Philadelphia System Open: World’s Largest Hyperspace Trial (So Far!)

On December 6 and 7, a little under one hundred people descended on the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the first System Open of the 2020 series. Being the first in the new Hyperspace-form of System Open and given the late announcement (two weeks prior to the event), the low attendance is perhaps understandable; players who had registered for the event prior to the announcement either cancelling their ticket or not attending for a variety of reasons – disappointing for them and for the competitive X-Wing community as a whole, but not necessarily surprising.

78338999_994389880917695_3097652184787976192_n

Prize Wall in all its glory

Being Hyperspace, the range of list diversity was going to be smaller than I think anyone would like; and with four T-70s (especially low Initiative T-70s), I’d need to avoid Imperial Aces and Triple Jedi if I was to have any chance of competitive success: the downside of the event being before January’s rebalance.

Game 1 vs Jesse – Vader, Soontir, Duchess

Imperial Aces, great…

I started the game aggressive, using prodigious use of the T-70’s four-forward and native boost to force an engagement on my terms. The first engagement saw both Vader and Duchess halved for half points on Temmin, which was a favourable result for me. I made a crucial mistake the following turn, changing Bastian’s lock from Vader to Duchess before she died, meaning Vader could swing back in without feeling too cautious.

79407006_440339256643830_2404398004552335360_n

Bad times for Duchess and Vader.

Temmin was second to fall, followed by Soontir and the Blue Rookie. Bastian and Jess, both on half, vs a 2-hull Vader should be easy, right? No. I couldn’t push the damage through, having changed that lock from Bastian and being unable to really reacquire it.

Result: Loss 130-something – 200

Jesse would later go on to make Top 4, well done sir!

Game 2 vs Marc – Resistance Beef

Early engagements yielded poor or worse results, often netting one hit with a double-modified shot that was then promptly evaded even by a one agility Resistance Transport; being brutally honest with myself, I wasn’t flying at my best, and was on the ropes from the moment my dice first went cold on me.

79481225_839946509794986_4380537565820747776_n

Fortunately, the dice swung back in the final turn of the game. Last-minute heroics from Bastian and Temmin managed to cinch me a win by seven measly MoV.

This was a game I don’t think I deserved to win based on my early strategic decisions, but also probably did not deserve to lose based on my absolutely atrocious luck, which would come back to bite me again later on in the day.

Result: 131-124 Win

Game 3 vs Justin – Vennie, Rey, Greer

This game was brutal. The initial engagement saw Rey dropped to one hull before dying to a Console Fire the following turn. Vennie then found herself surrounded and killed while Greer, despite putting up a valiant fight, found herself corralled into a corner before the end came for her.

79293183_694998907693769_3236964061828612096_n

Sad times for Greer…

Result: 200-24 Win

Game 4 vs Tom – Grievous, 2x Fethan Autopilots, 2x TF Drones, Baktoid Prototype

Ever have a game where you can’t hit anything? This was that game. Three shots into the Baktoid Prototype, one of which was double-modded, no damage. Tom’s evades were as hot as my attack dice were cold, and his attack dice were as hot as my evades decided they were taking their union-mandated lunch break.

Bastian managed to one-hit-kill a Trade Federation Drone and Temmin finally put the kill hit on the Bomber, but it wasn’t enough to recover from a few disastrous turns of combat.

Struts need to go up to two points, I think, the ability for things to land on rocks or debris without penalty then rotate to their heart’s content while still getting actions means that you’ve got two choices when fighting against Droids – take gas clouds, or hope they screw up. Neither happened in this game.

Result: 58-200 Loss

Game 5 vs Ben – Obi-Wan, Plo, Luminara

Who doesn’t love Regen Jedi? Oh wait, my list. Ben is a lovely guy, and a great player, but no amount of description or analysis of my moves or his moves will change the simple fact of the matter that Jedi were always going to wipe the floor with this list.

And they did.

Game 6 vs James – Sun Fac and Maul

This list was…interesting. James had gone 2-0 early in the event and then dropped to play with the fun people down at the 2-3 level. Maul with Dooku is bad enough, but when you’re also factoring in Sun Fac? I was in trouble.

Enter Blue Rookie, Hero of the Resistance.

