Thursday, 5 May 2016

So...

It's been a while since anything came from 181st...

I've been playing, losing, winning, sorting out my life...

I'll be posting some more shorts up in the next few weeks as well as a review of a tournament on May 15th at Vault 14...

Watch this space...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The TIE Advanced Prototype (AKA The Inquisitor's TIE)

First Impressions
As this is my first new ship from a new wave (yes I was a late bloomer in X-wing) I do love this little guy, and not just because I’ve been following Rebels on TV!
The model itself is pretty damned awesome to look at, they’ve really captured the essence of the prototype from the series. The dial is also VERY good! All the 1-speed maneuvers are green, as is all but the 5-speed forward. The only red maneuver is the standard 4-koiogran turn synonymous with the Advanced. Fantasy Flight are also preparing everyone for their new plastic dial mounts by including a cardboard insert of the Adv. Prototype.
As a side note, Sienar Fleet Systems really took the advice of the Imperial Inquisitors on board when producing the production model, making it slower but still maintaining a high agility while adding more armour plating to the hull. All in all, this will fit in great with the rest of the Imperial fleet, while still adding a level of variety that the Advanced is still sadly lacking, even after the fixes brought in the Raider kit.

Pilots
The Inquisitor - Also known as ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ from Star Wars: Rebels, this guy has me the most excited. Pilot Skill 8, with one of the most devastating abilities I’ve ever seen in this game - All of The Inquisitor’s primary attacks count as being at Range 1.
Let that sink in.
Range 1.
That means even if you’re at Range 3, you’re at Range 1. You get an additional attack dice no matter where you are! This also means anything that requires you to be at Range 3, like Autothrusters, do not activate. No Autothrusters for those nasty little ships that will undoubtedly have them. It also means no extra evade dice for things like the Decimator and the VCX-100 that do not have one, except for at Range 3. This guy will definitely make hunting Aces and other nasties a lot easier!

Valen Rudor - Originally seen in Rebels as the first pilot of this amazing little ship, Valen Rudor is Pilot Skill 6 and very similar to Turr Phennir in the TIE Interceptor. Rudor’s ability activates on the defence, however, making him difficult to target with any 2-in-1 attacks like cluster missiles or twin laser turret, as he could easily boost out of range or roll out of arc. He would probably do really well paired up with Phennir as an annoyance to slower, more heavily armed ships.

Baron of the Empire - at 19 points with an Elite Pilot Talent and Pilot Skill 4, this guy will work really well with a 1 point EPT like Crack Shot, Calculation or the new Rage card, especially when used in a group of five.

Sienar Test Pilot - Much like the Baron, but with Pilot Skill 2 and no EPT for 16 points, This guy would also work in a swarm of five with Autothrusters for arc dodging and a free evade from the new upgrade…

New Upgrade Cards
TIE/v1 - While Sienar Fleet Systems had the design of the TIE Advanced (almost) perfect around the time the Rebel Alliance destroyed the first Death Star, when the Advanced Prototype was released in 15BBY, the title of choice was the TIE/v1.
This upgrade, which is only for the TIE Advanced Prototype, gives any of the four included pilots a free Evade action when they acquire a Target Lock. for 1 point This means that anyone Pilot Skill 4 or higher (Sorry Sienar Test Pilots) can have a fantastic action economy when using Push the Limit on their Advanced Prototype, as, combined with the Boost action, will allow Rudor or the generic Baron to get into Target Lock range, and a Barrel Roll will keep The Inquisitor out of Range 2, activating Autothrusters if targeted and still benefitting from his innate ability.

XX-23 S-thread Tracers - Sienar’s proprietary tracking technology, the XX-23 Tracers come in at 1 point and, if they hit, allow the user to pass out a free Target Lock to every friendly ship at Range 1-2. In TIE swarms, this has the potential to change the two-dice TIE Fighters and three-dice Interceptors into monsters against the right target. There is a chance it might be FAQ’ed to clarify whether or not the ship needs a Targeting Computer to claim the Target Lock, but time will tell.

Guidance Chips - a new upgrade in the modifications category, Guidance Chips is free and allows a blank result to be changed to a hit (in the case of ships with a Primary Attack Value of 2 or less) or a hit to a critical hit (for ship with a PAV of 3 or more) when using Missiles or Torpedoes. Because this is free, it is likely to feature heavily in new builds, as a way of making munitions more viable, potentially even changing the feel of the game by including more Missiles and Torpedoes in tournament lists.

