27 February 2015

Store Championship at Armored Gopher (Urbana, IL) TOMORROW!

Yup, barring any late developing Midwestern winter storms, yours truly will be at the Store Championship presented by Urbana, Illinois' Armored Gopher on Saturday (tomorrow, at time of writing). I have no idea if they still have open slots or not, but Sean called and got us signed up only yesterday, so you're probably good if you're on the fence about going.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and say, "Hi!". Or if you're lucky enough to draw me as an opponent, pick up a few easy points, lols. Tourney starts at 2:00pm according to Sean. We might be there a little early.

Hope to see y'all there!


X-Wing Kickstarter- Dynamic Colored X-Wing Template Sets

I know, I know.

You already have a really dope set of acrylic templates.

Yup. Now you're pulling out your credit card for another

Are those sweet or what, y'all? The thing's already funded, and the campaign doesn't even end until 7 March. Note also they're doing some pretty nice looking translucent acrylic tokens too. Looks like you can hook them up as a set or in the form of add-ons. Oh, and they're selling non-slip inserts for the bottom of your ship's bases.

I'm in for at least Mandalorian. How about you?

Big ups to +Clifford Holm for bringing this to my attention!

24 February 2015

Guest Article- Against Marksmanship by Punning Pundit

Against Marksmanship:

Hello hello! I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about the card Marksmanship recently, and sat down to write a really annoyed missive about it. Our barkeeper, Clint, kindly agreed to host my thoughts here.

Before I dive in: online, I tend to go by “Punning Pundit”, and I’ll give 5 house points to anyone who can tell me- based on my cognomen- what my Major and Minor were in college.I blog about Class Warfare and Video Games over at Indignant Desert Birds, and tweet about the same stuff, and my dog Branson. I’ve been playing X-Wing since Christmas eve 2011, when my then-GF bought me the core set. Dear reader, a year later we were married.

So: I kinda hate Marksmanship. Probably more than it deserves, which is odd, given how much hate it does deserve. It’s the sort of card that looks good until you get to know the game better, and then you realize how little it actually does for you. The designers were still figuring the game out when they made the card, and players tend to only use it when they’re new.

Lets take a look at the text:
(3 points)

Action: When attacking this round, you may change 1 of your (eyeball) results to a (crit) result and all of your other (eyeball) results to (hit) results.

In effect, it uses your action to create a sort of pseudo-Focus. The biggest difference between Marksmanship and spending Focus on offense is that Marksmanship turns 1 (eyeball) into a crit. Because the action is not actually a focus action, it can’t be stolen by Palob Godalhi, nor can Carnor Jax prevent its being taken as an action, or spent as a token. Nor can it be banked by Mody Crow, passed around by Garven Dreis, or negated by Wes Janson.

Lets go all the way to the basics: this game is won by rolling enough more successes on red dice than your opponent rolls successes on green dice to account for every hull that your opponent has- and doing it faster than your opponent does the same thing to you. (As an aside: that sentence would be a lot easier in algebraic notation, or written in Latin/Greek. Sorry about that).

Lets take a break for today’s asterisk.

(Credit: some guy on YouTube)

When building a squad, points should be spent either on doing damage to enemy ships, or mitigating damage your own ships are taking. The Marksmanship action does not improve the odds of a hit more than a Focus action does. Instead, it marginally improves the odds that, if you cause your opponent to suffer damage, it will be a critical hit.

This seems like rather over-valuing critical hits. By way of comparison, look at the Heavy Laser Cannon and the Mangler Cannon. The HLC does 4 dice at ranges 2 and 3, converts (crits) to (hits)- before dice are modified- and costs 7 points. The Mangler Cannon tosses 3 Dice at ranges 1-3, converts 1 (hit) to a (crit) at any point before the defender rolls dice, and costs… 3 points less than the HLC. This tells us that a critical hit is worth significantly less than a fourth attack die.

Don’t get me wrong: All things being equal, I’d rather roll 3 (crits) than 3 (hits). But unless your name is Ten Numb [Most of this article has a giant asterisk next to it “unless your name is Ten Numb], those (crits) won’t actually make it easier for you to hit another ship.