Banking across a rock, the Rookie blocked Sun Fac. Sun Fac tried to tractor Bastian onto the same rock, failed because of angles, and promptly missed. Jess did, well, Jess things…and Bastian finished the Nantex off with a range one shot with both Focus and Target Lock.

79359183_2481528592168817_1892037405758717952_n.jpg

Not appearing in this picture: a recently-deceased Sun Fac…

Maul put up a fight; stripping Temmin and Jess of their shields, but he couldn’t quite do enough damage to get anyone off the board. Bastian half-pointed himself on a Proximity Mine which I knew was coming and decided to do the K-Turn anyway (Maul had like three Hull left anyway so the game was mostly in the bag by this point), before James conceded before losing Maul to the Rookie (who more than earned his fancy blue paint scheme).

Result: 200-24 win.

Overall Result: 3-3, 45th/98

Final Thoughts:

3-3 echoes my performance at the UKSO and 45th out of 98 is better than 299th out of 560-something. So I can be pleased I haven’t gotten worse. That said, I’m disappointed I didn’t do better. Still, it was a fun event, and I got to meet the legendary Dion Morales, Dee Yun, Chris Allen, Marcel Manzano and Paul Heaver; all of whom are really nice people with an abundance of enthusiasm for the game; if these people were in charge, X-Wing wouldn’t have any problems at all.

The points rebalance and alleged changes to Hyperspace can’t come soon enough. I wasn’t alone in feeling a little annoyed by the format change so close to the event, especially since the changes will affect every other competitive event of the 2020 season except this one: had this been Extended or post-change Hyperspace, I might have done better. I may also have done worse. The fact that I only faced one Nantex is fortunate, I believe there were four at the event spread across three lists, but I couldn’t avoid running into Jedi – I used to love flying them, but now I’ve sold mine and have to fly against them, I now understand where people were coming from.

I leave you with an obligatory swag pic before I pack away my X-Wing until the New Year’s points are released, crack open my Black-Friday Legion stuff, and start learning how to play a game that, while not a replacement for competitive X-Wing, will probably allow me a chance to breathe and reflect on why I play these games and really, whether or not competitive play is my thing after all.

78841809_535375177193520_6076361100058689536_n

Obligatory swag pic!

If I don’t write any further entries beforehand, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, etc and a Happy New Year! May 2020 bring balance to the meta, allow us to see through the lies of the Jedi, and introduce Baby Yoda to the game!

Journey To The System Open: Eep!

After a particularly negative day’s play of X-Wing back in February, I considered refunding my System Open ticket. There were several factors involved, including family obligations and my impending move to the United States. Mostly, however, I decided not to go because I wasn’t enjoying X-Wing and a small tournament had already led to one anxiety/panic attack; what was a six hundred person tournament going to do to me? It simply seemed safest not to go.

Then I played in the Warboar Hyperspace Trial and had oh so much fun flying Wedge and Luke. I didn’t do terribly well, made silly mistakes against PhilGC, Alex Birt, and Lloyd Boman (who are all phenomenal players in my opinion) that cost me potential wins, and got diced in the sixth and final game (up yours Proton Torpedoes and Ello Asty!) This started that nagging wheel of doubt turning again; had I made a big mistake in deciding not to go? Was I cutting myself off from the local community and the community at large for not going? I began to think I was, especially given the outpouring of support from the community, including promises of drinks, a wingman for the day, and help finding a quiet corner if I should gave an attack; I was genuinely touched by these sentiments, especially since many of them come from well-known players in the community, but for over a month I stuck to my guns. By that time I’d refunded my ticket already, there was no chance of going.

Then, when playing at Warboar last week, someone pointed out there were still tickets left.

I debated it for several hours, and originally wasn’t going to go, until it dawned on me that this is possibly my last chance to play properly competitive X-Wing in the UK. With that in mind, I checked tickets and hotel prices, and within thirty minutes I was somewhat poorer, but going to the System Open with my TNX fellows.

What am I getting myself into? Zombie Squadron actually just wrote a fantastic article as I typed this one, which sets out how best to prepare for and survive a big event. I’ll probably be saving that to my iPad and taking it with me next weekend to ensure I’ve

So the ticket is bought, the terror is real, and I have no list. Luke and Wedge are fun, but they are by no means good. I might fly them in the Hyperspace on the Sunday, but for the Saturday I thought I’d need something that might actually work.

