John's 2019 GenCon Writeup!
So, I imagine you all saw the LAST post, but many of you know nothing about what I ran or how I built it or my games or blah blah blah. THIS is that post. I go into a LOT of things here, and there's still the goofy jokes, but it's a lot more.... meandering towards the end, like a Tolkien novel. I'd apologize, but A) it's our blog and B) I'm not sorry?
Two of the important keys to my list
Relatedly, there's several Avengers Endgame spoilers contained within, so, uhh, go see the movie if you're like the one or two people who haven't? Part 1: Genesis
So, as I'm sure many of you know, I'm the Leia guy. I ran Leia for well over a year, trying to prove she's not bad (long story short of where I am with her now? Solid ability, bad point cost. Doesn't mean I won't PLAY her, but oof, 38 points). When World's ended this year, I put Leia down, having proved as much as I wanted to with that list (and with her, up until I got some new upgrades and ships, what up Rebellion in the Rim). When FFG announced that next year's Worlds was invite only, I wrote my thoughts (Spoiler: not ecstatic about it still, even if I'm benefitting from it).
So I needed a list to work with it. I stopped playing "cheeky" commanders and started looking at the standard Rebel big 4.
Blue Fish, Death Wish, Red Fish, Crit Wish
Whatever list I chose and built, I would need an answer for specific builds in the meta; specifically Imperial Two-Ship. I, much like Nathan Coda, like running squadrons. Which means Ackbar was... probably out. I've played some Ackbar in the CURRENT meta (the SSD forwards is what I'll refer to as the New Meta, just for clarity further along in this article) and I have issues personally with him against Two-Ship (he just isn't working well enough for me in that match-up). I don't have the experience with Raddus that I needed to be ANYWHERE near good enough to competitively run him (slash being able to learn and practice in 2-3 months). Which left me Dodonna or Rieekan. I like Dodonna, but I knew I wanted Yavaris. A good strike with Yav and you're GOLD, something will DIE. Which pushed me into Rieekan, as I refuse to play these current bidding wars. I faced a 28 point bid 4th round, and like, come on, I can't leave 29 points out of my list. I personally don't want first player that badly. Eric and I started this with him usually bidding and getting first against me, and I was (let's be charitable to Younger Me) not able to properly leverage first player as well as I can now (I still don't WANT it, but I can stumble through if given it). Bidding just isn't important to me, but I can understand how it impacts other people's builds and all.
Anyways, Rieekan. Keeping Yavaris alive that one extra turn can be JUST enough to tip the scales towards you and make sure your list gets to do what it needs to do. Or anything of that nature, really.
I was trying to get several ideas together to coalesce into what I wanted and I eventually remember exasperatedly asking Nathan at one point "How the heck do I fit Yavaris and an MC30 into the same stupid list and get anything decent?" So Nathan suggested the core bones of my list. His starting point was that (my at the time) "necessary" inclusion of non-Rogue squads to command with Yavaris wasn't actually necessary. Using Rogue to move squads RIGHT into position at the end of one turn where I needed them for the top of next turn for the Yav activation was a great use of Rogue. Having seen what Imperial Two-Ship does with Morna, I understood his point. Rogue is there to ensure those squadrons both get to where you want them to at the end of the round and can hopefully do some damage on the way there/out too. I made some minor changes to his initial suggestion to fit MY playstyle and how I do (not because Nathan is wrong or I know better than him, but I wanted a few specific things in there that Nathan didn't have in HIS version of the list) and I ended up running this:
Faction: Rebel Alliance
Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Planetary Ion Cannon
Navigation Objective: Superior Positions
[ flagship ] MC30c Torpedo Frigate (112 pts total)
- General Rieekan ( 30 points)
- Admonition ( 8 points)
- Lando Calrissian ( 4 points)
- Ordnance Experts ( 4 points)
- External Racks ( 3 points)
Nebulon-B Escort Frigate (62 pts total)
- Yavaris ( 5 points)
CR90 Corvette A (53 pts total)
- Jainas Light ( 2 points)
- Turbolaser Reroute Circuits ( 7 points)
GR-75 Medium Transports (27 pts total)
- Bright Hope ( 2 points)
- Toryn Farr ( 7 points)
GR-75 Medium Transports (23 pts total)
- Leia Organa ( 3 points)
- Comms Net ( 2 points)
1 Dutch Vander ( 16 points)
1 Gold Squadron ( 12 points)
1 Han Solo ( 26 points)
1 Hera Syndulla ( 28 points)
1 Ketsu Onyo ( 22 points)
1 Wedge Antilles ( 19 points)
The name is actually a triple pun. I painted that MC30 up to look like Iron Man a month or so ago, and I ended up painting my other ships and squadrons up as well. I had gotten the Yav to trigger in testing, and those little 2-dice damage packets are just like lightning strikes, so Yav became Thor. Which left Cap for that CR90. The other parts of the pun were that I often was deploying on the literal back edge line (get ready for several of THOSE pictures) and just slow rolling my way forwards, waiting for their attack/strike, and then I counter punch. Or lining up my shot patiently, getting what I needed to be where when I needed it. And the last part is that most (if not ALL) of those ships are nearly bog-standard pre-made builds for those ships. There's not much "creative" or "fancy" on these that will make your opponent go "Oooooh, what a new concept, I hadn't considered X+Y." It's the same Admonition, Jaina's, Bright Hope, and Leia Comms Net builds I've used and seen COUNTLESS times in many other lists. This was just one of the first times I combined ALL of them.
