T-Minus 24 Hours

T-minus 24 hours

Netrunner has taken a back burner in my gaming time for the past couple of months, but I have a perfectly reasonable excuse; X-Wing Regionals are 24 hours from now, Saturday, June 6th, 2015.  I've been testing and theorycrafting very hard for the past six weeks in order to give myself the best possible opportunity to be disappointed in my performance.

My testing began against a very fmailiar foe: Ian has been a thorn in my side for as long as I can remember - I've won exactly two games against him in our time practicing together.  He's been piloting virtually the same Interceptor/Phantom/X build with minor variations since the Phantom came out, going from Darth Vader to Mauler Mithel to Howlrunner over the months in his supporting ship.  The list has gone through easily twenty iterations in varied upgrade cards: with Recon Specialist, Intelligence Officer and Navigator all taking the crew slot in Whisper's ship - EPTs and modifications as well have been varied across the board as well.

He wanted to see if the chassis of the build (Whisper as flanker/Carnor Jax as gunboat) remained viable in the post 'nerf' world, and in the post-Scum world... He was running the sam list he ran to a third-place finish at our last Store Championship, which was also the last time he had played.  I wanted to see if I could learn some new tricks since my Decimator/Whisper combo had been relegated to lower-tier by the nerf.

I'm also not nearly a strong enough pilot to overcome the nerf regardless of how strong a ship the Phantom remains.

I was piloting the Crazy88s (aka Brobots) with B and C using an asymetrical build.  My B had the HLC components designed around hovering along the outskirts of the battle, while the C had a Mangler cannon and was built to be more aggressive and charge into the fray. Our first game I flew pretty well, putting the Signor's Loop to great effect, opening up wide firing angles and leveraging the (relatively) high value red dice against Ian's surprisingly tanky elite TIE squadron.

Despite my well-executed maneuvers, Ian befuddled me both with his strong use of the decloak action to block my maneuvers, while also managing to arc dodge the Aggressors like the champion he is.  It helped that he was rolling as well as he ever does, and the force was clearly not with me, my C got destroyed after just two rounds of focused fire, and the B followed quickly thereafter.

I tried a different deployment in the second game, putting the C in the centre of the table, while the B was deployed along the right side.  Having to fully deploy before the elite TIEs allowed Ian to come in from the left flank and distract the B with the phantom who was still operating as a flanker.  This game was closer, as I did manage to take the Howlrunner out, and the Phantom was close to destroyed before I lost the C, but once the C was gone, the phantom and Interceptor were able to arc dodge their way around the B who never managed to establish an offense in the late game.

I put the Aggressors away after the second game, and decided to fly something else for the first of three Game Night events we had locally in the run up to Regionals - I flew a Bounty Hunter and a pair of elite Interceptors.  Carnor Jax and Soontir Fel took the reins with a somewhat unconventional build:

Bounty Hunter

Soontir Fel
- Push the Limit
- Autothrusters
- Royal Guard TIE
- Targeting Computer

Carnor Jax
- Wingman
- Autothrusters
- Royal Guard TIE
- Targeting Computer

I got the Bye in round 1, taking my 150 MOV into round two against a very unique list flown by one of my Netrunner teammates, Travis.  He was piloting a five M3-A list each the cheapest generic with the Heavy Scyk title and Mangler Cannons.

This was an interesting list and it was a little intimidating, but I deployed along the right side against his centre line - I came in from his flank while he was snaking his way up very slowly.  I took down his first ship before he got a single shot off.  He focused on the Firespray, misinterpreting that ship as the primary threat, while I boosted the twin Interceptors in behin the Scyks and quickly burned my way through his line.  By the time my Firespray had gone down, he was down to two ships and I managed to put them away in fairly short order.

Going into the third round at 2-0, I played the only other undefeated player who was with two Shuttles and two Interceptors - another very interesting list.  I wish I could describe the brilliant glory involved in this game, but we managed to fly around each other's arcs enough that after a 60 minute round neither of us had killed a ship.  We agreed, however, that if the game had continued, I was in the best position to win the game, but ifs and buts are not candies and nuts.

In the fourth round, the pairings had been twisted enough by the third round draw that we were paired up once again as the only players at over ten victory points - as this game would be untimed there was no excuse this time around.  Unfortunately I had made plans for the evening, so after about 45 minutes I was down a Soontir Fel and my Firespray was getting low compared to his two dead shuttles and fully healthy interceptors and I decided that it would be better served to concede and not get in trouble at home.

I learned a fair bit about that list, especially since that was the first time I had brought a Firespray to a competitive event.  I wish I hadn't been awarded the bye, but I was happy with how the list flew, despite the low nubmer of reps. The next week brought another Game Night event in which I tried out yet another different list:

Rear Admiral Chiraneau
- Expose
- Engine Upgrade
- Rebel Captive
- Darth Vader
- Gunner

Soontir Fel
- Push the Limit
- Autothrusters
- Royal Guard TIE
- Stealth Device

I was piloting against Pat who had evolved his locally famous triple Firespray list into a twin Firespray out of the Scum faction.  He was running Kath Scarlett and Boba Fett, each with K4 Security Droids among other upgrades which helped him maximize the value of his relatively few attack dice by always having a target lock on top of his other actions.  I was defeated by this list pretty soundly - but this may have been strategic error rather than a problem with the list. 

