Destiny Weekend Top 4 Decklists

On May 20th, 48 Star Wars: Destiny players traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend Destiny Weekend! This was the biggest tournament following the 2017 World Championship and the release of Spirit of Rebellion. The event showcased an entirely new meta compared to the Awakenings-only World Championship only a few weeks prior (see this post for Worlds 2017 top decks). Below are the top four players and their character lineups!

Eric Wainright: Elite Rey + Padawan + Padawan
Rand Anderson: Palpatine
Chase Keaten: Han + Rey
Hunter Shelburne: Elite Captain Phasma + Guavian Enforcer + First Order Stormtrooper

On one side of the bracket, Hunter Shelburne’s Captain Phasma took on Chase Keaten’s Han + Rey! Their deck lists are below.

Hunter Shelburne’s Destiny Weekend Deck List

Characters
Elite Captain Phasma
Guavian Enforcer
First Order Stormtrooper

Battlefield: Mos Eisley Spaceport

Upgrades
2 x Holdout Blaster
2 x F-11D Rifle
2 x Jetpack
2 x IQA-11 Blaster Rifle
2 x Promotion
2 x Hunker Down
2 x Imperial Discipline

Supports
2 x Backup Muscle

Events
2 x The Best Defense
2 x He Doesn’t Like You
2 x Tactical Mastery
2 x Logistics
2 x Bait and Switch
2 x Flank
2 x Electroshock

Hunter’s deck reminds me of Nick’s Captain Phasma deck that we saw in the finals of the 2017 World Championship. There are a few new Spirit cards – Imperial Discipline and Bait and Switch – but the biggest change is switching from Bala-Tik to the Guavian Enforcer. While the Guavian is a slightly less-powerful character, it gains Guardian from Captain Phasma. This gives Hunter an unreal amount of control, particularly against decks like Palpatine and Poe + Maz. Not only can each non-unique character remove a die that rolls damage, but that damage is also naturally divided – a critical strategy for keeping Hunter’s dice on the board.

Chase Keaten’s Destiny Weekend Deck List
Elite Han Solo
Elite Rey

Battlefield: Starship Graveyard

Upgrades
2 x DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol
2 x Fast Hands
2 x Force Speed
2 x Holdout Blaster
2 x Jedi Robes
2 x One With the Force
1 x Rey’s Staff
2 x Second Chance
2 x Vibroknife

Events
1 x Caution
2 x Electroshock
2 x Hold On!
2 x Loth-Cat & Mouse
2 x Riposte
2 x Swiftness
2 x Unpredictable

The popularity of Han + Rey has gone down quite a bit since the release of Spirit of Rebellion. I was happy to see it represented in the Top 4, as I still believe Rey is the best character in the game. Chase included a cadre of Spirit of Rebellion cards, most notably Vibroknife, Fast Hands, Force Speed, and Loth-Cat & Mouse. With access to even more action economy than before, this deck is really fast!

While we did not get the games on film, I am not surprised that Chase was able to defeat Hunter in the Top 4. His ability to gain actions mitigates the advantages gained from Guardian on two non-uniques, and the uncontrollable burst damage makes cards like The Best Defense, He Doesn’t Like You, Flank, and Electroshock much less valuable.

On the other side of the bracket, Tulsa’s own Eric Wainright was paired with Kansas City’s Rand Anderson. Their decks are below.

Eric Wainright’s Destiny Weekend Deck List

Characters
Elite Rey
Padawan
Padawan

Battlefield: Secret Facility

Upgrades
2 x Handcrafted Light Bow
2 x Vibroknife
1 x Makashi Training
1 x Journals of Ben Kenobi
2 x Holdout Blaster
2 x Rey’s Staff
2 x Lightsaber
1 x Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber
2 x One With the Force
1 x Force Throw
1 x Force Protection

Supports
1 x BB-8

Events
2 x Trust Your Instincts
2 x Guard
1 x Force Misdirection
2 x Willpower
1 x Caution
1 x Destiny
2 x Deflect
2 x Mind Trick

Eric has been playing Elite Rey and two Padawans since the very beginning! The discount on weapon upgrades played on the Padawans creates a fundamental economic advantage. This economic boost allows him to play two weapons on the first turn and burst up to three and four cost upgrades on the second turn. If this happens, it can be difficult to keep up with!

Spirit of Rebellion gave the deck additional tools, including more weapons like Vibroknife and Handcrafted Light Bow. The deck also gained powerful, inexpensive cards like Guard, Destiny, and Trust Your Instincts. These inexpensive cards allow him to still play out his hand on turns when he does play down several upgrades. Eric’s deck was certainly the surprise of the tournament, but after you watch a few games below it will all start to make sense.

Rand Anderson’s Destiny Weekend Deck List

Characters
Elite Palpatine

Battlefield: Ootha Gunga

Upgrades
2 x Force Speed
2 x Force Lightning
2 x Force Push
2 x Sith Holocron
2 x Mind Probe
2 x Force Illusion

Supports
2 x Dark Presence
2 x Interrogation Droid

Events
2 x High Ground
2 x Rejuvenate
2 x No Mercy
2 x Isolation
2 x Rise Again
2 x Deflect
2 x Feel Your Anger

Palpatine is brutal! He activates and forces you to deal with his dice. If you can’t, prepare for pain! Rand paired his eight control events with Dark Presence and Interrogation Droid. Dark Presence can trigger off of Palpatine rolling discard, but once an Interrogation Droid hits the board it becomes difficult to keep dice on the table. Eric having three characters to divide Palpatine’s free damage makes it a bit more difficult than a two character deck for the Sith Master.

Can Rey and her Padawans defeat the Emperor himself? Find out in the games below!

Will Eric be able to take his Rey + Padawans deck all the way? Or will the action economy of Han + Rey be too much for this rogue deck? Will BB-8 save the resistance? And who will save the dream? Find out in the final round below!

Want updates directly to your email inbox about future Destiny content or Saga Set and Booster Box Subscription availability? Sign-up for our newsletter to be the first to know!

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar

The Road to the Open Series is a blog series documenting my journey preparing for and competing in Star Wars X-Wing Open Series events. If you’d like to jump to the beginning of the series back in early 2016, you can find the first post here. You can also jump to any blog in the series at the end of each post!

A month ago, I knew I had a problem… I hadn’t played a single game of X-Wing in over two months. With only one week before the Mustafar Open in San Antonio, it was starting to be a big problem! I had to get a handle on the post-Worlds meta and quickly. With the recent release of Heroes of the Resistance, the TIE Striker, and the U-Wing, there was some serious meta evaluation needed.

I tested Ghost in a Shell (aka Kanan + Biggs) extensively leading up to Worlds 2016, even proxying the Rey crew card after it was previewed. Though Rey ended up not being playable at Worlds, all of that testing made that list a solid choice for Mustafar. With few other enticing options and the Rey crew card legal, I quickly (begrudgingly?) decided my best option was to run Ghost.

Leading up to Worlds, I made adjustments to my list given that I couldn’t field Rey. At the time, I had a handful of cards that I felt were ‘win more’ cards in my squad. I switched from R2-D2 to R4-D6 to save points and prevent a single shot death on Biggs, upgraded my Phantom so I didn’t just lose when the Phantom hit the table, and switched from Accuracy Corrector to Fire Control System to help me get through high agility targets.

I finished 5-1 in the Swiss rounds at Worlds and the changes definitely paid off, but they came at a cost. I won two games after my Shuttle hit the board and one specifically because of Fire Control System. But, my margin of victory (MOV) was one of the lowest of ALL players that made day 2, including players that had finished a full game behind me at 4-2. A single loss, to any one of the best players in the world, meant I would be out of the running for the Top 16 at Worlds. I ended up losing my first game and at 5-2 was effectively out of the tournament.

I decided to spend the limited time I had to test before Mustafar looking at which of the ‘win more’ cards might help me not need the Shuttle to come out and which of the new additions weren’t really winning me games either. The Rey crew is a remarkably strong upgrade on her own, but I ended up with the below for Mustafar:

(51) – Kanan Jarrus (38) + Fire Control System (2) + Twin Laster Turret (6) + Rey (2) + Recon Specialist (3) + Ghost (0)
(29) – Biggs Darklighter (25) + R2-D2 (4) + Integrated Astromech (0)
(20) – “Zeb” Orrelios (18) + Autoblaster Turret (2) + “Chopper” (0) + Phantom (0)

If you’re unfamiliar with the cards in this list, here is an image of all the cards in my squad. If you haven’t had the chance to play against Ghost in a Shell… well, it’s brutal!

The Ghost with Twin Laser Turret (TLT) and the Phantom docked allows Kanan to shoot two TLT shots during combat and two more at the end of combat. After his second attack each time, he gets a free Target Lock on the defender from Fire Control System. Recon Specialist gives him two focus when he takes the focus action. Paired with Rey, I spend the first several turns staying out of the fight in order to store a stack of focus on Rey. This ensures I have three focus on the most important turns of the game!

