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Vergilius

Houston Regional AAR

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Hello All:

 

I mentioned in another thread that I'd write up a report when I had the time and energy, and today is the best time.  This will also give me a place to take about the evolution of my list, some of the key ideas that I see in the wave 3/4 meta, and some projections going forward.

 

Final Result:  3rd.  I scored a 10 and a 9 in the first and third round, but lost a tough second round match-up 7-4.

 

The fleet:

 

Madine's Dancers

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Points: 384/400

Commander: General Madine

Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Hyperspace Assault
Navigation Objective: Intel Sweep

 

[ flagship ] MC80 Battle Cruiser (103 points)
-  General Madine  ( 30  points) 
-  Endeavor  ( 4  points) 
-  Raymus Antilles  ( 7  points) 
-  Gunnery Team  ( 7  points) 
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points) 
-  H9 Turbolasers  ( 8  points) 
-  Spinal Armament  ( 9  points) 
-  Leading Shots  ( 4  points) 
180 total ship cost

 

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
18 total ship cost

 

MC30c Torpedo Frigate (63 points)
-  Admonition  ( 8  points) 
-  Lando Calrissian  ( 4  points) 
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points) 
-  Assault Proton Torpedoes  ( 5  points) 
84 total ship cost

 

CR90 Corvette A (44 points)
-  Jainas Light  ( 2  points) 
-  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits  ( 7  points) 
53 total ship cost

 

1 Tycho Celchu ( 16 points) 
3 A-Wing Squadrons ( 33 points) 

 

Evolution of the List

No presentation of a list can capture exactly what goes on with the list, so let me explain some of the influences upon the list and its main concepts.

First, I've bounced around with a lot of lists since wave 3/4 released.  I worked with Madine and the Liberty-class immediately upon release; I flew a Dodonna B-wing bomber list to a tournament victory in San Antonio.  I then reworked a variant of my Rieekan GenCon list, itself a variant of my regional winning list from Dallas in June.  I was playing with Mothma MC30s during October and happened to hit a lull where I needed to try something new, but wasn't quite sure what that was.  Then this thread https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/232644-liberty-in-tourneys/?hl=libertyhit the forums.  Iskander4000's list became the starting point for the evolution into the list above.   I've also been influenced by Ginkapo's ideas in Ackbar Stardestroyers.  Although the list above doesn't have Ackbar, the same speedy principles are in play, and his comments on Tycho certainly influence how I play the squadron game.

 

 

So starting in late October, I made a couple of minor adjustments to Iskander's list. I really dislike odd number of squads, and I thought a Gunnery Team was too hard to pass up.  I really liked the idea of getting Salvation into the list, any list really.  At the time, this was just the latest fun thing I was trying while I was playing games at our local game nights.  Then Worlds hit in early November and the flotilla and squadron dominance became very clear.  Justin, the runner-up, plays in our local community in central Texas.  He's been flying some combination of Yavaris and Gallant Haven for quite some time, and so I started looking at a meta decision:  How can I points-deny in the squadron game while still winning the game with the ships?  Gallant Haven is a very strong points-denier, which means it is almost impossible to win the game-within-a-game.  You've got to be able to get at the ships.  You absolutely have to.  Frankly, I knew from Ginkapo's list that it was possible during wave-2, but I was quite skeptical that one could just run Tycho in a wave 3/4 meta.  I think you also have to think about WWPDSteve's Crackenator list with the YT2400 spam. Nobody runs that in Texas, but I honestly don't think Tycho is enough to handle it.  So part of my mind was that 3 A-wings and Tycho would be as low as I'd go.  Iskander's original runs YT2400, but I found points to be at a premium and eventually settled on the 3 A-wings and Tycho.

 

 

I continued to play and make adjustments throughout October.  I was still running an SW-7 Star Cruiser variant with Gunnery teams.  I second guessed myself and thought the GT was causing me to fly it poorly, and then took it off for a while.  I had been discussing some of the evolution of the list with Reinholt, whose opinion I respect immensely, and was starting to wave between a GT Battle Cruiser and the Mon Karren Star in the original list.  That's the variant I took to the Gautier Regional, where I ended up just missing the top 4, placing 5th.  During my first two games, both of which I lost by small 7-4 margins, I really regretting not having a Gunnery Team.  I found Mon Karren just wasn't helpful title in the present meta, and a GT/H9 was definitely going to help in popping flotillas.  Frankly, the 5th place was one of the worst that I'd done.

