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Fyeya

Huzzah Hobbies Prime AAR

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Preamble: So, first things first. I'm the nerd who won the recent Armada Prime in Ashburn at Huzzah Hobbies. I decided to write this report mostly because winning was honestly quite a surprise, and it happened with a list that has garnered some criticism in the past, so I figured I'd give some insight into how it worked, why I built it how I did, and any lessons other players may take if they please.

The list: Leading into the event, I decided to take a list I've been working on for quite a while. Perhaps it is a stubborn streak, or just the fact that I cannot fly ships faster than speed 2 without exiting the far side of the board, but my desire to see this particular list take home a placement finish in the top 8 drove me to bring what has become a staple for me.

Name: CAEF Expeditionary Squadron Faction: Imperial Commander: Admiral Sloane

Assault: Surprise Attack

Defense: Hyperspace Assault

Navigation: Superior Positions

 

Victory I (73)

• Minister Tua (2)

• Ordnance Experts (4)

• Reserve Hangar Deck (3)

• Quad Battery Turrets (5)

• External Racks (3)

• Electronic Countermeasures (7)

= 97 Points

 

Victory I (73)

• Commander Vanto (7)

• Darth Vader (3)

• Quad Battery Turrets (5)

• External Racks (3)

• Harrow (3)

• Auxiliary Shields Team (3)

= 97 Points

 

Quasar Fire I (54)

• Admiral Sloane (24)

• Captain Brunson (5)

• Flight Controllers (6)

• Expanded Hangar Bay (5)

• Boosted Comms (4)

• Pursuant (2)

= 100 Points

 

Squadrons:

• Maarek Stele (21)

• Colonel Jendon (20)

• Howlrunner (16)

• Valen Rudor (13)

• Saber Squadron (12)

• 3 x TIE Fighter Squadron (24)

= 106 Points

Total Points: 400

 

A few things immediately become clear. The list is very light on activations (3), cannot move or turn quickly, and doesn't quite have the staying power to win a fully dedicated squad vs squad fight. Thus the first rule of thumb with this list is to make a plan once obstacles hit the table. The Victory is known for it's mediocre (if being kind) maneuverability, which means you cannot make large adjustments to your game plan. This also ties into another rule of thumb. Don't ram your own ships. This small joke is actually a big part of the fleet – if you want to succeed with this style of list, you have to become comfortable moving your ships within absurdly tight quarters. Practice re-arranging your line of battle to face different directions and shuffling your carrier into cover behind the victories without any friendly bumping, because as hefty as 8 hull can appear on paper, you'll burn through it pretty fast. The answer is not, unfortunately, to widen your formation – the victories are not particularly strong individually – an ISD or MC80 will beat them in individual combat, gladiators and MC30s will slip around them and kill your Quasar, so you must utilize the two cruisers with caution.

Therefore, if you would be successful using the Victory, you really need to focus on the things it does well. It can handle 2-3 hits from anything smaller than an SSD, it can, with a friend, put out damage comparable or superior to an ISD, and it is, most of all, a very affordable source of hull and a medium based obstacle you can keep placed between your Quasar and the worst trouble your opponent will send toward you. Try, at all times, to keep both Victory near each other – so they can support each other, pool firepower, and block in belligerents to stop them from pulling away before you can finish them off. If you must lose a VSD, attempt trade up in the process. If you kill any large based ship, you came out ahead. In order to facilitate, you will likely break the 1st rule of Armada (always be Navigating) to line up Engineering (vs squads) or concentrate fire dials. Once you've chosen your place of battle with this list, you can't meaningfully change it, so try and stack the odds in your favor.

The other half of the list is the Quasar and squadrons. The choice to place Sloane on the Quasar is very deliberate, as in many cases, you can expect at least one VSD to die, no matter how well you upgrade it, and you can't well hide one third of your actual ship complement away. The Quasar is your primary offensive weapon, so you want it to stay alive, as it is also your only meaningful form of chasing damage to pick off enemies trying to slip out of range. Wherever possible keep the Quasar shielded from harm and leverage your boosted comms and high squadron speed to pick off overly aggressive small ships, or dump fire into the enemy main line. If an enemy small is trying to sneak around your formation, you can use the Quasar to block it in – with Brunson, it survives small volleys surprisingly well, and the guns on a Quasar are deceptively strong. Always be wary of taking damage, however, as you have no real tools to heal the carrier.

