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Squad Postmortem: Wullffwarro War Crimes (at IMC)

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For the Intermountain Cup Tournament I wanted to bring something "off-meta, but effective".  By this I meant:

  • Not something I'd see others playing
  • Something fun to play (and ideally something I made instead of net-listed)
  • Strong enough to at least do okay in a tournament

These can be simplified to:

  • Play something I like that's unique to me
  • Play something that won't get stomped to death all day

So no net-listing; that's not fun for me... I might as well not go to the tournament.  The list-building aspect of the game is part of the fun.  But I also didn't want to spend all day losing helplessly and having a bad time.  I'm not a tournament player; I fly mainly casual jank.  If I was going to go to a tournament at all, I wanted to bring something that wouldn't leave me feeling awful all day.  That's a tough combination of goals.

After floundering for a while on what I wanted to fly, and flying a bunch of stuff that didn't grip me, I revisited my old fleet called Wullffwarro War Crimes (hereafter "WWC").  This is my favorite 2.0 fleet currently, but at the time it was not very good.  It was a decent casual night list, to put it charitably.


This post is the journey of improving it, practicing with it, and ultimately, how well it did at the tournament.

 

Here's the original (bad) fleet:

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Trick Shot (4)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
    Hull Upgrade (3)    
Ship total: 72  Half Points: 36  Threshold: 5    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
    Elusive (3)    
    Moldy Crow (18)    
Ship total: 64  Half Points: 32  Threshold: 3    
    
"Dutch" Vander (40)    
    Selfless (3)    
    Ion Cannon Turret (5)    
    Adv. Proton Torpedoes (6)    
    R4 Astromech (2)    
    Veteran Turret Gunner (8)    
Ship total: 64  Half Points: 32  Threshold: 4    
    
Total: 200    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58X133W58WW164Y46X119WWWWW156Y27X130W138W134W5WWW90&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes&obs=

Here's a preview of the version I took to the tournament:

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Trick Shot (4)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
    Targeting Computer (3)    
Ship total: 72  Half Points: 36  Threshold: 4    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
    Moldy Crow (18)    
Ship total: 61  Half Points: 31  Threshold: 3    
    
Wedge Antilles (55)    
    Outmaneuver (6)    
    R2 Astromech (4)    
    Servomotor S-Foils (0)    
Ship total: 65  Half Points: 33  Threshold: 3    
    
Total: 198    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58X133W58WW249Y46XWWWWW156Y5X126WW2WW142&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes 8&obs=

 

Style and Goal of the Fleet

WWC's gimmick is it has the potential to throw up to 7 double-modded dice in a single attack.  3-dice base + 1 range + 1 trick shot + 1 jan ors + 1 damaged wullffwarro.  More realistically, Wullff tends to throw 4 - 6 dice regularly, with both a target lock and Saw to mod focus results.  With Saw he can also damage himself to trigger his ability, in case enemies are avoiding damaging him.  On paper, the damage output is legitimately terrifying: for example on 6 dice it has a 99% chance to roll 5+ hits/crits, or 93% of all 6 hits/crits (more odds here).  Many of these are crits, thanks to Saw.

To wit: Angry Wookies have right of way.

Jan's role in the list is to live long enough to continue providing support, and to occasionally add much-needed damage with her forward arc or wimpy turret.

Dutch for a long time was a crutch to the fleet, and I struggled to figure out what to do with him.  He was indeed necessary... Wullff lacks any locking capability, which severely stunts his damage output.  Dutch could solve this problem, leaving Wullff pretty action-ambivalent.  He could reinforce (which is weak in 2E but not necessarily useless), focus for defense or non-saw offense, or occasionally barrel roll if he could handle the stress next round.  But beyond that, dutch struggled to contribute.

 

Early Problems

The core problem the list had was a lack of teeth.  Nevermind that Wullff can explode with death-star-levels of power; his allies were milktoast at best.  Variations of the list gave Dutch either Proton or Advanced Proton torpedoes, but he could never consistently get either out of the tube against the targets he most needed to kill, because he's init 4 and not especially mobile (and his lock was mainly to benefit wullff, even at his own expense).  Giving him double-tap capability was interesting, but ultimately he spent most of his time as a points-pinata with one gimmick that I missed once he died (Wullff really wants that lock).  Jan is alright with the title -- 3 dice isn't bad and she's usually focused -- but she's also delicate and not especially scary on her own.

Once Wullff died, the list lacked any serious teeth and it was often over.

The second problem was mobility.  Dutch is alright at this (funny, the Y-Wing is the mobile one), but Jan and especially Wullff suffer from very unfriendly dials.  Jan can rotate her turret but a 2-dice attack isn't impressive; she really wants to bring her front arc to bear when able.

Against aces, this list suffered a lot.  Both Wullff and Jan had trouble once isolated by higher-init foes.  Dutch, Wullff, and Jan each had trouble with staying power: in a 3-ship list, it's bad to lose a ship fast to focused fire.

 

Initial Restructuring

When I decided to resurrect the list, I looked it over and concluded most of the upgrades could be stripped away, leaving me with this core:

  • Wullffwarro with Trick Shot + Saw (and Trick Shot is negotiable)
  • Jan Ors
  • Dutch

This gave me 48 to 52 points to play with, ideally adding a 4th ship.  This would give me more hull and firepower to play with... in theory.

