I've been lurking the forums since purchasing 3 core sets as well as six expansions nearly 2 weeks ago. I've been dying to get a full 100 point game under my belt. Over lunch today, I was almost successful.
Rebel Setup (100pts, 4 ships):
- R2 Astromech
Gold Squadron Pilot
- Ion Cannon
- R2 Astromech
I arrayed my ships in a tight box formation (millimeters apart, more on that later) in my left hand corner, at a 45 degree angle. I did this to angle my ships through two asteroids in the center of the field, while still keeping everyone in range of Biggs. I intended to intersect my opponent in the middle of the map with a quick burst to optimistically take out two of his TIEs in the first pass, or ion a TIE to cause it to crash into an asteroid.
Imperial Setup (100pts, 6 ships):
- Swarm Tactics
- Swarm Tactics
My friend spaced his ships out in two rows of three, with probably 2-straight between each 2 ship column. I didn't query his plans, he was the enemy. Savvy readers may notice a similarity between this setup and the setup of the winning FFG Championship player.
The only difference between me and my opponent was that I was a little more well-versed in the rules, so I needed to frequently remind him about Howlrunner's ability, as well as performing actions. Looking back, I don't believe I reminded him about using Swarm Tactics at all, which could have shifted some of the rounds to his favor.
I kept my tight formation, stopping with my first row (Dreis and Rookie) just peeking between the asteroids, with Darklighter and Gold Y-wing directly behind them. My foe decided on a similar approach, with his three columns moving directly forward, Howlrunner rear-center, with Vader on her left wing. This brought them (nearly) right on top of the asteroids concealing Dreis and Co. I target locked with two of the X-wings and the Y-wing, aiming to drop his lead Academy Pilot, while setting the Y-wing to ion his wingman to help guide him into the asteroid directly in front of him. Biggs target locked, having tactically forgotten to activate R2-F2, and Dreis focused. My opponent primarily focused, with the exception of Vader, who also target locked Dreis. I believe he thought that he was going to have a glorious killing field with all 6 of his fighters in range of my ships.
Proclaming victory, my foe attacked Dreis with Vader, forcing me to use his focus token to reduce the shield damage to one, while moving the focus token to Biggs. Transitioning to Howlrunner, he started proposing his range 2 attack on Dreis again, when I was gleefully able to explain that he was unable to attack Garvin, and would need to attack Biggs at range 3. His dismay turned to horror, as he needed to make range 3 attacks with ALL of his remaining ships, with the column closest to mine shooting through an asteroid to boot. Despite not activating R2-F2, Biggs emerged from the hail of laser fire unscathed. I managed to throw two damage onto one of his Academy TIEs with a pair of solid target locks, but was unable to damage any other ships. My Y-wing was unfortunately at range 3, and was not able to ion the TIE that he had locked.
Giddy with Biggs' display of combat evasion, and having no room to maneuver either left or right, I opted to travel a short distance straight with all my ships. This was my first major tactical error. Since the Academy Pilots went first, my foe decided to have his leading TIE bank directly in front of my formation. This caused a 4 ship pileup, as one ship after another collided with the ship in front of it, leaving no time for actions, as the rebel pilots struggled to avoid ramming each other. Fortunately, my opponent needed to maneuver around the large asteroid in front of several of his ships, leaving only Vader and an academy pilot to engage my squad.
The Dark Lord of the Sith's aim proved too much for Biggs, dealing enough damage to obliterate his shields. A follow up attack from his Academy Pilot wingman hit Biggs with a hull shot that ignited a console fire. While Biggs was ablaze, Dreis engaged Howlrunner at point-blank, destroying her instantly with a pair of direct hits.
Feeling that the danger of my formation was exceeding its value, I attempted to fan out as I finally escaped the asteroid and snubfighter cluster****. Continuing my lack of piloting skill, I proceeded to collide Biggs into my Rookie as Rookie pulled a left 2-turn while Biggs attempted to remain on the outside of the skirmish with a gentle left 3-bank. The Imperials were unable to bring many of their fighters to bear, as they ran into the same issues I did last turn, being unable to maneuver their fighters around my artfully arrayed pile of alphabet-wings.
Due to Biggs directing his attention to my lack of maneuvering prowess, he was not able to put out the console fire, which proceeded to eat through some of the remaining portions of his hull. Seeing blood in the vacuum, Vader chewed through Biggs' hull, conveniently extinguishing the console fire and Biggs simultaneously. Since no other ships were in firing arcs of one another, we prepared to continue maneuvering.
At this point, the Imperial commander realized that it was well past a pressing appointment that he had elsewhere, and would need to leave the field of engagement, and address the Rebel scum's atrocities another day. We tallied the points of the ships lost, with him losing Howlrunner to me losing Biggs with R2-F2. Alas! The Empire was marginally successful. My ships were in position to pursue half his squad off the side of the engagement area, while the other half wheeled around to engage. I would have probably been able to keep our rear safe with the Y-wing, but my formation was in such disarray from the collisions that I don't know how long the Y-wing would have survived.
The starting tight formation was advantageous in maneuvering through the tight gap (a space just slightly larger than Range 1), but I should have abandoned it after passing the field. Had I attempted to burst past my opponent, I would have been in a much better position, even with the stress tokens. I did not make much use of the generic R2's that I brought for that specific reason, because I was stuck in the 'keep them in firing range for as long as possible, even when they will most likely pass you' mentality.
The loose formation that my opponent had was something I could have capitalized on more, if I had not been constantly tangling my fighters into each other.
It is important to realize that Ion Cannons are not Range 3 weapons.
Biggs is tremendous support to a squad, not only for drawing fire, but forcing significantly worse shots from your opponent. Garvin Dreis complements this well, being able to provide Biggs with extra survivability if needed, or giving it to one of the green pilots to improve killing potential. Even without activating R2-F2, Biggs was able to survive much longer than anticipated, partially due to some great rolls.
1 hour is not much time to set up two 100 point squads and fight to the death.
R2-F2 does not activate itself, nor will it do so when you attempt to ram your wingmen.