It is tough for even the wiliest targets to not take damage against this many shots. An Imperial Ace stacked with tokens (and Emperor Palpatine ready to modify results) has trouble avoiding the onslaught. Kanan chews through ships that don’t have a stack of tokens or high agility. He also has a 4-die primary attack backed up by a target lock and a focus, which does work if your opponent ends up at range 1.

This list brings more than just offense, too.  When positioned correctly, the defensive potency is hard to overcome. Opponents have to shoot Biggs at range 2-3 while having their attacks reduced by Kanan. Biggs, of course, recovers a shield each round with R2-D2. This generally means that your opponent has to spend several turns of attacks to destroy Biggs. All the while, they are taking the brunt of four TLT shots each round from Kanan.

Any list with only two guns can really struggle to ‘crack Biggs’. This includes the ever-popular Palp Defenders and Dengaroo. Since Kanan can reduce both attacks and Biggs can save his focus for defense, he usually doesn’t take more than one or two points of damage a turn. With a shield being recovered each round, you can imagine how long Biggs takes to destroy. Once an opponent finally does crack Biggs, you usually have a full health Kanan.

With enough Focus stacked on Rey, you switch to taking evade tokens and moving a focus each round with Rey. You can reduce one attack and avoid one damage each turn. If your opponent is down to a single ship, this makes getting through Kanan’s 16 hull and shields a painful process. If they manage to get through Kanan, you have the Phantom that pops out and can finish the job. The Autoblaster Turret makes for a very mean one-two punch against your opponent’s final ship.

This list is certainly beatable, particularly against anything that can quickly get rid of Biggs with a burst of early offense. The games I do lose with this list are usually started with Biggs being off the board within the first two rounds of combat. Generally, this takes rockets, cannons, or a lot of ships. When faced with a mirror match (a similar list), most Kanan + Biggs players aren’t running R2-D2 or Fire Control System. I really feel both of these give me ways to create advantages in the mirror and ‘fight gravity‘ (incredible article by @Theorist about mirror matches), as it were.

Day 1: Swiss

During the Swiss tournament, my biggest surprise was playing against three other Ghost players! Each list was unique, including one that was very much like mine. One didn’t even have a Phantom docked and the other was very offensively built (similar to the Calen Wong special I wrote about in my ETX report). I went 2-1 against the other Ghost players, losing an incredibly close match against the more offensively geared Ghost. In one of the other matches, my opponent took out my full health shuttle with his shuttle on his dying shot, resulting in a final salvo!

In a final salvo, both players roll the total dice of all the ships that started the game. Whoever gets more total hits and crits wins the game. With identical dice (and a pinch of luck), I rolled one extra hit taking the game in my first final salvo!

Going into the final round of Swiss, I was 5-1 and had the privilege of being paired up against Jeremy, meaning that I was playing the only undefeated player! He was playing an Attanni Mindlink list. My friend and fellow Tulsan, Eric, was at Mustafar playing a Mindlink list. He had done well with it the week before at the Dallas Regional, so I knew enough about it to respect it. I had done zero testing against it though and Jeremy was obviously good at 6-0, so I knew it would be an interesting match.

I felt comfortable throughout the game and consistently felt ahead. I set up a turn to undock my shuttle and likely have my Phantom at range 1 of Fenn Rau. It worked, and with only two health left it meant that my Autoblaster Turret could one-shot him. I also had Asajj dead to rights at range 1 of Kanan, with two health left and a five die primary coming her way.

At the last second Jeremy decided to shoot at my Shuttle with Asajj, wanting to force me to spend my focus token and give Fenn a possible out. He rolled a hit, hit, crit. I rolled my three agility and got blank, blank, blank… If you’ve played X-Wing long enough, you know what comes next. I remove my shields and flip over my top damage card. Direct. Hit. This destroyed my Shuttle and my game plan in one fell swoop. Immediately, I knew the game was over. You win some, you lose some!

Day 2: The Cut

Going into day 2, I was 5-2 with almost double the MOV I had with a 5-1 record at Worlds. I likely still needed to win both games to guarantee I made the top 8 cut. Day 2 was down to 23 of the best players at the tournament, so that would be no small task!

In my first round, I was paired against Dengaroo. As I mentioned earlier, this is a list that struggles against mine so I was happy to start the day with this match. My opponent flew Manaroo at a safe distance across the board. This let her pass tokens to Dengar without needing the tokens herself. Unfortunately for my opponent, Dengar wasn’t enough to crack Biggs. I started day 2 not just with a win, but a 100-0 victory!

In the second round, I was paired against a player running Palp Defenders. Again, this is a match that I know favors me. I had only seen one Defender list on the first day of Swiss, so I was happy to see it across the table in the round I needed to win to make the cut.

Unlike the previous game where the support ship (Manaroo) stayed safe at a distance, my opponent decided to bring his Lambda Shuttle straight into the fight! This was smart, as it allowed him to take out Biggs quickly (which as I’ve mentioned, is how I lose). After that round though, he had the chance to keep his shuttle in the fight or head for the hills. Had he turned his shuttle down the board, I legitimately think he could have won. Luckily for me, he turned towards Kanan.

This let me take out the shuttle that turn, removing Emperor Palpatine from the board! I had Ryad down to a single health and Vessery on my tail. It didn’t take long without Palpatine for Kanan to eat through Vessery. On the final turn, I popped my shuttle out to all but guarantee the final damage with Autothrusters. My opponent was able to get halfway through Kanan though, doing some damage to my final MOV!

At 7-2, players around me were starting to ‘do the math’. It was expected that one or two of the 7-2 players wouldn’t make the cut. Ouch! I was hoping that last turn where Kanan took three damage wasn’t going to cost me the cut. Nothing I could do now though and I felt confident in my MOV.

After a bit of waiting, the rest of the games finished up and the list was posted… I made it! I was only 25 MOV points ahead of 9th place though, so it was really close!

I was paired against Marc, who I was very happy to see running a bizarre and interesting Imperial list. He had a TIE Striker, TIE s/f, and a TIE Defender. I have to admit, I was a bit jealous. I switched to Kanan to take a break from Imperials last August and ever since Worlds, have been wanting to get back to my Imperial roots. He was also using some of the new cards I was most excited about, including Adaptive Ailerons, Lightweight Frame, and Expertise.

For the first time in the tournament I had to really read my opponent’s cards. While this is pretty normal whenever new cards come out, it is certainly not ideal when you’re sitting in the first round of the cut of a big event. After quite a bit of thought, I was confident I could win the match. It was time to get started!

After the first few turns of maneuvering, he was positioned to flank me with Pure Sabaac. It was the third time we were going to dials and I actually had to make a big decision. I was on the left side of the board and he was to my right. I had enough space to turn left, away from the fight, tempting him to pursue me with Pure Sabaac. If I could snipe Pure Sabaac before our forces were really were engaged, Biggs would be free to recover and seal the game for me. I didn’t think he’d take the bait though, so I did the math on just moving ahead. He would still likely just have Pure Sabaac in range on that turn, which I ultimately found favorable.

I moved straight ahead along the outside of the rocks. I called it right and Pure Sabaac was the only ship in the fight that turn. While I was able to score two damage and take away his extra attack die, I was out of range to trigger Kanan. He rolled three hits and a crit against Biggs. I rolled all blanks. I removed Biggs’ shields, took a damage card, and then flipped the next damage face up. Direct. Hit.

So, I had to eject R2 on that turn and things were not looking great. On the next turn, Biggs survived the first attack. He went down on the next attack though, so I was now concerned. As I mentioned earlier, this is exactly how this list loses. While the odds weren’t bad, I was able to remove Pure Sabaac on my first two shots with Kanan and a bit of good fortune. Then with even more fortune I took two shields from Quickdraw without taking any shots back. All in all, not ideal but I was definitely in the game.

On the next turn, with three focus and a target lock on Quickdraw, I hit all four shots and had him down to 2 hull. Marc was able to strip all of Kanan’s shields on the same turn though, so we were roughly staying even. I now had four shots to get two damage through on Quickdraw to officially claim the lead. With a target lock and two focus, I had a good feeling about my odds!

I got one damage through on my first pair of attacks. I only needed one more damage to create a very steep wall for his Defender to climb. On my second pair of attacks, I rolled three damage both times after spending focus tokens and my target lock. Both times, Marc rolled two natural evades on defense. Lightweight Frame added a third agility and both times he rolled a natural evade. That card choice by Marc was doing some serious work here.

This left Quickdraw on the board and put me at a serious disadvantage. On the next move, I popped the Phantom out, hoping to get at range 1 of Quickdraw to finish him off. To make matters worse, the extra gun on the board allowed Marc to destroy Kanan that very turn. It just wasn’t possible for me to get back in the game. So, I was officially out of the tournament.

