whisper but I didn’t fly it to very impressive results.
Something I am seeing more and more of within this two-ship meta is a pilot skill arms race of sorts with one or both pilots having skill 8 or higher through frequent use of the Veteran Instincts elite pilot upgrade. This includes but is not limited to tandems like Han Solo/Corran Horn, Rear Admiral Chiraneau/Soontir Fel, and Boba Fett/IG-88. For this tournament I thought I’d try and put together a durable list with decent firepower that wasn’t particularly concerned with going first. I saw a recent blog post on Team Covenant that I liked the look of which I tweaked a little and went into the tournament with this list:
- Chewbacca (Push The Limit, Jan Ors, Kyle Katarn, Anti-Pursuit Lasers, Millennium Falcon)
- Leebo (Determination, Mangler Cannon, Recon Specialist, Outrider)
The list that inspired mine had the Heavy Laser Cannon on Leebo but I decided to go with the Mangler so that I wouldn’t be subject to not being able to fire if ships got into the range 1 “donut hole” that the HLC creates. Given the high pilot skill meta and the popularity of giving ships (particularly those with large bases) the Engine Upgrade modification I didn’t want to lose for a lack of being able to shoot back.
The Anti-Pursuit Lasers are a bit of a white elephant in this list. With everything that I had on both ships they came to 98 points. I wasn’t really worried about an initiative bid since I didn’t anticipate having to even consider it with two pilots at skill 5. Neither of my ships have System upgrade slots and my crew slots were fully populated. There are no 2-point missiles and the only modifications that I could afford were Anti-Pursuit Lasers and Tactical Jammer. Neither of those seemed like options that would come up very often so I just decided to throw the APL on Chewie instead of letting the points go to waste.
I was transparent in my last tournament blog about my intense dislike of “Super” Dash Rendar so I was wary of seeming hypocritical with two ships with 360 degree firing arcs. I have flown very few times with the YT-2400 so I decided to give it a go, particularly after hearing others speak of the effectiveness of Determination on Leebo. In my use of Decimators I have been lukewarm on Determination as it often feels highly situational. In concert with Leebo’s ability (“When you are dealt a faceup Damage card, draw 1 additional Damage card, choose 1 to resolve, and discard the other”) it feels much less serendipitous as Leebo is fishing for Pilot cards whereas you’re simply hoping a Pilot critical will come up with a Decimator.
This list was also a two-turret list that didn’t make me want to throw up in my mouth when I looked at it. With their relatively low pilot skill I’d have to be careful about bumping and losing actions as these ships would both be of greatly decreased effectiveness without them. The PTL/Ors/Katarn combo on Chewbacca can, over turns, ensure that Chewbacca has two Evade tokens and a focus every turn which enhances his already high survivability. With RecSpec on Leebo, he also becomes highly effective on offense and defense and could even convert a focus to an Evade with Chewbacca’s Jan Ors.
It Pays to Have Friends Better at the Game Than You
So while the list above was what I brought to the tournament, that was not my initial build. Originally I had Leebo kitted out with a Gunner instead of Recon Specialist thinking it would be great to get multiple shots with the Mangler. Well, idiot, unless you’ve somehow crammed IG-88 B’s robotic brain into your Outrider the Gunner is essentially a five point Wookiee tourist since the Outrider title doesn’t allow for use of a primary weapon attack. I’d like to say that I realized this before the tournament on my own but it was pointed out to me by my friend Chris while we were in the car on the way to the tournament. Fortunately, I realized that I also forgot my damage deck so I had to go back to my house, anyway, before heading to The Dragon so I was able to pick up the RecSpec and APL. Cripes.
Round 1 vs. Darren C. (Scum & Villainy)
Darren is one of my favourite people to play against at tournaments. We’ve wound up playing against each other at the last two tournaments we’ve been at with us each winning one so this was our rubber match. We both laughed when we heard our names paired so I was looking forward to a fun match. Darren has been running with a Boba Fett/IG-88 list of various stripes and today went with the following:
- Boba Fett (Veteran Instincts, Mangler Cannon, Tactician, Inertial Dampeners, Engine Upgrade)
- IG-88 B (Veteran Instincts, Advanced Sensors, Mangler Cannon, Inertial Dampeners, Autothrusters)
This was a slightly tweaked list from two weeks ago wherein there was a Heavy Laser Cannon on IG-88 B and an Ion Cannon on Boba Fett. For this match-up I liked this list better as the Mangler Cannon’s critical hit-generation was of little concern to Chewbacca and even Leebo had his ability and Determination to hopefully cancel any critical hits that came his way.
One valuable lesson I’ve learned in a two-ship meta is to not split fire. As hard as it may be sometimes, I find it’s best to pick a target and concentrate fire on it until it’s gone. There is not a two-ship list out there that can consistently recover from being down one ship for more than a turn or two; I wanted to be on the positive side of that equation. I decided to focus fire on Boba Fett. IG-88, being more agile, would be harder to hit and Autothrusters would just compound that fact. I had to be mindful of that Boba Fett would be doing everything he could to get within range 1 of me for all those re-rolls on attack and defense.
We chipped at each other’s shields for a few turns but Leebo’s Mangler Cannon really heated up once Fett’s shields were down and I scored an Injured Pilot critical which removed Boba Fett’s pilot ability, therefore making it much more lucrative for me to engage Fett at Range 1 with Chewbacca. After a few turns of bumping into Leebo I managed to take down Fett and, from there I was able to take on and defeat IG-88 with less urgency since I was getting two shots every turn to his one.
I fully acknowledge that my red dice were on fire this game but, as they say, it’s better to be lucky than good.
Result: Win 100-0
Round 2 vs. Chris V. (Scum & Villainy)
Chris is one of the Hamilton players and he and I have played many times. Chris always comes up with very creative and lethal lists and pilots them extremely well. In all the times we’ve faced each other in tournaments I only recall beating him once so I knew this would be a tough match. Chris has been flying a dual-Aggressor list a fair bit lately and brought this version of it to The Dragon:
- IG-88 B (Veteran Instincts, Autoblaster, Ion Cannon, Accuracy Corrector, Autothrusters, IG-2000)
- IG-88 C (Veteran Instincts, Autoblaster, Flechette Cannon, Accuracy Corrector, Autothrusters, IG-2000)
I know Chris is very good at getting up close and personal with the Autoblaster and, combined with the Accuracy Corrector, that’s damage I didn’t want to be taking frequently. I tried to get too cute and set up my ships at 45 degree angles to each other for a turn of staying put but this was a folly. Being so focused on the Autoblaster I forgot entirely about the Ion Cannon and had Chewie pointing off-board with an Ion after turn 2. I elected to keep the stress to turn inwards but the tactical gaffe compounded over several turns. I went as far forward as I could to try and get out of range of the Aggressors but was just in range and they double-teamed Chewbacca until he was gone a few turns later. Although Leebo was more-or-less at full strength Chris was avoiding practically all of my shots and took Leebo down in short order.
Autothrusters are an upgrade that I am really going to have to give stronger consideration towards if I continue to fly this list. Being able to shoot in a 360 degree arc with 2 ships is very powerful but Autothrusters slow down the effectiveness of shots outside of the primary arc considerably. Autothrusters, when they can be used, essentially takes one of your defense dice and gives all of the blanks an evade symbol. That’s doubling the odds of rolling a natural evade and, if you have a focus token and spend it on defense, that equates to a guaranteed Evade result.
Chris was consistently making great use of the boost/evade ability that IG-88 C provides to simultaneously get within range 1 to get at least 2 guaranteed damage on me with Autoblaster and, in return, I was having most of my shots canceled. Statistically, here are the odds of what a 3 agility ship with an evade token (but not a focus) can expect to roll on defence with Autothrusters in effect vs. without Autothrusters (assuming defending at range 1-2):
|Evades||With Autothrusters||Without Autothrusters|
|1 or more||100%||100%|
|2 or more||90%||76%|
|3 or more||49%||32%|
The 90% chance to cancel 2 or more evades is what shuts down my list, particularly Leebo since he is relying exclusively on a secondary weapon which gets no additional dice when at range 1 which is where Chris’ IG-88s with Autoblasters live. It will be very challenging at pilot skill 5 to keep ships with Autothrusters in my primary arc but it’s something to which I’ll need to devote significant thought as the dual-Aggressor list is popular right now.
Result: Loss 0-100
Round 3 vs. Ron N. (Scum & Villainy)
Ron is another one of the players local to me that I’ve played a few times. He’s relatively new to X-Wing but has become highly competitive in a short amount of time. This time Ron was running the following Scum & Villainy list:
- Boba Fett (Veteran Instincts, Autoblaster, Recon Specialist, Engine Upgrade)
- Syndicate Thug (Blaster Turret, R4 Agromech, BTL-A4 Y-Wing) x2
When Scum & Villainy came out they gave me a reason to want to fly Y-Wings again, particularly the various Salvaged Astromech upgrades. The BLT (yes, I know it’s “BTL” but I can’t help but call it a BLT) title card remains a bit of a puzzler for me. The turret weapons on Y-Wings always felt right-sized to me because they mitigated the fact that Y-Wings maneuver like shopping carts. Getting two attacks is definitely powerful but having to keep your targets within the primary arc of a Y-Wing feels daunting.
The combo Ron put together with the Blaster Turret and R4 Agromech is interesting, though, and makes up for not being able to use Recon Specialist or the Moldy Crow title to have extra focus with which to activate and make use during the same attack.
We lined up our ships on opposite corners of the map and I was seeking to turn both my ships 90 degrees centre-wise after a few turns. We met in the middle of the obstacles we set up and the opening salvo had his three ships firing on Leebo with Chewbacca just a bit too far to contribute to the fight. I thought I was in trouble but Leebo rolled evades like a champ and sustained minimal damage. I chose to concentrate fire on a Y-Wing and was able to take one down and managed to remain out of arc of the other one for many of the subsequent turns until it was destroyed.
Something worth noting in this game was that every hull damage I dealt to the Y-Wings was a critical hit. It was just silly. I expected to get more critical hits than usual with the Mangler cannon on Leebo but my attacks from both Chewbacca and Leebo were routinely yielding multiple critical hits. In my effort to take down the Y-Wings Chewbacca had sustained significant damage and the board looked something like this right before the last turn:
Ron had sustained a Console Fire critical hit card the turn before which reads: At the start of each combat phase, roll 1 attack die. On a (hit) result suffer 1 damage. Action: Flip this card down. Ron declared focus as his action and placed two focus tokens next to Boba Fett and picked up his A-Dice for what could have been the finishing shot on Chewie with the Autoblaster. Before he rolled I said, “OK, roll for your Console Fire.” Ron rolled a hit and Boba Fett died before he had a chance to take a shot.
I was in a bit of a moral quandary here because, although Ron had forgotten about the Console Fire, I felt like a bit of a stooge by not reminding him that he had a console fire before he declared a focus action. We had already started cleaning up and I said that I felt bad about the way the game ended so we ret-conned and set the ships up again and assumed Ron had used his action to flip over the Console fire and rolled it out. Selfishly, I was not as concerned about whether I’d win or lose at that point but was more in a mindset of scrounging for MOV points as losing Chewbacca could wind up being meaningful in the final standings. Luckily, without a focus token, Boba only scored 1 hit on Chewbacca (he had 2 hull remaining) and I was able to finish off Boba Fett that same turn.
Result: Win 100-0
Round 4 vs. Colin (Rebels)
Going into the last round I was 2-1 with a 400 MOV. The top table had two players who were 3-0 with the winner of that match receiving first place with certainty. I had a chance at second place if I came through with a stronger MOV score than whoever lost at the top table. My list would really have its mettle tested in this final round as I was facing two high skill pilots that are definitely top-tier:
- Han Solo (Predator, Recon Specialist, Jan Ors)
- Corran Horn (Veteran Instincts, Fire Control System, R2-D2, Engine Upgrade)
I decided before the match began that I was going to ignore Han entirely and focus fire on Corran. This version of Han Solo wasn’t as tanky as the “Fat Han” builds with C-3PO and R2-D2 so I figured if I could take out Corran without losing too much off of Chewbacca or Leebo I’d be in pretty good shape to take down Han. In the initial exchange I only took one shield off of Corran which I knew he would gain right back the next round with R2-D2. I stuck to the plan, however, and eventually wore Corran’s shields down to zero but wasn’t able to poke through to the hull and he evaded quite a few of my shots. I thought I was in trouble when the board looked something like this:
I forget exactly where Han was but he was somewhere to the west off-screen per the depiction above. Chewbacca’s primary arc is there to illustrate that Corran Horn was definitely at range 3 to Chewbacca. Whether or not Leebo was in Corran’s arc was hard to tell. If he was in, he was barely in. I expected Colin to boost to get Leebo into his firing arc and wind up where the ghosted version of Corran is in the above screenshot which would still have him at range 3 to Chewbacca and at range 1 to Leebo. Instead, Colin did a barrel roll south which put him at range 2 to Chewbacca. Corran took his shot on Leebo and scored a few hits taking him into his hull but I then fired back and was able to take out Corran, much to my relief.
Even with Corran off the table the game was far from over. At this point, Han was only down two shields so I was far from being in clean-up mode. At this point my squad’s damage mitigation abilities really paid off. Han took some shots on Leebo and scored a critical hit. I drew two Ship cards so, while I was hoping to see one that said Pilot, I was at least able to pick Weapon Malfunction which reduced my primary weapon by 1 which is pretty much inconsequential to a ship with the Outrider title. The next turn, Han fired again on Leebo and I was able to pull a Pilot critical hit and discard it wholesale. By this time I was through Han’s shields and dealt a very timely Blinded Pilot to Han which really put me ahead on the damage curve and I was able to take out Han before he finished off Chewbacca or Leebo.
Result: Win 100-0
Conclusions & Lessons Learned
Enemy, thy name is Aggressors with Autothrusters. I feel like this list accomplished everything it needed to in terms of not crumbling against higher pilot skill but that game against Chris in round 2 illustrated, more than anything, that Autothrusters stop my list’s damage output dead in its tracks. At present, the only ships eligible to take Autothrusters are Aggressors, A-Wings, StarVipers, and TIE Interceptors, with TIE Punishers forthcoming. IG-88 is uniquely poised to get the most out of Autothrusters as it can live for many more turns taking a ping of damage compared to any of those other ships. As challenging as it will be, I will need to come up with ways to keep IG-88 in my primary arc at range 1-2, particularly against dual-Aggressor lists.
Although it’s a small sample size, my experience today had this list either winning convincingly or losing catastrophically. Keeping ahead of the damage curve is essential for this list as the game against Chris proved. That’s hardly an epiphany but some lists I’ve played that included the pre-nerf TIE Phantom were able to come from behind against superior numbers by arc-dodging; this list can’t do that.
I don’t think there is anything I’d tweak with this list. Chewbacca and Leebo’s abilities are such that I know I will not suffer momentum-killing critical hits like Blinded Pilot except in corner cases against Rexler Brath. I think I either need to fly Chewbacca more into the midst of things or switch the Anti-Pursuit Lasers over to Leebo. All day, only one ship collided with Chewbacca but I can recall frequent collisions with Leebo, particularly in my game against Darren.
I finished the tournament with three wins and a loss with a 600 MOV which was good enough for second place after four Swiss rounds. This is definitely a list I’d fly again.
Re-posted with permission from engler.ca.