I asked for suggestions and people recommended a generic E-Wing or Jek Porkins.  I also thought about adding Biggs for defense, or attack shuttle Zeb for a cheap 3-dice ship.  Because I was pressed for time (limited practice days and not many weeks before the tournament), I never actually tried people's suggested Jek or E-Wing, which I feel bad about.

Biggs was an improvement over the base design.  He added good firepower and helped keep allies alive, however he had to fly close and wasn't quite doing the trick.  Zeb was a delicate disaster with a bad dial, who I will not revisit again.  >:(

Here are a few of the iterations I tried.

 

WWC2

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Trick Shot (4)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
    Hull Upgrade (3)    
Ship total: 72  Half Points: 36  Threshold: 5    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
    Elusive (3)    
    Moldy Crow (18)    
Ship total: 64  Half Points: 32  Threshold: 3    
    
"Dutch" Vander (40)    
    Ion Cannon Turret (5)    
    Proton Torpedoes (13)    
    R4 Astromech (2)    
    Shield Upgrade (4)    
Ship total: 64  Half Points: 32  Threshold: 5    
    
Total: 200    
    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58X133W58WW164Y46X119WWWWW156Y27XW138W136W5W165WW&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes 2&obs=

 

WWC4 (not sure what happened to 3, but it's not the only iteration I didn't bother to write down)

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
Ship total: 65  Half Points: 33  Threshold: 4    
    
"Dutch" Vander (40)    
    Crack Shot (1)    
Ship total: 41  Half Points: 21  Threshold: 4    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
Ship total: 43  Half Points: 22  Threshold: 3    
    
Jek Porkins (46)    
    Elusive (3)    
    "Chopper" (Astromech) (2)    
    Servomotor S-Foils (0)    
Ship total: 51  Half Points: 26  Threshold: 3    
    
Total: 200    
    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58XW58WWY27X116WWWWWWY46XWWWWWY3X119WW0WW142&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes 4&obs=

 

WWC5

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
Ship total: 65  Half Points: 33  Threshold: 4    
    
"Dutch" Vander (40)    
Ship total: 40  Half Points: 20  Threshold: 4    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
Ship total: 43  Half Points: 22  Threshold: 3    
    
Knave Squadron Escort (52)    
Ship total: 52  Half Points: 26  Threshold: 3    
    
Total: 200    
    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58XW58WWY27XWWWWWWY46XWWWWWY24XWWW&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes 5&obs=

 

WWC6

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Trick Shot (4)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
Ship total: 69  Half Points: 35  Threshold: 4    
    
"Dutch" Vander (40)    
Ship total: 40  Half Points: 20  Threshold: 4    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
Ship total: 43  Half Points: 22  Threshold: 3    
    
Biggs Darklighter (48)    
    Servomotor S-Foils (0)    
Ship total: 48  Half Points: 24  Threshold: 3    
    
Total: 200    
    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58X133W58WWY27XWWWWWWY46XWWWWWY7XWWW142&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes 6&obs=

 

WWC7

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
Ship total: 65  Half Points: 33  Threshold: 4    
    
"Dutch" Vander (40)    
Ship total: 40  Half Points: 20  Threshold: 4    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
    Moldy Crow (18)    
Ship total: 61  Half Points: 31  Threshold: 3    
    
"Zeb" Orrelios (34)    
Ship total: 34  Half Points: 17  Threshold: 2      
    
Total: 200    
    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58XW58WWY27XWWWWWWY46XWWWWW156Y68XWWW&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes 7&obs=

 

WWC8

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Trick Shot (4)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
    Targeting Computer (3)    
Ship total: 72  Half Points: 36  Threshold: 4    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
    Elusive (3)    
    Jyn Erso (2)    
    Hull Upgrade (5)    
    Shield Upgrade (6)    
    Moldy Crow (18)    
Ship total: 77  Half Points: 39  Threshold: 4    
    
Biggs Darklighter (48)    
    R4 Astromech (2)    
    Servomotor S-Foils (0)    
Ship total: 50  Half Points: 25  Threshold: 3    
    
Total: 199    
    
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z58X133W58WW249Y46X119WW40W164W165W156Y7XW5WW142&sn=Wullffwarro War Crimes 8&obs=

 

There are lots more of these that I tried but didn't write down, especially variations on Jan + Wullff + Dutch tweaking crew, talents, etc.

I spent around a couple of months trying iterations (as well as a few entirely different fleets, looking for something that gripped me), playing around 3 - 6 games a week.  Problems with these lists included:

  • not having Moldy Crow for the token storage and a decent attack, but also for the wider arc coverage
  • still not having enough firepower or threat
  • not being able to remotely deal with the fleet's natural predator, ace lists.

So while a worthy line of investigation, none of these fleets really paid off.  Thouth WWC8 above was promising, removing Dutch entirely.

 

The Turning Point

About a week or two before the tournament, Targeting Computer became available.  Dutch had always been a rather awkward crutch to the list (and no matter how I kitted him out, he didn't seem to pull his weight), so I decided it was time to finally replace him.  Targeting Computer freed Wullff from actively needing support; Jan's help was nice but not necessary, and we no longer required Dutch's services.  With Saw and Targeting Computer (and optionally Trick Shot), he was a strong, independent wookiee, and that was fantastic!

The problem?  I only got my copy of Targeting Computer (and thought to make a proper version of the fleet with it) on the Thursday before the tournament, my last practice day.  I'd spent so much time trying other fleets, and trying dead-end iterations of this fleet, that I was out of time.  Schedule conflicts guaranteed this would be my last chance to practice the fleet, and nobody was available to fly competitive lists against me.  Uh-oh.

