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Friday, 24 June 2016

The Great Battle of Yavin - The Preparation

It's been a while since I've written something on this blog. Finishing my PhD was part of the reason, but I haven't posted since then either. A battle report for the Yavin system open for 2016 seems like a good occasion to start writing regular posts again, especially since I think I did rather well! I'm going to start with a small post on my list choice and experience at the Regionals, then I will follow up with a post on the actual Open.

Just like in 2015, there was no X-wing Regional this year in Romania. So I was itching to find a place to go (in 2015 I went with a buddy to Salzburg Regionals - had loads of fun but no results).  The System Opens were also a good opportunity to play some quality matches, but I was undecided on whether to go and to which one. Then came along the announcement of Yavin, a System Open and a Regional in one! Too good an opportunity to miss! We formed a group of 3 and booked plane and expo tickets and we were off!

List building


But what to play? I had recent success with Imperial Veterans in the Team Covenant Open (Palpatine, Juno, Vessery) and I figured the expansion will surely be out by then (boy, was I wrong). I trained with Tractor Vessery, Inquisitor, Tomax the Crack Engine, which is quite a good list IMHO. It has a nasty alpha-strike at PS8 and can hold its own afterwards. You're a bit dependent on the Inquisitor to seal the deal in the endgame, because Tomax and Vessery are not the most maneuverable of ships, but otherwise it's very good. I was very confident with it and did very well in my training matches with it.

With the announcement that Imperial Veterans was not legal, I was suddenly without a list to play, with no time to put in the training as I did with the other list. So I scraped together a list with what I liked to play and knew was good. A lot of people like Whisper Omega Leader Palpatine, but OL always seems to do little damage in my games, especially early on. It can take on any ship 1v1, but it will be a long battle of attrition against most. In this meta I'm of the opinion that you need to shift the damage output towards the beginning of the game as much as possible. The inquisitor has a much higher damage output on soft targets, while also being harder to kill (especially when more than 1 ship is firing). Whisper has always been a strong pilot and is a good meta call right now, when the stressbot is rare and PS9 turrets have almost vanished. It's just that I have to take a focus more often instead of my usual evade, but seeing Phildo's games in the TCOpen I see that this can work. The list also has a higher damage output than the OL version when Whisper is cloaked, so you can actually delay Whisper if there's big threats for her in the opponent's list.

So a bare-bones Whisper would be VI, FCS, ACD, with the Inquisitor and Palpatine that's 99 pts. Four choices arise:
  • Do I leave the point for initiative? A good initiative bid is 97-98 for PS9 (96-97 currently for PS3), so 1pt does not buy me much. Dangerous PS9's are Han and Dengar, Han is rarely seen now. Dengar is much easier to take down though, and I have had a match with my list against Dengar+Bossk which went pretty well, not losing Whisper or the Inquisitor. Other PS9's will be primary arc ships, which I can hopefully dodge by moving afterwards. 
  • Do I take a 1pt crew? Intelligence Agent is very good on Whisper, it will help in a few games I'm sure, mostly against PS9's if I get initiative.
  • Do I take Electronic Baffle? It transforms the shuttle into a fighting monster, surprises the opponent in many ways (repeated stops, 3 banks with action). This upgrade increases the damage potential of the shuttle, so it was the upgrade I ended up taking.
  • I could also drop FCS and go for something else, but I'm leery of lowering Whisper's damage potential, even if it's not for the 1st round of combat.

Practice at Birmingham Regional 

Disclaimer: Somehow I was counting only on memory for the lists and games, I didn't account for the fact that 15 games over 3 days would become one big blur. I didn't even write down the points, and for the Regional event it's especially difficult since I lost many games.

So off I went to the Birmingham Regional on June 3rd. My expectations for the regional were low, since I wanted to practice for Yavin. I did use the regional bye though, since it allowed me 20 minutes of expo time right when it opened, the opportunity to see wave 9 and Armada wave 4 in person!

Due to specific circumstances, this was the 2nd time I was using a bye, and the first time I was not the only one! I was a bit surprised to find myself opposite someone with Nationals templates with 3 jumpmasters. I said I wanted the practice...

