Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tournament Report - X-Wing Store Championship - The Outpost, Sheffield

Despite being determined that we'd keep X-Wing as a recreational game rather than a competitive one we gave in to temptation and attended our first tournament at the Outpost yesterday. Perhaps a store championship wasn't the best choice for our first X-Wing event but for once it fell on a weekend when both Matt and I were free and we hadn't already got 40K stuff booked in.

I was determined to keep my list simple so that there weren't any upgrades that I'd forget. I'm a huge fan of B-wings in our games so far (and Matt seems to hate them which is normally a good sign). I'd considering running 4 B-wings to make things as simple as possible but in the end I opted to swap out one of them for a pair of Z-95s. My squad looked like this:

Blue Squadron Pilot (B-wing) - Advanced Sensors
Blue Squadron Pilot (B-wing) - Advanced Sensors
Blue Squadron Pilot (B-wing) - Advanced Sensors
Bandit Squadron Pilot (Z-95 Headhunter)
Bandit Squadron Pilot (Z-95 Headhunter)

This comes in at 99 pts. I'd considered playing around with it a bit to get bang on 100 pts but I decided that it might work in my favour to have initiative at some point. This list is great for me as everything is PS2 so I'm in less danger of smashing things into each other (as I get to choose the activation order). The whole squadron will go before Academy Pilots too in case I met a TIE swarm. Advanced Sensors help to make the most of that lovely two-speed koiogran turn too.

Of course, the strength of the list is that there's 32 hitpoints (19 of which are shields) and there's a formidable amount of damage output. There's no funky combinations or tricks though so it'd come down to how well I flew. I'm probably telling you things you already know though as these ships are hardly new releases. Speaking of which, Scum and Villainy were legal at this event and I was hoping to avoid them simply because I have no idea about them! Obviously the Y-wings, Z-95s and Firesprays aren't new ships but the pilot abilities and new upgrades are mostly a mystery to me.

Incidentally, Matt was running a Decimator and a Firespray but I can't remember much else about his list!

Round One - Rebels vs. Scum (Matt Lawton)
My opponent was running two Starvipers (Guri and an Enforcer) plus Kavil (Y-wing) plus a pile of upgrades I can't remember. Suffice to say I've never played against a Starviper so I had little idea of it's capabilities.

As this was my first competitive game of X-Wing I wasn't particularly optimistic. I lost a Z-95 pretty quickly and a B-Wing followed shortly after. It wasn't long before I took down the Enforcer though (mainly thanks to PS2 vs PS1) but that left me in a 27-49 hole with time running out. Matt kept the other Starviper out of the way but I managed to get a bead on Kavil and in the final round of the game I lucked out and brought him down. This gave me a 31 point boost and a 58-49 modified match win. It was a really enjoyable start to my competitive X-Wing career and great way to start the day. I was already doing better than I expected to do. Matt had an even better start though, winning his game 100-0 and finding himself on the top table.

Round Two - Rebels vs. Scum (James Hewitt)
James was running a pair of Firesprays (one of which featuring a lovely custom paintjob) with Kath and Boba at the helm. I deployed everything on one side of the board this time apart from one of the B-wings which I stuck on the left flank in the hopes of getting James to split up his ships. Fortunately for me he did so.

Kath finds a Z-95 in the way allowing the B-wings to get in at close range
The lone B-wing took heavy damage from Boba but on the other side of the asteroid field Kath was in a bit of trouble. I managed to get her to "bump" a Z-95 which gave me a chance to keep her in position. I followed this up with another bump from the other Z-95 which put Kath in a shooting gallery. I was unlucky with my first round of shooting though only taking a single shield. Fortunately I was able to keep putting the Z-95s in the way and barrel roll and koiogran my Bs to keep her in close range. She eventually took out one of the B-wings but it wasn't long before I managed to destroy her. James had forgotten his seismic charge which helped me a lot! I'd ignored Boba up until this point but he was now coming back towards me. Fortunately the game ended there though giving me a 50-25 match win.

Those pesky Z-95s keep Kath boxed in and barrels and K-turns keep the B-wings at range 1 to finish the job
Despite pointing out I didn't really know what I was doing I felt this was by far my best game in terms of my flying. A lot of it relied on luck in that I needed James to make particular moves to keep bumping but I was pleased with the way I flew this game, managing to keep most of my ships on a single target for so long made a huge difference. I just had to take pictures of a couple of my moves though as I was proud of how well they fell into place.

Round Three - Rebels vs. Rebels (Graham Saunders)
I found myself on table 3 where I really didn't feel like I belonged! Graham was running Chewy (YT-1300) and Leebo (YT-2400). It was pretty clear from the outset that he knew what he was doing too. His list had a great combination of upgrades that made Chewy seemingly invincible. He did give me a glimmer of hope though as he said that he often lost to "Rebel Swarm".

This game was pretty much over from the start as I deployed in the same way I had in the previous game. This gave Graham an easy B-wing kill early on and left the rest of my ships struggling to get into range. Slowly but surely I was chipping away at Chewy but I was losing my owns ships at a rather alarming rate too thanks to the 360 degree arc on both my opponent's ships. This eventually left a lone Z-95 clinging on for dear life but he sadly fell just before the time ran out. I'd brought Chewy down to 4 HP I think but obviously that was still a 0-100 match loss. Back down the tables where I belong then!

Game Four - Rebels vs. Scum (Tim Marsden)
Yet another Scum opponent but with another different list, Tim was running a pair of IG-2000s (B&C) with Advanced Sensors, Push The Limit, etc etc. The combination of upgrades and pilot skills meant it seemed like he could perpetually carry out several actions and have Focus and Evade a lot of the time!
Formation flying for the first time.
Suffice to say it was going to be tough to pin down these two ships. We deployed in opposite corners so I'd need to navigate the asteroid field to get there too. This time I deployed in a tight formation with my Z-95s out in front and a line of B-wings in behind. I was determined to try and use the Z-95s to block his ships as I had in the second game but with the boosts and general manoeuvrability of his ships I failed to pin him down.
Lit up like a Christmas tree but still not going down!
I wanted to focus my fire on one ship at a time but kept finding myself only able to shoot the ship I hadn't damaged as much. Eventually both IG-2000s had flown through my swarm and back away again taking a B-wing with them. The Scum ships were both down into hull but I could quite take either out. I'd got two Z-95s limping along on a single hull too. Time ran out before Tim could come in for a second pass though and I took a 0-25 match loss.

Game Five - Rebels vs. Scum (Dan Newton)
With my modified win in the first round I knew there was no chance I could make the cut for the championship rounds so my final game was just for pride. Sitting at 2 wins and 2 losses it would also determine whether I'd finish with a winning or losing record. Somehow I was again playing another Scum squadron but with yet another list. Dan was running 4 Y-wings, 3 with ion, one with another turret and some with a Scum upgrade that lets you fire both your Primary AND Secondary weapons! His entire squadron was PS2 like mine but my 99pts came into play giving me initiative and crucially first shot each round.

We both deployed in tight formations over on the same side of the board. This meant we probably only used about a quarter of the space available in a thin strip down the side of the field. The Y-wings move up pretty slowing making use of their 1-speed moves. After a couple of rounds of edging towards each other I decided to try something bolder and blasted one of my Z-95s forwards with a 4-speed move. This put me in a good position to block his advance. It worked well as the front line of his squadron both collided with my Z-95. This both protected the Headhunter and bunched up my opponent's squad. The following turn he attempted a koiogran with one of his Ys and misjudged meaning he couldn't complete the move. By now I'd got the B-wings into range despite all three of them receiving an ion token from some torpedoes.

Gradually I was able to focus fire and bring the Y-wings down one by one thanks to their similarly poor agility. There were a few further collisions on my opponent's part which really helped me keep the damage coming. Eventually I took down all four of the Ys whilst only losing on B and one Z of my own giving me a 100-37 match win to end the day.

As expected, I hadn't made the top 8 but I finished in a fairly respectable 12th to put me just inside the top half of the 24 player field. Two wins, a modified win and two losses is far better than I expected to do. Matt won 3 and lost 2 as well but managed to finish in the top 8 but sadly got knocked out in the first round of elimination against a list to which he'd already lost once.

Throughout the day people were telling me my list was a strong one with various people commenting that it was the kind of list they didn't want to play. I was pretty chuffed to have come up with something good off my own bat but it's hardly rocket science! I enjoyed playing the list, which is the main thing (for me at least). The B-wings are great fun to use and blocking with the Z-95s is satisfying when you can pull it off. I can't help but think A-wings are better in that role though. Perhaps I could ditch the Advanced Sensors and put in a couple of A-wings instead. Alternatively it has been pointed out that I could ditch the sensors and a Z-95 and run 4 blues and a bandit. Of course this is stronger in a lot of ways but I like my Advanced Sensors too much.

I feel like I played well in all my games. My deployment screwed me over in game 3 but I don't think it did much else that was particularly bad. In game 3 I did managed to hit an asteroid twice with a Z-95 though costing me both its shields. I then took a critical hit which turned out to be a Direct Hit losing me the ship pretty cheaply. The main thing I took away from today was flying in formation. It makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of the list and it's something I'll definitely be doing next time. Unless anything dramatically changes I think I'd run the same list again to be honest. At least I know what I'm doing with it.

I'd figured that with Scum only having recently been released there wouldn't be many people using them. I expected that I might perhaps play one of my games against them. How wrong I was! Four of my five games were against Scum squadrons. It was nice to see a variety of lists though. One thing that surprised me was how many people seemed to be running just two big ships. It's difficult to estimate but I think they accounted for over half of the lists. I might have to give my YTs more of a look in.

Generally speaking the X-Wing scene (from this limited experience) seems to be a closer knit community than the 40K crowd. Perhaps it's because there are less players but everyone seemed to know each other from previous events at various locations. They'd also all been playing for a while. All of my opponents were great guys though and there weren't any disputes to speak of at all. That's a pleasant change from 40K but I suppose it's because the rules are less complex/better written. I seemed to be just a table away from Matt several times though so we were lucky not to play each other.

I think I'll be dabbling in competitive X-wing again. If you'd asked me after the first couple of rounds I'd have definitely been coming back for more but rounds 3 and 4 showed me some of the complicated combos people can up with using the upgrade cards. Some of the stacking abilities get a bit daft in my opinion. I enjoyed the pace of the day though and even in round 3 when I was losing badly I knew it wasn't going to be too drawn out which is a welcome change compared to how 40K is sometimes.

Next weekend the six of us are meeting up again for a few friendly games of X-wing at Scott's house so I'm looking forward to playing some more relaxed games again.

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