The gist of the list (and why I wanted to include those ships) is that Admo and Yav are REALLY good (duh?). If you ignore either one of them, the other can get some solid work DONE. And the CR90 Jaina's is just an all-around GREAT inclusion. Toryn BH is there because blue rerolls on anti squads or on flak are no-brainers. Leia was in there on the Comms Net just in case I ran into Slicer Tools (once) or hit a Cham Syndulla bomb (2 at GenCon, I hit none) or needed to change dials on something (about once a game, no lie). The intensely aggravating thing about that Yavaris is that it's SO CHEAP. It's 62 points and I have no other upgrades on it. But the MINUTE you ignore it because I don't have Flight Commander or FCT or whatever on it is the minute that little SOB rips something apart. You HAVE to kill it or you're in trouble, and because it's a Neb it takes a little more work to die than you really want to devote to it. The squads are there because Wedge/Dutch/Hera is some HARD mean shots. Gold in there because giving Hera another friend in a squadless matchup or if/when someone dies, Ketsu because she's an amazing anti-ship tech, and Han because OPTIONS. Han was my one bit of "weird tech" that "no one thinks is good." I wasn't playing the bidding game, but dang right am I gonna cheat the crud out of it. That last-first helped me (if I'm remembering right) literally at least once a game. Leveraging that ability right is SO helpful that I promise it's worth the work to put into learning it. If you remember the movie, Han doesn't shoot first all the time, he sneaks the shot on Greedo when Greedo wasn't expecting it. THAT'S how you Han.
"Start of the turn, I shoot Greedo."
The squads are deceptively mean as heck, and I won't hesitate to pop Yavaris on a Rogue. Hera and Han fire Defender shots at squads and roll 2 dice anti-ship. To quote Nathan (we hang out, hashtag humblebrag), Hera's black dice is nearly guaranteed 1 damage, and if I'm near Toryn, that's a 75% chance of another. In MY mind, Han was identical. I tried to squeeze in every two dice anti-ship squadron I could (also why I personally liked Han over Dash). I practiced this list enough that it ended up changing Eric away from MSU, and I had a decent 2-0 or 2-1 record against Two-Ship that I felt ready for it (Han and Hera double-tapping an ISD helped blow it up from Yavaris BS). I was a little cautious about Sloane, as "mah tokens noooo" but if I can get some attacks off? Maybe? I had one game against Sloane pre-GenCon that I lost, but it was close, so I was totally ready, right? (NO).
Ready for Battle
I kept this list close to the vest and didn't post it online leading up to GenCon. Not to be all SUPER SEEKRIT TECH or whatever, but mostly because I knew I was doing the Avengers paintjob shtick and wanted to reveal that one day-of.
Part II: Day 1
My first opponent was... Nathan Coda, who I had just played like a week before. Again, GenCon, where the heck was my baby seal to club? Something something pressure makes diamonds or whatever, but guh, can I not walk into game 1 against my friend and a Worlds winner?
