Yes, I know Regionals don't start for a few weeks, but I figured I'd start this now to get some discussion going about what I plan on running and what others are running.
I've been cycling through lists of squads trying to find the right squad for me that I think will be successful, and I think I've hit on what I'm going to play. My focus has been on trying to beat Picasso's "Han Shoots First" (HSF)list that he has been running successfully for months. Thankfully, I don't plan on facing him until the Star Wars Experience on May 4th in Minneapolis, so hopefully I'll be able to secure a win beforehand so as not to have any added pressure at that tournament.
His list is:
Han Solo with Gunner, Chewbacca, and Marksmanship
Rookie Xwing X2
Here are some of the lists I've come up with to try and beat that squad, with little success:
Mauler with Veteran Instincts
Saber Squadron Pilot with Veteran Instincts
Tempest Squadron Pilot with Homing Missiles
Alpha Squadron Pilot
The nice thing about this squad is losing any one ship still leaves a very offensive squad. This is also my type of squad. Having 5 different TIEs out there with different maneuvers, strengths, and weaknesses is my kind of play style. One of the weaknesses of this squad is the Tempest with Missiles. People like to put Missiles on low pilot skill fighters, but what they don't realize is that the low skill pilots move first. So here's how it plays out: low skill pilot moves, has a ship at range 3, takes a target lock on that ship. Then that ship moves and is now range 1, so even though the target lock is there, the missiles will have to wait until later. So effectively you need 2 rounds in order to use missiles on lower pilot skill fighters, one for the target lock and one to use the missiles.
I played this squad against a coworker running HSF. It was his second game, ever. We didn't use asteroids, because I wanted him to have a game where he could figure out maneuvering the falcon before we put asteroids out there. First attack round he one-shots Backstabber. I put a hurt on the falcon, but it wasn't enough. I think I killed 1 of his rooks that game. I ran a squad that I had designed to beat HSF, and the noob beat me fairly handily.
So he and I played again, same squads, this time with asteroids. First attack round, he one-shots Backstabber again. I did manage to take Han down, but I only had my Tempest without shields left vs both of his rooks at full health. This is where my flying experience kicked in, as I managed to take 1 down, then I kept barrel rolling out of his firing arc every round so that I could get a shot and he couldn't. I ended up killing the other rook and won the game, and I had only taken 1 damage from an asteroid hit that I purposefully did so that he wouldn't get a shot on me. That was against a noob. If I had been playing someone experienced, I would have lost for sure.
So I played that squad at our LGS to see how I could do against them. I won 1 game against a 4 Interceptor squad, and then I played against a Garven/Dutch/Wedge trio and lost. That game came down to die rolls, so it could have gone either way. That game also showed me the importance of setting up second, as he completely took a few of my TIEs out of the fight while they were flying across the board trying to catch up.
So, I took that lesson and made up a new squad:
Soontir Fel with Veteran Instincts and Stealth
Howlrunner with Veteran Instincts and Stealth
Turr Phennir with Veteran Instincts and Stealth
Mauler Mithel with Veteran Instincts
So my pilot skills are 11, 10, 9, and 9. So I will be setting up last and attacking either first or simultaneously. The trouble with this squad is that it has 12 hp. And given how prone Han is to one-shot a TIE, I could be in trouble quickly. Also with Howlrunner, I have to keep the squad close, which I think is a bad idea with wave 2. So I changed it up to:
Soontir Fel with VI and Stealth
Howlrunner with VI and Stealth
Boba Fett with VI and seismic charge and gunner
Now my pilot skills are 11, 10, and 10. I love being able to show up and say "My lowest pilot skill is a 10." I ran that at the LGS the next week. I beat a Lando/Biggs combo and a 4 Interceptor squad, but again I lost to HSF. Every game Howlrunner was the first to go, then Boba, then Fel. The Lando/Biggs game was very close, and it came down to Fel vs Lando and some die luck. Against the 4 squint squad, I took one out before it even had a chance to attack, which was my goal. But it still wasn't enough to beat HSF. 16 hp was a little better than 12, but still not enough. Also a side note, seismic charge on Fett was very handy, as my opponent always moved before me, so I knew right where he was going to be when I dropped it. It worked well.
Which gets me to my current squad.
Mauler Mithel with Veteran Instincts
As has been chronicled on this site, I have had difficulty flying the Firespray effectively. So during the last week I've been practicing flying 2 firesprays around a board with asteroids, and it has helped. I'm sure you think I should trick out the firesprays, but stock firesprays aren't that bad by themselves, and for the points, I'd rather have Backstabber. This squad has staying power as well, with 26 hp. I played this squad today at my LGS.
First game was against HSF. I took the Xwings out first. He took Mauler out first, then later Backstabber, which left a damaged Han vs 2 firesprays. I ended up winning that one. Then I faced a chewbacca/biggs/red sq squad. I took Biggs out a little later than I wanted to, as chewie took a crit for him. He took out Backstabber, and that was all that I lost all game. It was fairly brutal, as my BH's just kept putting hits on chewie, and eventually that was all she wrote.
And then I played against another HSF variant, this one with Swarm Tactics. I made 3 bad maneuvering errors that game. I landed on 2 asteroids that I should have avoided. And I ended up flying 1 BH off of the board at full health. I was too caught up in the rear firing arc that I didn't anticipate where he was going to go in the next round and it was all over for that one. It sucks that firesprays don't have the 1 turn option, so I have to get better at flying them. Also it didn't help that Mauler rolled 1 hit with 4 dice before dying, but such is the game.
So, with Easter being next weekend, I don't know if I will get to play again between now and the first Regional tournament. I will keep practicing flying 2 firepsrays around, though, as it definitely helped me today. I do need to get better, though, if I expect to keep up with the meta game.