Wednesday, March 26, 2014

X-Wing: The finality of Interceptors

Pre-calling it right now.

Alright guys, Imperial Aces is officially upon us and I'm very happy with my set of 4 of each ship.  I'm going to be pretty blunt here, the only thing that I'm happy about is the fact I got better painted ships.  When you look at what the actual set offers you from a competitive standpoint, it's actually quite lackluster.  Out of everything that they give you, you have one viable named pilot in the form of Carnor Jax and the other unnamed being the Royal Guard Tie.  Everything else in the box is loaded with upgrades and that does nothing but increase the cost of a ship that's already considered overpriced.

There, I said it.  I think the Imperial Aces box is a wash compared to what the Rebels got this time around.  When you look at the Rebel Convoy, you'll notice that Rebels got a ton of new tools to play with.  Not only are there more options to field for the X-Wings, but new Droids and missiles that inflict stress as well.  I pointed this out a couple of posts before, but why do I feel that the stress-inducers is a direct counter to Interceptors with Push the Limit.  To make things even more laughable, FFG kindly decided to provide 2x copies of PTL to every box of Imperial Aces.  I think they know deep in their hearts that Interceptors live and die by their actions.  An Interceptor under stress that he cannot shake is as good as dead.  When shooting at said target, you're basically nothing more than a 12 point Academy Pilot, but wait, you're actually a 30+ point elite pilot ship, 1/3 of your list's total firepower and durability.

To make matters slightly worse, when you check out the Rebel Aces box, you can't help but feel jealous. Where the Imperial Aces box is filled with stuff you wouldn't realistically take in a competitive game, you have a box that not only expand your options on A-Wings but B-Wings, but make them better.  A-Wings can get cheaper and you can load them up with double EPTs.  B-Wings get a few options and a new sensor that allows them to move at PS0, making sure they can always take their actions and not get blocked, not even by PS1 Academy Ties.  I just hope that the Imperials get some better upgrades and fast, because Enhanced Scopes, Advanced Sensors, A-Wing Test Pilot and Chardaan Refit was something I hoped Interceptors would get.

Then, you have the people.  Man, some people on the FFG forums and other places on the net seem to have difficulty understanding what we're seeing here.  One of the most popular arguments for these players is: "we'll see how it plays out."  I'm sorry, but when someone uses that argument on me, it's basically telling me you're incapable of logical thought and/or lack the experience to make an accurate projection.  Any experienced player will be able to judge scale, power, weigh the pros and cons, understand cause and effect, just by reading cards and letting their superior experience, game knowledge and skill guide them.  Saying "we'll see how it plays out" is quite simply a pillowfort for lesser players who lack the tools to decipher what's in front of them.

I know that sounds harsh, but it's the truth.  It exists in this game, other games, competitive sports, in business and in other aspects of the real world.  No great leader or successful person ever said "let's wait and see how it plays out".  They analyze, develop theory, critique, and learn all they can from what they have in front of them before they put their actions into motion.  This is what this blog is for and the reason I've built it up is so we can discuss higher-level gaming.

Now let's discuss!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

X-Wing: Rebel Aces revealed!

And yet another exp for Rebels..

Just when you think things are looking up for the Rebels, here comes another Rebel-loving expansion from FFG.  Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the Rebel Aces.  The official link is here.

First, let's look at what's featured in this expansion.  It looks like the A-Wing will finally receive some decent buffs because it was basically forced into a missile carrier role previously.  Having the best dial in the game doesn't really matter if you're a second-string ship with questionable pilots flying them.  The only real use they had for what I've seen is that they're really at blocking people off and stripping them of their action.  Not so much now with this expansion as there's several things coming that makes them amazing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

X-Wing: Rogue Squadron Brainstorm

This looks like it can get fun.

Yesterday's playfest has got me thinking about trying some new lists when Aces get released.  As you guys probably already know, I'm a huge nerd for elite lists because I like flying with fewer ships.  I also think they're hard to pilot well so I enjoy the extra challenge in making it work.