 

The Final Version

With some restructuring and lots of thought about what the list really needed, I decided on Wedge.  Wedge is a beast of a ship.  He's an ace, meaning he preys on many of the ships that prey on Wullff.  His ability cuts through normally solid defenses, especially with Outmaneuver, and that makes a lot of agile ships very twitchy about being flanked.  And he's so threatening that he produces something the fleet desperately needed: split threat.  With Wedge on the team, it's no longer clear who to fear, and when I split my fleet apart, foes didn't have a clear answer of where to turn and fight.  Jan can support either Wullff or Wedge, and with outmaneuver, Wedge is extremely dangerous for agile ships to ignore.  With Wullff throwing 5 or 6 dice, I can offer a devil's bargain to my opponent.

With some advice from friends to give Wedge R2 Astromech for some emergency retreat-and-heal ability, here's how the final list looked (repeat of above):

WWC9

Wullffwarro (56)    
    Trick Shot (4)    
    Saw Gerrera (9)    
    Targeting Computer (3)    
Ship total: 72  Half Points: 36  Threshold: 4    
    
Jan Ors (43)    
    Moldy Crow (18)    
Ship total: 61  Half Points: 31  Threshold: 3    
    
Wedge Antilles (55)    
    Outmaneuver (6)    
    R2 Astromech (4)    
    Servomotor S-Foils (0)    
Ship total: 65  Half Points: 33  Threshold: 3    
    
Total: 198

The two remaining points might have been useful for Engine Upgrade on Jan, since I did occasionally need to boost out of arc etc, but honestly I think the bid helped more.

The two practice games I played that day went positively, and I was able to shake out a little bit of strategy, but not much.  It was all casual lists that day; I'd arrived too late to play against the tourney fleets.  Most importantly, my arch-enemy list type (cagey ace lists, particularly jedi) wasn't available to practice against in any form, so I was going into the tournament relatively unpracticed.  This is something I regret, but it couldn't be helped.

 

Goal for this Tournament

Revisiting my earlier goals:

  • Play something I like that's unique to me
  • Play something that won't get stomped to death all day

I had succeeded at #1: Nobody's bringing this fleet, I could guarantee it.  This was my creation, the product of my uniquely sick mind.  There's just something satisfying to flying something I built, whatever its flaws.  Compare that to the relatively (IMO) soulless act of netlisting; it's fine as a strategy and probably necessary to win tournaments, but I don't find it fulfilling.  I'd rather stay home than fly something I don't enjoy.

Point #2 was more uncertain.  I honestly didn't know how well the list would do in a real fight, but I pessimistically expected it to lose, brutally, most of the day.  So I made a promise with myself: I'm going to go and enjoy this day as much as possible, and try to not stress too much.  I'm going to give it my all, but I'm okay with doing poorly.  If I'm in the middle of the rankings instead of last, then I've done really well.

 

There was one final thing to address: I don't enjoy long tournaments because they exhaust me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  14 hours of x-wing just destroys me.  During Campaign Against Cancer I had a really bad time even though it was a much more casual tournament (our local tradition is to bring silly casual lists).  Such a fun and casual tournament should have been my jam, but instead I spent the day tired, irritable, and consistently making the same mistakes over and over again and not learning from them.  I went home that day angry with myself and ruminating on all the mistakes I could have avoided.  I'd flown the older version of WWC that day and should have done at least okay, but by round 3 or 4 I was too tired to function.  It ruined the tournament for me.  And IMC was going to be a much tougher tournament.

To resolve this problem, I decided to do something I've never done before: rely on caffeine.  I've only recently started drinking tea, in small quantities; I've never been a caffeine person, never had coffee, and I don't drink any soda or energy drinks (haven't been into soda since childhood).  Caffeine has just never been my thing.  But now that I'm starting into tea at work, I figured I could drink tea at the tournament and be a bit more alert, hopefully avoiding the mental exhaustion that destroyed me last time.  I bought a bunch of bottles of pre-brewed tea that I could shove in my bag, along with some water bottles.

Spoiler alert: It dam* well served its purpose, in spades.  Not only was I not tired and miserable, but I probably drank too much and spent the day jittery.  On balance and in retrospect, I preferred that, because I actually had a good time at this tournament.  The Spiffing Brit would be proud of me.  ^_^

 

It Begins

Here's the TTT link to see other lists, points, MOV, SOS, etc.

Two years ago I won the last Intermountain Cup with the infamous first edition Triple Auzitucks list.  Long story short:

  • I had a first-round bye from that tournament
  • We didn't do IMC last year because 2.0 released right as the tournament was scheduled, and the TO wanted to let people learn 2E first.  So I still had that bye.
  • The extremely negative play experience the Triple Auzitucks (with Expertise and Tactician) created for other players is another reason why I avoid the top meta.
  • I'm now known for flying that auzituck list.
  • It was hilarious to multiple people (including the TO) that I was flying an Auzituck again, despite FFG's unbridled hate-nerfs to the ship.  ^_^

The TO was really hoping I would win this tournament because that would be hysterical, me coming back with an Auzituck and taking first place again.  I wanted to moderate my expectations a bit more than that.  The important thing here though is I had a first-round bye, so I sat around relaxing and occasionally watching other players play, and I wonder how it affected my score moving forward.  *shrug*

 

Round Two I fought Bruce Young's imperial inquisition:

Soontir Fel TIE Interceptor (64)
Shield Upgrade + Targeting Computer
Inquisitor TIE Advanced v1 (42)
Fire-Control System + Cluster Missiles
Inquisitor TIE Advanced v1 (43)
Fire-Control System + Concussion Missiles
Colonel Jendon Lambda-class T-4a Shuttle (50)
Jamming Beam + Director Krennic

I apparently did pretty well, despite still being pretty shaky with my list.  142 to 36 points.