Nathan had a variation on his World's list, with him running almost the exact same squads as me/before (he had Dash over Han IIRC?) with his same 5 ships from Worlds. The week before when we had played, he had used the CR90B to Engine Tech ram my Admo to death, which, uh, ouch? My Admo was staying back this game.
We deployed as shown above, and I spent a few turns navigating and trying to close SLOWLY. Nathan and I have gotten a good amount of games in since he moved to Chicago, and my Coda-wan training is not complete, but I am LEARNING. I am NOT a full Jedi Cod-i yet, though. The gospel of Atlanta and Always Be Navigating was often in my mind, as we traded some pieces.
"When you RUN into Nathan, you're asking for him to take a bite out of your lutefisk, ope." Old Minnesota proverb
Turn 5 (like 2 turns after this), I had started moving squadrons to hit Nathan's Admo (top right in that picture above) and it was starting to get hurt and flash into the danger zone. He had to move some of his own squads in to stop MY ability to hit Admo, which kept a few of my ships alive a bit longer. The final bit of the game LITERALLY before time was called to start another round was Nathan moving his own Admo JUST too close to mine when he was out of tokens and shields, and my Admo blew his up. I ended up with a 7 point MoV there, and a 6-5. Nathan is a GREAT opponent who forces me to elevate my game and THINK. Which is what I need, not running my fleet on auto-pilot. Still terrifying though, haha!
Round 2 was Justin Rasmussen, who I played LAST GenCon (Blanka in the dumb analogy). Great, guess I'm playing Jason Dedrik and Mike Bohlmann again, too, right? COME ON, GenCon!
Justin was running 3 Hammerheads with TFO and TRCs, a Quantum Slicer, a Toryn Comms Net, a Rieekan driven Ordnance MC75 with Bail on it, and Tycho/Ketsu. I understand the T/K inclusion, as they can both prevent specific enemy squads you DON'T want going somewhere from moving. Justin made me first player, just like last year. As opposed to Most Wanted, I took Superior Positions as I can kinda make it work if needed? We deployed in opposite corners, and Justin chose Bail for turn 5.
Well past deployment! Like, turn TWO!
We spent the first 4 turns navigating towards each other. Justin had me outactivated, so he waited until the literal end of turn 4 to move the MC75 into position.
This literal moment. It hopped the Hammerheads and turned to its left
Unfortunately for him, after movement it wasn't in range of anything for a significant (aka Black dice) attack, and even MORE unfortunately, the Nav Command Justin wanted/thought he had was an Engineering on turn 5. So, after the 75 moved and landed on some squads, Yavaris had this into its side.
The 3 squad (Ketsu-Gold-Han) double tap lightning strike and Yav shot and ram brought the 75 to literally one health left and 1 shield in its face, no meaningful tokens left. Jaina's finished it off, and then I ended up wiping the squads, both flotillas, and one of the Hammerheads. The dice were also not kind to Justin on several occasions, and 1-2 of my squads escaped that probably shouldn't have. Justin is a very cautious opponent, and if the right command had been on the stack for that turn, I have no idea how things would have turned out.
Game 3 was shmitty, the eventual champion. He was running the Dumpster Fire Mark XIV, which was linked to in his name. He was one of the few I had exchanged my list with in preparation, just because I've followed the Dumpster Fire when Biggs was running it, and was cheering him on at World's with it. I LIKE the list, and I really like the fact that the whole is MUCH greater than the sum of its parts. Shmitty won the roll-off and chose to go second (I'm pretty sure I never had the choice all weekend, which helped eliminate any potential issue of my own there). I chose Intel Sweep because Con-O is a death trap for my list that wants to slowly maneuver its way towards you, and Station Assault is just more crap I have to kill to not lose, pass. I knew ON CHOOSING IT that I had lost the objective (he has a Pelta with FCTs, he's grabbing them all turns 1-3) and ignored it entirely. It wasn't worth my time to stupidly rush forward and pretend to contest it.
Mid turn 1 IIRC
Near deployment as shown above. Lemme tell you, that Lib is deceptively evil. I'm so used to "real" Liberties (AKA Truthiness's Raddus bomb that ate me at World's) or whatever I've run on mine before. This one that DOESN'T have those still makes you THINK it CAN do X or Y or Z but it's just a really good front arc. Doesn't mean I'm jumping into it... on purpose....
