Happy New Year everyone! 2018 has lots coming for us Star Wars fans, Solo: the Originally Titled Movie, the rest of the final season of Rebels… And then we have UK regional season, the European Opens, Nationals, Euros! The calendar is beginning to look busy.
X-Wing 2018 begins for me in Cheltenham, at the fantastic Incom Gaming, a great place that merges essential gaming components of lots of space and being a fully functional pub. The tournament’s tag line is regional practice, so I’m totally ignoring that and flying a list that festered in my brain over the Christmas Season. I am not expecting to win anything.
Then on Sunday there is a tough looking event shaping up at Firestorm Cards in Basingstoke, capped out at 20 players and a full day of gaming it should be a good weekend way to get my eye in for the Regional at Firestorm Games in Cardiff next weekend.
Over Christmas I spent some time playing X-Wing with my good friend Alex Krysta, and one of the lists I put on the table had Intensity Guri in. I genuinely can’t think of a ship that is more fun to fly. She was paired with Torkhil and Fenn. Alex was using Dengar and Boba. The HWK and Protectorate died fast, really fast. Then Guri stepped up and finished both of the big name bounty hunters on her own.
It got me thinking about what I love about X-Wing. An abundance of things have entered the game in the last few months that have changed the landscape, some for the better, some in various opinions for the worse. Harpoons, Projectile Bombiting and the like have all started to shape the next phase of the game. The Alpha-Class’s bargain basement cost makes it look like it could well be the star of the show for a little while, I am expecting we’re going to see it all over the top tables in regional season. The Contracted Scout is dead, long live the Nu Squadron.
The temptation to jump on the band wagon is strong, the temptation to tech against it is strong, and I know I can easily do either of those things. My Poe Han list from last time out is evidence of this. I really enjoyed that list, and would happily fly it again, but it’s not what I love about X-Wing.
What I love about X-Wing is flying the ships that put a smile on my face, and Star Vipers most definitely do that. So I have to try something and see if it gives me that feeling. Flying sub-optimal lists in the past has helped me get better at the game in the long run, even if the immediate results end up frustrating me, as Alex Birt of the 186th podcast said to me when I mentioned the list “You are used to flying with training weights”.
I’m not running Intensity Guri on Saturday, I want more mobility than just one re-position. I’m setting myself a somewhat unnecessary challenge with this list (but more on that later)…
As you may have deduced from the caption above the crux of the list is Star Vipers and Push the Limit. The upgrades on every ship in the list are Push the Limit, Star Viper MK2 and Autothrusters.
The star of the list is the Queen of the Vipers: Guri. She is the first name on my team sheet whenever a Star Viper is involved. She gets the Virago title because her ability makes her the most durable of all the pilots available. Points mean that it’s Fire Control System over Advanced Sensors, which is probably a good thing in the long run as it keeps her damage output more consistent. She’s teaming up with Dalan Oberos and Prince Xizor for some fun and games. 100 points of movement options that could be very entertaining.
|Guri||Dalan Oberos||Prince Xizor|
|Star Viper MK2||Star Viper MK2||Star Viper MK2|
|Push the Limit||Push the Limit||Push the Limit|
|Fire Control System|
Push the Limit doesn’t seem a great choice for the Star Viper at first glance due to the ships limited green moves. However the area of the board the can cover from those four moves and their inbuilt re-positions is absolutely huge. I’m going to see how much I can capitalise on that at Incom. The objective is simple, how few templates can I use? It’s a shackle, a deliberate handicap, a challenge but hopefully it will be fun. If I can play a whole game using only the one bank template then I shall be very pleased.
I know how potent Hotshot Han and Miranda are, this is Cormac Higgin’s list which he did very well with at the Belgian Nationals recently. Conor would happily say that he may have been a bit too gung-ho burning through Miranda’s shield to push the damage onto the Vipers, so when Guri did her thing and flattened a shieldless Miranda in one shot (yay double damage!) it was a mix of luck and judgement. Han had taken the brunt of shots from the Vipers with me focusing fire and maybe rolling one or two crits too many the Falcon got hurt fast. On one health against the two remaining Vipers Captain Solo was always going to struggle. 100-32 win
Lesson: This game I used the one bank template for all but one move (a hard one to block Han was required once. The theory of how mobile the Vipers are is all well and good but seeing it in practice was something else. “Squirrely” is definitely a good word to describe them. However after winning this game and getting a feel for the vipers I had to renege on my plan of only one banking, cause I wanted to keep them alive! The other green moves are really useful too!
The Vipers absolutely ruined the Alpha classes, and it was 3 on 1 vs Kylo. But then the Silencer kicked itself into overdrive and proceeded to pick off the Vipers one by one, the pilot skill advantage and advanced sensors were just too much for me to try an nail down, however it wasn’t a total white wash and Xizor, who was playing the role of hunter in the final duel managed to stay alive until the end, meaning that the loss was minimal. 67-52, if you’re going to lose, a 15 point margin is more than acceptable.
Lesson: I’m going to have to work at bringing guns to bear on high PS agile ships, I am convinced that they can maneuver well enough to put traps in place for a lone ace, I just need to learn to limit options better.
