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Vergilius

Burleson AAR and List Evolution Updates

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Another regional season is upon us, and I finally got the chance to play in a regional.  So here's another delightfully detailed post about the games, and what kinds of lists I've been trying lately.

First, the starting point for list-building is always a game of question-and-answer. If my opponent brings a big ship, what is my answer?  How will I answer strategic objective spam?  How will I answer MSU activation spam?  How will I answer mass squadrons?  A good list has an answer for all these things.

Madine's Squadron Dancers 1 
Author: Vergilius

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Points: 392/400  

Commander: General Madine

Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Contested Outpost
Navigation Objective: Superior Positions

 

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

 

[ flagship ] MC80 Battle Cruiser (103 points)
-  General Madine  ( 30  points) 
 Liberty  ( 3  points) 
-  Intel Officer  ( 7  points) 
-  Gunnery Team  ( 7  points) 
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points) 
-  Spinal Armament  ( 9  points) 
-  X17 Turbolasers  ( 6  points) 
-  Leading Shots  ( 4  points) 
= 177 total ship cost

 

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
 Bright Hope  ( 2  points) 
-  Toryn Farr  ( 7  points) 
= 27 total ship cost

 

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

 

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
-  Ahsoka Tano  ( 2  points) 
-  Comms Net  ( 2  points) 
= 22 total ship cost

 

4 YT-2400s ( 64 points) 
6 A-Wing Squadrons ( 66 points) 

 

Here's the list I ultimately took to the regional.  This is a long-standing evolution of my Madine Liberty list.  Previous versions typically had MC30s and CR90s.  I eventually arrived at 5 activations being the right amount.  Above 5 activations, and you're either sacrificing some of your ship or squadron power, but you can build a lot of balanced lists off of 5 activations.  I also typically ran Toryn, Bright Hope, Shara/3A-wings, which I find to be a solid light screen force when combined well with flak and flown well.  I still think it is solid in the right circumstances, but I'm generally convinced that I can do more off the list above.

List Evolution

In the past two months, my Madine lists have gone through some major adjustments.  First, for those of you that follow Biggs' blog, Truthiness has been doing his own

http://www.steelstrategy.com/2018/01/bel-air-games-battle-report.html

Madine experiment, and I've watched those results closely.  I've never really been too keen on dropping a Liberty entirely, but I did build and fly in a San Antonio tournament:  Liberty, 2 TRC90s with ET, and 3 flotillas, and managed to fit the usual Shara/3 A-wings/Bright Hope/Toryn.  It was a good list.  I absolutely messed with a Cracken list, and dropped the ISD with a Sloan list, and was on the positive side of a 6-5 against another Sloane list.  I still think the list is quite good, but one problem that surfaced repeatedly was being able to force power through against Sloane and create opportunities for myself.   I have also been noticing for a long time that my old MC30 lists really struggle as second player.  I solved this problem at worlds last year by taking the bid into the 380s, but I think with where we are at in the meta, that first-only lists are very nice tricks for what they do, but are ultimately going to come in slightly lower, given two players of similar playing strength.  This is because in the games against top players, you need a way to create margin.  That margin requires that at times you go first, and at times second.  Your list must be able to handle both positions.  In that eventuality, I'm really not too excited about a high bid.  In some games, you're leaving points on the table simply to go second in certain key match-ups, whereas everyone who is bidding higher than you is usually wanting to go first anyway.