I'd toyed with various upgrades on the Admonition.  At one point, I had H9 with it and was very impressed, but when I started shifting toward the GT/Endeavor as a flotilla killer, I realized that Admonition really needed to be the heavy lifter against the opponent's ships, and that flotilla shots were more shots of opportunity.

 

 

I returned and decided I really had to scrap the Star Cruiser for the BC.  I went back and forth between whether to run XI7 or H9.  By that point, Ardhaedhel had already posted his activation-heavy MC30 list, and I met CarribeanNinja's variant at Gautier, so XI7 was quite attractive.  Even a Spinal/H9/BC is only around a 40% chance of popping the flotilla at range, since you really want to lock the evade as well, and then you might not have the damage showing to kill it.  That means that XI7 is perfectly doable, since you can use Leading Shots primarily at medium range to fish for an accuracy if necessary.  I'm still going back and forth on XI7 and H9, but I figured I could still get a second accuracy at medium/close range versus many ships, and could flip a second for some pretty devastating effects, while H9 helped with damage at range.  I also moved Madine from the Flotilla to the BC.  I just found that I was losing the BC rarely, and if so, the game had already gone badly.  CarribeanNinja had also been able to use activation count and first player to take out my commander lifeboat, so I figured the BC was just a better place for it.  Every other ship is just fine without Madine, and it is primarily the Liberty that needs it to create incredible turning.

To get points for the BC, I really had to scrap Salvation.  I think on the whole that Jaina's Light is one of the best ships in the game.  Its positioning is extremely flexible, and it opens up more options as first player.

 

I post this because I think there are some key concepts here on how to approach playing a list over time and modifying it.

 

 

 

Key Concepts

 

You'll notice the list runs only 4 activations.  That means many lists will out-activate it.  You'll also notice it packs only six deployment.  A key influence was Ginkapo's Ackbar Star Destroyers, which showed that repositioning and flexibility in the early turns could overcome deployment disadvantage.  All of my ships are speedy and Madine adds to their flexibility.  The only one that isn't very flexible is the maximum speed 3 Flotilla, and frankly I don't care if I lose it.  Often, I find that its positioning at set-up is just irrelevant, which means it lives to help my activation count throughout the game.  It is often around at the end of the game, and if so, that often means a big win.

MC80 BC:  This is the linchpin of the list.  Yes, its a Christmas tree.  Most of the time, that isn't a problem, even against Bomber lists.  It is the most secure ship, so the commander goes here, as I explained when discussing the evolution of the list in the preceding section.  Yes, flotillas really attracted me to the commander life-boat concept.  You don't lose much combat utility.  However, you really need activation count and better deployment to avoid making it a target.  Endeavor:  We've got plenty of bombers in the meta.  Just being able to turn natural crits off significantly helps with its survivability.  The simple fact is that most games, this ship will take shots.  Its designed to take some shots.  You're probably going to take some hull damage.  The title offers an enormous amount of utility in that meta.  Raymus/Engine Techs:  These two upgrades really need to be introduced together, because they are linchpin upgrades to this build.  Raymus allows you to deploy at speed 2 in most set-ups, and then reposition and change speed to exactly what you want on the first turn.  There's no command more important than Nav on this turn.  Most of the time, you can bank the token for round-2, which gives you the option to Engine Tech.  Most of the time, you can set a different command on turn-2.  I've done a lot of CF, but more recently became attracted to the idea of a squadron command against large squadron lists.  It just helps the flotilla ensure that everything activates.  And then on the following turn, you still have a squadron token to activate one of the A-wings in range, often Tycho, who can reposition and attack as needed.  If you expect damage, then engineering is good.  For a turn-3 dial, it depends upon how much damage I expect to have endured and whether I think Engine Techs is essential.  I usually Nav here, but I've sometimes just lined up the Endeavor and slow-balled it in with Eng commands.  Raymused Engineering can greatly increase the ship's durability, and then you speed-3 Engine Tech out of the danger zone.  Madine+Raymus+Engine Techs really significantly ups the possibility that you can reposition and continue to do damage to the opponent's fleet, often in ways that would be flat out impossible with other commanders.  Engine Techs is really a key to the unit.  I find that in the placement stage, light ships like flotillas often get placed early, and then opponents use them for activation delay.  The ability to get at these units and remove them is one way that this build tries to be anti-meta.  After all, one key consequence of high activation lists is that you can catch a lot of targets in a GT large arc.  The extra move also helps with flanking and turning.  You're often better off in positioning if you're not directly facing your target but are off to a side.  The MC80 cannot take much punishment and it needs an escape path.  And getting into blue range is where the ship really

