I haven't played competitively since winter 2016, and in the roughly 18 months since then, I've only played a handful of pickup games. So when I had a Saturday free to go to a store championship, I decided to go with the goals of getting in some games, playing a fun list, possible wrecking ship, and hopefully getting the participation prize. With that context in mind, here's my list from the store championship at Texas Toy Soldier on Saturday (24 June):
Maarek Stele: 41
TIE Defender (35)
Veteran Instincts (1)
Tractor Beam (1)
Ion Pulse Missiles (3)
Twin Ion Engine, Mk. II (1)
TIE Phantom (32)
Veteran Instincts (1)
Rebel Captive (3)
Advanced Cloaking Device (4)
Fire-Control System (2)
Sienar Test Pilot: 17
TIE Advanced Prototype (16)
Again, this was for fun - ships I like to fly (Defender) or wanted to try flying (TAP and Phantom, though I've flown the Phantom a couple of times before). I want to practise doing a write-up so I reflect on my games, but I don't remember move-by-move details, so it's gonna be pretty fast and loose this time around.
My first match was against a guy who had started playing in February, and he was flying triple Jumpmasters, all identical:
Contracted Scout: 33
Jumpmaster 5000 (25)
Attanni Mindlink (1)
Plasma Torpedoes (3)
Extra Munitions (2)
R4 Agromech (2)
Guidance Chips (0)
He was a great opponent, very polite and honest when he wasn't sure about an effect or gameplay question, and was likewise helpful when I was unsure. He also had done sweet paintjobs on two of his Jumpmasters to make them look like pirate ships (...by thematic colour schemes, not Jolly Rogers...), so we had a good time joking about the Gold Tooth and Rustbucket.
As I'd hoped, having all 100 points meant that my opponent would have initiative, so Whisper would move after his ships (although she would decloak before, of course) - not that this came into play in this game, but it was something I needed to keep in mind in the event of a roll-off. After placing asteroids, I set up the TAP on my right corner at 45* toward the centre of the mat, and he placed his Scouts directly across from it. I placed Stele and Whisper on my left corner, facing straight ahead. First combat pass, I had attempted to use the TAP as bait to bring the Scouts into the centre of the board, but then failed to capitalise on its rabbiting abilities so it didn't have a shot. I didn't move Whisper far enough into the asteroid field to get her in range, so it was one of his Scouts against Stele. While I managed to Tractor Beam the Scout onto a rock so it couldn't fire, there was no significant result, if any, from this round - maybe some shields stripped, I think. As we converged in the centre of the table and asteroid field for the second combat pass, I managed to avoid the range 2-3 band for his Plasma torpedoes, and got some good shots against one of his Scouts with Stele and Whisper, stripping all of its shields. The TAP was still out of the fight. I think he took a shield or two off Stele that round.
After that pass, I successfully predicted where the shield-less Scout would be and had Stele pointing at it. However, while I had managed to cloak Whisper with the ACD after that round, she was in range 1 of at least 1 Scout if not both of the other 2. So while Stele was ready to remove the weakened Scout, I learned about the glass cannon effect of Whisper, even with ACD because of my poor flying. (After playing the next game with her, I wonder now if I would have been better served by decloaking and moving away from the fight that round, instead of staying in the thick of it and relying on my cloaking device.) So in the next round, he took out Whisper, and Stele got the Scout down to 1 hull. At this point, there were about 10 minutes left in the match, and his others Scouts were at full health or missing only a shield or two. I kept Stele on the injured Scout's tail, but that Scout flew through an asteroid and exploded, which meant that Stele and the TAP were on the opposite side of the board from his other two Scouts, so that exchange of fire was inconsequential. I think we managed to set dials and move into range for one more exchange before time was called, but that round also didn't do anything to alter the score.
One thing of note - my opponent only remembered to trigger his R4 Agromechs once, maybe twice in the game. He realised this at one point, and then I forgot to remind him. I don't know how much of a difference it would have made for the match. I did make a mistake in order of operations at one point, and he was gracious to me about it (I don't remember what it was), but when I offered to let him trigger R4 after he had forgotten, he said he would pass so he would learn his lesson.
Loss of 42 points, destroyed 33 points. At one point, I fired my Ion Pulse Missiles, but they missed. I wondered if taking Munitions Failsafe would have been better than TIE Mk II, but my next opponent suggested a better use of those 3 points.
Successes: my flying was solid, only bumping once (and myself, too), but that decision about leaving Whisper as a target was my undoing.
Lessons: make better use of the TAP by truly flanking with it, instead of using it as bait (which really, I suppose, is unnecessary, unless it's successful in getting them to waste a turn target-locking it before running away).
My second match was against a list with a lot of stuff that's come out since I've been on hiatus, so I'm going to do my level best using YASB to recreate it.
Starkiller Base Pilot: 50 (?)
Upsilon-Class Shuttle (30)
Kylo Ren (3)
Sensor Cluster (2)
Weapons Guidance (2)
Kylo Ren's Shuttle (2)
YASB says it's got room for another System-slot upgrade as well as the Modification, of course. I don't remember what he had, but he said he was at 99 points, and said his Upsilon Shuttle was 50-odd of that. As I'm typing this, I'm realising that his math must have been off, because if the Upsilon was 50 points, he would have been over 100 and we should have rolled for initiative, which we didn't. Another possibility is that he didn't have Proton Rockets on his Defender, but I know he had a missile on it. Hmm, and if he wasn't at 100, then I destroyed 87 points, not 88...