The CR90 keeps repeating "Everything is fine" faster and faster
A bit later, we ended up like this. That Lib came SCREAMING in FAST, which, uhhhh, no? Goway! Leia (on the right) ended up obstructing Yav's side, but that Lib rolled enough damage and 2 accuracies in one shot to get Yav down to 1 hull point left and no shields. Shmitty sent in Biggs to get it and Biggs blanked the shot. Yav then triggered Wedge and Dutch twice, and down went the 2 X-wings. Rieekan started the next turn by killing the Pelta and badly wounding the Neb. Yav died to the next Lib shot, but I got that one more turn off, and I ended up killing everything shmitty had besides the Lib and Jan Ors. I had won my Second Battle of the Blogs, and had beaten the eventual winner of GenCon, so, you know, NBD. The deciding match between me and Biggs will... definitely occur at some point, whenever we schedule it, haha. And I get out to Ohio/Pittsburgh. Shmitty was a great opponent and is super friendly, and that list is built INCREDIBLY well. I like it, and if I didn't have 3 other stupid lists to run, I'd give it a shot. I also need to win a major tournament with Leia to prove she's just as good. Everyone start holding your breath!
And so, round 4. I played Evan and his Sloane Two-Ship with 12 fighters. Uhhhhhhh..... UHHHHHH...... HALP.
This is a theme with me here
4 regulars, 3 Interceptors, Mauler, Howl, Saber, Black, Cienna Ree. Hoo boy. An ISD-I with Pryce (this is important) and a Quasar with Grint. So many squadrons coming in HOT.
Porg not photoshopped in, Porg Mahone actually shows up at tournaments and sometimes waddles across the table
We deployed as shown, and then got to it. The Pryce turn 2 I was not maneuvering close into danger, so I dodged that. Turn 3 he ended up sending in several squads and got Wedge, along with putting some Cienna Ree based damage into Dutch. Yav triggered and double-tapped Wedge, killing Black and Howlrunner as a Zombie. Gold put some plink damage into Cienna Ree, and flak hurt a LOT of these guys. Dutch sacrificed his life from the counter to take Cienna's Scatter token away. Turn 4 Han went and shot Mauler, and then Yav ended up double tapping Hera into 2 squadrons, Gold killed Cienna and a generic? If memory served. The Zombie Ketsu took out Saber and another squadron or two, and the Yav flak took out every other squadron left but the 4 basic TIEs. Yav wandered forwards and got obliterated by Avenger. Avenger ended its turn in close range of Admonition's face.
I had spent 3 literal games NOT being stupid, NOT rushing in, NOT taking stupid risks until I was sure I could emerge from them. I was going second, so I'm not really happy with my usual plans here. Leia passes Admo a con fire token because it lets me not worry right yet about activating and what I'm going to do. Admo pops his External Racks and rolls a natural blue accuracy and 7 damage, wiping 2 shield zones. If I can get another attack on this ISD..... BIG FLIPPING IF.
John, you have not been dumb. You have been smart, you have thought this through, you should run, you should leave, you'll find a way to get it later. I'm AWARE of what you painted the stupid MC30 as, I KNOW you have been so good all dang day at not making dumb decisions, I KNOW last stands and battles and giving everything you have just to-
John's choice was.... inevitable
I rammed the ISD's face. I am Iron Man.
Next turn, the Boarding Troopers on the ISD flip EVERYTHING. He sends in all 4 TIEs and I either redirect or get accuracied away 3 of my 4 tokens. I have an Evade that I can discard. He rolls, and I Lando the horrifying ones. I discard that last Evade and end up taking 4 total damage, no crits. I lose my 3 front shields, take my second hull damage, and the ram gives me my third. Jaina's Con Fires and wipes some of its other shields, and Gold Squadron took out all but one other shield on it. Leia changes Admo to a con-fire and gives it a token. The front rolls 2 damage and the other shield is wiped, one to the hull. The side rolls, I con-fire, I use the token. I LUCK LIKE **** into one natural blue accuracy (and not more) and the 7 damage I needed to kill it without needing my own final ram to do it.