Fortunately low PS and a limiting dial were going to be very much in my favour and Martin was limited to only getting a couple of shots off in the game. The prowess of the Vipers for dodging arcs and hunting down ships like these is second to none. We knew the match up was better for me and Martin was a great sport about it as bendy barrel rolls took my ships out of danger time and again once the vipers got in behind it was only a matter of time. 100-0 win.
Lesson: Push The Limit Star Vipers really aren’t afraid of lower pilot skill ships with a fixed firing arc, this game and the game two proved that to me. They can apparently dodge out of the way with impunity.
I was really not confident going into this match up, the Heavy Laser Cannon turret and BB-8 Poe are both bad news for my ships, the weight of fire they can put out and thier mobility scares me… I was able to trap Dash fairly early on and push through quite a bit of damage. Dom’s dice were a little lack luster and when I put the damaged engine crit onto the YT-2400 it was obvious where the game was going. Once Dash dropped it was the hunt for Poe… which eventually ended up with the T-70 getting caught at range one of Xizor who fired four hits into him. 100-0 win.
Lesson: Having learned from playing Kylo in round two I hunted down Poe a lot more effectively. Limiting his BB-8 Options by putting blockers into place next to him meant that I was more able to control his options, and get a couple of other ships pointing at him to get the damage on. This should be possible against Kylo too, but with 3 green dice and a more open dial I think the Silencer is still a much bigger fish to fry than the T-70.
I finished the day 3-1 and came second, somehow managed the best MOV of the day too (654 out of a possible 800), which I was very surprised by. When I started writing this last Thursday my thoughts were that this list was just a bit of fun but that Push The Limit on a Star Viper isn’t that great… By the end of a day flying it I have concluded that the list is A LOT of fun, and Push the Limit is superb on MK2 Star Vipers.
Day Two: Basingstoke
My Plan for day two had been to swap lists too this:
|Star Viper MKII||Andrasta|
|Proton Torpedoes||Harpoon Missiles|
|Fire Control System||Glitterstim|
…but, having been so impressed by the Star Vipers I had to have another go with them and see if I could learn more about the list, and whether it was a fluke. So arriving in Basingstoke with both lists in the case it was the Yellow Vipers that came out again and set about seeing what they could do on day two.
Today is 5 rounds a really long day… my brain may melt out of my ears over the course of it. One thing from yesterday, these things are fun, but they definitely aren’t easy, and a not very good night sleep has made for some “interesting” piloting choices in the past.
Five games, no sleep, a bunch of caffine and sugar:
Lesson: Stress is really bad, like, really bad, however the Vipers can handle it to some degree. I should probably have tried to kill Ezra faster, but in the end it was Miranda and Guri alive and having given Xizor away very cheaply earlier in the game I can’t complain with how I pulled it back to a narrow loss. But a long game was not what I needed game one today!
Lesson: When you thing you’re about to pull of the perfect block on Rey, don’t miss it by 2mm and leave Xizor at range one of a totally angry expertise Rey in her firing arc.
Lesson: Whilst Star Vipers are superb arc dodgers when mid table pilot skill, if they get end up being top dogs on the table they are virtually unstoppable. No need to rush in and get shots, they can simply take their time to line up the perfect attacks.
Lesson: A good win, took a lot of positioning, but using Guri as a blocker in the last to tie down Nym and line up the shot for Xizor is most definitely a technique I need to look into using more and better.
Lesson: Don’t fly tired! It makes horrible mistakes happen!
One really nice highlight was that I was awarded this little number for having the most fun list at Firestorm, a gesture I really did appreciate. She is the Queen of Bombs after all, and they are the most bomb heavy meta I know off! She’s like their goddess or something.
I’m not going to pretend this isn’t a dicey list, or that it was well thought out and mused over for an age. I threw it together because it looked fun, and am delighted with how good it has turned out being, I definitely didn’t anticipate going a cumulative 6-3 all in all. Some more practice could see me get much better with it. I think I might need to.
I need to apologise to Xizor, I have been nothing but critical of his ability in previous articles, but it actually came in very handy over the weekend, sure it’s not used often, but passing off a crit to a ship with a shield once in a while it was totally game changing. I finally get him. It’s not an ability you use all the time, but it is a strong ability in the right context. (When passing off the I’ll Show you the Darkside triggering crit for example.) I may even let him have his Virago back.
As much as I would love a natural PS8 or 9 Star Viper (with an Elite Pilot Talent slot) I have to face facts that it would be utterly broken and be a blight on the game. Thweek is acceptable because of the lack of EPT on him, and having flown him a few times I really don’t rate him compared to the others. Well done FFG for getting this ship fix VERY right.
I think the reasons it has been pretty successful this weekend is how mobile it is. It’s very hard to predict, can move incredibly fast when it needs to, three green dice make it fairly durable and 3 red dice make it fairly hard hitting. I doubt it will ever top table anywhere, but it puts a big smile on my face flying it, and that is the point after all, right?
Next Time: The Star Vipers go to a Regional!
If you’re looking for tournaments to play in head over to the 186th Tournament Calendar to see what’s going on locally.