Marc played a brilliant game and made killer choices with his list. Even though I felt I had that game in my hands, I just wasn’t prepped to deal with Marc’s list. I was happy with a 7-3 finish and am ready now more than ever to get back to Imperials. Marc and Jeremy (the undefeated player that beat me on day 1) ended up making the finals and you can watch that game below. We break down both the Attani Mindlink list and Marc’s crazy Imperials in the video!

Looking Ahead

I’d like to say a big thanks to everyone who continues following along with this journey. I feel incredibly lucky to travel to these events. I’m going to return to Imperials for Hoth in late March at Adepticon, so if you have any ships or lists that you think are worth checking out before Hoth I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

I’d also like to say a general thanks to the X-Wing community for being fantastic. This event showcased again just how great this community is and I’m honored to be a part of it! Also, a shout out to FFG and the designers of X-Wing for continuing to make this game one of the best in the world.

Now, I’m off to fly a few new Imperial builds! I’ll be back when I have something worth writing about – until then, keep playing!

2016

Road to the Open Series: The Awakening
Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm
Road to the Open Series: The Meta
Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces
Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier
Road to the Open Series: The Final Day

2017 

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar (this blog)
Road to the Open Series: Hoth Open (coming in April)

Munitions Tokens Are Here!

Munitions are some of the coolest things in X-Wing, and with their relevance increasing over the next few months it is the perfect time to add these acrylics to your collection! Everything is designed completely to spec and in the artistic, representative style that we have used across the entire Squad Token line. Dropping these bombs really makes the board spring to life, and makes every X-Wing story even more enthralling. Take a look!

We have also updated the Squad Token line with all of the previously missing tokens, including Weapons Disabled, Tractor Beam, Extra Munitions, and Initiative! The line is now fully up to date, and we will continue to add to it as needed.

 

acrylic-xwing-initiative-tractor-munitions-weapons-disabledYou can find all of these tokens on the newly updated Squad Tokens page! It is always such a pleasure to design tokens in a way that is all about bringing players deeper into every X-Wing match. We love it. If you would like to grab your favorites or the entire set, head over to the store! We deeply appreciate your business, and will continue enhancing the X-Wing experience as best we can.

x-wing-munitions-button

Road to the Open Series: The Final Day

The Road to the Open Series is a blog series documenting my journey preparing for and competing in Star Wars X-Wing Open Series events. If you’d like to jump to the beginning of the series back in early 2016, you can find the first post here. You can also jump to any blog in the series at the end of each post!

My first goal going into the Hoth Open was to make it to the final day. After going 5-1 in Swiss, I was starting to believe that I could potentially go the distance. The whole distance. I knew the final day of Swiss was going to be intense though, as only the best players remained. There would be no easy rounds moving forward and as I explained in my previous blog, I pretty much needed to go 3-0 on the final day to make the cut. By the time the pairings were posted for the final day of Swiss, I was very excited to get underway!

Round 7: Ethan – Poe and Co.

During my Swiss rounds, I kept being paired next to Ethan, but never against him. He was running Poe and Co., with his third slot filled by Jake Ferrel! I had played against a similar list during Swiss. His list doesn’t have enough fire power to remove my shuttle from the board before having to maneuver around it, so my strategy going into the game was to barrel my shuttle at his ships. He would either bump or give me superior positioning.

As I have done so often now, I took a 3 turn with the shuttle as we approached. His Poe was caught unprepared and bumped right into the shuttle. After this happened, I was able to remove Poe from the board a few turns later. The picture below is a turn just after Poe was officially off of the board.

The aftermath of that chaos is always fun to see. On this turn, Vader k-turned, Yorr absorbs the stress, and I destroyed the Y-Wing with Vader and the Inquisitor. With only Jake left, it was on to the next round!

Round 8: Ryan – Mynocks

After scoring a win on the final day of Swiss, I was paired with Ryan of the Mynock Squadron. He was running the ever popular version of Palp Aces that is featured in many of the top 8 games from Hoth (coming soon). To be honest, I felt confident I could walk away with a win in this match. With Vader at PS11, I would be able to consistently arc-dodge Whisper and attack before she cloaked. I also had Ion Projectors to force bad positioning for Ryan. My list was ready for the ace off!

You can get a sense for his setup in the picture above. Through a series of maneuvers from this position, he can setup what is called a fortress. Basically, his ships will stay in the corner until he is ready for them not to do so. I did one of my standard openings and a few turns in, realized Ryan had no intent of engaging me until I came to the corner.

I was confident I could win this game… but that was assuming we engaged in a normal manner. Realizing that Ryan could stay in the corner until it suited him, I recognized that this was the only way for him to take the advantage from me and put it squarely in his corner. If I chose to engage, I would need to bring my shuttle in to have equal firepower. The problem though, is that he can break the fortress at the right time and effectively remove my advantage from Ion Projector and have superior positioning for the entire match. The math suddenly slanted his way, assuming I chose to engage him on his terms.

An important part of doing well at a big event, like the Hoth Open Series, is understanding your own psyche. I am not one to back down from a challenge and a big part of me wanted to engage him anyway, even if the odds were in his favor. The logical part of me, though, recognized this as a mistake. If he was unwilling to play the game on standard terms, I was unwilling to play on his.

I considered it for a few moments and realized that I needed to win out to make the cut. A draw against Ryan was ultimately the same thing as a win, so long as I won my next round. I was unwilling to take the risky option of engaging him in the corner, so I called for a judge. We came back and I offered a draw to my opponent. He accepted. I took a walk.

Obviously, not what I wanted to happen, but better than losing to a Fortress!

Round 9: Tyler Tippet on Crack

Of all the things to possibly get paired against going into the final round, Tyler’s Crack Swarm was definitely near the bottom of my wish list. My very first article was about taking swarm for a spin. In testing, Crack Swarm was my weakest matchup. It was dependent on blocking and the first engagement, but I knew a good Swarm player could be a real problem for my list.

Win and your in. Lose and you go home. Game. On.

Tyler approached from the left of the board, as my Inquisitor and Shuttle approached timidly from the center. Vader was flanking far out to the right. My goal was to send the shuttle straight at the Swarm and cause Tyler to break his swarm or created a serious number of ‘bumps’. Meanwhile, my aces would strafe from the side, getting shots when they could and running when they couldn’t. Before my plan could be fully enacted though, a turn happened where Vader was barely at range 3 of two of TIE Fighters.

With an evade on Vader, Palpatine at the ready, and my Shuttle and Inquisitor in range to shoot from the side, I decided to take a Target Lock, Evade, and take a shot at a TIE Fighter. I was able to score two damage on his TIE and one on another with the Inquisitor. He fired back through a debris and rolled two hits. Blank, blank, blank, blank. I palpatine and he spends a Crack. He fires with the second not obstructed and gets a hit, crit. Blank, blank, blank. I spend the evade token, he spends the crack. Final shield is down and a critical is dealt… Direct Damage.

Often times in a moment just like this, a player might go on what is called a ‘tilt’. When something bad happens in a game, it is easy to let your opponent have the momentum. It also makes risky plays seem worthwhile and leads to lots of bad choices. I was committed to not going on tilt.

While two blank agility rolls were unfortunate, now was not the time to lose my cool. I reminded myself that he had used two of his cracks. If I could get him to spend more shots hunting Vader, it would be very hard for him to destroy my Inquisitor without Crack Shots. I examined the board and figured that Tyler would do everything he could to block Vader and ensure lethal damage.

After much thought, I decided a 3 right bank was my best maneuver. I knew only one ship could end up in that spot to block and if he cut off my shorter movement, even with a block he would only have two shots on me. I also knew that he could just as easily turn to the right and go straight at my Shuttle and Inquisitor, so I had to be careful with their maneuvers as well. If he went for Vader though and missed, Vader could boost and barrel roll out of arc to safety. Even then, that would leave Tyler out of position.

He maneuvered his ships and saved the ship that I knew could block Vader for last. I held my breath as he revealed his final maneuver. It was the maneuver that if paired with a barrel roll could block me. He took a moment to decide his action after moving… Focus. With a grin on my face, I moved my ships. Vader did a 3 right bank. He barely cleared Tyler’s final ship. With a boost and a Barrel Roll, Vader was clear of any shots and my Inquisitor and Shuttle were behind the now disjointed Swarm.

A few turns later, Tyler was able to finally successfully destroy Vader, but at that point it was all but too late. It eventually ended up being my Inquisitor against two TIEs without Crack Shot, a near impossible fight for Tyler to win. Over several turns, I was able to seal the game and my spot in the Top 8 of the Hoth Open!!!

Top 8: Nathan Eide – Trip Aces

After anxiously awaiting the rest of the games from the final round to end, the final standings were posted. I was the 5 Seed!!!

I would be facing Nathan Eide, the 2nd place finisher from Worlds 2015! I was very excited about this match. I had talked with Nathan earlier in the day, where I was extremely happy to learn he was running Trip Aces. I also had told him of just how much trouble my Ion Projectors had been giving other players. Now it was time to see if they could give Nathan some trouble!