Enter the Jedi Order.

Having dabbled with Anakin/Ahsoka and Anakin/Obi-Wan just to see if they had legs (spoiler alert: they don’t), I took to searching for a semi-decent all-Jedi list, and found it in Anakin and two Jedi Knights in Delta-7Bs with R4 Astromechs. It’s like flying three 1.0 X-Wings in terms of health, but with Force-based shenanigans to up the ante. Games one and two I won, against Fel and twin Punishers and Rebel Beef respectively. The third and fourth games I lost, mainly because I got too aggressive with Anakin and once he’s dead, the Jedi don’t really stand a chance of catching ships that are bigger, faster, and moving after them (Initiative 3 really hurts!) They might be fun, but I’m not sure a full-Jedi list is a viable competitive list.

That said, they did look pretty once I’d repainted them:

56506535_10156433704333212_3568416072564473856_n

Simple repaints: Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka.

So that’s the Jedi out. What else do I have? Rebels and Resistance. Could I borrow another faction? Yes, but that’s not something I really wanted to do: flying something I’m not comfortable with seems silly, and being responsible for ships I don’t own is simply added stress that I neither want nor need. However, I found myself in this position anyway as I was asked to repaint some ships for my fellow TNX-ers! I do enjoy painting though there are certainly better painters out there, and sadly I don’t get enough time to do it most of the time but this gave me an excuse to break out the brushes and run down some more of my supply before I move; I doubt paint travels well internationally!

56285250_2567333233281173_1724710711176724480_n

Orange ships in an orange tub for Denny! Painting TIE panels sucks!

Painting Denny’s ships allowed me to focus on being creative, something that meant I came up with some interesting but terrible lists. It was while browsing through memories on Facebook that I came across an article that Joel North had written about attending your first tournament; I’ve always been a fan of his blog (though this was for the 186th blog), as it’s an incredibly honest account of his X-Wing journey, and the same point stuck with me last week that did all those years ago, a point I have made on this blog and in person: fly what you enjoy flying.

So what do I enjoy flying?

The System Open is an Extended event, and the only Extended ship I both own and have any experience with is the E-Wing. Is it fun to fly? Yes. Am I good with it? Probably not enough to be a viable choice. Which means we’re digging into the Hyperspace stuff: old favourites that have been staples since December or even before.

Norra_Wexley

Norra Wexley, my #1 Y-Wing pilot. Deserving of an alt-art card of her very own…

56325243_2267875866799519_8371685206083502080_n

…like this but less “Jurassic” (Thanks Omer!)

If I’m going to survive this event, I need a list that’ll be fun for eleven games. A list I can enjoy losing with eleven times. Much as I love Norra, and acquiring that frosted card will be my goal for the weekend, I’m not sure I have a list involving her (or possibly any Rebels) that I’ll enjoy using. Rebel Beef is a very broad meta call, but not one I feel that determined to make.

So, Resistance it is. I could fly Trip-70s or Resistance 5s; both lists I enjoy, and both now meta staples (I remember when three T-70s in a competitive list was considered absurd back in 1.0, how times have changed). The main benefit here, for me, is that recently I’ve had a nasty habit of blanking out, and with Heroic stapled to anything that can take it, that’s much less of a concern.

I’ve seen a few variations on the above list archetypes; one I particularly like the idea of substitutes Ello Asty in Trip-70s for Temmin Wexley with Composure. I’m a big fan of Snap in general, and the potential ability to get double-modded shots every turn without stress intrigues me. And if he doesn’t fail the boost, he can block or arc-dodge to his heart’s content. I’ve also seen the AAXX archetype substitute Ello and Nien for Poe and Bastian, and I’m a big fan of Greer Sonnel’s ability to rotate her arc for free when she completes her move, thus preventing her being stressed at an inopportune moment (or being unable to rotate thanks to Panicked Pilot, for example).

Greer_sonnel_purple

Greer is such fun to fly, and an interesting character, too!

Whatever I choose, I’ve got to do it soon and get some practice in! Then some more practice. Then I need to get everything painted. And then I need to pack. My lists need printing. And then a whole host of other little things that need to be done before Friday morning…

Help…

Out With The Rogue, In With The New!