Snap that ISD right out of existence
Hera and flak finish off the remaining 4 TIEs. Evan's list was TERRIFYING and I was internally screaming the entire time I had Admo in the front arc of that ISD. It was the literal most scared I had ever been in that tournament, and had Lando not saved Admo and my lucky TWO DIFFERENT accuracies not prevented him from using his Brace, that ISD-I would have survived. It's a TERRIFYING list, just watching squad after squad pour into you. I ended Day 1 in 4th place and was going to day 2 and Worlds next year. I went out to dinner with a whole bunch of friends.
Part 3: Day II
I start the day facing Sam Simon and his "Two-and-a Half Ship" list. It's the Interdictor-Gozanti version of Two-Ship (with Rhymer, MMJ, etc etc). He makes me first (wut? Oh crap, how I handle dis?), and I took Station Assault. I hated it, but again, Con-O is a Death Trap, and Salvage Run was a free 80 to him. We deployed as shown below.
See, by putting the CR90 out wide, I..... uhhh....
He ended up hitting the CR90 with his Pryce turn, and I wandered into it like an idiot. I ran the next turn, pulling it out of harm's way for a few more turns.
The CR90 escaped! For like 2 more turns!
The inevitable slow-roll forward resulted in me losing Yavaris, followed by me shooting several of Sam's squads, a few of mine died, and I jumped Admo in and killed one station. Han and Hera and Gold (yaaay frand) ended up killing Maarek, and I walked away from this with a 5-6. It's a VERY good list, and I have to commend Sam on it being Two-Ship adjacent while still being its own THING. Doesn't mean I like Pryce, of course, haha!
Game 2 was against Dan, a local from Indianapolis. He was running Raddus on an MC30 with ACM and a GR75 pushing 4 X-wings, Jan, and Dutch (not all on the same turn, haha). He dropped in a Ordnance Profundity with Garel's Honor and ExRax. We deployed in literal opposite corners for my Planetary Ion Cannon, and spent 3 turns jockeying before Raddus dropped on 4. Garel's killed Leia, and my squads killed Garel's. Wedge died, but zombie killed at least one X-wing with a double tap, and Dutch shut down another one there. I ended up killing his Dutch, Jan, and an X-wing along with Garel's. He got Wedge and Leia Comms Net for a 6-5 to me. Lamely, I am a dingus who somehow didn't take pictures of this game. Dan was dangerous, and I could see that approaching several of these ships without the means to immediately kill it was a potential LARGE amount of trouble, and if this is what Indianapolis is running normally, I need to be cautious about attending a Regionals there in the future!
And game 3. Final battle, 7 out of 7.
John Larison was running a variant of Tokra's Worlds winning list, with a Quasar, Sloane on a Raider, 2 gozantis, and Centicore Arquitens with a MEAN squad ball. He made me first, and I took his Superior Positions (over Most Wanted and Con-O. Again, no Con-O, and every time I saw MW this weekend I avoided it because I had already accepted that Yav was going to die, I didn't need to give you another 57 points by killing it).
Yav is the only thing of mine NOT about to be speed 1 in this picture
We deployed as shown, and I started trying to turn everything I could into him and his list to try to gut it.
Time to go to work
He kept maneuvering, and I got to the point that I was able to just take this shot of my ships, and I just really liked the idea of "One more time. One last battle." or whatever that the picture shows to me. My guys are ready, and all I can do is play it as smart as I can. His Raider, as you can see in a zoomed out picture from early in turn 3 had turned in and was making its way towards me.
It/s on the right there! I SEE IT TOO!
Ketsu, under Captain America in that picture, saw the opportunity. Turn 3 late he sent everything he could into Yav (the "Time to go to Work" one), shooting it in the face multiple times. His Arquitens ONLY had a shot on my face, so he needed to wipe those shields to kill Yav. Thanks to a Maarek crit and some damage, Yav was staring down an Arquitens with literally no tokens and no face shields. John rolled blank blank crit. Yav has 2 damage. Start of next turn, Han put down Maarek and Yav double tapped Gold and Wedge and Dutch. The Arq rolled again and got.... 1 damage. Yav has 2 health left. The Raider on turn 4 ended up maneuvering slightly forwards, and Cap pounced to set up a close arc for next turn. Ketsu finished wiping the shields off the Raider's face.
Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be so worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.