Does the Marksmanship action give you a better chance to hit than the Focus action does? Nope. At least- not for any single attack. And if you roll an attack with no (eyeball) results, you’ve actually done worse than you would have had you instead chosen the Focus action- Focus tokens can be spent on defense as well as offense.

Crits are good though, right? Well yeah! They can annoy the heck out of your opponent. But for a crit to land, it has to A) Be against your opponent’s unshielded hull, B) Not be the final single damage that kills your opponent (so: a “direct hit” crit that dips your opponent into negative 1 hull is kinda wasted) C) Not be against Chewie.

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that spending 3 points for the option of taking the Marksmanship action is overspending for the privilege of putting crits on your opponent. Compounding that, you’re also being a lot less flexible on defense.

Feeling a bit Numb from reading all this?

(credit: a different guy on YouTube)

If all you wish to do is modify your roll, Predator offers a lot more flexibility, does not require an action, costs the same amount of points, and can be combined with a Focus token to convert any straggling (eyeballs) into (hits).

When might Marksmanship be a good idea? I might put Marksmanship onto a build that was going to fire twice in one round, when it also had access to other ways to modify dice. For instance: Coran Horn, with Fire Controll System, and Marksmanship is not the worst thing I’ve ever heard of. I might slap Experimental Interface and an R2 unit on there, just for extra funsies. And then moan that I’ve just eaten half my list on a single ship with 5 hp.

Or maybe: Ibitsam + FCS, Marksmanship, E2 (modification), and Gunner. It will shave 6 points off the Corran build, and cost you 2 PS. Notice, though, that you could get rid of Marksmanship and Gunner in favor of Crew!Luke, and get very nearly the same chance-to-hit, be action independant, and it will actually save you a point.
For super trolling, try: IG-88B + FCS + HLC + Marksmanship + IG-2000.

Remember: you’re not paying for the privilege to turn an (eyeball) into a (crit), but rather for the privilege of turning (eyeball) into (successes) on more than one attack. Frankly, in all the times I’ve run Buzzsaws, it’s been extremely rare for me to need a focus in addition to a pair of target locks on a pair of attacks. Since the FCS/Gunner combo is action-free, it works even when you’ve been blocked. And yeah, writing this post just made me realize how awesome Crew!Luke is.

The StarViper expansion comes with a card called “Calculation”, which will do much of what most of us want Marksmanship to do, and only costs 1 point. It’s still a very situational card (but wonderful on Ten Numb. Pairs so well with an Ion Cannon on Ten Numb that it’s ridiculous.)

So Marksmanship: it takes an action to for marginal gain, uses an EPT, and leaves you incredibly vulnerable in your defense. Marksmanship: It’s a trap.

(I tried very hard to find something with “Ten Numb” and “trap”, but alas.)

23 February 2015

Tournament Talk- Evansville, IN Store Championship 2015

'Grats Cliffy- Evansville, IN Store Champion 2015!

So a month ago or so, my pal Sean messaged me the time and date for Armored Gopher's Store Championship in Urbana, IL. You may or may not recall, I played in their SC last year, met some cool folks, and had an all around good time, so after consulting with the work and the fam, I made plans to attend again this year (it's on 28 Feb, or this Saturday if you're scoring at home). 

Now, as you've likely guessed from my infrequent updates the past, oh six months? I've not been playing a lot lately. Work has been work, the wife is taking classes online to get her Master's, it's kind of a long story as to why, but I've been spending free time shooting guns a lot lately, and we've been playing games besides X-Wing on the weekends via Hangouts. I didn't really want to walk into the Store Championship tournament completley cold, but I was having a hard time making it by the X-Wing League Night that Cliff has going these days on Thursday evenings at Comics Quest in Evansville. 

Chas's Daughter did the sign. I didn't ask her name or take her pic because I thought it'd be creepy for a 40-year old dude in a Metal Bikini shirt to ask what appeared to be a 13-year old girl her name and if he could put a picture of it and her on his website

Then a couple weeks ago, Cliff sent out an email saying that he was going to be TO'ing a Store Championship at Comics Quest here in Evansville on 23 Feb, which surprisingly seemed do-able even with my goofy work, kid-watching, and gun shooting schedule. 