Going into this match, I was excited to be flying against Nathan. I was confident I could win, for the same reasons I was comfortable flying against Ryan earlier. I have a lot to say about this game, but I will let the video of the game do all the talking. Enjoy!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

I cannot say enough thanks to everyone who was involved in my Road to the Open Series. This community is absolutely first class and I am so proud to be a part of it. To everyone who has followed along in this series, left a comment, replied on social media, or gave me input, a huge thank you. Also, to my local play test partners (in particular to @mofficus) and of course to the oracle himself, @theorist, a bazillion thank you’s. I would not have been able to get anywhere near the cut without all of your help.

As I look ahead, I am very excited. I plan to compete at Worlds this year for X-Wing and cannot wait to see how the meta changes between now and then. The game is in a wonderful place and seems to only be getting better. I’m off to get do some more testing before heading to Seattle next weekend to play in the X-Wing Regional at Evergreen Tabletop Expo. If you’re there, say hello!

Until next time, may the Force be with you!

Zach

If you would like to read more about my Road to Open Series, below are all of the blog posts in the series! 

2016

Road to the Open Series: The Awakening
Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm
Road to the Open Series: The Meta
Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces
Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier
Road to the Open Series: The Final Day (this blog)

2017 

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar
Road to the Open Series: Hoth Open (coming in April)

New Awakened Supplements – Divided & DEF

Quick update regarding our Awakened line of templates and tokens – we have added both Divided Range Rulers and D-E-F Lock pairs to the store in their corresponding Awakened color schemes! Both of these products have been heavily requested and we are amped to get them into production. If you would like to fill in your Awakened set or grab the entire line, head over to the X-Wing section of our store!

divided-awakened-navydivided-awakened-alliancedef-awakened-navy def-awakened-alliance 

Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier

The Road to the Open Series is a blog series documenting my journey preparing for and competing in Star Wars X-Wing Open Series events. If you’d like to jump to the beginning of the series back in early 2016, you can find the first post here. You can also jump to any blog in the series at the end of each post!

The days seem to be a blur between when I started training for the Hoth Open and the tournament itself. As the tournament approached, I would squeeze in games of X-Wing at almost every free moment. I settled on my list (which I wrote about in my Palp Aces blog) as soon as I knew Wave 8 was going to be out in time for the tournament. I tested as much as I was able and before I knew it we were on the road to Chicago for the Hoth Open!

I hoped to arrive at Adepticon in time to walk around a bit to see what was doing well on the first day of the open series, but we were there a bit too late on Thursday for that. We grabbed some food and headed to bed, with the big event starting the next morning. You can actually watch a video recap of our travels (beware, Taylor Swift is definitely involved)!

IMG_7111

The Hoth Open Series tournament would easily be the biggest and most competitive X-Wing event I had ever played. My last truly competitive X-Wing tournament was at the 2014 Dallas Regional… Yet, as I stood in line to turn in my squad sheet for second day Swiss qualifier, the only feeling I had was pure excitement. I was ready to dive head first into the competitive X-Wing scene, but did I have the chops to make it to final day of the Hoth Open? It was time to find out!

Round 1: Zach – The Ole Pancake

In the first round, I was paired against Zach at table 49! After the obvious ‘only what you take with you jokes’, I took a serious look at his list. He was running a Rebel list with a decked out.. Chewie!? This is not what I had expected to see, so I actually had not tested my list against the YT-1300. I felt like the match favored me in general, with the Inquisitor being a very tough customer for the Falcon.

IMG_7116

My red dice were h. o. t., hot, even when I didn’t need them to be. I had several unspent target locks with the Inquisitor and a few turns where I didn’t even use Palpatine. The game was fun and and a great way to start the tournament, as Zach was a very friendly opponent. Ultimately, my list was too much for the Falcon to handle. Zach was able to get half health off Palpatine, but I didn’t lose a ship.

My excitement started growing! I knew that in a Swiss tournaments each win increases the odds of facing top level competition. I was ready to face the challenge!

Round 2 – Poe and Co.

I apologize in advance for not having my round 2 opponent’s name, although he is pictured below! He was running a very different kind of Poe list. He wasn’t running the stresshog and instead was running Luke and an A-Wing. He had R2 on Luke and R5 on Poe, so I knew whichever of those targets I went for first I needed to make sure I could concentrate fire on. Otherwise, my early attacks would be recovered with an Astromech.

IMG_7123

I originally took a shot at Luke, but then due to positioning focused heavy fire on his A-Wing to get it off the board. On that turn, my opponent collided head on into Yorr with Poe. On the following turn I revealed a 1 forward to stay in the same position. Then he goes 1 forward due to the Ion token, causing a bump. I roll for the projector and miss.

“Palpatine.” I said as I turned the die to a hit and handed back the ion token.

My opponent paused. “I just lost, didn’t I?”

Now I could focus solely on Luke and a few turns later, he was destroyed. I had all but won with a helpless Poe stuck colliding with Yorr and it only took me a few more turns to end the game.

Round 3: Darwin – The Redcapes Are Coming!

For whatever reason, every time I see the Jumpmasters I cannot help but hear Jesse Eisenburg’s Lex Luther saying, “The red capes are coming.”

Darwin was a very calm, kind, and calculated player. As I mentioned in my last blog, I only had so many games against the Jumpmasters. I had a general plan of attack, which was to bait the Jumpmasters with one ace (preferably Vader) and once Darwin commits to Vader, run with that ship like crazy. The goal is to draw out his munitions. In testing, even two completely undamaged Jumpmasters without missiles against Inquisitor is in my favor. If the missiles cannot destroy Vader, the odds of the match go insanely in my favor.

IMG_7126

All was going according to plan and Darwin fired his final missile at Vader, who had 1 shield left. After his menagerie of upgrades triggering, he rolled hit, hit, hit, and a crit. I had a focus and an evade, but spent Palpatine on an earlier roll. I roll blank, blank, blank. Spend the Evade token. Shield. Damage. I look up at Darwin as I grab the final damage, a crit, while I have only two hull left. Is it a…

Direct. Hit.

We both laugh, but with three Jumppasters on the board I realize this isn’t going to be an easy fight. Darwin has no more missiles, one Jumpmaster is missing shields, and another only has one health left. I do the math and realize that if I can get him down to a single Jumpmaster with half health, the game is mine. I’m still in it, but I look up and realize there are only fifteen minutes remaining.

Time to boogie! We play the song and dance and I’m able to remove a Jumpmaster. We are speeding through the turns and I’m pretty sure he was able to destroy the Inquisitor as time was expiring.

At 2-1, reality starts to set in. At max, I can lose one more game and still make day two. I was feeling confident and like I was definitely in the game I had just lost, so no hope or excitement was lost. I got water and food and prepared for the next round.

Round 4: Desmond – Scum, Firespray, Oh My!

When I got to the table and looked across to see two Y-Wings and a Firespray, I just smiled. I always love the players who go against the grain and decide to run the unexpected ships at a big event like this. These kind of players are honestly the scariest, because you do not test against these lists heavily and what if they actually are on to something? I was curious to find out if Desmond was indeed on to something and at 2-1, it was certainly possible.

IMG_7131

The reality of this game was that it was just bizarre. There was an early maneuver by Desmond that sent the Firespray really close to the edge of the board (as seen above, although he did not fly off the table), but it did choreograph his moves for me. I was able to effectively stay out of art of his Firespray, while staying at close range of the Y-Wings. I made quick work of his Y-Wings. Once they were off the board, his list simply did not have the firepower to deal with my ships.

3-1. 3. and. 1. Breathe. One more win puts me into day two! The excitement at this point was reaching a new high, as the reality of making day two was becoming very real.

Round 5: Lenny – Return of the… Starviper?!

After sitting across from a Firespray, at 3-1 I was bewildered to be looking across at two Starvipers and a Talonbane. If a Firespray was scary, this was terrifying! I could tell very quickly that Lenny was both hilarious and quite pessimistic about his chances in this particular matchup, but alas the show must go on!

IMG_7119

I had a lot of conversations at the Hoth Open Series about whether or not I should have been running Ion Projectors. A lot of players thought it was a gimmicky add to the list that did not really deliver as much as say Proton Rockets might have on the Inquisitor. This game was a very great example of Ion Projectors never being triggered but creating a huge advantage for me.

I put Yorr on the bottom left of the board. Lenny placed two of his ships at the top left of the board and one on the right (Guri). I came down the middle of the board with all of my ships, intending to create a serious problem for Lenny. I sent my aces to the right and used Yorr to block the path his ships would take to join the engagement. The fear of bumping the shuttle meant I successfully cut two of his ships off from the fight and was easily able to pick off Guri before engaging with his other ships. It also left his other ships in weird positioning.

