The continuing adventures in Star Vipers, some more vassal and some more options to try out. As has been mentioned before my natural tendency is to play very aggressively, I do rather like to line up and joust with some big guns. However this route won’t work with the Star Vipers, although lining 4 PS1 Vipers with the Mark II and Pulsed Ray Shield is quite tempting.
I’m going to need to learn to play a different way. I’m pretty adept at high PS arc dodging thanks to extensive Soontir Fel hours. I’m pretty comfortable with low PS swarms, thanks to more than a few games with Green Squadron Crackshots, and I’m more than happy with “line up and joust” cause of Firesprays. But the Mid Pilot Skill control style of play is one that I’m not used to.
There is a distinct art to flying ships in the PS 4-8 bracket. You aren’t low enough PS to guarantee blocks, but aren’t high enough to be able to avoid them. PS1-3 have empty spaces to fly into, and PS9+ often have perfect knowledge of where everthing is. In many ways you have less control over the battlefield than other lists do. And Star Vipers are very much mid Pilot Skill ships. In order to get better at the game I’m happy to take on the challenge.
I’m playing a vassal game on Vassal with the most defensive player I know. Oli Pocknell of the 186th is a good mate, top bloke and a really good pilot. His record at major events is staggering, he has made the cut at both Yavin Opens, the Euros, the 2016 and 2017 UK Nationals, been to both European Team Championships (leading England to second this year), won the Nordics in 2015… the strange thing is he very rarely 100-0s anyone. His play style is to only take on an engagement when it is optimal in his favour, focussing fire on an exposed ship. I’ve seen him go 30 minutes waiting for the moment to strike. He’ll happily break away if this is going to be at the expense of one of his getting the same treatment. (written down this is SO obvious, but in practice this is SO difficult)
His games go to time fairly often but rarely ever to final salvo, something mine pretty much never do. But then, he win’s a lot more games than me… If you want to get better than you are, then play people who are better than you.
I’m trying a different list to last time out, the three Vipers with Mindlink is a lot of fun and definitely going to be revisited but I want to try something else that I think could be useful. It’s a measure of how far the game has come, since I first flew Attanni Mindlink. It was an eye-opener to experience the power it offered, but since wave 11 has dropped it is so much less prevalent in the meta. It’s almost like it’s fine now that there is a Pilot Skill War going on.
|Guri||Dalan Oberos||Torkil Mux|
|Star Viper MKII||Star Viper MKII||Ion Cannon Turret|
|Virago||Pulsed Ray Shield|
I’ve gone for the Torkhil I mentioned in my last post as a utility ship, he could be a right pain in the neck and adds a sizable chunk of control to the list. No one wants to be in range two of Torkil, and at range one he is even more problematic as his Ion Dischargers let him heal and use 4-Lom and his Pulsed Ray Shield without fear of getting Ioned himself. Hopefully Nym won’t be a fan!
But trying something different today: Guri is taking Expertise, one of my favourite EPTs. Consistent damage output leaving a focus for defense is great, sure it costs a bit but on a ship with three red dice it should keep the damage ticking over. It’s a lot more expensive than running Mindlink, and the list does suffer from a reduction in action economy as a result. But the ships are more independent than when they have Mindlink, in addition stress causing mechanics don’t completely ruin your day! (just partially)
It’s a tidy little combination and I’m looking forward to seeing if it works. With the mobility of the Star Vipers it could be a very difficult range 1-2 bubble to get out of. I don’t really know what I’m doing with HWKs having only used them in a couple of rebel lists so getting some table time with one is probably a good idea anyway.
Xizor is out of this list, instead Dalan Oberos comes in. His ability is likely to be useful with the threat of Ion from Torkhil, he should be able to tuck in behind things that are ioned and crank out some damage. He’s got Advanced Sensors on him so that he can take a action before getting himself stressed which I suspect he’ll be quite often. Admittedly it means he might only use it every other turn but it’s the best option I can see. His presence is also a very good reason not to take Attanni Mindlink!
As I’m expecting him to be able to avoid firing arcs fairly well I’m putting Outmaneuver on him. Just as Fearlessness theoretically suits the Protectorate well, Outmaneuver feels like an EPT very suited to the Star Viper, especially on Oberos.