I took a TIE Advanced Prototype to a Store Championship recently, as part of a 6-TIE mini-swarm.
My build was as follows:-
The Inquisitor (25) Autothrusters (2) TIE/v1 (1) and XX-23 S-thread Tracers (1) totalling 30 points, paired with:-
Howlrunner (18)
4x Obsidian Squadron Pilots (52)

I faced a variety of ships and playstyles, most of which I was able to mount a challenge against with the Inquisitor and TIE Fighters. In some games, the Tracers came into play against the larger ships with low agility values, such as the TIE Punisher and the Millennium Falcon. The build, however, does struggle against high-powered ships, as well as my own inability to roll dice successfully. 
The TIE Advanced Prototype is definitely going to be a ship to try out in many Imperial lists, as it is cheaper than it’s cousin, the TIE Advanced. It does still struggle with the problems the TIE Advanced has, however, and the biggest problem I found if its inability to perform a 3-koiogran turn, a maneuver which would’ve not only saved my Inquisitor in a game against a Ghost/Phantom combination, but would’ve also ensured the destruction of the Phantom, scoring me valuable points and possibly securing the win, but it’s brand-new, and further play will iron out any kinks with my flying, I hope.
I’d also recommend it to any Rebel players looking for Guidance Chips to pick it up, as it does still include the Deadeye EPT and another set of Homing Missiles, which would pair up really well with Guidance Chips. 

Overall a really good ship with some strengths, and a few weaknesses that experienced pilots will be able to counter.

I’d recommend picking one up from your Friendly Local Game Shop. I got mine from Vault 14 in Doncaster.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Tuesday night at Vault 14, Doncaster

So, after some discussion with my buddy, Scott, we decided to check out Vault 14's Tuesday Night X Wing in Doncaster.
It's been running for 5/6 weeks but due to other commitments, neither of us had made it out on a Tuesday night. 
First impressions of Vault 14 were pretty good. From their inception as another FLGS in Doncaster, they've been my first stop for all things X-Wing. The shop itself is, firstly, warm and friendly. Well stocked, too. I've never seen so many boxed sets crammed into two cabinets. The only thing missing was Y Wings and Kihraxz fighters (Which after Worlds 2015 is hardly surprising!)

I also realised that I hate Phantoms. Not the little shuttle from Star Wars: Rebels that flies with the Ghost, the Imperial star fighter. 
I just can't get to grips with them. They're good, with 4 red dice, 4 green when cloaked, and the system/crew slots are unseen on ships of their size for Imperials.
I can't fly them though. I always end up parking them on asteroids or smacking into ships, not being able to cloak then being pounded like the surface of Callos. 
I do, however, love to face them. My first opponent was flying 2 with Dark Curse as backup.

I didn't expect a list with Vader, Backstabber, Mauler and Fel to work but fuck, did it ever!

My list was:

Black Squadron and The Baron

Darth Vader (29) with TIE/x1 (0) and Advanced Targeting Computer (1)

Mauler Mithel (17) with Swarm Tactics (2)

Backstabber (16)

Soontir Fel (27) with Push the Limit (3) Royal Guard TIE (0) Autothrusters (2) and Stealth Device (3)

100 points

Zone Out X Wing Store Championship 2016, February 6th 2016

So, after about two weeks (yes, readers, I'm lazy/busy/both) I'll post up what happened at the Zone Out Store Championship...

Unlike the previous tournament entered, the Winter Kit, turnout was excellent! 18 players turned up, only 2 of which had Imperials, and 3 took Scum. The Imperial players included myself, and Worlds 2014 Top 4 placer Keith Wilson. We had 13 Rebel players come out, with a stunning eight, (yes, 8) K-Wings being played. It was unusual, so I'm told, to not see a Falcon or anything "expected."

My list included Kath Scarlett in the Firespray 31 with Mara Jade, Engine Upgrade, Mangler cannon and Veteran Instincts, and a 1/2 TIE Swarm (2 Academy, 2 Obsidian) to block/round out the list.

So... Onto games...

Game 1 - Vs. Rebels. "Let's see if it can go better than last time."
Rebel player brings out Tarn Mison, Red Ace and Poe Dameron. Fuck. Never flown against the first two, but the latter...
The right combo of astromech's prevented a lot of the damage from sticking to the damned X wings, but all in all, I learned a lot. My TIEs even managed to survive this one! Kath, however, didn't.

Score: 0 Wins. 1 Loss.


Game 2 - Vs. Rebels "Okay. So it's no better than last time. What's next?"
K wings. 3 of them. Bombs and turrets galore.
This time, however, I won. Mostly due to Kath and Mara chasing them down screaming at them. While it's almost impossible to stop the K Wing from doing what it needs to, they managed alright. Each K wing had a recon specialist on so stopping them getting any focus, let alone the 2 they were due, was quite fun.

Score: 1 Win. 1 Loss.


Game 3 - Vs. Rebels. "Holy fuck, a win! My first tournament win! Let's capitalise!"
Sadly, no. Not against Poe, Horn and an A Wing test pilot.
I'm starting to notice my list doesn't do well against Aces. Swarms, it's not bad. A lot of ships in close proximity to my Firespray and wallop! Those not hit by a Mangler Cannon are stressed thanks to Mara Jade.
The A Wing died, which is always a bonus...

Score: 1 Win. 2 Losses.

Game 4 - Vs. Rebels. "Great. More Aces."
Game 4 turned out to be the best game of the day for me, I got a lot more in terms of damage, but my opponent still beat my ass wholesale. 

Score: 1 Win. 3 Losses.

Overall I placed 15th out of 18 (A huge improvement for me!) and won myself 2 alt-art C3PO cards :)

Top 4 was cut between 2 Rebels, 1 Imperial, 1 Scum. 

Final went to Imperials and Scum. Ended up as Scum victory.

Watch out for those Kihraxz Fighters. They pack a wallop and at 20 points each, 5 of them are mean!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

4. Raid on Polis Massa

The rebels that sheltered in the Polis Massa asteroid field felt safe in the knowledge that the Empire was unable to find their base among the potential millions of rocks floating there. In secret, they had taken the Alliance’s X-Wing craft and had modified it to be sleeker, faster and more agile. They felt confident this model, which they had named the T-70, would easily outperform the Empire’s TIEs.
They were, however, unaware that since their victory over the Empire’s prototype stealth fighter in the Castell system, Sienar Systems had worked tirelessly to develop their stealth drives, and the latest version of the TIE Phantom was already in operation around the Polis Massa field. It was the efforts of a young pilot codenamed ‘Whisper’ that revealed the location of the base. In a bold move that saw many of the Empire’s most skilled pilots being sent on a daring raid against the rebels, a force of TIE Bombers, Punishers and Defenders managed to slip into the asteroid field using the asteroids themselves as protection from the rebel scanners.
While several Punisher squadrons lead the raids on the manufacturing centres of the Polis Massa base, Captain Jonus took a pair of Onyx Squadron pilots to destroy the prototype T-70s…
“Captain, three targets located. One is a Z-95. I think the other two are our primary targets.”
Jones checked his scanners. “Roger that, Onyx One. concentrate your efforts on those X-Wings. The Headhunter is mine.”
“Copy that.” The Onyx Squadron pilots chorused. They banked right ahead of Jonus, narrowly avoiding being struck by an asteroid. Jonus barrel-rolled underneath it. While he was unhappy he wasn’t participating in the bombing runs, he was glad to be given a challenge. The Bomber was slower than the standard TIE, but offered more protection and better ordinance capabilities. For a pilot like Jonus, all it meant was he had to be quicker than normal.
The X-Wings dodged and wove through the asteroid field, making a direct hit nearly impossible. They raked the Defenders with blaster fire, lighting up the shields before disappearing behind asteroids.
Onyx One banked left sharply then rolled effortlessly around an asteroid. “Got him in my sights!” A lance of energy from the Defender’s heavy laser cannon crossed the void and struck the first X-Wing in the rear. It’s shields died as the pilot fought to keep control of the ship. Jonus watched as Onyx Two fired wildly at the ship. He was about to admonish Onyx Two when he saw that the wild firing had been a distraction. The X-Wing had barrel-rolled to avoid the shot only to smash into an asteroid and explode.
“Good job, Onyx. Take down the remaining X-Wing!” Onyx Squadron took off after the craft as Jonus homed in on the Headhunter. The craft was almost too fast for him as it zipped between asteroids and down into the crevasses of a planet-sized rock. Jonus gripped the controls and followed it down.
The Headhunter was leading Jonus on a wild goose chase and he knew it. He was prepared for the smaller ship to bank down a narrow corridor, only to leave his bomber impacting a mesa of rock, rendering it to shards of glittering metal. He held his nerve and managed to get a target lock. Jonus prepared his ion torpedo and loosed the shot. The torpedo struck as the Z-95 was rounding a corner to escape. Powerless to turn, the ship struck the cliff and burst into a shower of sparks. Jonus pulled out of the canyon and rejoined the hunt for the X-Wing. 
The X-Wing pilot was relentless in his escape from the Defenders. Every time they lined up a clear shot, he would disappear behind another asteroid. Eventually, Onyx Squadron banked apart and attempted to pin the ship in a crossfire. As Onyx One rounded yet another asteroid, the X-Wing was on him, firing a barrage of proton torpedoes. The Defenders shields flickered and died before Onyx One was ripped apart by the remaining torpedoes. Onyx One’s sacrifice was the opening Onyx Two had been looking for. Appearing on the X-Wing’s rear, he opened up with the heavy laser cannon. The shot struck the X-Wings starboard stabiliser and sent the ship careening into an asteroid, destroying it.
“Captain, this is Onyx Two. X-Wings have been destroyed, repeat; target’s destroyed.”