It is worth noting that his list was built to be able to survive the alpha strike (first round of engagements) against Jumpmasters. At that point, the Starvipers are an amazing late game ship against the Jumps. Against my list though, he had so many points tied up into unessential upgrades and I was simply able to out maneuver him. This was a really unfortunate pairing for him.

While the match guaranteed a final day appearance for whoever won, it was nice that it turned out to be one of the most lighthearted matches of the day. I am continually inspired by the X-Wing community proving itself as a truly unique, amazing, awesome, friendly community and feel fortunate to get to be a part of it. I was also very happy to know that I was going to be playing on the final day of the Hoth Open!!!

Round 6: Nick – Finally, The Bros

Both Nick and I were guaranteed to make it to the final day, so did this match even matter? That is worth discussing!

IMG_7114

There are many elements at play when it comes to doing well at a big event. This ranges from preparation, to performance, to even staying hydrated. It also includes understanding the tournament format. This specifically includes the metrics by which players make it to additional rounds of the tournament. It seems obvious and in true John Madden style, but understanding how players advance is key to advancing. The format being used at the Hoth Open was something I had never experienced, so I took some time to really understand the system before going into my final match of Swiss against Nick.

Let’s talk about the final day of competition. A record of 4-2 guaranteed a spot at day 3. On the final day, the tournament combines all the players with winning records from day 1 and day 2 into a single pool for three more rounds of Swiss. After those three rounds are played, the players with the best combined records make the top 8.

According to good ole tournament math, anyone that finishes 9-0 or 8-1 was guaranteed to make it into the top 8. The ‘bubble’ (which is the record that some players will and won’t make the cut with) was 7-2. The tie breaker becomes critical if you end up at 7-2. So, what was the tie breaker? MOV (margin of victory) from JUST day 3. This may seem normal, but actually creates a very bizarre situation.

The winner of the game between Nick and I would go into the final day with a 5-1 record and the loser 4-2. To end at 7-2 or better, the winner needs to go 2-1 on the final day while the loser needs to go 3-0. So obviously, winning this game is better than losing it, right? This is the bizarre situation I am talking about.

In reality, since MOV is the primary breaker and is only calculated from the final day, a 4-2 player that goes 3-0 and a 5-1 player that goes 2-1 on the final day both end at 7-2. Which player has better MOV though? It is highly likely that the player who went 3-0 has a much higher MOV. So if you go 5-1 on the first day and then lose any of your games on the second, your MOV is going to probably take you out of the cut.

So the realization is that win or lose this game against Nick, I almost certainly need to win all three of my games on the final day to make the cut. The only difference is the record of the opponent I will face on the final day. Maybe this level of analysis seems crazy, but it is important to understand. Winning against Nick means I would certainly play against opponents with stronger records on a day that I need to not drop a single game…

Am I crazy enough to actually try to win this game and pit myself against the some of the strongest X-Wing players in the world?

IMG_7139

Of course not! The truth is, even if I make the cut I’m going to have to play against the best players at some point. I would never deny myself the chance to play in a win or you are out situation against the best of the best.

So, Nick and I played one of the most aggressive games of X-Wing I have ever taken part in and the game finished quickly. I was able to cause a few too many bumps for his Brobots. Due to positioning and a lack of actions, I quickly removed IG-88B from the board. Once he was gone, I picked the other bro apart, finishing at 5-1 on the first day of Swiss!

It Is The Future You See

Before signing off, I’d like to take a second to thank all of you for following along and commenting on my blogs! Your feedback has been paramount in me making the second day of competition. A special thanks goes to @theorist for his continual feedback on my lists and input on what to test against. Also, special thanks to all the locals for helping me test, too many to call out by name. Of course, a big, big shout out to Fantasy Flight Games for creating an amazing game and hosting a seriously epic event that was extremely well run. Finally, a huge, huge thanks to the entire X-Wing community for being one of the best tabletop communities I have ever been a part of. You are all truly the best!

It has been a crazy month since the Open Series for me, so I am off to squeeze in last minute testing for the Covenant Tulsa X-Wing Regional in a few days! As it turns out, I am also officially going to be attending the Evergreen Tabletop Expo in Seattle in late May and will be playing in the X-Wing Regional there as well, so I hope to see many of you there! I am also putting together the final details for me to continue this Road to the Open Series beyond Hoth, so who knows where this blog series will take us!

Until next time, keep playing!

Zach

If you would like to read more about my Road to Open Series, below are all of the blog posts in the series! 

2016

Road to the Open Series: The Awakening
Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm
Road to the Open Series: The Meta
Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces
Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier (this blog)
Road to the Open Series: The Final Day

2017 

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar
Road to the Open Series: Hoth Open (coming in April)

Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces

The Road to the Open Series is a blog series documenting my journey preparing for and competing in Star Wars X-Wing Open Series events. If you’d like to jump to the beginning of the series back in early 2016, you can find the first post here. You can also jump to any blog in the series at the end of each post!

From the moment I saw Vader get in a TIE Advanced to pursue Luke in A New Hope, I was bound to be an Imperial Ace. You can imagine the glee when I opened Darth Vader for the first time in X-Wing. Then Wave 2 was released and I got one of my favorite Expanded Universe pilots, Soontir Fel. It was then that the deal was sealed. I would forever be an ace pilot. So much so that I spent the first two and a half years of the game flying almost exclusively Imperial Ace pilots!

To begin testing, I had to start somewhere with some kind of list. I knew my best bet at the Open Series would be to play an Imperial ace list, if possible. By possible, I mean how does it handle all the things I listed in my blog, The Meta?

I decided the best way to start this conversation is at the end! My current list evolved over the course of a few conversations with @theorist and extensive testing with many, many local X-Wing players. I could certainly walk through each step of it’s evolution (and I would if the Open Series weren’t this weekend), but I decided to discuss where the list stands now and discuss why it includes what it does!

So, here is my current list and spoiler, this is the list I plan to play THIS weekend at the Open Series.

(35) – Darth Vader (29) + TIE/x1 (0) + Veteran Instincts (1) + Engine Upgrade (4) + Advanced Targeting Computer (1)
(31) – Inquistior’s TIE + Push the Limit (3) + TIE/v1 (1) + Autothrusters (2)
(34) – Captain Yorr (24) + Emperor Palpatine (8) + Ion Projector (2)

The list originally began with a rotating Lone Wolf and Juke on Vader, Soontir (shocker) in place of Inquisitor, the Omicron Group Pilot, and definitely not Ion Projector. As the discussion developed, as testing occurred, and as @theorist made case after case for the Ion Projector, slowly but surely Soontir became the Inquisitor’s TIE, Omicron became Yorr, Lone Wolf became Veteran Instincts, and finally after game after game after game, the Ion Projector was settled on in place of an initiative bid.

Now, let’s talk about why the list is as it is!

asteroid-debris-xwing-social-8

Say It Ain’t Poe

The first question of course, is how does my list stand against the illustrious and ever popular Poe + Stresshog? Pretty remarkably! In fact, I was so over the Stresshog and regenerating X-Wings that my number one goal (outside winning the Open Series) with my list is to not lose against Stresshog. Period.

As such, my list is full of direct answers. When Poe first hit the scene as a PS10 ace, he directly answered the PS9 aces that dominated the meta. This also meant he could spend all 100 points of his squad, because he didn’t need to bid for initiative.

Returning the favor, spending my Elite Pilot Talent slot on making Vader to make him a PS11 means I can spend all 100 points of my squad and not worry about initiative. Not only is this good against Poe, but it also lets me out ace fellow aces. Engine Upgrade gives me further mobility to truly make Vader an arc dodger himself, so I pity the Poe who stands against Vader at the end of a game.

Maybe even acting as a more direct answer, Yorr is incredible in general and amazing against the Stresshog. Coupled with the Ion Projector, I can send Yorr with my aces straight at enemy fleets and cause them never ending headaches.

The Inquisitor is also better in this match than Soontir, so he is a wonderful replacement. Being a PS8 means he can function as a blocker and his action economy is off of the charts. He has 33% more health than Soontir (i.e. one extra shield), but that can make a huge difference! The key though is that he is more offensively suited to play against Poe, with green 1 turns and his always at range 1 insanity.

I feel very comfortable using my list against this list and would be very pleased if it remains as popular as it has been at the Open Series. That said, there are some other Rebels that I need to concern myself with now, though…

I Thought I Saw a Ghost

IMG_6940No, I saw a lot of  Ghosts… If the Open Series were two more months away, I may very well have ended up flying the Ghost at the tournament. I’m a sucker for flavor, as you can tell from Vader being in my list above. I am a big fan of the Rebels TV show and Ghost is calling my name, so I imagine I spend a lot more time with Ghost after the Open Series (maybe a Regional appearance with it?!).

Unfortunately, I have years of experience with aces and now less than 10 games against the Ghost. I am confident that the Ghost is a threat, but I am not confident that I have solved that puzzle just yet. So far, my list has stacked up quite well against the Ghosts I have seen and trust me… I have seen a Ghost!

