Sunday, December 16, 2018

X Wing Report – Round Pegs, Square Holes

My initial thoughts for my next post was to describe a method of assessing your squad's strengths and comparing it to your opponent's. However, after creating this estimate I tried playing with it a few times and found that even once I had written down what I thought I should do, and my opponent would do, I inevitably didn't do that and went straight into a joust. Even though I often new I shouldn't do it.

The list I had been using was Han Solo in the Falcon and Wedge. While it does seem like a reasonable list on paper it could not stand up to the concentrated fire of three or more ships especially when they have ordnance. At least it could not stand up when I jousted straight for them... Many years ago there was an idea called Math Wing in XWing, It was conceived by an internet persona called Major Juggler and basically tried to explain what ships were a better deal for their points, if they jousted with any other ship. While it seems the assumption of the joust should be flawed in a game that is “all about manoeuvre”, the predictions turned out to be pretty accurate. A part of that may also have been that to do anything but joust takes a fair bit of in-game awareness. I still find myself often getting sucked into the joust.

So why fight it? Why fight the urge to just point your ships into the opposing sqn put your foot on the pedal and squeeze the trigger? If you read the official forum on the FFG site you will know that the average player (who posts) feels like ordnance is a good deal and the best way to make ordnance work is to get it on as high a pilot skill ship as possible. A part of the reason is that in 2.0 the designers have really tried to make 2 red dice ships viable by limiting the defence of ships. What this inadvertently (or perhaps obviously) has done is make 4 attack dice relatively more powerful. Luckily the ordnance will rarely have a lock and a focus (unless your name is Redline), so the target just has to dodge two hits and one crit, on average!! Also if you are a meta hunter, like myself, you will notice that currently the Rebels seems to be less powerful than the empire or scum, how will the rebellion ever survive...

So, the plan is to build a rebel list (I do like a challenge) based on ordnance that has a fighting chance against the the empire and scum.

197 /200 pts
Arvel Crynyd (39 pts) Intimidation
Wedge Antilles (64 pts) Elusive, Proton Torpedoes
Grey Squadron (41 pts) Proton Torpedoes
“Dutch” Vander (53 pts) Proton Torpedoes, R4 Astromech

Basically, three ships have proton torpedoes, one ship has PS6 (with a bit of an initiative bid) to keep the enemy aces guessing, Arvel with intimidation because it just seems so cool, and since Dutch can hand out locks at PS 4, I am hoping this will make the Grey Sqn more viable. Any way this list seems to fit my criteria of Initiative (PS) being important, and with three torpedoes at PS 4 or better. In the next post I will tell you how I made out...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

X Wing Report – Strategy and Tactics

The goal of X-Wing is to cause more damage points to your opponent’s squadron then they do to your squadron. In the case of a game without a time limit this simply becomes: destroy them before they destroy you. However, your goal is not your strategy nor the tactics that you will use.

In my opinion X-Wing is tactical miniature games, by this I mean that each time you plan a maneuver or choose an action you are making a tactical decision. This however does not mean that there is no strategy in X-Wing. It just means that you don't usually select different strategies throughout a game, and you probably shouldn't either, since your strategy is connected to squad choice and set up. Never the less, I think understanding both your strategy and tactical options (and they both exist) will allow a player to make choices that support their goal during a game of X-Wing

What is strategy? Surprisingly this is not an easy answer. Over the years, I have met several people who consider themselves military professionals and most of them have similar but different definitions for the term. For the purpose of this article, strategy is the path to your goal.

Now onto the next question, what is Tactics? Once again tactics is a rather nebulous idea but it is essentially the building blocks from which you build a course of action. It is perhaps better described as a collection of Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) used to get you down the path to your goal.