If you were to look at a real life analogy, as some players like to do, this fleet is rather different than your typical 'battlecruiser squadron' or hunter killer pack you'll see discussed, with tactics revolving around approach, decisive strike, and then withdrawal or pursuit. This fleet is a carrier group, and you have to treat it like one. Your cruisers exist to protect the carrier, at the cost of their lives if need be. Your carrier, in turn, should bring overwhelming fire support to any position near your fleet. If the opponent is ever hitting your quasar before your cruiser escorts, you've messed up.


Game 1: Vs Dan Nowak – Raddus Creature Feature

https://imgur.com/Xm5JmM8 (list)

The first list I faced was an MC80 Liberty with Raddus. It wasn't an archetype I'd played against much, but the squadron ball was the type I like to face – a mix of rogues. Rogues, while dangerous in general, thanks to not requiring dedicated carrier support, tend to fare very poorly vs the overall damage output of a Quasar pushed TIE attack. My opponent won initiative and took 2nd. This was to be the first of four games where this would happen.

With the choices in front of me, I opted for Close Range Intel Scan – it was the option that allowed me to avoid irritating new obstacle types, and seemed least likely to actively harm me. The Rebel fleet deployed fairly widely split, and I opted to centralize my fleet – as is my habit, with the Quasar to the side, angled inward. The game then preceded in a fairly predictable fashion – Raddus dropped early on the far left flank, but at a wide enough angle that we never entered black range. This meant my own guns weren't able to do more than just strip off most of the shields, but by the same token, he couldn't turn in hard enough to finish off the victory he ambushed, leaving it limping away alive with 2-3 hull at game end. In turn, he had nowhere to go except behind my fleet, which drove him directly into the range of Harrow which had turned inward, and the waiting arms of my squadrons which had been able to win the squad vs squad fight after a few turns of fighting.

It was a very favorable matchup as I was able to rack up numerous kills on the squads without too many return casualties, and I could safely ignore the flotillas, focusing fire on the TRC90 and Star Cruiser. The game ended in a 10-1 win as I tabled my opponent, giving up Howlrunner, a generic TIE, and 6 victory tokens.

Score: 10-1

 

Game 2: Vs Ron Frankum – Lord Nelson's Maxim

https://imgur.com/1NTJijs (list)

https://imgur.com/SoE4Agj (deployment)

https://imgur.com/DU1fRXs(formation flying)

Fresh off a surprisingly strong start, I ran directly into a Dodonna double MC-75 list. I wasn't sure how I felt about it, as the enemy brawlers beat me on tonnage, but my squadron matchup was once again very favorable. Again given first player, I chose Solar Corona, as it with Sloane, I could likely knock away the defense tokens on the MC75s. Still, I was wary, and deployed with some range between us, opting to try and catch one cruiser rather than directly confront both. My opponent in turn chose to stack the far right corner and came in at a fairly wide angle. This ended up working quite well for me, as the Vic also turns a bit wide – this delayed our entering black die range until the last turn of the game, giving my squads time to work.

At numerous points in the game, my opponent would end movement mere millimeters out of black range – and there were several points where he really came close to getting some fairly nasty volleys off, but the end result was that the squad game went my way very quickly, which meant by the time the ordinance cruisers got in close, they were already torn up by the swarm of TIE fighters crawling all over them.
Another tabling ensued. I also was pleased that after 2 games of tight formation flying, I still hadn't hit my own ships.

Score: 10-1

 

Game 3: vs Mike Josselyn – Piett of All Trades

https://imgur.com/VHwiCGo (list)

https://imgur.com/22TRkNy (not a good place for a vic to be)

https://imgur.com/alKpFoM (runaway Quasar)

This was what I was really worried about before the event. An SSD. The usual tactic of 'avoid' seemed unlikely for me, so I instead opted to go down the nose and try to use Vader to ditch the gunnery team. Again I was made 1st player, so I again chose Solar Corona. I deployed in a V formation, ready to deal with an SSD in the face, and Mike obliged.