Thankfully, there was no shortage of locals that wanted to fly the Ghost after it’s release. I have seen roughly six different builds, including my brothers that I believe is the best I have seen (it is capital B, brutal). He has mentioned blogging about it, so I will keep egg him on.

Going into Ghost fights, I lean on mobility. I arc dodge with ease and stay out of range 1 if they are running the Accuracy Corrector builds. If they are also running Biggs, I aim to either dispose of him quickly or arc in such a way that I can only fire at the Ghost. I stay at a distance and get long range shots, slowing chipping down the Ghost. With tokens, maneuvering, and Palpatine I keep my ships alive until the Ghost is gone.

I feel supremely comfortable against the Ghost at this point. I am actually crossing my fingers that someone has ‘cracked’ the code at the Open Series, though. If I am going to go down, I would love to get knocked out by a Ghost!

Palp Squared

IMG_6974So, what happens when I’m out on the ole dusty trail and I run into another Palp aces list? How do I square off at high noon against an old familiar foe?

Let’s talk about Ion Projector. This is literally my ‘ace’ in the hole against other aces. Most players fly their shuttle away from the fight. Against an aces list, my Palpatine is staying close to my ships and flying directly at the enemy. Not only do I get the extra gun for a round or two, but I force my opponent into bad positioning. With an Ion Projector flying straight at them, they cannot play their normal positioning game. The problem for them is that if they veer away from the Shuttle, I have positioning. If they don’t, they risk bumping Yorr and getting Ion Projected for the rest of the game. This type of matchup is exactly why Ion Projector stays in my list.

I also I have Yorr himself, who acts as a nice boost in this scneario. He does not get nearly as much love or attention as he should. In an ‘ace off’, he is brutal. Not only does my Inquisitor not stress to use Push the Limit, but the stress absorption allows this list crazy movement options. Between all of my obstacles being debris (I talk about this in a future blog) and opening up actions after a K-Turn, Yorr is a surprise MVP in a lot of matches.

Of course, I also have the combo of PS11 Vader and PS8 Inquisitor. This affords me an awesome blocker against the aces and a Vader who can play the standard ace game. Combined with Ion Projector and Yorr, bring on the aces! I love this style of game and am happy to be reminded of the glory days when maneuvering and positioning were literally everything in X-Wing.

No, I Am Your Father

There was time when DeciVader was a beast in the meta, but at this point crew Vader has seemed to fade away. I mentioned it in my last post, but I still believe the DeciVader to be a distinct threat for ending a tournament run, so I always feel obligated to test against and consider how I will do against it. So… what does my list do against DeciVader?

This is a big reason I am favoring Inquisitor over Soontir right now. The combination of shields to prevent several scary scenarios, one extra total hull + shield, and the added offensive of always being at range 1 allows my list to outlast a DeciVader and deal enough damage quickly enough to really mitigate the threat. Do not get me wrong, bad positioning against a DeciVader list and I easily lose one or both of my aces quickly. It is ALL about positioning in this match and fortunately, I have two ships that are great at that.

I will actually send my shuttle right at the DeciVader, aiming for a block after getting a round or two of shots against the DeciVader and ideally soaking some shots. Palpatine plus Advanced Targeting Computer allows me to emblazon the ship with crits once it’s shield are down.

The match ultimately comes down to what they are able to squeeze in after the DeciVader. If whatever remains cannot handle Vader, the Inquisitor, or hopefully both, my opponent is in serious trouble.

IMG_6443

The Bros and Bowl

As I mentioned in my last blog, the thing about the Brobots (2 x IG-88) is that they really are not a direct counter to many lists. The IG-88 lists are sheer efficiency when it comes to destroying enemy ships. The way to beat them is through positioning and fortunately, the two aces I have are very good at positioning.

They do have the S-Loop and you can never underestimate their sheer offensive power, but that usually just means I will spend most of my tokens on defense when necessary and stay out of arc as often as possible. Palpatine makes a great blocker in this match and a ship that they will have to sink far too many shots into. If I can force them to take shots on Palpatine instead of my aces, it is going how I want it to go. If I have Vader or Inquisitor left when one IG-88 goes down, I am confident I can win the match at that point.

As far as the Jumpmaster 5000 goes, it is certainly my least tested against matchup. Unfortunately, this is also a list that I am expecting a fair amount of at the Open Series. I am not going to dive to deeply into this matchup in this blog, because I do not really have much to say about it just yet. However, I am literally finishing this blog and then going to test against this very list though, so stay tuned!

Conclusion

All in all, I have been evolving and testing this list for over a month now and do not expect to face off against a hard counter, aka a list that I just lose against. I am very, very comfortable with this list and have years of experience with aces, so I am right at home. I also enjoy playing with these ships, so that makes playing a long tournament a lot easier to do. Also, to be able to legitimately bring Vader to a tournament makes my little, Imperial heart dance.

I am going to attempt to fit one more pre-tournament blog in (on the drive to the Open Series) with my thoughts on the Jumpmaster, obstacles, and openings! If I don’t I’ll cover that after the event, along with my tournament reports from the event itself. We will be posting a ton of videos from the weekend and if you want to follow along, you can do so in a few spots (other than this website, of course):

Team Covenant: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, @teamcovenant on SnapChat
Me: Twitter, @zachbunn on SnapChat

This might be my last blog before the tournament, so any final thoughts or wishes of luck are more than welcome. Until next time, keep playing!

Zach

If you would like to read more about my Road to Open Series, below are all of the blog posts in the series! 

2016

Road to the Open Series: The Awakening
Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm
Road to the Open Series: The Meta
Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces (this blog)
Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier
Road to the Open Series: The Final Day

2017 

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar
Road to the Open Series: Hoth Open (coming in April)

X-Wing Compatible Acrylic Rocks!

Up to this point, there has been a serious, asteroid-sized hole missing from our X-Wing-compatible line of acrylics. There is nothing worse than having a stunning set of tokens, gorgeous set of templates, and all of those beautiful ships ruined by worn, cardboard asteroids and debris scattered around the table. No more!

Asteroids-Debris-XWing-Blog1

 

Now THAT feels better!

Acrylic Asteroid Sets (12 pieces) and Debris Sets (9 pieces) are now available on our store!

Each asteroid is accurately cut from clear acrylic with an intricate design visible on both sides. Every piece in the set looks incredible and functions perfectly no matter how it is flipped. In addition, each asteroid is paint-filled and protected before shipment so that the set arrives safely and pops wildly off of the table without any extra effort on your end.

Asteroids-Debris-XWing-Blog2

 

Likewise with Debris, but we doubled down on functionality and opted for a transparent light green acrylic to clearly differentiate the two obstacles and provide that flavorful deep space glow.

Asteroids-Debris-XWing-Blog3

 

Since we began testing these asteroids and debris, it has been overwhelmingly satisfying to have them on the table. Their transparency allows for beautiful starscape backgrounds to shine through, and the designs pop right off of the board. We have tremendously enjoyed a mixture of flipped and unflipped obstacles in order to create the feel of a truly 3D environment, where some rocks are higher than others. This is especially nice with ships set at various heights so that the effect is amplified. The accuracy of the shapes is also spot-on, a feat in which we invested a significant amount of time and…patience.

We know you are going to love them, but take a more in-depth look and purchase your set(s) over on the official page. If any questions, comment here or give us a shout at teamcovenant.com/contact! A huge thank you from all of us for supporting Covenant and supporting X-Wing with your time, enthusiasm, and purchases. It enables us to keep growing, improving, and contributing!

 

Asteroid-Debris-XWing-BlogBtn
 

Asteroids-Debris-XWing-Blog4
Asteroids-Debris-XWing-Blog5
Asteroids-Debris-XWing-Blog6
Asteroids-Debris-XWing-Blog7

Road to the Open Series: The Meta

The Road to the Open Series is a blog series documenting my journey preparing for and competing in Star Wars X-Wing Open Series events. If you’d like to jump to the beginning of the series back in early 2016, you can find the first post here. You can also jump to any blog in the series at the end of each post!

Welcome back! After taking the TIE Swarm for a spin, I received my long awaited insight from the Oracle (aka a message from Theorist) about his perspective on shape of the meta in a post Wave 8 X-Wing environment. Combining his perspective with my own, along with input from some trusted locals, my perspective on the meta going into serious testing is outlined below.

For an event the size of the Open Series, one of my main requirements for the list I run is for it not to have a direct counter. In a tournament the size of the Open Series, the odds of that direct counter being in the field are just too good. All you need is the wrong pairing at the wrong time and your tournament is all but over. Sometimes in games, there are no lists or decks that do not have a direct counter and in that case, I want a list that I enjoy that also gives me a fighting chance in each match.

Of course without Wave 8 in hand a month ago, it was a bit of a risk to assume it would be out (thankfully it is!) and until we had them in hand, it would be hard to really for me to know the true shape of the meta. I assumed it would be out and below is the baseline I began with for testing.