GOOD.  Because I'm thinking about giving Wes Janson a try once the Rebel Convy Expansion gets released.  When you first look at him, he's basically a X-Wing with PS8.  Unfortunately, the dude costs the same as Wedge and I'll tell you right now, he's no Wedge.  While Mr. Antilles can single-handily carry the Rebels to victory, Wes works a little differently.  The big standout about Janson is his ability to remove Focus, Evade or Blue Target Lock from whatever he's shooting.  This looks pretty good on paper.

This means that Biggs can sit out for a couple of rounds because Wes looks to be the better wingman to Wedge.  How you say?  Well, let's look at it like this:  Wes shoots first because I plan on giving him Veteran Instincts and he strips, let's say, an Evade off of Soontir Fel going for full evasive.  Fel is arguably one of the most difficult targets to be shooting at if he stacks defensive buffs like Focus, Evade, Stress, Focus, so let's change that a little.  Now that Evade is gone, you do Wes' results (let's say he does nothing) before Wedge shoots at Fel's 3 dice (Stealth and Wedge's ability cancels out) and Fel's relying on raw dice and focus.  All of a sudden, a super defensive Fel is much more likely to fall prey to bad dice.

Not just that, but there's some dirty tricks that Rebels have in that convoy box that makes things absolutely nightmarish to the Imperials.  Now, I don't know who goes around designing this game, but I wasn't aware that Rebels needed more buffs.  Just when you think Imperial Aces might help alleviate some of the B-Wing pressure, here comes the Rogue Squadron to save the day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

X-Wing: Store Championship Results

Where the hell are my Aces?!

Hey everyone!  I managed to get some X-Wing in today and I played in the Brookhurst Hobbies store tournament in California.  The tournament was really cool, ran by cool guys and the people I played against were all awesome.  There was a lot of great sportsmanship being displayed on all tables and everyone was helping eachother while playing their games.  I really think the X-Wing community is one of the best I've ever played in.

Alright, so what did I take?  Since Imperial Aces isn't tournament legal yet, I took an elite Imperial list to the tournament.  The list I had was Vader, Turr and Fel.  It's about as elite as you can get without access to the Aces.

Darth Vader - TIE Advanced
Expert Handling
Concussion Missiles
Stealth Device

Soontir Fel - TIE Interceptor
Push the Limit
Stealth Device

Turr Phennir - TIE Interceptor
Veteran Instincts
Stealth Device

The list is pretty straight forward but it's pretty difficult to pilot.  You're looking at 11 Hull Points total with Vader's shields and everyone in the entire list shoots at PS9.  This is the biggest strength of the list:  PS9 allows you to move last, shoot first and out-deploy your opponents.  Vader is the alpha strike with Concussion Missiles while Expert Handling and Stealth Device makes him a difficult target to bring down.  Not to mention the natural 2 actions per turn is simply amazing.  Soontir Fel is my primary damage dealer and Turr Phennir is my flank attacker/duelist.

Okay, let's get down to the games.  I'm just going to sum it up with a couple of bullet points that I remember because after playing for 9 hours, I'm pooped.  Each of the games were 1.5 hours with 15 minute breaks in between.  We had an 1 hour lunch.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

X-Wing: Excited for Imperial Aces

The real Dream Team.  Step aside Vader.

Just to let you guys know how excited I am, I pre-ordered 4x boxes.  There's quite a few lists I want to try with it, but I think I'm excited about my 789 list the most.  To give you guys a quick preview on what the list will look like, it's basically running 3 named Interceptor pilots:  Soontir Fel, Carnor Jax and Turr Phennir.

This is the first list that I ever designed for my Imperials and one of the reasons I got in the game.  I really hope I can make this list work because I understand just how difficult it is to succeed with Interceptors.  To give you guys some perspective, here's how I feel about the state of the game.

Statistically, more ships means more hull points and attack dice to throw at your opponents.  This is a proven mathematical concept.

