Friday morning was a more or less standard X-Wing tournament. We mustered at 9am and went five rounds until there was a single undefeated player. We were done by 6pm. Had this been a regional or store championship, we would have cut to the top 8 and played a single-elimination bracket from there. While I was up for it, the tournament was only scheduled to go until 6 p.m.
Building a Winning List
I brought a completely different list to the dogfight. Last fall I had great success running an Imperial list with Soontir Fel + Push the Limit + Targeting Computer with two naked Bounty Hunter Firespray-31s. I’ve come to love the Firespray quite a bit so I put together a squad using Boba Fett and Kath Scarlet in the Scum & Villainy faction. Bringing only two ships really made me nervous but it worked out well. There’s a lot of synergy between the pilots I chose and I flew them very, very well.
Boba Fett was upgraded with Veteran Instincts, Engine Upgrade, “Mangler” Cannon, Tactician, and Inertial Dampeners. Kath Scarlet was given Push the Limit, a K4 Security Droid, and a “Mangler” Cannon. The idea is that Boba can maneuver last and adjust his position to get arc dodgers like Soontir Fel into position while Kath drops strong, consistent damage every turn.
Boba Fett’s Engine Upgrade lets him adjust his position with a boost action while the Inertial Dampeners let him sit tight if his opponent dropped right in his line of fire. Boba Fett also has an advantage at every range band. His pilot ability allows him to reroll one die for every enemy ship at range 1 when attacking or defending. This is in addition to having 4 attack dice at range 1. At range 2 the Tactician hands out stress to my victims and the “Mangler” Cannon turns one hit into a crit. Further, the “Mangler” Cannon denies my opponent a bonus defense die at range 3. Unless they fire back with a secondary weapon, Boba gets his bonus die on defense.
Kath Scarlet’s upgrades were golden. The K4 Security Droid is the key. It lets Kath acquire a target lock whenever she makes a green maneuver. This isn’t an action, either. She can do it while stressed or even if she bumps into a ship. Push the Limit comes into play by giving Kath a focus and evade action every turn. Yes, it stresses her but it really turns her into a tank. Since she wants to make green maneuvers to trigger the K4 anyway she’s clearing stress every round, which makes Push the Limit and K4 Security Droid an amazing combination. Having both target lock and focus makes Kath’s damage incredibly consistent; and if she doesn’t spend the focus on attack, it makes her defense that much more potent. The “Mangler” Cannon was equipped mostly as anti-Interceptor hate with the critical hits and denying a range 3 bonus die. Kath’s pilot talent is also really clutch. She rolls an extra die when attacking from her rear arc. This means she’s firing 5 dice at range 1 and 4 dice at ranges 2 and 3. It’s better than a Heavy Laser Cannon. Once she gets in front of someone, their best bet is to turn tail and run away.
Round 1 – Enthusiastic Fan
My opening game in the dogfight was against a new player who has only been playing casually for a few months. He brought a two ship list with Han and Wedge. His enthusiasm and fandom were readily apparent and it was refreshing to have someone there simply out of a love for Star Wars. The Falcon was crewed by Lando and Chewie. How can you not love that? I almost feel bad about how badly I beat him. It was a tournament and I was playing to win. Boba and Kath focused fire on Wedge; he only got a single shot off at range 3. After that, Kath got in front of the Falcon (which wasn’t even a Fat Han) and started dumping 5 dice attacks with target lock & focus into Han’s face. Kath killed the Falcon in three rounds and Boba never even got to shoot it because he was out of position too far ahead.
My opponent never lost his smile, it was clear he enjoyed the game even if he wasn’t very good at it yet. I nominated him for the sportsmanship award and he would have won it if he hadn’t left before the prizes were given out.
Won. 100 points destroyed, 0 lost.