I was not ready for his first volley to leave the vader VSD at 1 hull. A single leading shots added 4 damage to the salvo, and that really made me reconsider my game plan. Immediately I began dialing in Nav commands and swinging the quasar out wide. The next two turns saw Harrow die, but it did manage to fire the exrax, and land a very solid 11 damage before the brace.

My second Victory would do similar, and this time the squads had managed to strip the tokens off, by turn 4 the SSD was totally naked. The problem was the 2nd Victory was also dead, and the quasar had 1 hull.
At this point the SSD had 14 hull damage and no meaningful shields – I had a choice – I could either gamble on doing 8 damage with 5 squads+Quasar, and accept a mutual tabling, or try to kill a full health Gozanti and slip away.

I opted for the latter, and with my last shot from the Quasar, got the kill. Movement put me in the rear arc, and top of next turn, I found I'd made a horrible mistake. I had an engineering dial. So I fled, forgetting to shoot. This match I made a number of 'forgot to utilize ability/shot' starting from turn 4 onward. I was, however, out of range, thanks to obstruction, and wouldn't be tabled this game.

The last turn of shooting I got the SSD to 22 damage, but forgot to utilize the ability on Maarek to turn accuracy into crits. I will, in every event, forget to use Maarek properly in at least one game. This was the game for this event. In the end, I gave up a 7pt MOV for a 5-6 loss, given Mike had wisely kept his 2nd Gozanti out of harm's way. In all, he did a good job focusing in his fire, but I think the lack of quad laser batteries for counter did hinder his ability to clear out my squadron complement.

Score: 5-6

 

Game 4: Vs Jason Scutt – Profundity B-Wing Drop

https://imgur.com/Fk0ejdW (list)

https://imgur.com/Qeu25j6 (deployment)

At this point, I was stunned, I had never been in contention for top table in any serious event before. I had come to top 8, and I was currently still sitting near the top of the leaderboard after a loss.

This match looked like it had the potential to be explosive, but I was confident I could handle the B-Wing bombing gimmick – I had a massive squadron ball to deploy defensively if I needed, and again, I had first player. Looking at his objectives, I wasn't about to pick Surprise Attack with a squadron fleet, and I'd seen a few games of Rift ambush at other tables – I didn't want that big of an impediment to my own ability to control my ships. I opted for Doomed Station, the rift would go in the middle and I would avoid it. Simple.

The obstacles and deployments clustered on the right side of the board, and we played the battle in a 3x3 square, which was very much to my liking. At this point, I flew in fairly directly to try and double up on the Raddus capital ship – and that went about how I planned, apart from him pinning down the station for reliable healing. His CR90 and GR-75s both died quickly to the concentrated squadron and Victory fire. He had dropped his 2nd cruiser on the left flank, and here my ignorance of the Rift rules truly came to bite him, as I didn't tell him to drop his speed to 0 for deploying in range of the rift, as I thought it was deliberate.

Because of this, he deployed at speed 1, and could never ram me, despite needing that 1 damage for a kill 2 turns in a row. This mistake would likely cost him the margin of victory, if not the game.

At this point, I saw where the bombers would deploy, and while I kept my squadrons on target with the main armored cruiser, I diverted a single TIE to block the B-Wing deployment, and it was able to absorb the fire of all three. At this point, the B-Wings were wasted – they wouldn't fire on a ship at all during the game, and the squadron dials on their host ship would do them no favors.

The last few turns were, by and large, a slugging match, with the main goal for me being to avoid giving up any deaths, which I was able to manage thanks to the reserve hangar bays. The game ended as I tabled my opponent.

Score 10-1

 

At this point, I was in first place with 35pts after four rounds, and more than a little surprised. My final match was to be the cut game against another Sloane List, and this game would be the first one all day where I was at a squadron disadvantage, would go second, and would be the first time at an event I would see Hyperspace Assault.