shines.

 

 

H9/Spinal/LS:  H9 is the anti-flotilla upgrade.  A Raymused CF really ups the odds that you can pop a flotilla at range.  Granted, the overall possibility isn't certain, but you can sometimes engine tech for that last point of damage or finish him off on a subsequent round.  The real place where the unit shines is when you are firing at two targets at blue range.  Let's make sure we understand the Liberty correctly.  Its an outright small ship bully that can get where it needs to be much more easily than its ISD counterpart.  The ISD gets durability.  The Liberty gets speed.  So you want to be picking off small ships with it, and flotillas are often nice juicey targets that add to the versatility of an opponent's list, and sometimes are necessary to keep their squadrons working effectively at all.  I think Spinal is great for long range damage before the ships close, and I'd rather have it to give Leading shots more power potential.  The damage is reliably around 6 points with spikes upwards of 10, plus whatever you get in accuracies and the ability to turn a hit into an accuracy against any ship.

Medium Transport:  this ship evolved to a generic transport.  I had Bright Hope on it for the longest time.  Comms net would be nice, but never seemed to fit since it was often banking a squadron token and then activating squads as much as possible.  I found CF for an extra AS push useful as well.  And of course, Naving could still keep it alive in a lot of unusual circumstances.

MC30c Torpedo:  This is a fairly standard layout that most everyone is familiar with.  Lando increases the durability.  Sometimes you really need to position in the front arc of an incoming ISD and there's just no way around eating a shot for a round before firing your full salvo.  In the absence of extra activations, Lando helps set that up.  And as a points-denial mechanism, he keeps Admonition around frequently.  I've had so many opponents frustrated because they just couldn't kill any ship.

 

 

Jaina's Light:  The same ship we know and love.  It replaced Salvation in the original list.  I think the damage output seems comparable.  The ability to leapfrog obstacles is nice, and playing Dangerous Territory fearlessly is nice.

Tycho+3 A wings:  If the opponent is running a single Intel ship, this combination can surprisingly hold things up well.  When used well with the rest of your ships, it can also destroy more points than it represents.  Since squadron harvesting is a thing in a number of lists, the goal is simply to keep the total number of points down that I may end up giving to my opponent.  I've also killed a Demolisher with nothing but these 4 A-wings and a single side shot from my Liberty.  So even if they are small, they are not inconsequential or casually thrown into the list.

Bid:  This evolved from my first revision of Iskander's list at 393 slowly downward.  This is one part of the list that I'm unsure about.  I played two games against lists with lower bids:  CarribeanNinja at Gautier, and one of the San Antonio guys in a tournament in early December.  My sense in both games was that the core elements of the list didn't hurt from activation, deployment, or second player.  Granted, the list plays much much much better at first player, but the Endeavor's front arc is very wide and most lists that are outbidding are often playing MSU, which means more targets that I can catch with a Gunnery Team.  I did lose both games, but the game in Gautier was with a fairly early evolving list concept that lacked GT, and losing Madine on the lifeboat was certainly a consequence of activation/deployment/second player.  It was also fixable.  In the other lost game, I realized I needed to push my concept through to its logical conclusion and I simply failed to do exactly what the list was designed to do, which is eliminate cheap flotillas in an activation spam list.  Losing teaches important lessons.  I had lowered by bid to 384 for the Houston Regional, ditching Bright Hope finally to achieve that.  In all honesty, I think I'd be fine around the low 390s.  The simple fact is that although Rebel lists don't often dip below 382, the point at which you can add a flotilla and a cheap activation, Imperial lists often do, simply because they cannot get an activation until they hit 23 points.  We did have a bid in the high 370s on an Imperial list, and at that point, I'd rather add more utility to the list than try to compete.