Although a good MC30 list can be built to run second, they always seem to increase in power significantly when they get first.  So that led to a shift around CR90s.  The Liberty has always been a small ship bully, but it struggles against the largest of ships, especially when it has to go second and it becomes more difficult to set up the MC30 shots against all but the ships lacking subtlety of maneuver.  CR90s, on the other hand, are excellent second player units.  They also make excellent inconsequential throw-away activations while you're setting up the Liberty's movement and shot.  The ET experiment was interesting, and although I won games and placed highly among good competition, I played two Sloane lists that exposed vulnerabilities in the list.  in the first match-up, I simply had difficulties coming to terms with the opponent and getting more than a 6-5.  I lost my squadrons, as I expected, but our Sloane players have gotten much better and most of the really good combos have now been discovered, and their flying patterns analyzed.  So Saber/Jendon can really put the hurt on Shara/A-wings, sometimes resulting for a slight trade down, even with flak.  In a second match-up against Sloane in a December tournament, I had the first serious damage put on my Liberty since July when the Quasar and Sloane released.  At that point, I realized that I simply had far more vulnerability to squads.

At the same time, with our local skilled Imperial player, we were experimenting with Norm's Sloane list, which I think is excellent and fine-tuned.  He didn't quite know what I was aiming for and wanting to try my own Liberty list against me.  Although a mistake or two were made, I'm not sure I could improve on his play much, and I came out the better side of a 6-5 or a 7-4, I think.  But it also showed that the right mix of squads could knock off Shara/3 Awings pretty quickly.  I really needed something different.   I also tend to keep my eye on two broad list archetypes:  Aceholes, and Activation spam MSUs.  The activation spam lists can be vulnerable to Rogues.  And in a thread over the past two months on dealing with Aceholes, Norm spoke of using speed-5 squads to harass around the edges.

Where I ended up was something like Aresius' list, except with my pet Madine.  The lack of Ace squads means that it matches up pretty well in the squadron game against Sloane.  Actually, brutally efficiently.  It is hard not to win the squadron game against a full squad list by at least 50 points.  The simple fact that you're putting so many blue dice on the table, and adding more through counter rolls just ends up overwhelming ace squad tokens that seem to find their way into Sloane list.  I know from playing 4 A-wings and 2 YT2400s back in wave-2 that the YTs are extremely good finishers in the squadron phase, changing board state before the round flips over.   A single black die against ships is just want you need to overwhelm tokens if you need to.   Right now, our Aceholes has moved out of the area, but we've all agreed in conversation that this is scarier than the older version.

One Combat Ship?

Yes, I too was skeptical.  But if you look at the list make-ups, there are quite a few 2+3s, and also some 1+4s, sometimes 5s.  Those seem to be fairly reliable archetypes.  Then you  have the MSU spam lists at 6-7.  But I figured in a lot of games, the GT front arc that can kill anything small in one shot was probably enough.  You just have to have position well.  

[ flagship ] MC80 Battle Cruiser (103 points)
-  General Madine  ( 30  points) 
 Liberty  ( 3  points) 
-  Intel Officer  ( 7  points) 
-  Gunnery Team  ( 7  points) 
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points) 
-  Spinal Armament  ( 9  points) 
-  X17 Turbolasers  ( 6  points) 
-  Leading Shots  ( 4  points) 
= 177 total ship cost

Because I have only one combat ship, I had to change the load-out.  GT/ET/LS are pretty standard.  Because there is only one ship, there's much more likelihood of continuing to fire at one target with XI7, and I think the XI7/IO combo is utterly essential if you're going to kill a large.  Without it, you are going to have concede killing the ISD or MC80A/C in some match-ups.  It also adds some flexibility against anything else, even if you roll an accuracy.  I have often run H9/QTC, but that is more of a long-range flotilla hunger that can really shut down tokens on smalls/mediums.  But I don't think you IO/XI7/H9 mix, but adding Spinal to increase your damage down range sounds eminently reasonable.  which takes us to...


Achievement Unlocked

This is the first time I've used the Liberty title in a serious competition.  It also marks something of an achievement:  I've now piloted all three Liberty titles to top-4 regional finishes.  My reasoning here is as follows:  I almost never mix Mon Karren with XI7.  I think they both try to do the same thing in different ways.  MK is like an improved XI7 against big ships, because they brace but spend no other tokens, but the title is flimsier against MC30s, which might not have the use of their evade anyway, and its even worse trying to push down Admo.  Theoretically the squads could have helped the previous round.  I also tend to think of the MK primarily on Star Cruisers with SW-7, so the theme really wasn't fitting.  For Endeavor, the contain is nice if you expect to take bomber shots, but the whole point of a squadron load-out like this is to avoid taking those at all.  The contain doesn't help against some of the most important crits, such as APTs.

