Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bangor X-Wing Store Championship Report: April 19, 2014

An X-Wing Store Championship was held in the town of Bangor on Saturday 19th of April hosted by Gareth, the owner of the local hobby store, Replay Games. I had a chance to attend this event and what follows is an account of my first ever X-Wing tournament.

Bangor is a small-ish town 20 mins drive from the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. I've heard of the place before but have never been there until now.

I was able to attend after weeks of ritual magic and sacrifices to align the stars. In other words, I was in the vicinity on a weekend trip with the family and begged incessantly until I was given a day pass. Hooray!

Bangor by the sea
Twas a very agreeable town
The tournament was held in a spacious community hall located right in the centre of town. This is also the location where the local gaming club meet. The place was very well equipped with loads of tables, a room full of board games and terrain and two large flat screen TVs with consoles for video games.

Entrance to community hall
My List

As this was my first ever X-Wing tournament and I went in having only played two games to date, I didn't have the faintest idea of what I was doing.

From my previous games and some research on the internets, it became apparent that the TIE swarm list is still a pretty big deal. For those new to X-Wing, a TIE swarm is a list of usually 7-8 TIE fighters of various configuration. Individually TIE fighters are pretty crap but when you outnumber your opponents 2 to 1 the attack dice adds up.

However it also quickly becomes apparent that the biggest downside of running a TIE swarm (or a swarm list in general) is the brain power and hand dexterity required to run it. Having up to 8 ships means you have to plan and configure up to 8 manoeuvre dials each turn and making sure they don't crash into each other. You also need to be precise and fast with your hands to move that many ships to ensure you actually finish your games on time.

As a result I made a compromise and went with a 'mini-swarm' list per below:

43pts - Firespray: Krassis Trelix - HLC
21pts - TIE Fighter: Howlrunner - SD
36pts - TIE Figther: Academy Pilot x 3

Total 100pts

The idea behind a mini swarm is that you get some of the firepower of running a partial swarm without the drawbacks of mental exhaustion and sore hands. Given that it's easier to kill 4 TIEs compared to 8, you also include an anchor ship i.e. something big and resilient to help soak up the damage. I went for the Firespray, the ship piloted by Boba Fett in the movies.

Howlrunner is crucial in running a swarm as she allows any friendly ships within range 1 to reroll 1 primary attack dice. You can see how this is a big deal when you have a full on swarm. The Stealth Device (SD) gives her 1 more defense dice for a total of 4. This is to help keep her alive for as long as possible.

Krassis has the ability that allows him to reroll 1 secondary weapon attack dice which combos well with taking the Heavy Laser Cannons (HLC) as a secondary weapon. HLC gives you 4 attack dice at range 2-3. Pretty nasty stuff.

The Tourney

The Store Championship was a standard X-Wing tournament using the rules pack published by FFG.

Game 1

My first game was against Richard and his double Falcon list.

I didn't realise this at the time but this list is a total noob killer.

The design philosophy of this list is the polar opposite of a swarm list. What it lacks in firepower it makes up for with its 360 firing arc and upgrades.

I wanted to be aggressive so I set up the asteroids so that they will not block flight paths. I deployed centrally with my swarm a bit to the left of centre and my Firespray to the right.

I moved both my swarm and Firespray straight up. The Falcons did likewise. I gradually banked to the right with my ships to engage. My Firespray crashed and we traded shots.

Here Richard introduced me to the wonders of the Gunner upgrade. Gunner is an upgrade card that allows you to perform a second attack if your first attack failed to hit. It's pretty good but also expensive at 5pts. He tried to take out Howlrunner but failed.

We then broke apart and this was where things went downhill fast! Due to my lack of experience I wasn't able to keep my swarm together and they were all facing in different directions. I was also not able to position my Firespray so that I can use my HLC.

The Falcons had no such problems with their 360 firing arc. He kept shooting at Howlrunner until I finally failed a few rolls, lost my Stealth Device and went down soon after. Once Howlrunner was gone he was able to pick apart each ship one by one. Total defeat!

Game 2

Unfortunately given that we had an odd number of players at the tournament (i.e. 11) and the new tournament rules disallowed the organiser to participate in games, one player always gets a bye in each round. For round two it was my turn to sit it out.

I spent most of this time checking out the other games and talking to Gareth, the organiser and finding out more about the local scene and X-Wing in general. Time flew by fast enough so I wasn't too bummed out!

Game 3

My next game was against Braden and his Y-Wing Swarm.

Now this was something I did not expect. 5 Y-Wings with a combined hull/shield value of 40!

Again I set up the asteroids so that they were out of the way. I deployed to the far right while Braden deployed on the opposite corner.

I moved my mini-swarm straight up along the right while my Firespray moved up cautiously. The Y-Wing swarm did likewise on my left.

The scene of the pile up
I then did a kiogran turn on my mini-swarm to bring them back into position. I also performed a similar manoeuvre for the Firespray. Braden flew his swarm to his left to face my fleet.

On my next turn, like a classic noob, I completely screwed up my manouevres and crashed my TIEs into my Firespray. I think I did a facepalm here. This taught me the importance of Pilot Skill levels and how they impact the movement phase! Luckily we were still not in position to engage.

 On our next turn our ships flew straight into each other and hot lasers were flying everywhere.

My Firespray was flying towards the board edge and he tried to put ion tokens on it with his 2 Y-Wings with the aim of forcing it to fly out of the play area. The rest of his fleet traded blows with mine.

Thankfully my mini-swarm was doing what it was designed to do and I focused fire and shot down the Y-Wings one by one.

Likewise Braden came back with a couple of kills by focusing on some vulnerable TIE fighters that was left out of position.

Time was called and we tallied up the points. I won by 1 point. So I just about scraped together a modified win. Hooray!

In Closing

The tournament was pretty casual and I found everyone to be very friendly and helpful. This tournament was definitely noob friendly.

I made a ton of mistakes in both my games. Even though X-Wing is a very simple game, like chess, there is a lot of tactical dept to it. Being a dice game, sometimes the dice can go against you and screw with your best laid plans. However I can clearly say that my poor performance was not due to my dice but my terrible flying!

Despite not doing very well and only getting 2 games, I was happy with the tournament overall. FFG is pretty good with tournament support and even though I performed poorly I still came away with a unique pilot card, Nien Nunb. I also made contact with a number of people from the local X-Wing community. Given how small Ireland is I will definitely bumped into the same people in future.

I definitely picked up a lot of experience here and look forward to entering more X-Wing tournaments.

Richard, my first oppponent, was the eventual winner so congrats to him! I would also like to thank Gareth for organising the event.

Public Service Announcement

FYI Gareth from Replay Games is organising another X-Wing event on 31st May in Bangor, Assault on Imdaar Alpha Pre Release. Prizes for top places include Wave 4 ships.

I'm not sure if I can make this yet but will try my hardest to get there!

Until next time.

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