 

Game 5: For all the marbles, vs Jason Dedrick

Interdictor Suppression Refit (90)
• Admiral Sloane (24)
• Captain Brunson (5)
• Engine Techs (8)
• Disposable Capacitors (3)
• G7-X Grav Well Projector (2)
• Targeting Scrambler (5)
• SW-7 Ion Batteries (5)
• Interdictor (3)
= 145 Points

Quasar Fire I (54)
• Skilled First Officer (1)
• Flight Controllers (6)
• Boosted Comms (4)
• Expanded Hangar Bay (5)
• Squall (3)
= 73 Points

Gozanti Cruisers (23)
• Hondo Ohnaka (2)
• Comms Net (2)
• Boosted Comms (4)
= 31 Points

Squadrons:
• Maarek Stele (21)
• Colonel Jendon (20)
• Ciena Ree (17)
• Saber Squadron (12)
• Mauler Mithel (15)
• Howlrunner (16)
• Valen Rudor (13)
• Major Rhymer (16)
= 130 Points

Total Points: 379

https://imgur.com/8Fx7Zsc (hyperspace Assault)

https://imgur.com/ZIE94iZ (mid game)

https://imgur.com/zFo2al9 (final position)

It's hard to believe, but I'm in the final match. I'm sure everyone at the event was tired of hearing me say that, and I appreciate what great sports all of my opponents were throughout the day. The NOVA crowd was really great, and the fact that some folks stayed to watch was really neat. It was a long day, and everyone there made it a great one, so a big shout out to all of them.

So, the final game. With Hyperspace assault being chosen, I realized I had the chance to try and achieve my only objective – kill the two real ships. I would either table him, or lose. With this in mind I split the warp tokens evenly across the board, near his deployment zone. There was no middle ground in this one. With that in mind, I put Tua and 2 generic Ties off the board, and deployed in a very central position – avoiding letting the gravity well he placed a third of the way in from the left of my deployment zone split my fleet.

In return, he deployed tightly in the far left corner, near 1 of my hyperspace tokens. I had kept Harrow on table as the Aux Shield teams would make it slightly better vs squadrons. In the end it was never attacked all game.

`Turn 1 was posturing, standard for this matchup, but turn 2 I chose not to drop, as I didn't want to bring my ships in too soon – an easy mistake to make with hyperspace assault is pulling the trigger on your reinforcements too early.

As turn 2 came to a close I inched Maarek forward onto the station, trying to tempt his squadrons into strike range, but thinking I wasn't in range of enough to lose Maarek. I was wrong. His squall was able to push just enough damage forward to finish off Maarek and leave me even further behind on the squad game. He also spread his squads out, hiding Mauler in the far corner, and the rest of his squadrons bundled behind the Interdictor.

Turn 3, I dropped the Victory, and delivered at least some gain in exchange for my Maarek sacrifice, landing the victory double arcing the back of the interdictor, displacing his squad ball, and then using the generic TIE fighters to engage and tie up his now somewhat scattered squad assets. This would buy me a small amount of time – something I would need.

Following this, the squad game went about how I expected, he spend the next two turns cleaning up house – but because I was able to draw it out, I had time to hit the interdictor with both VSDs, and even the quasar, and when it went down, he was left with a single quasar that could only run through my guns to escape.

As we went into turn six, my own quasar had died, and one victory was down to a single health, but a red range shot knocked the last health off the enemy quasar, and got me the table. I had lost all but Jendon from my squad wing, and my flagship to boot, but I had taken the game.

In conclusion, I feel like the result was really a lot better than expected, largely due to hitting some very favorable matchups – I want to fly against rogues with a mix of bombers and fighters – any squad wing less dedicated to the anti-squadron game is a good match for me. This, combined with not giving up a big loss, I think was a major part of what carried me to the final table, where my list did about what I expected. Lost the squadron game slowly enough that my cruisers were able to beat up the enemy capital ships before they could leave.

All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope I'll get to see these folks again at worlds.

Edited by Fyeya

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14 hours ago, JauntyChapeau said:

Thank you for that excellent and well-written AAR!  How many players were registered for the event?  5 rounds for a Prime is *extremely* unusual.

32. And 4 rounds with a cut to top 2 is rather normal. It just doesn't happen at smaller Primes as 28 players is the cut off for 3 rounds. 

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4 hours ago, Formynder4 said:

32. And 4 rounds with a cut to top 2 is rather normal. It just doesn't happen at smaller Primes as 28 players is the cut off for 3 rounds. 

Yep, that's my bad.  I was looking at the round/cut guide for the Store Championships!  Anyway, congrats again on your win, especially with your unique fleet.  I love seeing players win tournaments with unorthodox fleets that they just know so well that they beat everyone anyway.

Edited by JauntyChapeau

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