For instance, let us say you were taking some hot food to Grandma’s house (Goal) and you wanted the food to be hot when you got there so you took the most direct route (strategy), but you came across a wolf. Your TTPs might be to first avoid, or you could call for help of a nearby woodsman, and failing that, if you felt you had sufficient forces, you could try engaging the wolf in direct combat, but I digress…

In X-Wing the goal (unless you are playing a scenario) is constant and described above. There are, however, a few different strategies (here are three); force a culminating engagement (decisive joust, best done with lists that have significant firepower), Isolate (out maneuver) a portion of your opponent's squadron and destroy them piece-meal (often done by arc-dodging lists), or sneak a few points and run out the clock (done well by turrets and bombs). Underpinning all of this is an efficiently made list. If you want to make a jousting list but choose engine upgrade at the cost of one more ship, then you might want to re-think what strategy you are going for.

Here is the problem with your strategy; your opponent gets a vote. If you want to isolate and destroy them piece by piece but they are flying a swarm and executing their plan like a highly trained NFL special team then your strategy may not led to your goal. Strategies must be realistic and flexible enough to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. If we look back at the special team, can you rush one flank before they close the net on you? Or perhaps once you K-Turn behind them they will no longer have the ability to keep the formation. If both sides have workable strategies it will come down to tactics.

As said before tactics are your building blocks. A classic tactic for low pilot skill ships is to take the focus action before any other available option, it is useful for offence and defense and does not require the enemy to be in engagement range when you take the action. Other tactics are how you set up your force, the less mobile your squadron then the closer they should start together. Or if certain ships give advantages to other ships then how you position them becomes a tactical consideration. Once again, these considerations are not made in isolation but only after considering the enemy. If you are slow but they are slower, then you could spread out a bit. If you opponent has ordnance, why bother keeping your support ship at range three? It would be safer at range one.

My Grand Strategy and Tactics:

My list this time is called “Han and Friends”. The impetus of this list and the confirming bias I am using to substantiate it is coming from a game of legion I played many months ago. I noticed that in legion, FFG made our beloved characters, from the movie, very powerful. Since the second edition came out after legion, I assumed they would continue the trend.

Han Solo - Luke, Chewwie and R2D2, and Intimidation
With Wedge – Elusive, R4, Hull Upgrade

Strategy of this list. This list is only two ships with only 3 green dice between them, the X-Wing isn't fast enough to run away and they don't have enough red dice for a straight joust. They have to isolate the enemy and destroy them piece by piece. Which they can do as they both move last and Han can bump a ship to take that enemy out of the picture (for him) and still get full mods. Wedge was selected as wing-man because he is also pilot skill 6 and can re-position, has a great ability and is a steal for the points.


Rock placement, Han's ability is amazing. I will spare you the math but if your opponent places the first rock and then you place your three no closer than range 2.5 from any other rock Han will gets a quasi lock (and defensive re-rolls) on over 75% of the board, potentially.

Approach, My two ships will stay close together with the falcon leading. They will try and isolate first by being at range three of a flank and then the falcon will try to bump the wounded ship and Wedge will kill it since the defending ship will be down 2 green dice.

The rest of the game will be sacrificing focus and lock actions for re-positioning, prioritizing staying out of arc and the cost of reduced effectiveness of red dice. Shouldn't be impossible for two PS 6 ships. Also both ships have innate abilities that improve their shootiness as long as Han stays near the rocks.

The problem with 2 ship lists is keeping them alive. That is why Wedge has an extra hull and Han has the droid-wookie combo.

The Games

My Opponent. Luckily only the host and I showed up so we played two games with the same lists. He net listed a beauty of a Scum list and it looked like this.

Boba Fet – Marauder tittle, Seismic Charge, Tail Gunner, Debris Gambit
Palob – Crow tittle, Trick Shot
4LOM – Advanced Sensors

A quick look at this list shows 9 red dice to my 6 and a lot more hit points. Also all the abilities work at range 1 (Palob 0-2). So it wants to trap my ships at range one. His weakness is maneuverability and speed.

Game 1

This crummy photo shows me trying to set up opposite Palob to isolate and kill him quick as he is the weakest of the three enemies.