The Rebels

Going into Worlds 2015, Palp + Vader + Soontir spread like wild fire. Amidst the ashes, Paul Heaver arose victorious with… Rebels (2015 finals match, for those interested). Plainly answering the ace centric builds, the combo of Poe and Stresshog was a beautiful response to the expected meta and earned Paul his third World Championship. The Rebels are in their best position in quite some time and there are a few primary reasons why. First up…

The Stresshog

Gold Squadron Pilot + R2-A3 + Twin Laser Turrent + BTL-A4 (26 points)

This guy isn’t going anywhere. This is 26 points of solid, gold answers. Allowing you to put two stress on a target at range 3, he is a serious threat that has to be maneuvered around and destroyed. He directly answers many of the most popular ships in the game, including Vader and Soontir. As such, he has to be avoided and then attacked.

I will write and say it a million more times, the most powerful effects in any game are the ones that change the game without having to be used. This ship may not give a single stress in a game, but still be worth every last point. Forcing sub-optimal maneuvers and drawing attacks, he is almost always worth his points.

I expect to see a LOT of this, so I will be testing whatever list I end up choosing against this extensively. Of course, he usually has a very humorous friend with him…

Poe Dameron - Star Wars X-WingPoe Dameron

(38) – Poe Dameron (31) + R2-D2 (4) + Veteran Instincts (1) + Autothrusters (2)

The T-70 X-Wing came out swinging and when paired with the Stresshog can be very insanely hard to handle. It answers Imperial Ace builds very well and is hard to counter. Poe needs to be heavily tested against with whatever list I choose to fly and very well could end up being what I decide to bring. I am a fan of adding Biggs to the deadly duo, making for a really solid squad.

Ello does not get nearly as much love as he should. It is funny, because all of my sources said the same thing. I have not heard much about Ello in the community, but will not be surprised to see Ello doing well at the Open Series or some other future tournament.

Ghost

I am not listing a build yet, because both because there is not a ‘common’ build and because Tim is supposed to be writing a blog on our favorite build soon. There is a code that WILL be cracked with the Ghost, much the same way that we have common Stresshog, Poe, Vader, etc. builds. Wave 8 is largely unexplored and still really new, but I am excited to see someone nail a Ghost build and win a big tournament (maybe even the open?).

If you have any builds that you think are ‘cracking the code’, I would love to see it in the comments below.

UPDATE: I flew a Ghost list at Worlds 2016 and the Mustafar Open in 2017! You can read my blog about that list here.

I am a HUGE fan of the Rebels TV show and am inclined to want to solve this puzzle. I do not think I can do it before the Open Series, so we will see. My favorite pilot is Kanan. His pilot ability seems really strong. I have a Kanan list in mind that I will blog about in an upcoming post, but if you have cracked the code hit me up in the comments!

The Imperials

If you do not already know, I’m a huge fan of Imperials. Since I was a little kid, the likes of Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, TIE Fighters, Stormtroopers, and so on were all more interesting to me than X-Wings, Y-Wings, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I had X-Wing toys and ‘pew-pew-ed’ with the best of them, but my heart has always really been with the Empire.

To my dismay, the Imperials are currently not having their moment of triumph in X-Wing. Their aces have been directly answered by the most popular Rebel squads. The TIE Swarm, which dominated early in the games history, is behind the power curve (as I wrote about in my last blog). There do not seem to be very many good options when it comes to the once high and might Imperial Navy… but that just ups the appeal for me!

Palp Shuttle - Star Wars X-WingI think they still have options and am hoping to fly Imperial at the Open Series. So what do they have available to them?

Emperor Palpatine

(29) – Omicron Group Pilot (21) + Palpatine (8)

Palpatine is still fantastic. Typically cruising in on a Lambda Shuttle, the consistency he offers a squad on defense AND offense is really remarkable. Similar to the Y-Wing, he is also an easy target that enemies tend to focus on early.

The real question is… what do you run with him? Whatever it is, it tends to be on the board in the late game with fire concentrated on Palpatine. That naturally makes him work well with aces. Is Palp Aces still viable?

I am hopeful that he is! Stresshog is a problem, but there are solutions to that even outside of good flying. I am a huge fan of the aces, so if I can make it work and not feel too vulnerable to any one list that is probably what happens. I have some specific ways I think the aces can be justifiable, so stay tuned (hint: that is my next blog)!

DeciVader

(48) – Patrol Leader (40) + Vader  (3)+ Gunner (5)

Like the one ring, the Decimator (typically Patrol Leader) with the Darth Vader crew card should never, ever be forgotten! I ran Decivader for quite some time during the 2 ship meta of late 2014 / 2015, typically paired with Soontir or Whisper. At the time, it was also my only reasonable option to get Vader on the board, so ti was a natural fit.

If you call the meta correctly,  this ship can be absolutely brutal. Unfortunately, it is the kind of glass cannon that gets weeded out in the top cut due to having so many direct answers, but it is a serious threat that needs to always be considered. It can directly answer a lot of squads itself, so if you are not careful the wrong pairing at the wrong time against this ship can just end your tournament.

While I am unlikely to field this machine, I always keep an eye on the beast!

Scum and Villainy

Ever since their debut in Wave 6, Scum has had a very mixed reception. Initially they felt like they were missing a piece or two, but then the Brobots happened. They have since added a lot of tools that make them far more interesting, including the Brobots.

Brobots

(50) – IG-88 B (36) + Fire Control System (2) + Heavy Laser Cannon (7) + Glitterstim (2) + IG-2000 (0) + Autothrusters (2)
(50) -IG-88 C (36) + Fire Control System (2) + Heavy Laser Cannon (7) + Glitterstim (2) + IG-2000 (0) + Autothrusters (2)

The funny thing about the Brobots is that they really are not doing anything too insane. Unlike the Stresshog, who literally just picks apart certain squads, this is just consistently good. This particular build is heavy offense, which I am a fan of in general. It has the correct array of core elements you want from a good X-Wing list. The list it probably doesn’t want to see the most is aces and thanks to the Stresshog, the aces are far less popular these days. So I have to think that Brobots are a real consideration at this point.

It is worth mentioning that a version of Brobots made it to the Top 8 at Worlds 2015, lest we forget. A pair of IG-88’s is probably going to be around for good as a list that will show up to big events. I will test against it, but I also do not fear it so I won’t spend too much time on this.

Jumpmaster 5000

(34) – Contracted Scout (25) + Proton Torpedoes (4) + Extra Munitions (2) + R4 Agromech (2) + Deadeye (1) + Guidance Chips (0)
(33) – Contracted Scout (25) + Plasma Torpedoes (3)+ Extra Munitions (2) + R4 Agromech (2) + Deadeye (1) + Guidance Chips (0)
(33) – Contracted Scout (25) + Plasma Torpedoes (3) + Extra Munitions (2) + R4 Agromech (2) + Deadeye (1) + Guidance Chips (0)

Jumpmaster 5000 - Star Wars X-WingThis style of list started popping up immediately after the final Jumpmaster 5000 preview hit the Fantasy Flight Games website. The buzz around this list reminds me so much of the pre Worlds 2015 Palp Aces clamor. If Wave 8 had come out a week or two closer to the Open Series, I would have expected to see these in mass.

Jumpmasters everywhere!

Featuring a brutal alpha strike coupled with a solid mid game, this list easily makes the cut for squads I am expecting at the Open Series.  If you play enough X-Wing, it does not take flying a list for long to realize when it ‘has it’ or not, and this one certainly does. Is it unbeatable? No. It is consistently good? Yes. Plus, the ship looks great!

This list, or some form of it, will be around and viable for the foreseeable future. Similar to the Brobots, it is consistent against most squads and does not really have a hard counter… So that is always a good choice!

Conclusion

Going into serious testing (which I am now deeply in), I felt I had a good pulse on the meta. Most of my instincts and sources lined up, so that was good news. If you disagree with anything in my analysis or have something you think I am just totally missing, I would LOVE to hear from you in the comments. I am in the process of playing a ton of games, so the more I have to be thinking about and testing against the better!

The Open Series is really close now (next week) and everyones input so far has been wonderful and truly appreciated. In my next blog, I will be outlining my take on Palp Aces. Until then, keep playing!

Zach

If you would like to read more about my Road to Open Series, all of the blog posts in the series are below! 

2016

Road to the Open Series: The Awakening
Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm
Road to the Open Series: The Meta (this blog)
Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces
Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier
Road to the Open Series: The Final Day

2017 

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar
Road to the Open Series: Hoth Open (coming in April)

Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm

The Road to the Open Series is a blog series documenting my journey preparing for and competing in Star Wars X-Wing Open Series events. If you’d like to jump to the beginning of the series back in early 2016, you can find the first post here. You can also jump to any blog in the series at the end of each post!