It turns out, Soontir can evaporate pretty quickly against my fleet.  He's one ace I'm quite happy to fly against, because one mistake against Wullff or Wedge and he's probably off the table.  I spent about half of the game not firing with Wullff, and Wullff's job turned out to just be to chase Soontir around and keep him from daring to engage; when he finally did engage, his allies were gone and he quickly died to the firepower.  The Inquisitors didn't get many missiles before death, and both took devastating shots and spent a lot of time trying to escape arcs and swing back around.  I was surprised at how fast the Lambda cooked too, once I focus-fired it.

This was a good start; these are the ships Wullff and Wedge like to hunt.  This player played pretty well and was good at avoiding taking unnecessary hits, but in the end I was able to do so much damage that he spent a lot of time in damage control, trying to not trivially lose ships he needed.

He did have one very unfortunate mistake, landing his lambda barely clipping an asteroid.  He was at range 1 to devastate Wullff, could have been a near-lethal shot.  But it didn't materialize, because rocks.  That was fortunate.

 

Round three I fought Jon Craft; I think the fleet's name is "blue squadron irregulars".

Blue Squadron Scout UT-60D U-wing (47)
Hera Syndulla + Pivot Wing
Blue Squadron Pilot A/SF-01 B-wing (43)
Fire-Control System
Blue Squadron Pilot A/SF-01 B-wing (43)
Fire-Control System
Blue Squadron Escort T-65 X-wing (43)
R4 Astromech + Servomotor S-foils
Bandit Squadron Pilot Z-95-AF4 Headhunter (23)

Lots of bulk and firepower.  Thankfully, I was able to lure him with Wedge on the edge of the table and then run away into the corner when he expected me to turn in and fight, giving Jan and Wullff a bit of a better approach.  Wedge then swung around and started nuking from behind.  I ended 200 to 136.

 

Round four I fought Nate "Tsunami" Johnson and his Resistance Beef list:

Lieutenant Bastian T-70 X-wing (48)
Integrated S-foils
Jessika Pava T-70 X-wing (51)
Integrated S-foils
Temmin Wexley T-70 X-wing (55)
Integrated S-foils + Composure
L'ulo L'ampar RZ-2 A-wing (46)
Crack Shot + Predator

The core problem was the amount of damage output, paired with the extremely high health of the whole fleet.  The whole fleet is so well-moded on attack and often defense, it was hard to deal with.  I ended up losing this fight 122 to 200.  But I fought **** hard.  A few mistakes (like forgetting to regen Wedge when I could) really hurt me.  I beat myself up over this performance a bit, because I could have done so much better, but oh well.  I managed to do a lot of damage, but just couldn't finish stuff when I really needed to.

I did have an interesting targeting choice at one point that's worth examining.  I had Wullff lock Temmin.  When it came his turn to attack, he could fire at Temmin for a fully modded 5 dice, or he could target Jessika for singly-modded 7 dice.  Both targets were focused, and Jess had her charge.  After thinking it through, I targeted Temmin.  Jess would be rolling 3 green dice doubly-modded compared to Temmin's singly-modded 2 dice, and I considered Temmin to both be the more dangerous threat, and the target I could more likely finish off later (Jess' job is usually to absorb shots and waste the player's offense, and I didn't want to fall into that trap).  I'm interested in what people think of this choice.

 

Round five I fought a bit of an easier matchup, Dennis' Redline fleet:

Rexler Brath TIE/D Defender (90)
Juke + Fire-Control System
"Redline" TIE/ca Punisher (75)
Advanced Sensors + Proton Torpedoes
Onyx Squadron Scout TIE/ag Aggressor (35)
Ion Cannon Turret

This could easily have gone either way, but I enjoyed some dice luck and managed some good positioning too.  Redline brutalized me with proton torps and primary attacks, but thanks to range shenanigans she never got her 2nd torp off.  Rexler was a regular problem but I think Wullff got some shots into him and that helped a lot.  Mad props to him for flying a TIE Aggressor too!  That ion cannon was a constant problem and it put me in some very serious danger on a regular basis.  I won 200 to 105.  I don't remember exactly why (it's been too long now), but we felt like some clutch moments of dice luck had helped me quite a bit.

 

I had now made it into the top 8, which was well past where I had expected to land.  But I really, really wanted to be in the top four.  The painted ship prizes for the top four players were gorgeous!

70427378_661845640992636_142306968189534

I wanted to win one of these (hopefully the image url works):

71324625_661846397659227_341312071954490

 

Let's recap: I was flying a silly jank fleet.  I had no right getting into the top four with this hot mess.  But I wanted it, and now that I'd already gotten this far, I had my hopes up.

Unfortunately, the next list dashed my hopes and dropped me back into reality.  My natural predator had found me: cagey aces.