Sadly my joust was ineffective to say the least, and I misread where Palob would be for the bump. It also set the falcon up to almost fly off the board and get cornered without rocks.

Han didn't fly off the board... he did get Palob, eventually, but died in the process.

Then some lucky dice from Wedge killed 4LOM and it was down to Boba vs Wedge. Wedge had a few opportunities but I zigged when I should have zagged (aka boosted straight when I should have banked) and the game ended with Boba flying off to collect his reward from the Empire...

Game 2 was quite different. The Scum list deployed tighter and I flew right into their jaws. All of this resulted in lots of red dice and a dead Wedge, the scum ships did take some damage but it was spread out.

But after that, the falcon took off for the other side of the board (around the rocks this time) with the three scum ships in pursuit, Boba had to K turn and was quite far behind.

After a couple swerves around the asteroids all the while plinking a scum shield here and there it began to look up for me.

I isolated Boba and got rid of him, and a few turns later

4 Lom then Palob... (ships off their stand are dead)

Where did that come from? What had happened was in my panicked flight and his frenzied chase, he had strung out his ships and allowed me to isolate them with range and rocks. As the intergalactic dust settled I think that the critical factor in the first game was that I left the rocks and didn't play defensively (didn't stick to my strategy) and in the second game I managed to stick to my strategy, possibly by accident, but my opponent also should have stuck to his by regrouping for another joust instead of pursuing in the long line that he did. As always hindsight is 20:20 and it is better to be lucky than good.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

X- Wing Report - Know Your Squadron

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”Sun Tzu,The Art of War

Why not start your second X-Wing blog post with a bit of classic Sun Tzu!! As mentioned previously I fly in a casual weekly get-to-gather. Most of us don't day dream about list building and don't rehearse flying our squadrons on the online simulators, and that is fine. Fly Casual right. But then, according to Sun Tzu, we should not be surprised if we succumb in every battle.
Last weekend I flew my new favorite squad “Soontir Fel's Flying Circus” After last Monday I will have flown about 3 real games and 6 games on the fly casual simulator with it and I think I know it. Of course knowing a squad comes easier if you have flown lots of other similar squads before. Many years ago I read a blogger who said that his magic number was 6. After 6 times with a new squad he could “skate with his head up”. He wasn't worried about forgetting his rules or knowing his dials and more than that he had a plan!!
Anyway, the so called circus looks like this;
  • Soontir Fel (obviously) with Juke
  • 2 x Alpha Squadron Interceptors
  • 1 x Scimitar Sqn Bomber whit Barrage Rockets and Seismic Charges, and
  • 1 x Scimitar Sqn Bomber whit Barrage Rockets and Proton Bombs.
The 6 rehearsal games were flown on Sandrem's Fly Casual simulator. If you don't know what it is google it, the AI does not follow all the rules of XWing, the computer sometimes gets to focus when you wouldn't and sometimes doesn't get stressed when you would. But it is all done to increase the difficulty and overall the simulator is great for learning your ships.
What I learned was that sometimes my interceptors won the game and sometimes my bombers did (seems obvious right). But looking more closely, when I flew my Alphas aggressively and they bumped enemy higher PS ships then in the engagement phase I would have green tokens and the enemy wouldn't. With the bombers, If I got my rockets off at long range and then if I got the bomb/K-Turn timing just right I could do massive damage with them as well. And Soontir, well when he dies it makes me sad so I would just try to keep him around looking menacing.

My last two real games looked like this.

First game was against a scum list with the Kimogila, star viper and Kihraxz. All his ships were PS 4-5, and his Kimogila could strip green tokens in his bulls-eye. The plan was simple, bump with the interceptors, hang back and blast whit the bombers and since Soontir went last he could just lurk, make conservative moves and use his boost barrel roll to get out of arc of an enemy that had already moved.

The opening, to


this, oh and Soontir, top left, isn't bumping, And finally

The second game against Rebels (Luke, Wedge and a U Wing) went in a similar fashion.


