Managed to get six games in with Thane and Luke plus two Selfless Blades: 2 on Friday league, 2 on Saturday, and 2 on Sunday! Bit hungover for the Saturday and Sunday games, but that was due to a going-away party and a long night of drinking for one of my Navy lads and overall I was in high spirits. Short of it is that I went 5-1, but I did have some very interesting match-ups. Please read more below... FRIDAY: Game 1: Vader w/ Hate and Afterburners, Soontir w/ Predator and Shield Upgrade, Grand Inquisitor w/ Sense(?) - Win
Garrett is a very experienced Triple Ace player and this list was entirely in his wheelhouse.
Deployment was pretty much expected for this one. He took Gas Clouds (surprise!) and I took the largest rocks and debris. Obstacles ended up in a double-belt: ==. I set up in the lower-right corner with my B-Wings set to wall-crawl (1-Bank toward center, B-Roll toward right board edge) and the X-Wings set to slow roll behind the Bs or commit to the center as necessary. He paired Vader and GQ (Grand inQuisitor) on the upper-left, while Soontir took the upper-right with the obvious intention of turning to center and rolling back toward his board edge.
Play progressed as you might expect, as I slowly advanced up the right board edge without committing to one direction or the other (1-Straight and B-Roll is pretty great for wall-crawling). I didn't really agree with his line of advance, as he chose to put Vader and GQ into the obstacle belt, making them very predictable. Soontir did the standard, "Will he or won't he?" tight turns and rolls giving him the option to engage at will.
Initial engagement would occur between the forward-most B-Wing and Soontir, Range 3. I definitely didn't hurt Soontir, and the Blade lost a shield or none. However, to avoid the 2nd B-Wing, Soontir ends up stressed. Next turn I move the Blades to block Soontir's 2-Turn and get a Range 2 shot if the block is successful. Luke and Thane commit to the middle to keep GQ and Vader honest. I miscalculate a 3-Bank on Thane and he goes on a cloud and strains himself. Should have closed Foils, 3-Straight, Boost. Oh well. Blade Sq. block on Soontir is successful, while GQ's 3-Bank is blocked by Luke. Vader clears his maneuver by millimeters and Target Locks Luke (no chance of dodging arc due to being bracketed by obstacles). Luke and Vader trade half-points, while Blade Sq. is able to take Soontir's shield.
This basically leads to the mid-game, where the B-Wings turn into the middle to support the X-Wings. I have no way to block Soontir's 1-Hard and there's no point chasing an ace that can double-reposition in an open corner. Thane's 4-K is barely blocked by Vader, and I regret not 3-Talon Rolling down into the obstacle belt. Luke opts not to stress himself and clear his crit (Wounded Pilot). Soontir 1-Hards to chase my B-Wings, Vader 2-Banks into the obstacle belt, and GQ 1-Banks out to engage the B-Wings. The B-Wings get punched a bit, but are able to spread damage and take a shield off GQ. Next turn, Thane is forced to clear stress and boost up to set himself up to re-engage the following turn. Luke likewise turns into the scrum and sets himself up for a nice shot. The Bs turn around to keep Soontir honest and set myself up for when Vader comes out of the obstacle belt. I forget what my opponent does here, but I plink another shield off GQ to half him and my Bs take some more punishment (pretty sure one is on half and the other is down to 1-2 shields). I do know that I accomplished a number of blocks on GQ in these turns, which really hampered Garrett's ability to focus damage.
End-game, Vader re-engages but is caught in a kill-box and takes another damage. GQ manages to extricate himself from the scrum and set himself up to the right of the furball. Vader dips out, while I focus on keeping arc on GQ and protecting my crippled B-Wings. Garrett continues to get at least double paint on his green dice, much to my frustration, while chipping away at the Bs. However, I was still up on points and it was on Garrett to engage in the final turn if he wants to win. He does so, with the damaged Vader engaging from way out. However, I manage to keep arc on him with Thane, who drops Vader. Then, Luke drops GQ. Now, GQ who had a juicy Range 1 on a crippled B-Wing has to shift targets to Luke to give him a chance of winning. Luke manages to survive and I win the game handily. (Looking back, I'm not sure on the order of this. I think Luke may have shot Vader and Thane shot GQ, but I'm not certain. If Thane shot Vader, I feel like I would have flipped a card looking for the Direct Hit!).
I was pretty happy with my flying here. I was up on points the match, but that's false security when you're going up against aces as they can quickly exploit just one mistake. Garrett's green dice were exceptional throughout the match, which made it very hard to stick damage. I had one chance to half-point Soontir, and once when that opportunity passed I chose to ignore him as chasing him would have likely resulted in no shots and no pressure on GQ. I would have won even if I hadn't popped Vader nor GQ, but it did feel good to see his green dice go cold and watch his ships pop. Selfless was hugely helpful here in preventing him from melting a B-Wing too quickly. Also, the Bs were exceptional blockers here. I think my opponent felt like he had to stay engaged, as he was down on points, but this made GQ very predictable and I was able to bully him. All-in-all, a very close and tense game that I was very happy with my flying in. Game 2: Maarek Steele, 5x Planetary Sentinel - Win
Joel is a very experienced player and he's capable of playing multiple archetypes, but lately he's been keen on 5+ ships, especially Khiraxz.
Deployment... Obstacles ended up in an hour-glass: )(. He split his Strikers up, with Maarek sticking the upper-left group. I deployed in my usual non-committal way in the lower-right, as I was curious as to how he'd manage his swarm. One caveat: B-Wings almost always want to engage near obstacles where they can better leverage their 1-Talon Rolls and knife-fighting ability. Thus, I burned 3-Straight up to the obstacles to ensure that we engaged there.
Joel made a mistake with his Ailerons and managed to land on a rock with one of his Strikers on the far left. No damage on the first go, but he'd have to go through the rock on the following turn and would end up with a Loose Stabilizer. This was a huge advantage to me, as it really restricted where he would go with that Striker and allowed me to first engage the upper-right group of Strikers before turning on the Loose Stabilizer Striker and his wing-man. Initial engagement was wildly in my favor, as I was able to burn down a Striker for the loss of two shields on a B-Wing. Then, I turned down into the other Striker group. My opponent chose to engage with his Loose Stabilizer group, which cost him another hull point. When it came time to engage, that Striker was burnt down to the ground and I believe I halved or destroyed another. He continued to focus on the B-Wings, bringing one down to 3 Hull and the other to 2 Shields. This was pretty much game, but we played on. I continued to beat up his squad while taking some big hits on my B-Wings, but this game was over. One comical note was Maarek getting a Loose Stabilizer while only having 1 Hull remaining and facing the board edge. He fixed it, but was in arc of Thane, who turned it back over which doomed Maarek.
Overall, Friday was fun. Two very different lists, and two very good opponents. I left feeling very confident in this list. SATURDAY:
Game 1: Ahsoka w/ CLT, Plo w/ CLT, Obi w/ CLT, Ric Olie - Win
Rob is another experienced player, but work and life have prevented him from playing as much recently.
This game can be pretty easily wrapped up, as he chose to joust me. I set up a nice block on Turn 2 (B-Wings having a 3-Blue is really nice and can catch people off guard) and traded half of a B-Wing for Obi and Plo. We played it out, but this was decided on Turn 2. I cleaned house and lost a B-Wing. Game 2: 7x Scyks w/ Autoblasters - Loss
Tim is a very experienced and aggressive player. He almost always takes lists that win or lose games quickly. Very fun opponent.
Obstacles were set up in a double belt on my side of the board. He split his swarm to take advantage of the Autoblasters unavoidable crits on the flanks. I opted to chase down the four Scyks that had to go through the obstacles while the other three flanked. I was pretty happy with my ability to control the range, focus fire, and force him to come through the rocks, but the dice were not on my side. I halved four of the Scyks, but was unable to actually destroy one which quickly snowballed as he had more arcs and more blocks. Rolling four Hits on 12 dice feels bad, but it happens. Went for the joust and luck wasn't on my side.
One mistake on my part: I chose to boost Thane and Wedge to more closely follow the B-Wings. This was too aggressive as it telegraphed my intentions to Tim and no longer kept his flankers honest -- they were free to turn in and go full speed into my formation. It also made it easier to bump my formation. SUNDAY:
Sunday I flew back to Colorado, met up with my boy Terry, thought up some lists for Republic in Hyperspace and threw 'em down on the table. Game 1: Anakin (Naboo) w/ P-Torps and Passive Sensors, Plo w/ CLT, Obi w/ CLT, Luminara - Win
Terry is an awesome player and one of my best buddies in CO. He's a monster with a swarm and a very aggressive player. He's been wanting to switch it up a little and get out of swarms for a bit.
Obstacles were rock in the center and wheel of obstacles around it. I deployed in the lower-left with my usual set-up, while Ahsoka, Lumi, and Obi took the top-middle, and Ani took the right flank.
I moved up the left board edge with Bs, while keeping Thane and Luke back to keep Anakin honest. Ani burned down the right board edge, while the Jedi pushed down mid. He boosted the Jedi here, which essentially committed them to engaging the Bs. First shots were traded between Ahsoka and the forward-most B, resulting in no damage.
Seeing that I could focus on the Jedi while Anakin pushed to engage, I committed my full squad to tackling the Jedi. Anakin boosted in from the right to try and get a shot, while the Jedi came down the middle. He rolled a lot of crits and I spread a lot of damage.Then, I destroyed Obi. Next turn: thanks to a sweet B-Roll from Luke to prevent a 4/5-K behind the Bs, I managed to bump Lumi and Plo, while ensuring I had Selfless coverage for Luke. Ani's P-Torp on Luke resulted in one damage on Luke, and both crits being absorbed by the B-Wings' shields. Then, I ate Plo. I think this is where we called game.
Terry made the mistake of putting Anakin too far out to engage with the rest of his squad, and making the Jedi way too predictable on the initial engagement. I was pretty happy with my flying on this one, especially Luke's B-Roll. Game 2: Obi w/ CLT, Ahsoka w/ CLT, Ric w/ R2, Ani (Naboo) w/ Adv. Torps and Passive Sensors
This was our next iteration of the list, trading Lumi's defense for Ric's gun and staying power (still a steal, even with a bump to cost) while Plo was sacked to bring in Ahsoka's Coordinate++.
Set-up was mostly the same, with Ani as his flanker and the rest deployed in the middle. Obstacles were double-belt on my side. I deployed in the lower-left again.
Ani again burned down the right flank, while Ric set himself up for a 5-Straight into the initial engagement. I was pretty happy with this, as this would again allow me to focus all of my ships on one target while he would be forced to engage piece-meal. Additionally, Ric wouldn't have the best spots to go after his 5-Straight. Anyways, this all came to fruition and I traded two shields on a B-Wing for one of Ric's shields. Next turn, I banked and Focus/B-Roll my B-Wings down to cover Ric's escape route, while Thane and Wedge casually 1-Straight toward the board center. Ric regens a shield and then, instead of 3-Turning toward the bottom, 4-Straights over a rock into my B-Wings. Certainly unexpected, but even better for me.
I eat Ric and take some incidental damage in return. I don't have the greatest positioning available to me the following turn, but enough to keep arc coverage and set up chases or turn-arounds next turn. Ahsoka gets a mean flank shot on my Bs, while Ani is setup to chase Thane and Luke with his torpedo. Obi comes down between the obstacles and into the X-Wings. I halve Obi here, while taking quite a bit of damage, but spread around (I think Thane has lost one shield, one B-Wing is shieldless, and the other is down to two shields).
The rest is kind of a blur for me, you'll have to forgive my memory. I know my X-Wings turned around to keep arcs on and I dropped Obi while keeping my damaged B-Wing alive (Selfless came in clutch, keeping him alive on 1 Hull). Somewhere in here, Thane ate Anakin's Adv. Torpedo and blew up real good, but I had half points on Ani and Ahsoka at this point and a full health Luke plus two Bs. Called it there.
Again, I was pretty happy with my flying. I think Terry made himself too predictable. However, I do like this second list much more than the first and we spent some time discussing it. I think that Ric should be the flanker here, as he's more independent than Ani. More so, Ahsoka and Anakin seem like a very potent combo and able to deliver some very unexpected blocks or fully modified Adv. Torpedoes into someone. As someone who enjoys catching their opponent off guard and engaging in unexpected ways, I think this Republic list can excel at creating ambushes. Anyways, we remain optimistic on the merits of this list and will practice with it again.
As for Selfless Bs and Thane/Luke... I'm very happy with this list so far. I'm getting to the point where I know how I want to setup obstacles against most other archetypes, I know my win-conditions, and I know how to maximize Selfless coverage and combine my ships' strengths to cover their weaknesses. There are still some lingering questions of squad composition, as the B-Wings low agility is a huge liability against swarms, which I anticipate to see a lot of. Likewise, Thane's ability is highly conditional, but an Initiative 5 gun is nothing to sneeze at. I do wonder if it's worth dropping Thane to a Red Squadron X-Wing so that I can take R2 on Luke, but that changes how this squad behaves quite drastically.
Anyways, more things to think about. Thanks for reading!