I spent the last week or so talking about lists with Sean and I'd decided that I wanted to try and run the following- 

Seems fun, right? Yeah, well, I thought so too. In fact, I thought it would be so fun that it didn't even occur to me until Friday afternoon at work that not only do I not own 4 A-Wings, I also don't have four Stealth Devices (I also probably don't own 4 Proton Rockets, but that seemed to be trivial comparatively at that point).

Anyhizzle, I was like, "Ah jeez, what the hell am I gonna do now?" 

After stopping by the local FLGSes on my way home from work and coming up empty-handed on both another A-Wing and a Firespray, I punted and tried to go back to my safe zone of a Dreis-Dutch list which also included Gemmer. I tried it out on Sean (who was running a bog standard Fat Han) Friday night. It didn't do well. Gemmer did ok, but I was kinda wishing I'd have found the points for Jake Farrell, and well, maybe I should try to make a Jake-Dreis-Lando list work somehow, or maybe I should just roll a couple of Advanced with Proton Rockets and Vader, and blah, blah, blah. Now, it's like 2am and I've got a Store Championship I'd rather not completely embarrass myself at in 10 hours and nothing in my head is fitting together well at all. 

So after some deliberation, I decided to get out of my safe zone and not only did I not play a ship that involved pilots I'd never actually played before Friday night, I also decided to go against my usual tendencies and run a 3-ship Rebel list that didn't include a Falcon.

With zero experience with the list and only a few hours of sleep between my late-night of coming up with said list and my youngest waking up at 2:50am from a nightmare, I arrived at Comics Quest ill-prepared and with a Diet Mountain Dew IV, and by IV I mean intravenous, not a Diet Dew Mark 4, about 10 minutes before the shindig was supposed to kick off. I was happy I'd get to play though, so it was all good. 

My first opponent was the eventual tournament winner and all-around good guy, +Clifford Holm. You may remember Cliff- I've mentioned him on here a couple of times in the past and if memory serves, he may have even written an article or two for the Bikini. He's been running a Biggs, Ten Nunb, and two Prototype A-Wings list for awhile now and he's gotten pretty solid with it. Obviously, I'd been banking on my ships being hard to hit until they could get to Range 1 and dump those rockets on somebody's head, but when Cliff told me the was rolling Ten with Autoblaster I knew I was gonna have a hard time. 

Sparing you the gory details, I managed to get Biggs off the map fairly quickly (no small feat as he was sporting R2-F2 and a Stealth Device), and things were fairly even as we got tangled up in a pretty good traffic jam for a few turns, but eventually, the Ten B-Wing got loose in the hairball as they're wont to do and starting auto-hitting my A-Wings, with no chance for them to evade damage because of the synergy between his card text and Autoblaster. After 1 match, I was 0-1. 

I went outside to catch a vape and when I came back in, I was informed I'd be bye'ed into the next round as we had an odd number of people present. I'm not 100% sure how I was selected for the bye, but I'm pretty sure it's because I had the lowest point total after the first round (31). In any case, I spent the next 75 minutes vaping, making small talk, deciding that I was probably being kinda distracting making small talk, thought I should be courteous and STFU, went back outside for another vape, posted some pics on G+, thought it'd be cool to take some pics of the other participants actually, you know, playing, for the site, went back inside to do that, and grabbed another Diet Dew. 

Cliff v Craig

Jeff v Cameron

Troy v Chas

For the third round, I drew Craig, who had driven up in the sleet, snow, and ice from Dawson Springs, Kentucky where he'd run a Store Championship tournament of his own, and I think won. Craig is a super cool guy if you've ever met him- he gets around the X-Wing scene; went to Gencon and checked out Nationals as a spectator and is a fixture on the FFG Boards as Bjorn Rockfist. He was running a Fat Han with 3 Z-95s in support. 

Craig doin' his thang

If you thought my game against Cliff was underwhelming, I managed to get zero points off the table against Craig. The highlight of my match against him was touching off Gemmer's Proton Rockets after the Falcon had been stripped of it's Evades and/ or Focus tokens which allowed for Gemmer's Opportunist to kick in and give me a six Attack dice rocket shot, of which I actually managed to roll three hits and three Focuses, which I subsequently was able to turn into hits. Wasn't enough to down the Falcon as I'd only managed to take off a shield point or two in the turns leading up to that point, but it was pretty cool to see a little ol' A-Wing rip off six hit points. 