He was able to ignore the stress from my Rebel Captive since his strategy was to take a green maneuver virtually every turn so long as he was within range 3 of an enemy - this meant that my principal defene was worthless against him; and I wasn't able to generate enough powerful offense in order to tip the scales in my favour - expose was good (as it had been the last time I had run the upgrade), but it wasn't as good as a more defensively minded build could have been.

In round two I played against Clayton who was piloting a version of the M3-A build I faced the week before; though he was running Serissu as his fifth Interceptor, with the four generics having Manglers.  This was a relatively simple game, as the Chirpy/Fel list prides itself on chewing through mini swarms - he spent the game attempting to chase the Decimator, but found himself quickly losing ships after my Interceptor got behind his fleet.  By the time he turned around to chase Soontir, I was able to turn Chirpy into the fraw and get some five-die attacks into his rear.

In the finals of our very small event, I was facing Chris who was flying a tankier variant of the Firespray list I ran the week before - exchanging my Carnor Jax for a second Firespray, giving him a greater area of control alongside 7 additional health to drag himself into the later game with more red dice at his disposal. Hi list is very powerful, and we spent the early game setting ourselves up at range three in order to mazimize the defensive potential of our fleets - my decimator was taking hits while Soontir moved in for the kill on his wounded BH. 

With a healthy Soontir against a wounded Soontir and a healthy Bounty hunter, the late game was going in Chris' favour, as his plan to tank the mid game was working out for him.  I took out the Soontir and lost mine to a lucky strike by the lone Firespray.  I was fortunate to finish in second due to MOV as Clay defeated Patrick to leave all three of us at 1-2 behind Chris' excellent 3-0 showing.

I learned a lot from that event, principally that my hyper-aggressive Decimator wasn't goign to do the job against dedicated focused fire.  Even positioned the way I was, I couldn't throw enough dice to make up for how tanky the metagame was becoming.  I decided to switch things around a little bit for my final testing session ahead of the big dance:

Rear Admiral Chiraneau
- Push the Limit
- Engine Upgrade
- Ysanne Issard
- Darth Vader
- Gunner

Soontir Fel
- Push the Limit
- Autothrusters
- Stealth Device
- Royal Guard TIE

So in this build I figured that I would try to maximize the effectiveness of Vader by focusing a little less on pure aggression and move toward a more hybrid style of play.  I tested this list against Ian's triple elite list and came away feeling pretty ambivalent about the build in general; the hybrid Chiraneau was simultaneously less effective at attacking while being just as fragile, while Soontir simply did what he does best.  I think that I could make the Chirpy list work, I just need more time to figure out the correct balance between aggression and defense (maybe Vader is the wrong solution and I should revert to a Rebel Captive build) but I don't have that kind of time.

So everything comes down to tomorrow morning - do I go with the list I've been playing iterations of for the past few months, or do I go with something more straightforward and perhaps less susceptible to variance?  I'm a particularly lucky individual in most aspects of my life, but I haven't found the magic touch with the X-Wing dice since I started playing about a year ago: so maybe minimizing luck is my best option overall.  That brings me to the two options I have for my regionals event tomorrow:

Option 1 (aka: ol' reliable)

Rear Admiral Chiraneau
- Push the Limit
- Engine Upgrade
- Ysanne Issard
- Rebel Captive
- Gunner

Soontir Fel
- Push the Limit
- Stealth Device
- Royal Guard TIE
- Autothrusters

Option 2 (aka: eff luck)

Blue Squadron Pilot x4

Bandit Squadron Pilot

 

As you can see, I've essentially removed the Scum lists from my vocabulary until I have had far more experience with them, and decided to hedge my bets with perhaps the most straightforward build in the current metagame.  I am theorizing that the key to success tomorrow morning will be throwing as many red dice as possible and not dying.  Perhaps the BBBBZ that has been scouring the world metagame (but has barely touched our little hole in Eastern Canada) is the solution to my problem?

I know that people won't be practiced against the list, and the dial on the B-Wing is as straightforward as it gets, opening up wide angles of offense while letting my shields (and blocking Z-95) do my defending for me could be the best way to defeat the scourge of large-based ships running wild all over the tables here in New Brunswick.

What do you think I should do?  Would I be better off playing ol' reliable, trusting that my experience with the list will help me overcome any inherent weakness it possesses to the fringes of the metagame; or is something relatively unexpected a better choice?  Please leave some feedback; I have 24 hours, and I'm really hoping to have more confidence than this walking into Gamezilla tomorrow morning!