Now, you don't have to take a title.  I know Aresius' Dodonna list doesn't, but I started to think more seriously about the title, and it seemed to me that a single ship wants to change as much board state as possible in its activation, and it made sense to be able to activate even a couple of squads to contribute to that.

Flotillas

I'm a strong resister of spam. But even I broke down eventually.  I had to go out and buy another one when I decided this was what I was going to run.  The two naked ones are great first placements because you're not as concerned about losing them.  They provide a little flexibility in utility, but you can get that utility elsewhere.  It is redundant utility.  Toryn/Bright Hope, if flown well, really starts multipling all the squadron attacks and A-wing counters, which is part of what makes the squadron set up nasty.   I've also started to learn to fly with a single Comms net.  In the past, I've been prone to over Comms Netting.  A single one is enough to get the job done.  In this list, it is much more common to take a token on the Liberty turn-1, which means the Liberty is full when the Comms Net activates turn-2, and then you simply do the best you can with commands/tokens from the Comms net.  It has been enough.  Ahsoka was a suggestion from Brikhause based on the Liberty title.  One should really always have a squadron token or the ability to convert one.

Bid

This is still a pretty strong bid, but the purpose isn't always to go first.  The purpose is to make the best possible choice for the match-up.  So if I have bid and I can benefit from first, especially by last/first, then I'll take that.

Games

In the first game, I played Nick, who brought Garm on an MC80 with Rapid Launch Bays, an Assault Frigate, and two flotillas.  Since I outactivated, I chose first and his Dangerous Territory.  That's a fairly neutral objective for which I knew I could eat the rocks on my two naked flotillas.  So I'd end up even on points.  I out-deployed, so I knew I could keep the Liberty away from one combat ship long enough to matter.  For the most part, he came forward and at me.  He had ECM on both combat ships, which IO stripped effectively.  The game ended in a 10-1.  He was a good sport, and we talked afterwards about the state of the game, especially flotilla and squadron spam.  He asked if I played the list because I enjoyed putting these ships on the table, or if it was more a matter of winning.  I think this is where we start to get the competitive players and the roleplayers in any given gaming environment in some tension.  Roleplayers find theme and setting important to their gaming experience, and it affects what they bring to the table, and what they want to see on the table.  For competitive players, Star Wars Armada is a game for which  the Star Wars setting is used.  It was a fun conversation that makes me look forward to what wave-7 has in store and how it may change our expectations about the game.

In the second game, I drew Candler, the only other player to 10-1 in the first round.  Candler is not exactly local, but he's close enough and we have played quite a few games, including two the week preceding the tournament.  So he had faced my list before and was familiar with what it could do. He also had listened on to some of my likes and dislikes about the list and some of what I thought would work.  Consequently, he really had the Imperial version of my list:  ISD-I, Sloane, max squads, 4 Gozanti.   Here, my plan has always been to take second, because I'd rather have the last activation in the round than the first, and I'd rather play with the benefit of my objectives in some fashion.  He had just played Contested, and preferred a different objective and thus chose MW.  It was true that my Liberty couldn't take advantage of it much.  I think we both realized that this was going to be a 7-4 at best, which is partly why I wanted second, to force an engagement or a loss.  As it turned out, we hardly did any shooting, circled and waited.  We finally had some combat on turn-6, but he couldn't kill Bright Hope and lost some generics.   In retrospect, I still think I played it fair.  Most of my other options were going to separate out my units and possibly overextend my squadrons from their activators.  Play for win the first.  If the opponent gives you the opportunity to get an 8, take the 8.  Then play for the tabling if it is there.   I knew Candler was thoughtful and skilled.  He had placed top-4 in a regional before, so I didn't want to push it.