There is a reason why lists like Howl Swarm and XXBB are common in the tournament scene.  Count it up, go ahead.  The Howl list can have 7x2 attack dice at range band 3 with re-roll hits on each attempt.  The list itself sports a combined 21 hull points easy.  XXBB throws out 12 attack dice and packs a whopping 26 hull points, and all the ships are shielded before taking critical damage.
  • One list throws out more consistent damage, but is subject to more damage in return = Howlrunner + Friends.
  • The other list throws out lower damage, but has much more durability, especially vs. Crits = XXBB
Why do 3x or 4x Interceptor lists suffer?  Or hardly ever seen at Nationals or Worlds?  Because they have 9-12 Hull Points total and questionably lower damage output than either of these lists.  The maneuver dial and higher PS helps, but it does not account for half the durability.

Most of you have figured this out by now:  Killing enemy ships results in a very polarizing effect on the battlefield, and that's because he's less capable of doing damage to your ships in return.  Less ships means less dice and less dice means less damage to you.  Losing 1 Interceptor out of 4 is a lot different than losing 1 Tie out of 7.

The concept of Interceptors is that it's very... for the lack of a better word, absolute.  Skill comes from using the superior dial for sure, but the key point is that you're fighting with a 12+ hull point disparity against other lists and you only have 3 HP per ship.  Evade dice are mathematically weaker than attack dice, so in order for you to win out, you need to be 100% on top of your game on top of other factors.  There is virtually no room for mistakes and if you get hit (which you will), you need to pray to the dice gods every time.  To be a successful Interecptor pilot, you must rely on skill as much as luck.

Personally, I think there 3 major things and 1 minor thing to come out of this expansion pack.
  • The first is Carnor Jax and his ability that benefits your entire board.  This is absolutely huge because it'll actually allow the PTL Interceptors to outjoust most things in close range.  Attack consistency is king, and as long as you have the evade dice + odds in your favor, this WILL change how the game is played.  Look at it this way:  It turns that X-Wing's 3 focus and a hit into 1 hit that you will free evade with PTL into no damage.  At the same time, being able to dish back 4 dice + Focus of your own to full effect.  This is the difference between a dead ship and a free kill, the effects are utterly devastating and completely one-sided.
  • Royal Guard Ties are 25 points on the nose with PTL.  This means you can take 4 of them in a list and outpace Red Daggers and every Tie-Swarm list outside of Howlrunner herself (unless she starts taking more costly named pilots, which reduces the amount of Ties, which leads to a better matchup for you).  This is a huge metagame boon.
  • Lt. Lorrir being 23 points and outpacing PS4 pilots while retaining good value.  Sure, no EPT sucks, but he is a mini-Turr Phennir in every sense of the word.  The true question is:  Is he more cost effective than a Saber + PTL at 24?  Or RGT + PTL at 25?  I don't think so because he has to burn an action and gain stress for it, but only vigorous playtesting will tell.
  • Mini-buff for Soontir Fel is the Targeting Computer via Royal Guard Tie 0 Upgrade.  I think he's the only pilot that will be able to utilize this well since he gets that free focus.  He actually maintains his maneuverability but for 2 points, vastly increases his killing potential.
With that said, there are 2 lists I want to try right away.

789 - 98 points
Soontir Fel w/ PTL, Stealth Device, RGT Upgrade + Targeting Computer
Carnor Jax w/ PTL, Stealth Device
Turr Phennir w/ PTL, Stealth Device

Royal Guards - 100 points
4x Royal Guard Tie w/ PTL

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bringing back Teferi EDH

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

As the Magic EDH trend continues, I've made some adjustments to two of my favorite mono-blue decks.  The first one is the Kira deck that you guys saw last time and the second is my duel Teferi deck that I revamped for competitive multiplayer.  Both the Teferi and Kira links will send you to my deck on TappedOut.

Here's my thread on Teferi on Magic Salvation.

It's up for Primer status right now and I'm quite proud of this particular guide.  As for Kira, here is what the deck looks like now: