By Zach Bunn– July 30, 2014
Regional season has been insane… Already having attended seven regionals for three different games, I decided to travel to Plano, Texas, on July 19th for the X-Wing Regional Championship. This would be the eighth regional of the summer for me. Now the question was, what do I run!?
Since wave 2 released, I have been pretty obsessed with three ship Imperial builds. I did some initial list building and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Darth Vader would be giving way to the new hotness, the Phantom.
At it’s core, a “Whisper” with Veteran Instincts and Advanced Cloaking Device is just simply better than the original Darth Vader as I was running him. For the same points, I could get a ship that could also attack for four dice and that would maintain it’s difficulty in destroying throughout the game. With Darth Vader, I always ran a Stealth Device and once that trick is flipped, it’s only a matter of time before it comes crashing down. Ultimately though, it was the ability to always bring four attack dice that got me to switch.
I didn’t have much time for testing, so a few days before the regional I reached out to a long time online gaming friend of mine, The Theorist for some input on my list. He responded with a slew of recommendations and alternative options. I mulled them over and one thing he said kept sticking with me.
I had been running Turr Phennir with Veteran Instincts and Stealth Device since wave 2, but he recommended downgrading to an Alpha Squadron Pilot. Was it time again to cull the list and find a better use of points?
He argued that this gave me a few benefits. First, I would save points. I could use these same points to make both “Whisper” and Soontir even more difficult to kill, meaning those points end up being better spent. The second benefit was that it gives me a one pilot skill ship. At a 99 point squad, that meant I could have a pretty good shot at having initiative. It also gave me capacity to have a one pilot skill ship I could wreak all sorts of havoc with as far as denying actions and clogging lanes.
After considering it on the way to Texas, I decided to make the switch. This did mean I’d be flying a list I hadn’t ever flown, but when you hear the truth there’s only one right way to respond. Here is the final list I settled on using the morning of the tournament:
Squad: 99 points
Advanced Cloaking Device
Push the Limit
Royal Guard TIE
Alpha Squadron Pilot
Tagging along with me on the day of the tournament was a local player, Dennis Harlien. We started the day at 4:30 a.m., hitting the road from Tulsa to Dallas. Registration was at 9 a.m. and the tournament started at 10 a.m., so we had plenty of time. Roughly an hour from our destination, traffic was at a dead stop. Luckily, we both had first round byes!
Delayed for over an hour, we arrived at the tournament a few minutes after it was supposed to start! We quickly registered and were informed that there were now 72 total X-Wing players registered for the event! They announced that the event would be seven rounds with a cut to top 8. We went to grab some breakfast so that we could settle in for a day of X-Wing.
My first game with the list was rather funny now that I look back at it. I was still playing a bit too much like all three of my ships were nine pilot skill and really wasn’t using my ships appropriately. The game was close, but after losing early momentum I was never able to catch back up.
At this point, I’m sitting at 1-1 thanks to my first round bye. I felt a lot more comfortable with my list and was ready for action. That became evident, as three rounds later I was sitting at 4-1!
In round six, I played against a player using a beefy Falcon escorted by four Headhunters. I was able to destroy all four Headhunters relatively quickly, but by the time I had I lost my Alpha Squadron Pilot and “Whisper” only had a single hull left. On the next turn, the Falcon scored the killing blow against “Whisper”. With the Falcon at full health and upgraded like crazy, I knew I was in for an uphill fight. After a few turns, it quickly became evident that there was just statistically no way for me to win the match with just Soontir.
Going into round seven, I was sitting at 4-2, seated at table eight. Since the cut was to a Top 8, I was pretty confident that the winner of my match is likely to make the cut. Knowing I had the first round super bye, I was almost certain that I’d make the cut with a win. The pressure was on!
I was paired against an awesome player who was running two Phantom’s, Echo and Whisper, along with a standard TIE Fighter. This was not the match I wanted to see! His Whisper was outfitted with a Veteran Instincts as well, so this made initiative very interesting. As it happened, he had 98 points and decided to take initiative. This meant he could shoot before I could re-cloak with my Advanced Cloaking Device and, presuming he wasn’t attacking my “Whisper” with Rebel Captive, he could cloak before I attack.
In the first few turns, we were both jockeying for position. My early goal was to get the TIE Fighter off of the board as soon as possible. If I could get ahead by a ship, I thought it would be enough to win me the game. By the fourth turn, I began abusing the fact that I was going second. I was consistently able to get out of his firing arc while keeping him in mine. There was a particularly brutal turn where I had a range one shot on his “Whisper” and I was completely outside of his firing arc. I was able to maintain this advantage for the rest of the game, making the game seem much less close than it actually was.
I finished the swiss rounds at 5-2 and my strength of schedule was solid. At this point, I was pretty confident I’d be cruising into the Top 8 to see how far I could get in the elimination rounds. As the TO was reading down the names of those that had made the Top 8, he started with the one seed (who happened to be Dennis Harlien, the player that rode with me!).
As he read off the eighth name, which wasn’t mine, I knew that it had to have been extremely close. I walked up to the TO shortly thereafter and was informed that I finished 9th, literally one strength of schedule game away from making the cut!
If I had it to do again, the decision to drop Turr and make my heavy hitters harder to kill was absolutely the right decision for all the reasons. I would likely give Soontir a Stealth Device instead of a Hull, as I think it would have served me quite a bit better than the extra hull. Otherwise, I think this list was actually quite stellar.
Both Rebel Captive and Sensor Jammer were money. The ability to turn a hit to a focus, considering I get two nine pilot skill shots first to hopefully force my opponent to use their focus, was brutality. Also in a Phantom v. Phantom situation forcing them to take a stress shut down Advanced Cloaking Device.
All in all, it was a really good run and I had a great time. My biggest regret is not practicing more, as I think with a few games under my belt before the regional would have strongly affected my performance. This regional has me pumped about X-Wing and I plan to continue to get to play in high level events.
I want to give a big shout out to Madness Games for running a great event (and those sexy mats that Top 32 left with), to Matt Kreideweis for somehow managing to TO, run, and finish a 72 player X-Wing event by midnight, to FFG for continuing to make an amazing game even better, and to all the players of the X-Wing community for being awesome. A special thanks goes to the Theorist, whose squad was fantastic.
Until next time, fly casual!