Countess Ryad: 43
TIE Defender (34)
Veteran Instincts (1)
Proton Rockets (3)
Engine Upgrade (4)
Tractor Beam (1)
Academy Pilot: 12
TIE Fighter (12)
This was an irritating match, because my opponent had been telling me how my list wasn't viable even before the tournament started while some of us were shooting the breeze, and during our game continued to verbally correct my gameplay choices when I did something he wouldn't have or freak out when I had the upper hand. [In the course of writing this, I've found that I mention many of these instances, and don't want them to detract from the batrep, so while they add flavour or context to some in-game events, they aren't absolutely necessary to understanding the outcome of the game; as such, I've decided to tag them with Spoilers so you can read them or not as you choose.]
That being said, his suggestion that I scrap the Pulse Missiles in favour of Prockets and Guidance Chips on the TAP was meritorious.
He placed his Upsilon and Academy Pilot on his right corner (and tried to place them simultaneously until I objected, but he was so flustered and frustrated with his inability to leave enough room for the Upsilon that I turned a blind eye when he moved the AP to make room for it), so I placed my TAP on my right corner. He placed Ryad centre-left, ready to head toward the TAP. I placed Stele and Whisper alongside the TAP, and started off at a speed 4 straight manoeuvre to keep them all in formation and feint as though I were rearing for combat as he was.
This is one thing I'd like some feedback on: when Whisper has ACD, why would I cloak her before the first round of combat? He pointed out that doing so would have allowed me to move faster and close on him before he was in formation, or even get behind his ships - a valid point, but when I could catch Ryad without support and get a shot at her and then cloak with ACD, I don't understand why I wouldn't do just that. He came at me but didn't rush, so on the next turn when I turned in at the edge of the asteroid & debris field with all my ships and had shots on Ryad with all of them, I was in a good place - but I knew that the next round I would need to be careful to guess where his ships would end up so I didn't get focused down. I think I stripped maybe 1 shield off Ryad in that initial exchange, but she didn't have a shot on me, so I was fine. The Upsilon assigned "I'll Show you the Dark Side" to Stele, and then gave the TAP a stress token at the end of the combat phase. The next round, I guessed where Ryad would end up, and had Whisper and Stele in position to shoot at her, but I think I bumped Stele into Whisper (or vice versa), so he didn't get an action. The TAP successfully peeled off to follow behind the Upsilon, which ended up being an excellent choice - though I didn't know the text of Kylo Ren's Shuttle, so the TAP was double-stressed and didn't take an action for the rest of the game (had I known, I would not have passed the stress onto Whisper or Stele for this last round while they were in range to do so, so the only difference it would have made is for the TAP's action). The exchange of fire on this second round of combat was mostly unimpressive, though I think this was the round Stele dodged Ryad's prockets, so that was nice.
For the next few rounds, Ryad mostly K-turned, but I kept Stele and Whisper in a pincer to cover her either at close-range or at distance in case she didn't K-turn. We traded shots, and I got through Ryad's shields. The TAP stayed on the Upsilon's six, and at one point during that chase my opponent picked up the TAP's face-down dial after I had set it and handed him back his ship's dials from the previous round. He immediately admitted that he'd seen the selected manoeuvre, and we called over the TO to see if anything needed to be done (neither of us knew for certain - I had only placed that dial at that point, and he hadn't placed any of his, so we weren't in the activation phase yet). In the end, I stayed with my chosen manoeuvre and didn't bump the Upsilon, so I got another shot in on it.
In the end, after a couple more rounds, I blew up Ryad and the Upsilon (death by a thousand cuts), and he had taken down Stele's shields and one or both of Whisper's, who then broke off to follow the Upsilon and got the penultimate shot in that set up the TAP for the coup de grâce. I didn't destroy his Academy Pilot, and only had my TAP on-target to take a parting couple of shots at it before time was called.
Destroyed 88(?), lost 0.
Successes: target priority. I saw Ryad as my biggest threat, but knew I also would need to focus-fire down the Upsilon. To that end, I prioritised killing Ryad but was open to potshots or an opportune moment to hound the Upsilon, which played out well. I also kept my cool about my opponent's chatter and outflew him, which was satisfying to see that superior piloting can still carry the day against newer ships (though arguably not the best new ships... When I learned of Backdraft and Quickdraw's ability while shooting the breeze before the tournament, I was petrified about what they could do to my squad!)
Lessons: if you don't know a card, don't be afraid to ask to see it. I prefer to read rather than hear information, but this opponent wanted to tell me the effects of his upgrades - he was trying to be helpful, I believe, so I felt pushy asking to see multiple cards since I've been out of the game so long.
After that round, I had to leave early to attend to some personal business that arose. I wish I'd been able to stay and see how I fared for the rest of the day, because that was the best flying and dice-rolling I've ever done in the 4 years I've been playing this game! In the end, I accomplished three of my four goals: I got in some games, had fun, and took a few of 'em with me, but there were 39 of us present and only 32 promo cards, so I didn't get one (and granted, I dropped, but the TO was understanding of the reason).
I'd appreciate any feedback or thoughts - especially on that Whisper-cloaking decision. Also, am I just being a crotchety old man about my second opponent, or justifiably miffed by his manner and play style? I've played against teenagers before and found it a mixed bag as to their gameplay etiquette and social skills, but this just seemed to be off the charts.