 

 

First player:  Ideally, I'd go first, and I rarely went second.  From there, how to select objectives?  Blue objectives are generally pretty safe.  I played a couple of match-ups on Superior Positions to test the deployment concepts with Madine, but generally shied away from it if the opponent had a lot of faster squadrons.  Intel Sweep and Dangerous Territory were always great.  I tend to avoid Minefields because it seems drawish and I like more open space to maneuver.  Contested Outpost always seems good.  Firelanes is simply too chancey, and the possibility of the opponent running up the score is large.  Hyperspace Assault works though.  Fleet ambush is weird.  I didn't really get a chance to play it much, and I'm not sure I'd really have wanted to go at it against Justin's Rieekan list without having tried it a few times first against other bomber lists.  Advanced Gunnery assigned to the MC30 usually means a dead high point objective ship.  Most Wanted was by far the most common, and I'd have considered that against some of these bomber lists that don't back up their squadrons with solid ship fire.  My response is often to knee-jerk against playing it.  There's almost always a better blue or yellow objective, but I'm sure the right opportunity is out there.

 

 

Only one target in the danger zone at a time:  A key to the list is making sure that I don't have multiple ships threatened at once.  The ships really like to trade-off which one activates first, and it is much more helpful if Admonition opens up a big ship while the Endeavor and Jaina's concentrate it down and finish it off.

 

 

The Games

 

Game 1:  I played a Dodonna list with a decked out Liberty, three flotillas and an absolute ton of Y-Wings and a handful of X-wings, plus two HWKs for Intel.  I selected Contested Outpost, since it pins him to a spot on the map.  Admonition generally wants its shot as early as possible, while the Endeavor wants to be in position to clock the opponent's big ship and a flotilla as soon as possible.  Jaina's wants to flank and generally stay out of trouble.  Its damage is one of the best whalers in the game.  My goal with the flotilla was to try to keep it in squad range for my A-wings and then roll up and pick up some AS attacks.  To be honest, this list really scared me going in.  That's a lot of squadron damage and there's basically no avoiding it when the opponent brings double Intel.  I don't remember all of the details, but the Endeavor took a couple of Dodonna XX-9 crits at one point and lost all its shields, but I really prevented it from being concentrated down.  Timely engineering helped recover shields and pitch the crits, and timely navs allowed it to dodge squads and turn back into the fight to finish the last flotilla at the end of the game.  Admontion set up for a turn-3 shot on wherever the opponent's Liberty was going to end up.  Jaina's swung around behind it and finished it off.  The critical mistake was rushing it forward away from the squads so that he could get a tasty front arc shot on my Endeavor.  A much more conservative game may have ended up at more of a 7-4, but I ended up losing my flotilla and a couple of A-wings, but winning the station points enough to take a 10-1.

 

 

Game 2:  We had 3 10-1s in the first round.  Brikhause and I was initially expecting we might play each other here, in which case I could really test my ideas, but the random pairings pitted me against the other 10-1, where Brikhause played down.  I played a Motti/ISD-1 with a very large Rhymerball.  Counting Rhymer, there was 9 tie bombers.  He had a single jumpmaster, but he was sporting Chirpy, so the squadrons were going to move regardless.  I again selected Contested Outpost.  The Station ended up off to the side a bit, which made deployment a bit more difficult for me.  Jaina's ended up a bit too wide.  It would have done better to have a round-2 red dice shot and then position for a double-arc on the ISD on round-3, but instead, it was out of the picture for round-2, and less effective than it should have been on turn-3.  I kept the Endeavor cautiously deployed and aimed to use Admonition to crack open the ISD.  The flotilla aimed for the middle and hoped to boss around the A-wings in the hope of being annoying.  The game turned on one fateful move in which he used a Nav token to speed up and dodge the front arc of my Endeavor.  I got off an Admonition double arc and took a couple of TRC shots with Jaina's, but the game ended with two hull left on the ISD.  I did work my magic bringing down flotillas, including the Motti flotilla.  I lost Admonition, but again kept Endeavor alive with good positioning and timely use of the Nav command.  Admonition ended up trapped, as he kept his flotillas back, so there really wasn't a solid escape route.  I'm not sure there was any way I was going to get out of there, as he seemed intent on focusing it down.  In the end, I think a more direct approach with the Endeavor to ensure a front arc shot on the ISD would have decked it, and that's really what had to happen to win  My opponent was a good player, had a solid and challenging list, and made excellent moves, so I absolutely respect him for that.  7-4 loss.

 

 

Game 3:  I was tired at this point.  I faced yet another Dodonna Liberty, this time with corvettes, flotillas, X-wings, and Jan.  I picked Dangerous Territory knowing Jaina's could pick one up, and I figured my flotilla could pick up another.  I was ok conceding a third if it might I could get after his ships with Admonition and Endeavor.  I don't think he'd seen or heard about my Engine Teching Endeavor, which when combined with first player makes for an incredible amount of threat against small ships.  I was able to set up blue range shots on a flotilla and a Corvette on round-2, while Admonition stayed flexible, ideally to stab at the Liberty on turn-3.  Endeavor cleanly killed a Slicer Tool Flotilla, but whiffed a bit on the Corvette and came up a damage card short of killing it.  I ended up forcing the remaining flotilla into Admonition's side arc and rolled the accuracy I needed to kill it.  So I had negated the utility of his squads by hitting his flotillas.  Admonition was then able to take a swing at his Corvette on turn-3, killing it, and then set itself up for a double arc on the Liberty on the start of turn-4.  It was also now facing the final objective token that was set up off to the side and unclaimed.  The Endeavor had turned back toward the fight and was definitely where it needed to be to kill his.  In the end, I picked up the other token and chased down the final Corvette with my Endeavor for another tabling.  I did lose Jaina's and the Flotilla, and enough squadrons to push the margin down to a 9-2.  That gave me 23 tournament points and a third place finish.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

I set out with some specific goals for the list:  1.  Put Madine on the map of Schmitty's data with a top 4 placement.  2.  Demonstrate that the Liberty has more potential and a better showing that what both the data so far seems to indicate and what its general reputation in the community would seem to suggest.  3.  Break some of the cardinal rules of how we understand fleet design:  I surrender deployment advantage, and often activation advantage.  This has always been possible, and the fact that the current regional data indicates plenty of lists at 7 placements doing well suggests that correct placement is often superior merely to placing last.  4.  Test a list in the current meta that aims to avoid conceding many points in the squadron game.  5.  Play a strongly first player list for the first time.  Its been nice in the past, but my previous list was a Rieekan Defiance that loved its second player.  6.  Generally, learn more about the game.

 

 

Although I may not have won the event, I think I succeeded in those goals.  I see plenty of knee-jerk comments on the forums about units and upgrades.  Often, all it takes is some enterprising player who sets out to get a particular commander, upgrade card, or list style to work.

 

 

