Store Wars, 2015 X-Wing Event #3: X Planet

While most of the gaming world is talking about Gen Con 2015 and all the excitement that entails, 18 of us who did not make the trip to Indianapolis showed up at X Planet Games in Mississauga for the third event of the 2015 Store Wars tournament series for X-Wing. It was a beautiful day outside and X Planet’s new location has a bright and spacious in-store play area perfect for a tournament of this size.

I decided to take an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to my list from two weeks ago and brought back Chewbacca and Leebo:

  • Chewbacca (Push The Limit, Jan Ors, Kyle Katarn, Millennium Falcon)
  • Leebo (Determination, Mangler Cannon, Recon Specialist, Outrider, Anti-Pursuit Lasers)

The only change I made to the list from two weeks ago is that I switched the Anti-Pursuit Lasers from Chewbacca to Leebo. I don’t know precisely why but the games I’d played so far with this pair saw Leebo in and amongst the thick of things more often than Chewbacca. I think this is in no small part due to the YT-2400 having the 3-hard turn on its maneuver dial which the YT-1300 does not. When it gets a little crowded, the Leebo can get around small-based ships and stay close whereas the YT-1300 either has to bump or stay more on the periphery with a bank maneuver. As I’ll speak to in more detail below, I think making the swap from Chewbacca to Leebo was the right choice.

Round 1 vs. Vijay (Imperials)

Vijay has embarked upon a mission to fly Soontir Fel in 100 matches. I overheard him talking to someone else at the tournament saying that he was somewhere in the 70s. As everyone knows, Fel is among the best ships in the game if not the best. Few ships that have been in the game as long as Fel as see as much play consistently and, with the advent of Autothrusters, he’s actually gotten better as time has gone on. Vijay’s list departed from the two-ship meta and was as follows:

  • Soontir Fel (Push The Limit, Royal Guard TIE, Autothrusters, Targeting Computer)
  • Captain Oicunn
  • Omicron Group Pilot (Darth Vader)

Going into this match the ship I was most worried about was Fel. The “Doom Shuttle” didn’t concern me too much given how my list is built to mitigate critical hits but having that automatic damage coming from a ship that wasn’t a priority target could be troublesome. All of our large-base ships met in the middle and Oicunn got some free collision-based damage on Chewbacca. I wasn’t too bothered by this because taking one damage from a collision meant that the Decimator wasn’t firing at that same ship.

Fel did what he often does and stayed out of arc and gave out a lot more damage than he took on thanks to his Autothrusters. I managed to do two damage to him but no crippling critical hits from Leebo’s Mangler Cannon were forthcoming as Chewbacca did all of the damage. I then committed a horrible gaffe that definitely made things much harder on myself than they should have been. One of Vijay’s ships scored two critical hits on Leebo and I completely forgot to use his ability on both and sustained a Direct Hit and a Munitions Failure. By the time I realized game state had changed so it was too late to adjust and I had to play out the rest of the game with Leebo only having his primary weapon.

I managed to destroy the Doom Shuttle but lost Chewbacca. Leebo had taken some big hits and I had to rely on a hail-mary range 1 shot on Oicunn to take him out but needed three hits including a critical that did two damage and it didn’t come up for me. Oicunn then just plowed into Leebo to do the last point of damage and victory was Vijay’s.

Result: Loss 24-100

Round 2 vs. Roger (Imperials)

Although I lost in the first round my MOV was sufficient for me to be a few tables up from the bottom so my Swiss gambit had begun as it had so many times before. Roger was a relatively new player and was flying a list that hearkened back to the days of Wave 1:

  • Darth Vader (Swarm Tactics)
  • Howlrunner (Swarm Tactics)
  • Academy Pilot x4

On paper, this list could be very annoying to a two-ship list. With correct formation flying, this list can have four ships shooting at Skill 8 or higher and, with Howlrunner’s ability, the number of hits landed could be hard to overcome. Roger let me know that he only had half a dozen or so games total under his belt and that this was his first tournament. Being able to judge the maneuver distances in this game is such a big part of doing well and Roger was still very early in this journey and had some tough encounters with asteroids and Leebo’s Anti-Pursuit Lasers. I was able to win this match by attrition and, by focusing fire on one TIE per turn, was able to get the best of the swarm.

Result: Win 100-0

Round 3 vs. Steven (Imperials)

Steven also flew a swarm-ish list but more in-line with the current meta:

  • Patrol Leader (Gunner, Darth Vader, Engine Upgrade)
  • Academy Pilot x4

I’ve faced lists like this before and the lesson I’ve learned is that it’s often more important to simply reduce my opponent’s overall number of shots available per turn than to get too distracted by the most intimidating ship on the roster. For this reason, I decided to not take any shots on the Decimator until the TIE Fighters were all gone. While this meant that the Decimator was able to fire with impunity, it was important for me to not let the swarm get in the way of either of my ships, particularly Chewbacca who takes a very predictable movement path to get his focus/evade/evade token stack from turn to turn. Without actions, Chewbacca’s survivability goes way down, as does Leebo’s without his access to two focus tokens from the Recon Specialist.

This plan worked well and I was able to take out all of the TIEs and still had one or two shields remaining on Chewbacca and Leebo with all of his hull. Because of the way ships bunched up in the middle I had to split up my ships and Chewbacca had to keep a stress and fly though an asteroid to get back in the fight but I was fortunate enough to avoid taking damage.

Steven concentrated fire on my shieldless Leebo and risked using Vader twice. Leebo’s ability in concert with Determination paid off in spades and I pulled a “Pilot” critical hit both times. Something important to understand about Leebo’s ability is that if he eliminates a critical hit using it and that same critical hit represents all the damage that Leebo would have taken from that attack the timing is such that Gunner does not trigger because Leebo is deemed to have “taken damage” even though he winds up subverting it entirely. Leebo suffered a Structural Damage (-1 Agility) critical hit shortly thereafter but by that time Chewbacca was fully-engaged in the fight and a Decimator at half-damage simply can’t keep up without being able to evade any hits.

Result: Win 100-0

Round 4 vs. Shereef (Imperials)

Simply stated, Shereef is a wild man. He’s studying engineering at Laurentian University which is in a city called Sudbury. Sudbury is a four hour drive from Toronto in clear traffic and, during the last Store Wars series, Shereef would leave Sudbury at 4:00 in the morning to come to a Toronto-area tournament that same day. He’s placed high enough in regional-level tournaments in Canada and Australia to be the proud owner of two sets of the marbled X-Wing dice so you know any game against him is going to be hard-fought.
Shereef is also unwaveringly committed to the TIE Phantom with Echo being his pilot of choice. While many of us (myself included) threw them in the proverbial trash when the change to de-cloak went live a few months ago Shereef instead chose to adapt to the change and kept flying Echo to great results. Shereef’s list today consisted of:

  • Echo (Veteran Instincts, Recon Specialist, Fire Control System, Advanced Cloaking Device)
  • Rear Admiral Chiraneau (Expose, Rebel Captive, Gunner, Mercenary Copilot)

While definitely within the current two-ship meta, Shereef’s list is definitely his own brand. Expose is not an often-seen upgrade at the tournaments I attend but I was interested to see how Shereef would make it work. When I flew Phantom/Decimator lists with regularity I would take Whisper with Gunner for maximum damage potential but Recon Specialist on a Phantom is a great choice, too, as it allows for greater defensive capability. The change to De-Cloak definitely would mean that Phantoms would have less of an opportunity to arc-dodge and, with my dual turret list, that ability is of considerably less efficacy.

The way Shereef flies Echo is really compelling to watch. I had Chewbacca and Leebo one behind the other close to the left board-edge. Shereef was able to use Echo’s curved De-Cloak template to dance around a debris field like a maypole and was continually frustrating me by getting 5-dice defense rolls. But, as green dice are apt to do eventually, those blanks reared their ugly heads and I was able to take away both his shields with a lucky shot through an obstacle from Chewbacca.

I was definitely making Echo my target of priority and fired no shots on Chiraneau because Echo would have certainly be able to shred one of my ships to ribbons if I just ignored her. A few turns later, I had positioned my ships in such a way that Echo had no shot and, as such, would not be able to take a free cloak action. I suspected Shereef would have just cloaked up but, instead, he barrel rolled south to get at range 3 of Chewbacca. I suspect he was hoping that by barrel rolling towards the back of his base he could get Leebo in arc and get the free Cloak action but that was not the case. With only 2 defense dice and no tokens, Echo was destroyed, much to my relief.

At this point I was confident that I could whittle down Chiraneau but carelessness on my part put me at a considerable disadvantage in a few turns. Having not fired a shot at Chiraneau yet that game, I forgot about his Rebel Captive. Chewbacca was sitting there with a stress (as his PTL/Jan/Katarn combo is dependent on it) and, instead of shooting at Chiraneau with Leebo first (who had no stress) I shot with Chewbacca and took on a second stress. Shereef was quite the sportsman and offered to let me swap the stress between the two ships but, given that it was round 4, I chose to take my medicine.

Unfortunately, the next turn I did the very same thing which left Chewie sitting within range 1 of Chiraneau with only a focus token instead of two evades and a focus. Chrianeau had about 8 hull remaining and, with Expose, scored 4 hits on Chewbacca. I was starting to get concerned but thought that if I could roll an evade (or even a focus) and get one more shot in on Chrianeau and do at least two damage I would be able to finish him off with Leebo. In hindsight, I should have converted the focus I got from Kyle Katarn into an evade. I wound up rolling a blank on defense and Chewbacca died without firing a parting shot.

I thought I had blown the game. Chiraneau’s Expose/Gunner combo was yielding consistently high results on offence and, with Leebo only rolling three dice on offence, I was worried that I would get behind on the damage curve. Fortunately, the Mangler Cannon helped out a great deal and, two turns later, I had Chiraneau down to 3 hull and he suffered an “Injured Pilot” critical hit which got rid of Expose and his ability to turn a focus into a critical hit. I was able to do green maneuvers to keep my actions but I was perilously close to the map edge and had to do a hard 1 to be sure I would stay on the map. Unfortunately for me, with the Rebel Captive on Chrianeau, this essentially meant that I would never have an action for the rest of the game as I had two stress on Leebo and would always be getting one each turn from the Rebel Captive. Leebo got Chiraneau down to 1 hull after an extremely clutch roll of two natural evades to take no damage.

At this point, Chrianeau had one hull left to Leebo’s two and the two ships were coming around the opposite sides of the same asteroid. At this point, I thought my goose was cooked. I figured Chrianeau would to a 2-bank or 2-turn around the asteroid to get a range 1 shot on Leebo but, to my surprise, Chiraneau did a 3-turn and collided with Leebo.

Anti-Pursuit Lasers to the rescue. One hit rolled, one dead Chiraneau. I could not believe that the last damage dealt in this harrowing game was dealt by APL.

Result: Win 100-51

Conclusions & Lessons Learned

With my MOV score, my 3-1 record was able to bring me into second place by 13 points. I should just change my online handle from wapcaplets to U-Boat or something because this is becoming a regular occurrence for me to submarine my way into a podium finish after a round 1 or round 2 loss.

While this will help my overall cumulative Store Wars score considerably, I really need to stop making those early-round gaffes that put me in submarine mode in the first place.

It was interesting to face four separate Imperial lists but only face one ship with Autothrusters the whole day. I certainly feel like I got the better end of the Rock/Paper/Scissors battle in this tournament. Three of the lists I faced invested in Vader (two of them with Gunner and Vader on a Decimator) to help create critical hits but that’s what Chewbacca and Leebo are best suited to deal with. I’ll definitely take the points and run but I do feel fortunate that the list I took serendipitously countered a significant portion of the critical hit-based strategy that three of my opponents brought to the table.

A big congratulations goes out to Vijay, my first round opponent, who went 4-0 on the day to win the tournament as the only undefeated player with a very non-meta list. I was particularly chuffed to see Vijay win the day by defeating the Super Dash & Corran Horn list that I hate so much. Kudos, Vijay!

Re-posted with permission from engler.ca.

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2 thoughts on “Store Wars, 2015 X-Wing Event #3: X Planet”

  1. I really enjoyed reading that and following your series in general Waps. That battle where APL won you the game was pretty epic. Also enjoyed hearing about that old school Vader with a Swarm Tactics chain no less! Literally brought a smile to my face.

    Congrats on another strong finish and to Vijay for taking top spot. Sounds like he’s getting pretty good!

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