Round 2 – Hammered by B-Wings
Game two was against the guy who ran the Falcon/Outrider combo in the Escalation tournament. He was playing a hard-hitting list of glass cannons with a damage sponge. Keyan Farlander had Opportunist and a Heavy Laser Cannon. Ibtisam had something similar and there was a Biggs on the board to soak up shots. I didn’t waste any time and focused fire on Biggs, removing him in the first round of firing. The next few rounds saw me in a better position to remove Ibtisam due to some bumps so I focused on her even though Keyan was the bigger threat and wiped her from the board quickly. Keyan didn’t last much longer but I opted to bump my ships into one another instead of take actions the last two rounds because Boba was going to go over an asteroid and Kath was firing her booty cannon. The sick thing is that Kath still got a target lock every round from the K4. I won without losing a ship but if things had gone on much longer I would have been in rough straights.
Won. 100 points destroyed, 0 lost.
Round 3 – Dual Duel
Game three was a nail biter. I came up against a guy running a list I had considered myself: a Decimator and the 35 point Soontir Fel. The Rear Admiral had Darth Vader; I focused on him and got him down to a single hull point. He fired at Boba, stripping the last shield and decided to commit suicide with Vader to inflict a crit. It was awesome. That left me with two ships against a nigh-impossible to kill Soontir Fel. Boba was moving after Fel so I managed to use my Inertial Dampeners at the right moment stay at range 2 of Fel and double-stress him. With no tokens the next turn, I was able to get a damage through and turn off Stealth Device. Boba then got ahead of Fel and started firing out the rear arc. Once Boba was leading Fel and keeping him double-stressed so Fel couldn’t take actions, it was inevitable.
Won. 100 points destroyed, 48 lost.
Round 4 – A Battle of Epic Proportions
At this point I had the highest MOV on the field with 551. The next game was a doozy. It came down to the wire but I lost. My opponent went on to win the tournament and it was an incredibly close game so I can’t be mad. The enemy flew Han with Gunner, Veteran Instincts, C-3PO, and the Millennium Falcon title with two naked Blue Squadron B-Wings as support.
I knew that the key to me winning would be to clear the B-Wings as quickly as possible. They don’t have the staying power of the Falcon but they could easily do as much damage. I focused fire and worked my positioning. Boba was able to put stress on a B-Wing in the opening joust by firing at range 2; I had a range 1 shot at the other B-Wing but I wanted to stress one so I could control movement. Kath finished off the shields on the stressed B-Wing. The next round my opponent tried to K-turn with the not-stressed B-Wing and bumped Boba. The Falcon bumped Boba and then Boba bumped the B-Wing. Neither ship can fire at Boba and the B-Wing was facing the wrong way to shoot Kath, who got behind the B-Wings. Boba wiped the previously stressed B-Wing (three enemy ships at range 1 meant I rolled 4 dice and could reroll 3 of them without taking an action!) but Kath just barely didn’t have arc on the remaining one. That turn meant I removed a third of my opponent’s damage potential, another third was stressed while pointed the wrong way, and the final third, my primary target, was running away. This was very good for me.
My opponent saw things were not going according to plan and bugged out with the Falcon the next turn. Kath made a K-turn to re-orient while Boba did a hard to to put the B-Wing behind him. The Firesprays fired on the B-Wing and scored some hits. Next turn the B-Wing K-turns again; Kath does her crazy target lock, focus, evade shenanigans; Boba K-turns; and the Falcon wound up on an asteroid well out of range. Concentrated fire from my ships took out the second B-Wing. At this point I’m feeling decent, even though the Falcon has only lost a shield due to the asteroid. It takes a few turns to close with the Falcon. Fire streams forth from the Firesprays, using the “Mangler” Cannon at range 3 to do my best to regulate how much damage the Falcon can block. The Falcon quickly drops down down into hull. Justin started by playing C-3PO very conservatively and always guessing zero. It’s the smart play, he’s guaranteed one evade if he does that. Once I start chewing into his hull and dealing some critical hits he started gambling – guessing 1, which means he gets nothing 5/8 of the time and 2 evades if he rolls one – and it paid off the three times he did. He manages to kill Boba Fett and it comes down to Kath vs. Han. I’m doing my best to regulate the amount of damage the Falcon is doing and opt a few times to take one damage rather than spend an evade token and let the Falcon get another attack with Gunner. We got down to a single hull on each ship and Kath skips over an asteroid because I had placed myself too close to one the round before in an attempt to kill the Falcon but didn’t get all the hits I needed. No damage from the asteroid but I’m unable to take actions so I eat one hit when Han shoots first. Lost. 44 points destroyed, 100 points lost.