Thoughts on the MC80 Liberty:  I can see two options at the moment for building around it.  In the first, you play something like I play above, where speed and maneuverability with Madine greatly increases your option.  The Liberty is Madine's ship in this game.  I'm not sure any other ship gains as much as the Liberty does from Madine.  Raymus might not always be necessary, but it works in my list to ensure the Endeavor doesn't really have to be in range of comm's net flotilla.  In the end, all of the flexibility with Engine techs greatly increases the threat range and gives you an enormous advantage in setting up forking attacks.  I learned a lot by losing on how to play it well.  It really cannot take much in the way of hits.  So you don't want to set it opposite an ISD or MC80 and then trade shots.  It can make a strong finisher and can combine with the rest of the list to take down a tough target, but it can't take much punishment.  Maneuvering must minimize the number of enemy units that can fire at it.  Raymus token gives you very careful control over speed, and Engine Techs gives you an awful lot of flexibility in setting up what speed you should be going at on a subsequent turn.   I'm personally not too excited about the Star Cruiser variant.  Yes, its cheaper, but that Gunnery Team adds significantly to the front arc's threat value, and the Spinal+Leading Shots will generally put the Battlecruiser over the top on average damage.  The other intangible is the two AS dice, which again the GT helps shine.  If you can combine your own A-wings with the two black AS dice, sometimes double-arcing, and a black die from the flotilla, and the occasional blue die from an arc on the MC30 or Corvette-A that cannot fire on anything else, you can clean up squads much faster than many opponent's realize.  For this reason, I think a Dodonna or Garm list that aims to slow-roll, and which takes a more dedicated squadron contingent than what I took could do well. In particular, I started looking more at the increased utility from the Raymused squadron command itself, and it makes me wonder about a list that sports the Liberty title.  There's a lot of complementary utility there where the squadrons cover up the glaring weakness of the Liberty's side arcs, and it lets you activate squadrons in number at the same time you're using your deadly front guns.

 

 

Thoughts on this list and list-building post wave-5:  I figured I'd post in more detail about my list now that wave-5 is about to drop and it opens new possibilities in list-building.  Every new wave changes the meta slightly.  I'll admit that I really wanted to focus on this tournament prior to seriously looking at Wave 5 list-building,  With two new squadron packs and plenty of new squadron choices through the Correlian Conflict, I expect the squadron game to remain in full force.  I don't think these units necessarily affect the way that a speed-4 carrier killing list interacts with the squadron game.  Nothing in the wave really affects the flotilla activation spam at all, so I'd expect those dimensions of list design to continue.  I love to experiment and try new things, so I expect to play a couple of games with the Arquitens and Pelta after the New Year before settling on a wave-5 list in preparation for the San Antonio regional in February.

 

 

And lastly, I want to thank Asgard games for being a great venue, the TO for doing a great job keeping the tournament moving and on task.  I'd also like to send a huge shout out to the Alamo City Fleet Command.  This is one of the largest Armada communities in the country.  They're superbly friendly, and their support has been outstanding to us in Austin, and throughout the rest of Texas.

Edited by Vergilius

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Thanks so much for this detailed report!

 

As a relative noob it really helps to see how a fleet can be built around a central concept and that all upgrades and ships are used to follow it through.

 

Gratz on your excellent performance at the tourney! :)

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Thanks for the great AAR, Vergilius.  I always looked forward to reading your battle reports, tactics and fleet construction advice for War at Sea back on the Axis & Allies Forumini boards long ago.

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Thanks for the great AAR, Vergilius.  I always looked forward to reading your battle reports, tactics and fleet construction advice for War at Sea back on the Axis & Allies Forumini boards long ago.

 

Remind me who you were over there.  Good to see you again.

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Same forum name, but it's been several years now since I've played War at Sea - switched over to Call of Cthulhu LCG in 2011, then eventually X-Wing and Armada.

 

I ran a series of WaS tournaments in my house and documented them on the forums, often having a poll on the forum of who people thought would be the winner.  The tournaments were broken down by team - Axis vs Allies, of course - and people would wear silly hats to represent their fleet's nation.  I believe you helped out my brother, Tusk on the A&AForumini, with carrier tactics for one of our events.

 

Here's an example thread I dug up:

 

Yipe's War at Sea Tournament with Pics

 

EDIT:  Funny enough, you participated in the voting and were quite accurate in your predictions.

 

Round 3 Predictions

 

If you scroll down a little you'll see your post.

Edited by Yipe

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Wow, that does bring back memories!  Time flies.  I didn't know if you might have been among the WAS players that I meet in person at one point.  I know I ended up meeting Weeds, 12-7 gamer, Mnnorthstars, and a bunch of others.

 

Glad to see you in another place!

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