No point having a 2 point initiative bid with a PS 3, 5 and 6… so lets throw on an EMP Device for good measure.
So after an arduous day lounging about, writing the preamble for the blog and watching the Saturday Sportsball all afternoon it’s late night game time. A couple of radically different games against Martin Chivers first though. The lesson from the first game was “don’t just fly a HWK straight foward” the lesson from the second is that this Dalan Oberos is hard for your opponent to fly against provided you’re happy with naked dice the whole time!
|Jake Farrel||Miranda Doni||Jess Pava|
|Veteran Instincts||Twin Laser Turret||R3-A2|
|Push The Limit||Sabine Wren||Integrated Astromech|
|A-Wing Test Pilot||Bomblet Generator|
Oli and I have been playing each other for a while now and use these games as learning tools, for me it’s the primary purpose of Vassal. It means games sometimes last a while as we discuss mistakes and look at what could have been done differently. Learning from your mistakes after a game has finished is great, but be able to learn from them mid-game and see how the outcome could have changed as a result is even more valuable.
The key moment in this game was the initial engagement. This is by far the most important part of any game. Get this right and more often than not you win, get it wrong and you’ll lose. It’s not the dice, its the positioning. It’s giving your opponent ample opportunity to focus fire while you don’t return the favour you will lose. This game had a perfect example of that.
Guri breaks north to threaten Miranda’s approach in turn 3 then turns in behind the rock to get shelter from the TLT. At which point Jake has come zooming across, survived being made PS0 by Torkhil and then smacked Guri off the table with Prockets. Miranda Jess, and Jake were all able to shoot the blonde assassin in one turn. Ain’t no coming back from that. Meanwhile Dalan is in total no-mans land to the south.
So we hit the undo button and instead Guri kept the threat on Miranda, and Jake tokened up for incoming attack from Dalan and Torkhil.
A key moment came when Torkhil got an ion shot through on Jake, landing him on one health and parked right in front of a rock. Some good dice on my part, not so much on Oli’s. Oli’s list has it’s own control mechanism in it, Jess with the stress bot, shutting down Dalan’s movement options was frustrating but probably not as frustrating as what I was doing to him!
This would have been an epic moment to fire my EMP device had I remembered that I had it! Jake had to fly over the rock twice (thanks to 3 hits from Torkils Ion turret), with one health that should kill him right?
Miranda kept doing Miranda things and with the TLT regenning shields every turn and with the bomblet generator she was in a great spot to force my ships into some evasive maneuvers. Oli’s let Jess take a bomblet so that Guri would take one too.
Which put the game at a 2 on 1 in favour of the Rebels, and so we hear the that awful phrase “trust your dice” come into play for Dalan Oberos.
It was a great game and a real learning experience, the obvious mistake of the initial engagement aside my list gave Oli some real problems, and me some real opportunities. It still definitely feels like X-Wing on hard mode, but these ships are all the fun.
Torkhil only got to regen a shield once, but it made a difference in the game. With the likes of Miranda, permanently stressed Jake and a stress bot Jess there was no way that Oli was ever taking one of my ion tokens off me to get rid of the Discharger, but he did stay out of range one most of the time so I couldn’t get full use out of it either.
Guri is solid, I just need to remember that I have Expertise on her. Several times in the game I had to be given a friendly reminder it was there! But she does work well.
The star performer was Outmaneuver on Dalan, his ability means he is almost never in arc and to constantly remove a green dice is huge. As much as I’d like Fire control on him to make his damage output even passably more consistent the Advanced Sensors are way more helpful to the job he has to do. I will drop his EMP Device though. Glitterstim has long been my default illicit of choice and for that one turn of “action economy” that it provides I think it is a much better option for him.
Still lots of options to consider, Intensity high up on that list. It’s fair to say that while I’m not entirely happy with my flying of the HWK I do have an definite appreciation of how much it can influence games, it’s probably worth getting better with it. But as far as it goes with Guri and Dalan – I am getting feels…
In other news; Piers Horry, Ryan Davies and myself are on Cloud City Radios latest podcast looking back at our time representing Wales in the European Team Championships so if you have 90 minutes free go have a listen.
THE STAR VIPERS WILL RETURN!
If you’re looking for local tournaments then head over to the 186th Tournament Calendar and see what you can see.