“Good work, Onyx. Rejoin me and we’ll finish the clean-up with the rest of the taskforce.”

3. The One-Hundred and-Eighty-Worst

“Okay Saber, keep it tight…” 
“Roger, Saber Leader.”
“Roger, Saber Leader.”

Fel banked around the asteroid and adjusted his targeting computer. There had been sightings of smugglers in this sector, and Saber Squadron was going to put an end to them once and for all,
“If you mess this up, I’ll have you all personally assigned to Felucia, piloting TIEs as distractions for the beasts that rule the skies…” Fel’s threat was neither veiled nor unclear. Since taking command of Saber Squadron from Commander Derricote, he had been less than impressed with the pilots under his command. Each one of them was supposed to be the best of the best in their wing. The privilege of flying in Saber Squadron came from being ruthless in combat as well as being able to fly an interceptor practically blindfolded. He had pushed them and each time he did, they came up short. 
Suddenly, his computer registered threats.
“Three bogies at two-ten!” He hit the boosters and his Interceptor danced around another asteroid. The Peragus II mining station was situated in orbit around the volcanic world of Peragus. Many standard years before, an accident with a blaster rifle had caused a cataclysmic explosion on the planet, sending continent-sized chunks of rock into the system surrounding Peragus. The planet was a leading fuel producer thanks to the mineral deposits in the crust that could be refined to starship fuel. Now, safety was paramount; the asteroid field that surrounded the planet meant it was almost impossible to fly safely without predicted drift charts, and blaster weapons were forbidden anywhere near the asteroids. Fel knew that if he or any of his squadron let a shot go wide, they would all be dead.
The smugglers approached in a dive, intending to catch the Imperials off guard. 
“Stele, break left, go for the escorts! Yage, with me, aim for the freighter! Keep that blaster fire tight!” 
“Copy.”
“Copy.”
The Interceptor to Fel’s left, that of Maarek Stele, rolled away in a spiral below the baron and Yage. Fel pulled back on the controls, lifting the Interceptor to meet the smugglers head on. Yage followed suit before asking,
“Sir, are we playing Brink with a YT-2400?”
“The biggest principle of Brink, Yage, is knowing when to move…” The ships sped ever closer, and Fel’s nerve held. 
Yale’s however, didn’t. The rookie rolled right, away from the speeding freighter, right into an asteroid. The sky lit up as the Interceptor detonated the minerals contained in the crust and the rock exploded, sending burning chunks of rock into the surrounding asteroids, detonating them in a chain reaction. 
“Pause!” Fel screamed. The explosions froze in mid-detonation. “End simulation.” The backdrop of space and glittering explosions shimmered away to nothing and Fel opened the cockpit of the simulator. 
Yage was sat red-faced, while Stele’s head was cradled in his hands. 
“Well done, Yage.” Fel said. “You’ve just cost the Empire billions in credits for fuel and cemented the 181st’s reputation as the ‘180-worst’. Are you proud?” 
Yage avoided the commanders piercing stare. 
“We’ve got a lot of work to do…” Fel called to the assembled pilots who had been watching the simulation on projection screens. He stepped out of the simulator and marched towards his office.
“Oh. and Yage?”
“Yes, sir?” Yage was already trembling. 
“Report to reassignment, collect your gear from your bunk, and get the hell out of my squadron until you can fly…” Fel’s office door closed behind him.

“Y… Yes sir…” Yage said, timidly. 

Zone Out Winter Kit

So, this is going to be my first blog post about a championship in my one of my FLGS, namely Zone Out in Doncaster.

My list was;

x2 Onyx Squadron Pilots (32) with Heavy Laser Cannon (7) 39 x 2 = 78 points
Captain Jonus = 22 points

Game 1 - James B running Rear Admiral Chiraneau and Whisper.
"So, first game of my first tournament! And it's against Imperials! This should be easy right?"
So, right off the bat, lets go for the Decimator (wrong move!) Within three rounds, Chiraneau is spinning towards the (metaphorical) bottom of deep space, taking Emperor Palpatine with him! 58 easy points in the bag for me! Now for Jonus and my remaining Defender to chase down Whisper! Easy, right? Wrong again. After losing Jonus and crippling Whisper, the Defender and Whisper continued to dance around the asteroids until, pop! Side arc, range 1 from Whisper! 5 attack vs. 3 defence... Goodbye Defender!
WINS: 0. LOSSES: 1.

Game 2 - Ritchie running Cutlass squadron pilot, Omicron group pilot, 2 Academy pilots and Howlrunner.
"So, after a near-win in the first round, I can claw this back..."
Okay, so no Decimator and no Phantom. This game should be a change. After popping off Howlrunner and an Academy pilot or two, it should be simple enough to take out the shuttle and the Punisher. It turns out that the Defenders aren't agile enough to follow even the Lambda and outmanoeuvre the Punisher.
WINS: 0. LOSSES: 2.

Game 3 - Matt running Vader, Stele and Whisper.
"Yay, more Imperials! And another Phantom!" 
This was by far the weakest of all the games of the day. Playing chicken with two TIE Advanced and a Phantom didn't go as well as I thought it might. Two pilots at PS3 and one at PS6 it turns out is no match for three pilots with PS11, PS9 and PS9 respectively. So yes, the TIE/x1 duo managed to cripple the Defenders after Whisper was (finally, albeit in a different game) spread across space in a shower of sparks and guts. MVP of this game goes to the phenomenally stupid Captain Jonus, who, thanks to awful ship placement and manoeuvring on my part, decided to fly off the edge of the board.
WINS: 0. LOSSES: 3.

Game 4 - Danny running Howlrunner, 4 Academy pilots and Vader.
"Even more Imperials. Still, it's better than being beaten by Rebels."
So, last round and I'm clearly last in this tournament. Lets see what I can take down this time! Howl runner succumbed to the Defenders, as did several of the Academy pilots. It was, however, not to be a victory for me, as Vader once again proved why he is the strongest of the Imperial pilots by destroying Jonus and a Defender.
MVP here goes to Academy pilot #9 for finishing off the last Defender. 
WINS: 0. LOSSES: 4.

So, overall thoughts of the tournament...
The turnout was sparse but everyone seemed really cool. Out of eight players; five were Imperial, two Rebel, one Scum. Imperial lists seemed to be fairly widespread - including a good mix of large and small ships, swarms and elites, and a spread of ships. Palpatine proved popular, popping up in 40% of the Imperial lists, as did Vader and Whisper. Imperials also proved to be the weaker of the factions, as 5 of the 6 players from #8 to #3 were Imperials, the last one being Scum. The two Rebel lists were almost identical; 4 B-Wings on both sides. One list included a Z-95 Headhunter, the other included a Dagger squadron pilot and various upgrades to round out the list. Both of the Rebel players made the top 2, cementing the reputation of the B-Wing as an excellent ship. It's hardly surprising either;


5 Shields, 3 Hull, 3/4 Attack dice, 1/2 Agility dice, as well as Systems, Cannons, two Torpedoes and Titles and Modifications. Can Imperials have one of these?


Zone Out, for anyone local to Doncaster/South Yorkshire, is a great little venue. Situated in Doncaster town centre, it's got a lot of great stock, it's fairly cozy and while it can get a little cold, once the heaters kick in and the food starts cooking, it does warm up. Ash, the owner, is pretty cool too, giving each of us two alternate art Gunner cards, featuring the Imperial gunner, as well as the standard array of prizes for the actual prize places. 
Even though I lost all 4 games of the day, it wasn't a complete waste. Having paid the entry for the winner, he was gracious enough to give me his alternate art Darth Vader pilot card!


So, Store Championships are in about 2 weeks, so, let's hope that with a new list and some luck, I might come higher than last place!