Shortly after this picture was taken the U-Wing and Luke (bottom right) were destroyed.

So.... in both games the interceptors bumped and denied green tokens while the bombers did reliable damage with rockets from long range and bombs on the K-Turn. I am not saying I am the next Red Baron and the dice certainly had their moments, poor Luke poor poor Luke not as strong with the force as we all thought. But, In both games my opponent excepted a joust he could not win. I had 15 red dice to his 9 and my average agility was 3 and his was 2. I believe when you don't know your list you will joust with it by default. I also believe that X Wing always has its ebbs and flows of luck. The trick is to make the best move you can every time so the bad luck gets mitigated and the good luck gets emphasized. This is only possible when you know your list first and hopefully have enough experience to know your opponents as well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

X-Wing Report - A Question of Pilot Skill

Hello it has been almost a decade since my last post but its like riding a bike right?

The other day I was playing at my weekly casual gathering and during my last game I noticed something unusual. The five remaining ships all had a pilot skill of four. This is how it unfolded. My opponent was flying a Scum and Villainy list of Graz the Hunter, Victor Hel, and Dalen Oberos. I was flying Kyle Katarn and two Rouge Squadron E-Wings.

My List – Kyle, Moldy Crow, Stealth Device
- 2 x Ewings, R3, collision detector, crack shot

He won the iniative roll and elected to be second player (there is only one situation where you might want to be first player and that is if both players have low pilot skill lists and their plan relies on bumping the other person, but more on that later). Here is what the deployment looked like.

We were both spread from the centre to the opposite corner, a flexible position that allowed us both to consolidate quickly if required. I always start on the back edge and fly slowly for a turn or two so Kyle has time to accumulate tokens. That said my initial plan was to quickly joust the center ship and hopefully get a temporary situation where my three ships could take out one of his without having all of his ships in range of one of mine (the initial plan changed to this after set up for no good reason...). With E-Wings this is not impossible. but actually quite tricky as both players need to move 4 or 5 straight and boost for shooting in the first turn. The only time it will work out in your favour is if on your opponent's first move they do not fly their ships into a tighter formation. And even then on your second turn you have stressed E-Wings which have sadly predictable blue moves.

At any rate, since that now almost every ship has some sort of boost or barrel roll they can all arc dodge a little. And that combined with all my ships moving before his he could always dodge one arc, even with a not so nimble Kirax, never mind the Star Viper. As the game unfolded Kyle was the first to go which left me in the situation described initially.

                                         Good thing the E-wings have collision detector!

At this point the poor E-Wings that rely on getting second actions from support ships were destroyed or smashed down to half life by the end of the hour with only one ship and a bit being destroyed in return. During the whole game I felt like I was on the back foot. And quite literally was since my ships were always moving first. One change I made to the list after the game was swap R3 for R4 this gave me better blue moves, a white hard 1, and a squad cost of 198 instead of 200 for an inititive bid at the cost of looseing the ability to do a second lock.

More On Initative and Pilot Skill

The result of initiate roll does not require a difficult decision to be made, because of the simultaneous fire rule the correct answer is to be the second player unless your squad is built for bumping and your opponent is of equal pilot skill. Which in my experience is an unusual situation. This means the iniative roll is the single most important dice roll in any game (if both players have any ships of equal pilot skill, which is more likely in 2nd ed). Let me explain why, other than the design team saying they were going to put more emphasis on manoeuvre in 2nd ed.

Lots of ships have re-positioning or can take an upgrade that allows them to alter their final position after every ship with a lower pilot skill has moved. Many special abilities have been linked to arcs (specifically bullseye arcs, try lining up a bullseye arc if you move first :). There are more ships in an average game (Approximatly 2-3 per squadron in 1st ed to 3-4 in 2nd ed) I can't back this up with stats but since generics seem to be more viable and the cost of many ships has gone down a bit I think it is correct. Finally there are half as many pilot skills so the chance of over lap is greater. The game has tried to mitigate the power of post manoeuvre re-positioning by giving barrel roll only six distinct positions that covers half the area it used to.... but was it enough?