Game 2 was against this 3 jumpmaster list, of the Overclocked R4-Plasma variety. I think one lacked extra munitions and another had upgraded to bobba and proton to stay at 96 points. Having flown very few games against triple Jumpmasters, I set up Palpatine in the corner where the options were most open. The plan was to block with Palpatine using Baffle, since that forces them to 4 forward to get out, wasting torpedo opportunities. He sets them up in a line glued to each other (so a 1-turn would bump for each one), move I hadn't seen before. My Inquisitor and Whisper are more spread out, trying to get them from all sides and make them commit to a target. They leave their options open (and especially dangerous for the Inquisitor), so I power forward with Palpatine and Whisper. Problem is, I forget to decloak and lose my chance of a 1-on-1 exchange with a Scout. With no other shots that round, it would have been perfect. The place of engagement didn't favour him much due to asteroids, so I managed to sneak in with the Inquisitor and Whisper (not without taking damage though). The game was absolutely lost when I found myself head-on with a Jumpmaster at range 2 with Whisper. I had TL on some other jumpmaster, and I decided to barrel roll to get into range 1. I was off by a few millimeters, with no focus. I did 1 damage and because of all of this forgot to cloak. Of course Whisper was taken off the board shortly after.

Lessons learned: Don't forget to decloak, don't forget to cloak, previsualize Barrel rolls better (didn't learn this one properly). Fighting in the asteroid field was pretty good, but he forced me to switch targets so I couldn't get a decent modified shot with Whisper to take something off the board. In the end I got two half-points for Jumpmasters, because the Inquisitor is badass.

Game 3 was against a very interesting list: 2 Y-wings with TLT, Proximity Mines and Extra Munitions and a loaded-up Manaroo with K4 security droid. He played it very slow, I tried to come in from all sides (while still avoiding torps from Manaroo), so the Inquisitor was funneled into the jaws of death. I forgot about K-4 and I didn't register the 1-left free TL Manaroo did in the picture, so I was surprised when the following turn Manaroo turned, Barrel rolled and still got a torpedo off. Coupled with a TLT shot the previous turn, the Inquisitor was barely holding on. I managed to avoid Proximity mines with the Inquisitor and he didn't have room to maneuver to get others off, all while I was chipping away at his Y-wings with everything (shuttle included, mostly because of baffling). In the end I was able to edge out a win.

Lessons learned: Have a better approach plan, my Lambda was 1 turn too slow and the Inquisitor was 1 turn too fast.

Game 4 was against Zuckuss, Palob and Manaroo. He started in the middle, going slowly, I had the Inquisitor and Palpatine on my left and Whisper on the right. I assumed he would not turn for Whisper (a 2-turn with everybody), since that would put him in a bad position and I would potentially escape. I was wrong. Whisper had a torpedo incoming along with other fire, took 2 shields and a critical "Blinded Pilot" (new deck). My return fire was weak, 2 shields on Zuckuss. I was pretty shaken and I forgot about the crit, so the following turn I couldn't shoot so I couldn't cloak so I died. I don't remember if I destroyed anything that round.

Lessons learned: Never discount a move from your opponent, even if it's a move that will put him in a bad position for many of your choices.

Game 5 was against a party bus Bossk (Dengar zuckuss 4-lom), N'dru and Manaroo. He had a good approach, Bossk and Manaroo down the middle, N'dru down my right. I was on the left with all, tried to be very aggressive. I hoped I would get Bossk down in 2 turns and live up to that damage. I managed to get an engagement with Whisper safe from a torpedo shot, but I did very little damage (3 damage on Bossk in exchange for 3 damage - hit/hit/direct hit on Whisper if I recall). A very quick game indeed, couldn't even kill Bossk, but I did kill N'dru with a lucky shot from the Inquisitor (hit hit direct hit).

Lessons learned: I still have no idea how to approach this matchup. Kill the party bus with the shuttle?

Game 6 and the final game was against a Tel Trevura, Torkill, Contracted Scout list. We played in his right hand side corner, with the initial exchange being at range 3 on Torkil. On the second turn, he PS0-ed the Inquisitor, but Whisper was able to kill Torkill off. In the following knife-fight, he had to turn Trevura away, which let me focus fire the Contracted Scout down. Tel Trevura was destroyed shortly after (twice). He did get some torpedoes off, but I don't more than one per turn, which I was able to absorb on my aces.

All in all, I went 3-3 (bye included), so just a hair short of abysmal, I think I was rank 70 out of 130 or something like that. But the good part was that I had things to learn from all of my matchups. Some dice went my way, the greens not so much, I think I took hit-hit-crit on my phantom 3 times in 6 games, that has to be something special. I was highest at table 5, but dropped quickly. I only played against Scum the whole day, while only getting one triple jumpmaster list, and one double, the rest were all very different, but all had at least one jumpmaster.

I knew I wasn't going to change the list anyway, and I definitely felt that I could have turned my losses into wins with better play (and maybe some dumb luck in my 5th). 5 games was enough, I was ready for Day 1 of Yavin!

I would like to thank all my opponents at the Regional, everybody was super friendly and nice.


  1. Nice report, Andrei! I smiled while reading some passages because I remembered them from the bits you had told me that other day.

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