This was one of the best games of X-Wing I have ever played. Justin, my opponent, congratulated me on a hell of a game and later told me, “I kept waiting for you to make a mistake, give me an opening and you just never did it.” That’s a high compliment from the guy who won the tourney. He flew really well. About his only mistake was bumping with that B-Wing’s K-turn. Even his gambles paid off so I can’t fault the choice to gamble. I would have played it conservatively with C-3PO but if he had done that, he would have lost. The game could really go either way. Taking out the B-Wings so quickly was a blessing. Each one only got a single shot off. I should have slow rolled up to the Falcon once it was two on one and tried to get Kath in front of it. Not only could I then block the Falcon to prevent its actions but I could also fire out the booty cannon if they don’t bump. Honestly, I just want a rematch. Justin was a great player and it was an incredible game.
Round 5 – Bounty Hunters Step on Bugs
In my last game I faced off against a pair of Aggressors running the IG-2000 title. My opponent had started off going 3-0 like I did but lost his fourth game, which is why we got paired. I think he was running IG-88B and IG-88C, both with Ion Cannons, Autoblaster Cannons, Autothrusters, and some other stuff. This game just wasn’t fair. I knew how to fly my ships better than my opponent and I got to move after, shoot before he did. I took out an Aggressor in two rounds of firing, which just isn’t supposed to happen to a ship with 4 hull, 4 shields, and 3 agility running Autothrusters, but he got trapped between my ships and ground into dust. From there it was a mopping up action. I ended the game with shields on both ships and more than thirty minutes on the timer.
One thing that I think had a mental effect on my opponent is that Autothrusters did nothing for him this game. I closed to range 2 and firing out my rear arc doesn’t trigger Autothrusters because it’s an arc. My opponent kept trying to flip a blank into an evade and I had to remind him that I had him in arc. He clearly wasn’t happy with that and we even had the TO (and both tables next to us) confirm that the rear arc counts as an arc for these game effects. He was demoralized after that was made apparent.
Win. 100 points destroyed, 0 lost.
That final win brought me to a tournament score of 20 (out of a possible 25) with an MOV of 796. By both measures I was in second place behind Justin and apparently gave him the hardest fight of the tournament. Though I was spoiling for a rematch, the tournament ended without a cut. In addition to alt-art Tycho Celchu and Push the Limit cards, I won a medal from the Spring 2015 tournament kit.
What I Learned
Mostly my lesson from this tournament is to not sell myself short. I flew my heart out here and played some impressive games. Earning a second place finish and being so close to the champion’s table was exhilarating. My tactical and strategic choices were sound throughout. Boba/Kath is an effective list that’s competitive as long as I set up well and keep my objectives straight. Target priority is a big thing here. Running two ships means I need to select and eliminate the most dangerous opponent in short order. Whittling down opponents into the same number or fewer ships is key. Thankfully the Firespray has the durability to do that against most lists.
Another thing I learned is that the Engine Upgrade wasn’t as useful on Boba Fett as I had hoped. I may drop it in favor of a Heavy Laser Cannon on Kath Scarlet. Having four dice at every range (except range 1 out the rear arc, which is 5) would help her put through damage on the enemy. Combined with her action economy, this could be very, very potent, indeed. It may just make Kath more of a target than she already is. That may not matter as all my opponents seemed to focus on Boba as the main threat; in my opinion, he wasn’t. Keeping Veteran Instincts on Boba may be worth it if only to force enemy Soontir Fels to fly differently, though the threat of Boba going after Fel is significantly reduced if Boba cannot reposition. Expert Handling is a cheaper way to re-position but it comes at a significant cost – not only is it an action, it gives me a stress and Fel moves after Boba.
Another way to go is to leave the Mangler on Kath but give Boba an Autoblaster cannon. This is a more aggressive build that has me pushing in with Boba to kill the enemy, since hits from an Autoblaster can’t be canceled. It’s some re-positioning Interceptor tech. A good roll could simply remove an Interceptor from the board with nothing the opposing player can do. Things to ponder and play test.