How to Mitigate.

Take a pilot skill 6 ships if possible and be aware that most pilot skill 7 tricks are for engagement only (by this time you are already out of arc). Also, there are only 2 or 3 pilot skill 6 pilots in each faction and no more veteran instincts. Initiative bids are most important for lists with an average pilot skill of 4 and 5, I have not mathed it out but if feels like they bell curved pilot skill, also the best generics are at 4. The result is that you will likely fly against a pilot skill 4 or 5 list (local metas aside). Having at least one ship that goes last will make your opponent think twice about using a repositioning action as it may turn out to be an ineffective action. If you are a rebel player then look at how you can use Fenn Rau in the shuttle to give you some pilot skill 6 actions.


Last night I was once again at my weekly games night. My first game was against another friend flying Captain Oicunn (PS 3), Whisper (PS 5) and an Imdaar Test Pilot (PS 3), and because I am a sucker for a good story line I flew my rebels against it. In the second game I flew Soontir's Flying Circus but more on that later. Anyway, this was the first time my friend had flown a decimator or phantom and he set up his ships too far away form each other. So, I isolated and killed his test pilot early, the decimator popped a little while after and then time was called.

                                         Kyle was safely off to the right

Long story short, the R4 was gold (or should I say blue...) but I feel like I developed a reasonable first order strategy for mid-PS Xwing squadrons. Attack the ships you outrank in pilot skill and avoid the ships that outrank you, after that you just need to run out the clock and call it a day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Song of Warjacks and Warbeasts: Simple wargames for kids

No pics today.

I've been recently looking at how to introduce my much younger nephew to wargaming. A couple of years ago I gave him all my old Warhammer Fantasy Battle figures as a Christmas present (including the Bretonnians and the War Wyvern) So that I could continue to enjoy them with him and his dad, without just having them sitting in a box for years and years.

But he's pretty young (think 12ish), so I needed a ruleset that would allow us to push figures around with dirt simple rules to keep his interest.

I found 1 Page Warhammer from One Page Games, which has since been rebranded as "Age of Fantasy", probably because GW got in their face. Free to download, and easy to play. Each figure has a quality that they roll to hit and save by, a few special rules, and ALL the army lists that you'll need. It's perfect and we played a great game with my old 3rd edition orcs, goblins and trolls that XMas. There is also "Grimdark Future" with basically the same rules, except using Bolters etc. It's the revision of 1 Page 40k. He's less into 40k for now, and I'm keeping my Tallarns because I love them.

BUT, then I got into Warmachine. Have only played a few small games so far, but have a painted 35 point army of Menoth ready to go. I've been wanting to find a simple "1 Page Warmachine" so that we can have some 'jacks on the table but the OnePage rules have yet to bring that one out. Maybe you could jimmy it. I dunno.

Enter Song of Blades & Heroes. It's from Ganesha Games, and it looks just as great as the 1 Page rules, BUT it looks like it can handle things like Warjacks, and gunpowder. This is especially true with the addition of "Advanced Song of Blades", which I won't try to play with my nephew, but will take a couple of the advanced weapons and spells. There are numerous supplements due out for ASOB including gunpowder and cannons (and dwarves) with the Hammer & Forge expansion. There will also be a "Steam and Cogs" expansion for guess what!? Robots and Magic automatons Steam punk style = Warjacks and Warcasters!

So I'm hopeful that this will become my simple to play WM game. Still want to play Warmachine actual, but actually don't know anybody in the North Bay Area that I can play against so here's hoping.... Also since SoBnH doesn't care what figures you use, I can start collecting Warmachine Dwarves and even the new Crucible Guard (which look AMAZING) without worrying about creating a legal army. This also means I can finally use my Mariner 'Jack without having to have silly pirates as a faction. I'm hopeful you can play Colossus as well, but we'll see.