Turn 5 Cap con-fired for 5 damage, but the Brace and good navigating from John's Gozanti blocking my path meant that Ketsu was going to have to put the final nail in the coffin. But John had a LOT of squadrons that could feasibly Squall their way into stopping Ketsu, which I did NOT need. John used the Arquitens, finally killing Yav (Zombie!) and ramming Rieekan for one damage. Yav went and had Dutch kill Dengar with the double tap, and Gold went and shot Saber Squadron. Dengar was dead, and everything else was engaged (but Howl, who Ketsu could Grit away from if needed). If John killed some of MY squadrons and then moved them to engage Ketsu, though... John moved.... a Gozanti if memory serves, and a squadron token of my own had Han take out Jendon. John moved his other Gozanti or the Raider as a runner, and Admo went. Admo killed Saber with flak, leaving John with only Valen engaging Han and Dutch, and Howlrunner. Admo blew up the Gozanti with an accuracy and jumped into a double arc of Squall. Squall went and had Howl attempt to kill Gold Squadron, but the dice failed him here, sadly. End of the round, Ketsu (thanks to a Toryn assist) put the final damage into Sloane's Raider. Turn 6, Rieekan and the CR90 ran after getting a few more Superior Positions points. I ended the game with a 7-4, and finished the day in third place, getting all the swag seen below. John was a great opponent, and it was a super fun game that required all the mental faculties I still had buzzing together and firing off.
6 Evades only? What is this, a Rebellion for large ships?
Part 4: Thoughts on my Fleet
So like I alluded to before game 7, this WAS the last ride for this fleet. The New Meta with a Royal Flush SSD (Annihilator, Kallus, Quad Laser Turrets - AKQ) EVAPORATES those Aces, and I know most of my store bought one (SOME of us remain Rebellion Ride or Die #CrynydYeet) so I'll be carving my way through those for a while. I also nearly got defenestrated by at least two friends in the lead-up to GenCon because of this fleet, just powering its way through whatever it can. There's room for discussion about the individual elements (is Rieekan too strong? Is Toryn? Wedge? Etc) but lemme ask you one question pre-August 1. Was Two-Ship still in existence? Then I'll take whatever I want to in order to counter it. I'm sorry that's a snide, crappy answer, but if I don't build the best fleet I can for me, I'm at the mercy of someone who brings Two-Ship or whatever that's the strongest build possible.
Now that the SSD is out, I'm interested to see someone get a game in with Two-Ship against it and if it's as dead as several people claim for it to be. We ALSO have Rebellion in the Rim coming out (most likely before Regionals Season? I hope?) which opens up several new options for ships and builds. There's lots to do and see what happens with the meta, but I'm putting this fleet down for me and building some new stuff. I got several crazy ideas, and I've been stressing out about GenCon for a WHILE.
With respect to my fleet itself, I still like all these ships and the squads and everything. Feel free to copy it if you want to (You all just want to copy Dumpster Fire, don't you?! Again, congrats to shmitty on the win and all), but it works for ME when I'm slowing myself down and not jumping into danger when I don't need to. Han gets a LOT more work done than you'd think and I may start including him in more fleets going forward.
I want to thank Nathan for helping me build the initial concept of what I wanted and getting me out of thinking of "Not Commanding Rogues", everyone at Fair Game (Jack, Eric, Nick especially) for the multiple games against their fleets and not beating me to death in a parking lot after some of those games, ALL of my opponents this weekend for 7 great games, everyone I bounced ideas off of in my usual anxious panic over the last week (shmitty, Truth, Duck, Eric again), Eric and Matt for painting help and thoughts on the ships, Dras for painting aid on the squadrons (seriously, one more pic on these because I'm a gloating doof), and all of you guys for reading this far.
Painted ones roll damage better, it is known.
Part 5: What's Next for Me?
Well, Eric and I picked up copies of Rebellion in the Rim, so we have a few cards to start playing and writing up things about. 12 new objectives, 8 squadrons, so may new titles and upgrades, LOTS of fun things to get going on here. I've got several insane-o fleets to try out and see what I can get going on with them, and we have that tournament in November for charity. I'm also planning on grabbing all the GenCon data and seeing if I can learn anything from it all, see what sticks out and if RitR or the SSD can hopefully address some of these issues that I'm sure are apparent. I'm planning on attending a few different Regionals over the next few months just to see some friends all over, and I've also agreed now to judge the Chicago Regionals. So, uhh, time to learn how to be a TO!