 

Match 6: Mike "Epicenter" Sausedo

Darth Vader TIE Advanced x1 (75)
Afterburners + Fire-Control System
Grand Inquisitor TIE Advanced v1 (60)
Concussion Missiles + Fire-Control System
"Duchess" TIE/sk Striker (58)
Proximity Mines + Fifth Brother + Crack Shot

When I say "cagey aces" I mean f****** cagey.  Mike knew his fleet really well, and he consistently flew his aces in an extremely cautious manner, always running away rather than engage, unless they had the perfect opportunity.  This fight was a long, unfun grind of gradually approaching and trying to pin his aces between multiple arcs so he couldn't run, failing, paying the price, and trying again.

Had I had more time to practice this final version of my fleet, I could have done better.  Especially if I'd gotten to practice with wedge against cagey aces more.  But unfortunately, this was where my luck and experience ran dry.  This was a painful, brutal reality check.  I made a few mistakes but mostly did my best, and it just wasn't enough.

What really kills me is, looking at the other top 8s, I would have loved to fight literally anyone else except Jaxon's jedi + ric list.  Most of those fleets would likely have been Wullff food, or at least a much closer match.  Instead I ended up with a savagely hard counter, flown by an extremely good player.  Aw well.

 

Thus ended the journey.

 

Conclusions

tumblr_o19mtzQwZ41rxmai6o4_250.gif

 

First of all, I learned this list isn't entirely casual junk.  It was able to hold its own in most of the fights, and that's a fantastic surprise.  I'm really happy I got to do so well with a fleet I actually built myself and like.

Second, cagey aces are pure evil, but we all knew that.  ;)

Third, I can do tournaments.  I'm not a completely incompetent player.  Please understand, I spent so much time losing badly when trying out fleets and trying to refine this one, I honestly started believing I'm just a terrible player.  But once I was in the tournament (with the final iteration of the fleet), I surprised myself quite a lot.  I'm thankful to the other players whose kind words lifted me up and kept me going, both during practice and during the tournament.  Caleb, the TO, was especially awesome at lifting my spirits, even as I had serious doubts about attending.

Fourth, if I want to do all-day tournaments, it's worth being caffeinated, even a bit overly so.  I had shakey hands all day and this led to some bumping of ships and other mistakes, but unlike the last tournament, I actually enjoyed myself.  I wasn't exhausted, I wasn't irritable and tunnel-visioned by the exhaustion.  This made a massive difference in the quality of my day.  So uhh... I guess I'm a caffeine person now, if only occasionally.  ;)

Fifth, I need to decide on a list much earlier so I have more practice time.  Particularly against cagey aces, I could viscerally feel my inexperience and it ended up hurting me a lot.

 

As for the fleet itself, its original iteration was not good.  I'd built it to be silly casual jank, and had succeeded at exactly that.  But I loved the idea and I wanted to fly something quirky.  Being able to run without the Dutch-crutch was a major improvement, and just as important, adding Wedge added the final piece that was missing.  The fleet now had teeth, it could split its threat, respond to many lesser ace lists and eat through agile ships, and every ship in the list felt like it was a valuable contribution.  Even Jan was a terrifying asset now that Wedge was on the team, since she could choose who to empower based on who needed it and could bite hardest.  And having her title back helped her contribute direct damage more often too.

Despite the failures, all the iterations I went through were extremely instructive.  I tried many versions of what to put on Dutch and Jan.  I tried various four-ship versions.  I tried different approach strategies.  A lot of these builds and play strategies were dead ends, but they helped narrow down to the final version, enabled by Targeting Computer.

 

Will I play future tournaments?  I'm hesitant.  It was still a long, grueling day, and fighting hard-counters like cagey aces wasn't much fun; I was lucky to fight only one.  Also, as people get to know my list, they'll be better at picking it apart.  It's not top-meta, and eventually its flaws will be pretty well-known, so I'll have to be prepared for that.  A lot of my success today might be thanks to the element of surprise.  :)

But I may be more open to the occasional tourney now.  I spent a long time avoiding them -- both because they're exhausting and because I don't like all the meta nonsense -- but now it feels a bit less unappealing.

Edited by Wazat
adding assorted list variations I tried during testing

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23 minutes ago, Wazat said:

Not only was I not tired and miserable, but I probably drank too much and spent the day jittery.

Please don't take this the wrong way but, as a heavy coffee drinker and nicotine user, someone getting the jitters off of tea is a whoot (this is more me forgetting that chemical tolerances apply to just about everything). :D Glad you had fun since that is the most important thing for any game.

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No worries, I know I'm a caffeine lightweight.  ;)

Yea, I'm really glad I had fun.  If I hadn't, this would have been my last tournament, hard-stop.  14 hours of misery is the fast track to losing my love for the game, and I don't want to stop loving X-Wing.

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Good ol 2nd Ed really blurs the line between "jank" and "just a good list"

Kinda indicative of how necessary an overhaul it was

Flying "off meta" has been my M.O since I became traumatized by the sea of primary colors power armor in 40k. Mirror matches are actually physically painful for me

so this is a good read

My current adventures involve the republic (cause Arcs), particularly Broadsides (too new to be meta ;)) and baby Anakin

Baby Anakin is a huge departure for me, because a 40+ point ship with a 2-die primary is some shite. Juke offsets that (though Jedi care less), but what really offsets that is him being a tanky (future) mofo

Dude brought his plot armor from the movies given how many defensive mods he packs, and with juke + fcs he can really rule the long game.

There's some amazing fun out there hiding right behind the "meta" (Ole!)