That took me to 16 points.  One of the lower tables had a high score, so I faced the player with 17 points on top table.  Second table was at 15 each.  There might have been 3 at 15 at that point.  Certainly we had a bunch of us all bunched up in that middle point range, really putting the pressure on the final round to put up a score big enough to take the tournament.   I faced Ben, who brought a Jerry list with no flotillas.  2 Glads, an ISD, and a Raider, with light squads.  Again, I knew I'd outplace.  I probably should have 10-1ed, but I made several critical mistakes that stopped this.  First, I really wasn't used to the list, so I opened my Liberty with the same kind of move I'd done with the older lists, zooming across the map at speed-3 with ET.  He had positioned his units forward and it was clearly I could set up a good shot on Demo, possibly even killing it.  I had bid, and had taken first and his Contested Outpost.  I'm always wary of giving up too many points on that, but I probably should have simply ignored the outpost until later and just went from the tabling.   Because what I really wanted was to clean up Valen/Cienna ASAP, and then get as many ship shots.  He went right after me, and two rounds of getting pounded by squads would be two dead ships each round.  Instead, when I zoomed across the map, I ended up taking an ER raider side arc (dodged his front), a double arc red range from his ISD, 2 red from the front of the Demo.  Squadrons got Demo and the Raider pretty quickly, but my Liberty took so much damage that it simply was going to be unable to kill the ISD.  In the end, I took everything but his ISD, and was up on the station by 20 points.   I was 27 points away from a 9, and possibly lost it by bringing BH too far forward.

So that took me to 24 tournament points.  Some of the lower tables had finished and people were beginning to congregate around 23.  But at some point, I noticed table 2 had finished ridiculously early, and Candler had completely walked out of the store.  He had conceded at a point where most of his squadrons were dead and it was clear the game would be simply another hour of just horsing around for a 7-4 or 8-3 in his opponent's favor.   So that left his opponent with a concession.  When some other players had asked, I mentioned it was an 8, 140 MOV, but the TO said it was a 400-0, 10.  This turns out to be incorrect, but I had trouble tracking down the exact ruling in time to dispute it for prizes.  I didn't really want to fuss it all up in front of everyone, since everyone was tired and hungry, including me, so I congratulated him for winning.  In the end, I didn't really care about the bye, because I wasn't going to NOVA anyway.  I kind of wanted to add the trophy to my previous regional win from two years ago.  At the time, I think I was less concerned about it than I became later, but I think that was really coming to a realization of what the rules are actually supposed to be in the event of a concession.  In a conversation with some of the guys afterwards, we figured that an asterisk was appropriate, and although one doesn't want to come across as critical, a factual description of what transpired was appropriate, leaving others to form their own judgments.

 

Summary Remarks

In the end, I still got to meet some new players, reconnect with old ones, plays several good games of Armada against players I'd never played before.  The store offered credit to first, second, and third.  So I am quite thankful for that.

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Thanks for sharing this. 

It's always nice to hear from quality players about list building philosophy, as it's tough to get enough experience as a casual player to develop it myself.

The battle reports are concise but tell the story well. 

Congrats on a great tournament performance!

Edited by Democratus

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As always, excellent reading. It is very interesting to see how your initial Libery list evolved. It is shame that you felt that you need to follow flotilla spam, but I can see logic behind it. On the other hand I like how you are using only one upgrade from last two waves - it proves that you don't have to get all the new toys to preform well.

Congratulations on good result! 