My road to the open series started several weeks before my first blog of this series was posted! When I first committed to playing at the Open Series, I had no idea if Wave 8 was going to be released or not, so it made it difficult to do too much heavy testing. What I did know, though, is that I wanted to play against as many different lists and ships as I could. Naturally, I consulted the oracle (aka sent Theorist a message) about the state of the meta (both pre and post Wave 8) and then anxiously awaited a response. Speaking of Theorist, before I get to far if you haven’t read his blog The Paradigm Shift of Red Dice, do yourself a favor and do that.

So, back to The Road to the Open Series! While I was waiting on the Oracle’s response, I had something I wanted to specifically try out… TIE Swarm! Given that I’ve played X-Wing since 2012, it might come as a surprise that until just a few weeks ago I had never actually flown a swarm. While it dominated the competitive meta for the first two years of the game, that was specifically the timeframe when I was attempting to not take X-Wing too seriously. I may have never flown a swarm, but I have flown against it quite a bit thanks to my brother Tim. Speaking of Tim…

Cracking the Swarm

With the semi-recent release of the TIE f/o and a number of new pilots for the original TIE Fighter in the Imperial Assault Carrier, I knew Tim had been cooking up a pretty lethal swarm. So, I asked if I could take his sweet ride for a quick flight around Coruscant! His current Swarm list is ‘cracked’ out, as it were, and here is his list:

IMG_6698Howlrunner (18) w/ Push the Limit (3)
“Epsilon” Leader (19)
4 x Black Squadron Pilot (14) w/ Crack Shot (1)

The list has the fundamentals of a swarm, featuring Howlrunner and five other ships. It has a few twists though, so I want to talk about some of the changes Tim made here and what it adds to the traditional swarm.

First off, “Epsilon” Leader. I love this ship! The ability to drop a stress from ships at range 1 at the start of combat is really, really good. While being able to k-turn over and over and over is cool, something more important is added here.

The biggest problem this solves is not putting you in a position where once you k-turn, you are choreographing your next turn via green maneuvers. Once your swarm is stressed, it can be waaaaay too easy for your opponent to know exactly what you are going to be doing. Epsilon also functions as a soft answer to the Stresshog (something I’ll talk about in my next blog: The Meta). It also happens to pair very well with a Howlrunner w/ PTL, allowing her to Push the Limit each turn and not be forced into mapping out her moves or strangled by any stress given by an opponent. This is big!

Crackshot-1Of course, we can’t leave Crack Shot out of the conversation. This card is CRAY. If you haven’t flown against this four ships using Crack Shot, I definitely recommend it. It will make you feel all sorts of vulnerable. Six ships firing dice and triggering a re-roll from Howlrunner can be intense. Throw in Crack Shot and the amount of damage that can actually get through increases significantly!

Finally, as a bi-product of getting access to an Elite Pilot Talent (EPT) slot for crack shot, the list has upgraded to the Black Squadron Pilot over the Academy Pilot. The great debate over Pilot Skill is something I’ll leave to the higher minds of X-Wing, but I imagine that there is a point where running PS 4 ships is the right call and when it is, this Swarm will score some serious bonus points!

So, are these two changes enough to make the swarm relevant?

Close, So Close

Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I had a lot of fun with this list and it was quite an experience, but when I played it against ‘the meta’ I am expecting there are just matches I am not certain it can win if my opponent flies correctly. I also am not certain I can fly a Swarm for two days in a row without completely losing my mind. Neither of those outcomes is where I want to find myself, particularly if I am fortunate enough to make the second day of competition. The list is good and can be a lot to handle, but I am just not convinced it is there.

That said, I am convinced that the right player (who is well versed in Swarm) could probably do super well with a swarm at a big event. They have soooo many new tools. Do you have a swarm list or know of one that you think is good enough to win a tournament like the Open Series? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Anyways, I learned a lot, including that the Swarm isn’t for me going into the Open Series. In my next blog, I’ll take a look at some of Theorist thoughts and my own thoughts on the post Wave 8 meta, which will function as an important guide for the rest of my Open Series testing. Stay tuned and until then, keep playing

Zach

If you would like to read more about my Road to Open Series, all of the blog posts in the series are below! 

2016

Road to the Open Series: The Awakening
Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm (this blog)
Road to the Open Series: The Meta
Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces
Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier
Road to the Open Series: The Final Day

2017 

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar
Road to the Open Series: Hoth Open (coming in April)

Road to the Open Series: Awakening

We picked up the first wave of X-Wing at it’s release at GenCon 2012. As I sat down with Steven to unbox the core set at our GenCon hotel, I knew the game was special. X-Wing is an incredible game, arguably the best game. I was committed very early on, as a huge fan of tabletop games and Star Wars, to keep X-Wing in the non-competitive space of my brain. I have plenty of games that I play competitively and for this one, I just wanted it to be a game. A fun, casual, enjoyable game.

There was only one tiny, teeny problem with that plan… I’m one of the most competitive people I know!

Not in the way that makes it uncomfortable to play against or beat me, but in the same way that the odds of Darth Vader Force Choking a rebel scum is likely to happen. There is just something about the thrill of a tournament, the challenge of mastering a game, the intensity of putting it all on the line, and the camaraderie of big tournament that draws me into the fray.

I was doing very well at resisting the competitive temptations of X-Wing and had been successfully navigating that mine field for years! I had other great games, like the Star Wars LCG, to keep my competitive urges at bay. Then, Fantasy Flight Games did the unthinkable. They announced a tournament so epic and with such an insane prize. I could smell blood, I could hear the crowds chanting, there was an awakening! Like a gladiator drawn to arena, the Star Wars X-Wing Open Series was calling my name.

open-series-fan

My journey to becoming a competitive X-Wing player was now tied to my road to the X-Wing Open Series. It was time for my journey to begin!

A Hero’s Villain’s Beginning

It takes quite a lot to be good enough to win a big event like the Open Series. I’ve done well at the top level for other games and going into Open Series testing I knew I had a few major objectives:

Objective 1 – Become fundamentally familiar with the game – this means playing all the ships, tons of lists, and in general just getting a lot of ‘reps’ of X-Wing.

Objective 2 – Determine the top 3-5 squads and the most popular 3-5 squads. Note that ‘best’ and ‘popular’ aren’t always the same. (ex. The Palpatine + Vader + Soontir list got really, really hot going into worlds. Was it the best? Maybe. Was it popular? YES.).

Objective 3 – Be comfortable enough with a few of my favorite lists to make a choice from one of them going into the tournament, based on where I feel the meta is at the week of the event (ex. in the example in #2, if you know that is going to be a popular list it could make one of your lists stronger at that particular event).

Any time I’ve done well at a top level, it has been because I had a fundamental understanding of the game and the meta. The entire game. The entire meta. Not just the lists or the factions that I like, but the whole thing. I’ll never run a list at a big tournament that I don’t enjoy playing, because tournament fatigue is very real. However, I will run lists that aren’t my favorite at the moment, if I think that they are stronger against the best and most popular lists.

So what are the best lists? What are the popular lists? Before I can make that sort of assessment though, I have a tooooooon of X-Wing games ahead of me. I’ve been heavily testing for a few weeks now, but I need your help!

With Wave 8 on the horizon, I’m looking for lists to test as and against. Do you have a list that you think is good?

awakened-template-spreadFor those of you who want to be on Team Zach at the Open Series (a journey which I will be documenting completely), I’m looking for lists! Your lists! The lists! Every list! It’s an X-Wing collaboration, and I hope that every player benefits, even if they cannot attend the Open Series.

I’m off to play more X-Wing, but in my next blog (link below) I’ll be going back to the beginning. I decided to start my testing by visiting an old ally… the TIE Swarm! Until then, keep playing!

Zach

If you would like to read more about my Road to Open Series, below are all of the blog posts in the series! 

2016

Road to the Open Series: The Awakening (this blog)
Road to the Open Series: TIE Swarm
Road to the Open Series: The Meta
Road to the Open Series: Palp Aces
Road to the Open Series: The Qualifier
Road to the Open Series: The Final Day

2017 

Road to the Open Series: Kanan + Biggs on Mustafar
Road to the Open Series: Hoth Open (coming in April)

Covenant Templates Redux

Covenant Templates have been an awesome product for us, and we would be crazy to not stop everything that we are doing to thank all of you. The X-Wing community here is phenomenal, and the corresponding support for beautiful, high-quality templates has allowed us to keep moving everything forward. Thank you!

The launch of our new logo necessitated all-new designs for the template etchings, and we took advantage of this opportunity to also change their name. Covenant Templates are now Squad Templates, and they sport the simpler, more impactful phoenix (they look gorgeous!). This new name provides a less-ambiguous impression (Covenant Templates is pretty wide open), and it keeps us safe from potential conflicts as we develop additional templates compatible with X-Wing and other games.

You can find the newly-skinned Squad Templates on our updated page, or, if it is easier, swing by our store in Tulsa and we will give you a tour in person!

A huge thank you again to the worldwide X-Wing community for choosing our templates as the standard. We will continue pushing ourselves to make the best products that we possibly can.