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I don't know if this is true of you, but I find that people who complain about the meta a lot generally have poor/no practice actually winning games against aces. Do you think this is true of you? 

Being able to consistently kill aces is one of the litmus tests imo for going from Tier3 jank to Tier2 good. And I do mean consistently. Like 50-55% with practice. 

 

That being said, looks like a list with good parts. 

Did trick shot ever work out for 7 dice? Did it even... ever work at all

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5 minutes ago, Blail Blerg said:

I don't know if this is true of you, but I find that people who complain about the meta a lot generally have poor/no practice actually winning games against aces. Do you think this is true of you? 

Being able to consistently kill aces is one of the litmus tests imo for going from Tier3 jank to Tier2 good. And I do mean consistently. Like 50-55% with practice. 

Ugh, rant incoming.

First of all, yes I do need a lot more practice against those fleets.  I think the practice I had, combined with later adding Wedge, took me to Tier 2.  I could have been much higher in the tier with better practice, but I don't think that would make cagey aces lists easy by any means.

I brought a list that naturally does not do well against cagey aces because those aces can play their strengths against its weaknesses (largely mobility and speed, which the HWK and Auzituck lack).  Not all lists pair equally; a different list might not care about aces, but might hate beef or swarms, for example.  Some of my lists have enjoyed being ace hunters. But often that's because I have aces of my own, a swarm, or another hard counter to them, and that counts for a lot.  Jedi trying to run away have been easy prey for some lists.  I struggled against fleets with this list that in the past were much easier to tackle, because I was flying something that played very differently.

Also I should be specific.  There's lots of iterations of ace lists.  I'm careful to specify "cagey aces" because their playstyle is quite different from other assorted ace lists I'm pretty good at picking apart with most of my lists.  I define cagey aces as:

  • All three ships are aces (init 5 and 6), instead of a pocket ace + swarm or a couple of aces and a support
  • The whole list plays super-conservatively, refusing to engage at all for a long time, waiting for the perfect moment
  • If you're not able to match their speed and repositions, you may have to chase them across the map once or twice before either side even fires a shot
  • If it's jedi etc, they're eager to disengage and regen for several rounds at the slightest tap, to preserve points.  They're happy to waste time.
  • They will always prioritize dodging an arc or being out of range over aggression

This is different from the more common neutral ace list that admittedly also wants to dodge arcs, but will actively engage in the fight by racing behind the opponent or otherwise flanking.  An Aggressive or Neutral Aces list engages in combat more often than not.  Cagey Aces take forever to enter the fight, and are happy to swing back to fleeing.  Other ace lists can have fillers, support, or other stuff going on, while all ships in a cagey aces list are built to flee and dodge, meaning the game can drag on for a long time with relatively little happening whether you win or lose.  I suspect you mean cagey aces when you say aces.  I prefer all the other ace playstyles, both playing as or against them.  So it's a personal preference thing, and their popularity and unfun nature is a big reason why I've avoided tournaments lately.  It's slow and tediously unfun.

Stack that slog with flying ships that are pretty easy to outmaneuver, like the Auzituck and HWK dial, and it's a lot harder.  I'm explicitly flying something off-meta and less mobile; there's a price for that.  There really are hard counters to various lists, and being able to go toe-to-toe with your list's counter is always easier said than done.  Even with lots of practice it'll be a harder game for me than for the ace player, IMO.  I practiced a lot against jedi but not with the final form with Wedge; I suspect I could have done better if I had, but it would still be tough.

Cagey aces waste the first half hour being cagey because it works.  They run away because it works.  I get that... I know that doesn't bother some people, but I'm just not interested.  I wasn't flying a list that was well-equipped to deal with it, and the whole fight felt awful, as have past practice fights.  Even if more practice makes me better, I don't anticipate cagey aces ever being fun to fight, the way that close battle with the inquisitors was.  It's just a property of their playstyle.  The players flying them aren't mean people (they're quite nice), but the match itself sucked to play.

 

Also the quality of advice has been mixed.  More generally, I've found that the people who like to say "oh that top-meta list isn't that hard" are probably used to flying a different fleet than the person they're advising.  It's different if they're at an immediate disadvantage.  Have them fly the other guy's list and I wonder if the cavalier attitude will last.  I've probably been that person myself, giving advice on the wiki for dealing with a fleet I found to be trivial in the past, but the person I'm helping isn't in the same boat I was.  ;)  It's hard to be afraid of a list you're used to hard-countering.

For a long time I hated vulture swarms and rebel beef lists because of what I was flying at the time.  It was hard to pick them apart, and when you're flying something like a Lambda, people's advice of "just don't get into their arcs" seemed pretty empty.  To wit: the ace player giving the advice doesn't understand how you could struggle to avoid being trapped in Rebel Beef's death zone with Sai.  After all it's easy to avoid Rebel Beef's arcs... just arc-dodge them with your jedi or vader.  That doesn't help Sai though; he doesn't play like vader or jedi.  Fleets you're used to beating might be thanks to your level of experience, but it could also be that your fleet is just that good against them, so you don't feel any stress picking them apart.

 

So it's both my weak experience and tough matchups.  I need a lot more practice to take the edge off those matchups, but your fleet still determines which fleets are hard for you.  And I kinda asked for it...  There's a reason tournament players usually only fly the meta.  Getting better at the game is important, but so is bringing a great list that maximizes your effectiveness: why use a lower force multiplier when you could fly top meta instead?  Some lists have real variance in what they're good against, and what's a pretty trivial molehill for one list is a mountain for another.  The meta includes specific lists and eschews other specific lists for very real reasons.  There's good reason jedi aces are so popular: they're far harder to counter or hard-counter than, say, Jendon + inquisitor swarm, or WWC.  ;)  This is a problem I invited by picking WWC over netlisting.