Good Evening and Happy Halloween Everyone!

For the first time in a few weeks, I’m not going to bore you with tales of my (mis)adventures with Phil’s E-Wing list. Today I want to talk about the end of a era for me, and the start of what I hope will be a new dawn for my X-Wing career.

Waaaaaaaay back in 2013, I decided it might be fun to repaint my T-65s in the colours of Rogue Squadron from the book “The Bacta War” by Michael Stackpole. In the book, Rogue Squadron operate as a rogue unit (ironic, huh?) which meant they painted their fighters in schemes that were important to them. For example: Corran Horn’s fighter remained green, Wedge repainted his in the colours of his late parents’ refuelling station, Tycho Celchu copied an Alderaanian Home Guard colour scheme, and Ooryl’s was a masterpiece if you could see in the Ultraviolet range (otherwise it was white).

I was quite happy with my results, which I have spoken about in a previous entry, but I’d like to remind everyone just how they looked before I continue:

901800_10151390286878212_775165978_o_zps65de3aec

Fast forward to a week or so ago, so five years later. The X-Wings have been stripped down and re-Rogue-ed once about a year or so ago, but 2.0 is out, and I have twelve T-65s and three dials. No matter what way you look at it, those numbers simply don’t match up. The decision to sell the models I wasn’t using was easier than I thought: yes I was attached to the models, but people were doing newer and better paint jobs (Rodent Mastermind did back in 2013, and more recently I provided local(ish) painter Omer with the source material I used so he could do the same for his blog), and I was satisfied with the knowledge that mine might not have been the best, but I’d done them first.

So…what to do? First I stripped down all of my ships with an air eraser, which is a fun but somewhat messy way of stripping models. There’s no chemical smell afterwards and no danger of melting your models, but you’ll be washing sand out of your hair for a while if you aren’t careful. The T-65s I was selling were primed black and sold through Facebook, which left me with four – one more than I had dials for, but I can always source another dial when/if I need it. Now I had four naked T-65s, stripped to bare plastic, and no idea what to do… Until I was watching Macross: Do You Remember Love? and realised that the protagonist squadron, aka Skull Squadron, had four fighters in it. Four fighters with a paint scheme that was unified but still differentiated between pilots. Unlike my T-70s, which were based upon the characters from the original Macross series and were therefore very bright colours and under-individual, these actually looked like they belonged in the same unit.

Here is an example of how two fighters look in the movie:

Simple, right? Mostly white/light grey with black markings and coloured trim.

I started by priming the models with Vallejo Grey Primer, something I’d never used before. It works quite nice and brushes on easily, though I think from now on I’ll airbrush it to ensure smooth and even coverage. Next I applied a basecoat of Vallejo Wolf Grey, which is a touch bluer than I wanted, but served as an effective basecoat when washed liberally with Nuln Oil. Following the wash, I started laying the basecoats for the black and coloured areas.

Once the basecoats dried, I layered the white areas with Vallejo Ghost Grey and line-highlighted the edges with Citadel White Scar, while the black areas were highlighted with Citadel Mechanicus Standard Grey. The cannons were painted with pure Citadel Leadbelcher, while the engines and mechanical workings were painted Citadel Warplock Bronze and then drybrusghed with Citadel Ironbreaker. The cockpits, which may need lightening up, were painted with Citadel paints The Fang and Russ Grey.

gRGirVN

The Finished Article!

They aren’t perfect, they need a little more work, and the lighting in the photo has washed out the white somewhat so you can’t see detail, but they’re different and they are done. I gave each model a spray with Purity Seal to ensure my grubby fingers wouldn’t mark the white, and I’m looking forward to seeing them actually on the table!

Of course, with those done, I wondered what else I could adapt this colour scheme to…

od8A1hh

I said I wasn’t going to bore you with E-Wings, I LIED!

I’ve really enjoyed getting back into repainting X-Wing Miniatures! I haven’t painted anything since probably around April, so this was a nice experience and makes me want to finish repainting the rest of my collection so that it is uniform yet unique (when I decide what I’m painting next…)

Thank you for indulging me and my average-at-best painting skills! Usual service will resume as of my next article!