 

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As an update to the concession issue, I spoke with the TO on the phone today.  I also have had a few messages back and forth with the conceding player, whom I knew.  Normally, the board state would freeze, and based on the board state both players described to me, it would result in an 8-3 concession.  Instead, the conceeding player picked up his ships extremely quickly and had left in a span of 5 minutes.  Neither player knew how to score the concession and neither player was apparently prompt in getting the TO.  In the absence of knowledge about the rules/tournament regulations, they both wrote 400-0.   From there, the main problem is recovery of board state.  The TO didn't see the board state, and since the conceeding player had left, there was no way for him to determine what if anything was left on the table, and thus combined with the 400-0 on both score sheets, he awarded the opponent the 400 points.  He did go ahead and call FFG today, described the situation, including Shane's post after the fact, and they agreed that given the information he had and was given, his scoring was correct.  Based on my conversations with the TO and with conceding player, the great burden for this lies with the conceding player.

I write this because I know some friends were really concerned about the TO simply not knowing the rules, and I think it is important to say that he was cooperative on the phone, put in some effort to resolve the situation, and provided an explanation that was reasonable, even if it wasn't one that benefited me.  It was unfortunate that the entire tournament had to be marred by a game whose resulted seriously affected the top-4 standings.  In the end, I got almost all of the same loot, and still won all three games, learned a few things about my list, and got to meet some wonderful new people.  There will always be other tournaments and other games.

Edited by Vergilius
Typo

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This was very unfortunate.  The TO, you, and the other participants were placed in an extremely awkward position.  It also highlights the issue with a concession: the winner's result could be the entire range of points and MOV had it been played to conclusion but an artificial result must be given.  The TO should score concessions because unlike completed games, the score is artificial, and requires validation to avoid scoring manipulation.  In this case, both players reported incorrect MOVs: 400-0 is normally a tabling which was not the case; the TO, the winner, and loser agreed there was a concession with the loser having models on the table but the actual MOV was not calculated.  Therefore, the rule only allows a higher than 140 MOV if it is calculated to be higher which was not the case.  I think concessions are awful and the TO should give guidance at the beginning of the tournament that he adjudicate a concession result.

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18 hours ago, B2000 said:

This was very unfortunate.  The TO, you, and the other participants were placed in an extremely awkward position.  It also highlights the issue with a concession: the winner's result could be the entire range of points and MOV had it been played to conclusion but an artificial result must be given.  The TO should score concessions because unlike completed games, the score is artificial, and requires validation to avoid scoring manipulation.  In this case, both players reported incorrect MOVs: 400-0 is normally a tabling which was not the case; the TO, the winner, and loser agreed there was a concession with the loser having models on the table but the actual MOV was not calculated.  Therefore, the rule only allows a higher than 140 MOV if it is calculated to be higher which was not the case.  I think concessions are awful and the TO should give guidance at the beginning of the tournament that he adjudicate a concession result.

Thanks for your support.  

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You are welcome.  Games are all about sportsmanship and I commend you on yours.  You were respectful of the TO, the appointed winner, and addressed the issue after the event was over. The TO did exactly what I expect a great TO should do: make a ruling; address participants concerns; and consult a higher authority of the game to ensure the ruling was appropriate (well done!)  However, I had a similar situation happen last year at a World Boardgaming Championship (WBC) tournament.  After a tournament winners' point scores were announced and plaques awarded, my son realized he should have placed second and not in the middle of the 88 participants.   He brought it to the TO's attention and theTO realized he had left out a round of scoring but said it was too late to make any changes.  I went to the Chairman of the WBC and explained the situation and he immediately consulted with the TO to review my son's score and they would give a duplicate plaque to my son without changing the other winners' places.  This is ultimate sportsmanship in my opinion, where mistakes are recognized and handled in an upstanding fashion.  I think you should share my posts with the TO on my independent thoughts on the insufficiency of accurate scoring. There is no blame, just a scoring mistake due to inexperience of this unique scoring situation by the participants.  If I found merit to adjust your result, I would contact FFG and jointly award you a duplicate placement in the tournament.  Issuing a duplicate placement I believe is doing what is right and validates to everyone the integrity and commitment to sportsmanship by the TO and FFG.

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