So when I lament flying against cagey aces, it's not just that I'm inexperienced, which I am.  It legit sucked trying to deal with them with that Auzituck and HWK dial.

 

But I get what you're saying: experience can take tier 3 junk and polish it to a tier 2 threat.  It's always exciting when I see a janky bomber list or something equally off-meta flown really well at a tournament; that's a super-skilled player showing off with challenging fleet, relying on their skill instead of relying on the fleet.  And I'm glad I had what little practice I did; I would not have gotten this far otherwise.

 

As for improving myself, eventually I can get some more practice in with Wedge to learn to battle the cagey ace lists a bit more effectively.  I do need practice against cagey aces and I need to learn how to counter them if I'm going to fly this list again.  But that said, I hate playing against them, and I usually fly a variety of tier 3 jank instead of tournament-level fleets.  So given the choice I often won't play the cagey aces player unless I'm practicing for a tournament.  Based on past experience, frequently playing against unfun top-meta lists & playstyles could be the fast track to losing interest in the game, and I don't want to lose my love of x-wing.  Again, that's a big reason why I stopped flying triple auzitucks in 1E: I hated creating negative play experiences for other players, and a list like that sharply restricts what's viable on the table.

So if I'm going to practice against them, I really need some hope that it'll be fruitful and help me in the future, instead of an awful curb-stomping with no advice for how to improve.  Luckily I have some friends who can probably help me with that.

 

5 minutes ago, Blail Blerg said:

Did trick shot ever work out for 7 dice? Did it even... ever work at all

Trick shot came up reasonably often.  Its main purpose is to be yet another source of extra dice, so that I'm regularly enjoying 1, 2, 3 bonus dice from various opportunities.  None of the bonuses were consistently active: sometimes Jan didn't have arc, or boosted wedge instead.  Often I didn't have an obstructed shot.  Often I wasn't at range 1.  Wullff usually didn't take a damage card until the middle of the match.  But with all of these bonuses available, I could regularly combine 1, 2, or 3 of them for a 4-, 5- or 6-dice shot.

I did have one opportunity to do the full 7 dice but chose to shoot someone else (see round four above).  The 7th die is rare and not important to pursue; if you're consistently getting 4, 5, or 6 dice, that's plenty.  Trying to set up the 7th die probably means you're giving up on a better, more grounded strategy.  But it does happen by happy accident on occasion!  And when it does, your average hits+crits is 5.25 or 6.56 depending on whether you have the target lock.

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@Wazat Philosophies aside. I'm stating what I believe to be simple numbers. Meta lists right now generally are comprised of easily 3/8s to 6/8s ace type lists. 

I get what you're saying with a "cagey" list, yeah, especially things like Vader Soontir Duchess all cagey and playing for time. 

But frankly I find that it doesn't really matter, aggressive aces will also chew a new/jank player out in no time flat when played right. That means when they're actually doing non-cagey correctly and it doesn't bite them in the butt. (When it does, its a bad play). 

So, all I'm saying is if your list get hard-countered beyond reasonable plan against anywhere between 37.5%-75% of the top field... Your list doesn't cut it vs meta. 

With my 6Zs list, I actually had a serious plan vs aces. It wasn't just practice. I literally had it down to a pretty precise set-up pattern, exact range control, etc. 

I didn't bring that Keyan/Norra Jan Wes list out to tournaments, cuz frankly, it had the same general problems. It didn't have the mobility to reliably kill aces. I could shock someone to death, but it wasn't nearly as consistent as 6Zs. 

 

As someone who's built their own lists for three years, I believe I can understand your position. 

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Txs for sharing, very interesting. It's great to see some less popular ships getting some love.

I too was curious about trick shot... I can understand how the 7 red dice is tempting, and it's been on your list since begining. Have you considered other options? 

I was thinking selfless might help with overall durability, or Lando can give you extra evades, even Leia to help your mobility.

Other question: how do you usually set up?

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10 hours ago, Blail Blerg said:

 Your list doesn't cut it vs meta. 

 

I think this was the point of the OP; @Wazat stated pretty clearly that the objective was to fly something off-meta + effective + fun to fly.  As far as I can tell, the point was to postmortem the tournament for the benefit of those who'd been following the quest to find the list, not to say whether the list should be taken upmeta.

Edited by feltipern1

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1 hour ago, feltipern1 said:

I think this was the point of the OP; @Wazat stated pretty clearly that the objective was to fly something off-meta + effective + fun to fly.  As far as I can tell, the point was to postmortem the tournament for the benefit of those who'd been following the quest to find the list, not to say whether the list should be taken upmeta.

Yup, pretty much.  I think I bristled a bit at Blail Blerg's comments because it felt like being reprimanded for something that's more complicated than "git gud" and also beside the point.  I do need more anti-ace practice, but the whole point of any of this was to fly something that isn't top-meta, and to accept that it's going to struggle as a result.  I'm really proud of how far I got with a jank list concept.

2 hours ago, LUZ_TAK said:

Txs for sharing, very interesting. It's great to see some less popular ships getting some love.

I too was curious about trick shot... I can understand how the 7 red dice is tempting, and it's been on your list since begining. Have you considered other options? 

I was thinking selfless might help with overall durability, or Lando can give you extra evades, even Leia to help your mobility.

Other question: how do you usually set up?

Past iterations of the list removed Trick Shot to make room for other stuff.  Selfless, Leia, Jyn Erso, and others have been swapped in to create more durability etc, but I wasn't impressed with them.  Lando I've avoided because he's a bit too random and Wullff now needs that action to lock much of the time.  Leia is interesting but doesn't help the core problem (no k-turns on two of my ships; edit: the red stop can be nice, but not 6 points nice).  Jyn is interesting but usually I don't need the evade as much as another token.  Generally Selfless was the most useful, allowing me to damage Wullff even faster.  However, that requires flying close to what else the opponent wants to shoot, and that hasn't worked out with the new way I fly with Wedge.  Also it can be really easy to burn down Wullff too fast, making him a target for focused fire.

Trick Shot on the other hand makes flying in dense asteroids & debris a great idea.  The spare die with lots of mods helps push damage past defenses, which matters quite a lot against the really defensive ships that like to shrug off damage.  Because each die adds almost 1 hit (+.938) to the final roll with focus + lock, when I *can* get that 5th or 6th die, it really counts.

I often set up with Wedge a bit to the side and Jan + Wullff somewhere in the center or slightly off-center.  I like to slow-roll with them and speed ahead with Wedge, though where the opponent lies matters.  I may have to turn away and lure with Wedge instead.  Against aces I sometimes start them all together on the edge, then widen out trying to create a wide trap of arcs, or fly one behind the other to cover its back.  I've found that my usual setup can get me in trouble against some aces, since they want to get behind me, so I mix it up a lot.

Overall I typically slow-roll a bit to find where the opponent is going, then position Wullff and Jan for an attack while flanking or luring with wedge.

Edited by Wazat

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19 hours ago, Wazat said:

...fire at Temmin for a fully modded 5 dice, or he could target Jessika for singly-modded 7 dice...

 

19 hours ago, Wazat said:

...Jess would be rolling 3 green dice doubly-modded compared to Temmin's singly-modded 2 dice...

 

Considering this situation in a vacuum my gut feeling would have been to take the double modded 5 dice shot onto Temmin's single modded 2 die like you said you did because modifiers are better than extra dice on consistent results. 

Checking that math, confirms this is the better choice on average since expected total hits onto Temmin is 3.438 vs Jess's 2.910.

But context on the shot is extremely important too. What if it's the last round and you are down and need the hail marry of 1 rounding Jess, or preventing one of them from returning fire and killing something of yours, or to force them to use their mods for defense? So choices like this are more than how many hits can I get this 1 round but more like how does this choice help me win this game in the end. 

Links for maths

http://xwing.gateofstorms.net/2/multi/?d=ggAAAAAAAAAA&a1=UwAAAAAAAAAQ

http://xwing.gateofstorms.net/2/multi/?d=gwAAAAUAAAAA&a1=cQAAAAAAAAAQ

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7 minutes ago, delrustymar said:

Considering this situation in a vacuum my gut feeling would have been to take the double modded 5 dice shot onto Temmin's single modded 2 die like you said you did because modifiers are better than extra dice on consistent results. 

Checking that math, confirms this is the better choice on average since expected total hits onto Temmin is 3.438 vs Jess's 2.910.

But context on the shot is extremely important too. What if it's the last round and you are down and need the hail marry of 1 rounding Jess, or preventing one of them from returning fire and killing something of yours, or to force them to use their mods for defense? So choices like this are more than how many hits can I get this 1 round but more like how does this choice help me win this game in the end. 

Links for maths

http://xwing.gateofstorms.net/2/multi/?d=ggAAAAAAAAAA&a1=UwAAAAAAAAAQ

http://xwing.gateofstorms.net/2/multi/?d=gwAAAAUAAAAA&a1=cQAAAAAAAAAQ

Yup, that's what I was concluding when I went with Temmin.  But if it'd been a do-or-die situation where I specifically needed half or full points from Jess, I'd have no problem making the shot on her.  Sometimes you just have to fire and hope, because the safe option doesn't get you anything even if it succeeds.

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Quote

It was all casual lists that day; I'd arrived too late to play against the tourney fleets.  Most importantly, my arch enemy (cagey ace lists, particularly jedi) wasn't available to practice against

I wonder who this is referring to? ;)

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Just now, JaxonEvans said:

I wonder who this is referring to? ;)

Haha, all cagey lists are my arch enemy.  Not any player.

I was sad though that I didn't get to practice against the list that would be hardest for me.  But maybe it's for the best: it might have broken my confidence and hope before the tournament.  :)

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9 minutes ago, Wazat said:

Haha, all cagey lists are my arch enemy.  Not any player.

I was sad though that I didn't get to practice against the list that would be hardest for me.  But maybe it's for the best: it might have broken my confidence and hope before the tournament.  :)

Ahh I see. I took it in a friendly manner either way. 

Congrats on your tournament performance. It was really exciting to see you do so well with a list no one was expecting, again. 

Let me know in the future if you ever want dedicated practice against a list, I'm always happy to help with that. 

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Unfortunately all that tea I drank also stained my teeth.  I'm told it's not that bad, but I think it's unsightly and now I get to go through the long process of unstaining them.  :/

edit: beware of pre-brewed teas (sold in bottles/cans).  Apparently they're notorious for this.

Edited by Wazat

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