To be honest, I'm not sure what place I came in. Cliff won, I believe that Craig placed second. I have to assume if I wasn't in sole possession of last place, I was at least tied for it. We were all trying to get out of Dodge before all the rain and slush turned completely back into ice, so once we'd all been given our swag and congratulated Cliff on his victory, we split. It was a good time though, and I'm glad I got to try my list out before I went to the tournament in Urbana as it would have been even more disappointing to realize this list had a couple of fundamental flaws after driving all the way up there. 

Main thing I noticed was Marksmanship on Tycho the way I have him set up didn't result in the synergy I'd hoped for. It seems so obvious now, having played the list twice and, well, you know having some sleep and all, but I'd somehow got it into my head that having the Focus and the Marksmanship would be totally handy as I could use the Focus defensively then use Marksmanship to affect the rocket roll, but in reality they kinda conflict with each other. You have to have the Focus to touch off the Missiles, so paying for three points for Marksmanship when you have to have the Focus anyway, but not spend it, is a waste in a list this tight. I'm still not entirely sure about the way I had Gemmer set up with Opportunist either, but Jake Farrell was and is, simply awesome. That dude I absolutely love now. If you've not flown him before, give him a try. Especially if you're a mainly Imperial player who likes (or liked) to run those three ship lists with like Vader, Soontir Fel, and Turd Ferguson. You'll find Jake is right up your alley. Having an A-Wing that can Barrel Roll doesn't seem like that big of a deal on paper, but I found myself wishing I'd had it available on Tycho especially too. Hmmm... 

The prize spread. Box of tissues not included. P.S.- If you squint, you can see my hand-written list in there. Printer wasn't working, so I had to go old school.

So the Urbana tournament is this weekend at the time of writing and I'm in something of a quandary- Sean has enough models and cards that I actually could run the 4-ship A-Wing list with Gemmer that I'd initially dreamed up, but I keep thinking with a bit of work on the upgrades, I could make that Tycho, Jake, Gemmer list work a lot better than it did yesterday, so I don't know. I'll have to think about it a bit before the weekend. I'm also going to try like hell to make it by CQ this Thursday to give the list Mark 2 a trial before I pack it up north. I'll let you know how it goes. 

On the bright side, I did get an alternative art Soontir Fel card and a super swanky X-Wing dice bag for participating.  

Yes- I am mixing my gaming metaphors, so to speak. I didn't want to pack my entire collection up there, so I put my stuff in my Imperial Bolter Ammo can (which got some compliments, by the way- it is pretty dope, after all).

It was cool getting to meet the guys from the X-Wing group that Cliff has put together and I was totally impressed with Craig driving all the way up in the ice and whatnot from Kentucky. Was fun to talk some shop in person for a change too- not that I don't love all y'all's emails and G+ posts and whatnot of course, just good to get back out into the community for a little bit before I sequester myself out beyond the Dune Sea again, y'know? 

Oh, and in an effort to show some solidarity to the store for hosting the tournament and to console myself after such demoralizing losses, I picked this up too- 

... which I'm like totally stoked to check out. I don't know if y'all are up on this Golem Arcana business, but it sounds friggin' awesome and seems as though it'd work over Hangouts without a lot of the work we normally have to do playing stuff over the internet. Give me a couple of weeks to play around with it and I'll post a review. 

So once again, congrats to Cliff, shout-outs to all the other participants, and I hope to see some of y'all in Urbana this weekend at Armored Gopher! 


20 February 2015

Store Tournaments, Scum and Villainy

Store Tournament- Evansville, IN

So I don't know how many of y'all are somewhat local to the area, and by the area, I mean my area, but lo and behold, it would appear that I might actually get to play in my local store tournament. 

If you do happen to be around Evansville, the tournament is going to be at Comic Quest and starts at noon on Saturday (21 Feb). Entry is $10, 100 point lists, etc. etc. 

I'm under the impression this is an actual FFG Sanctioned Store Championship with the usual trappings as such, but to be honest, I'm not 100% sure on that. I don't want to sound negative or anything, just saying that although I'm literally like 5 minutes away from this store, I've had zero involvement whatsoever with this, so take this more as information rather than an endorsement. Mainly saying that in case some of y'all out-of-towners see this and feel strongly one way or another about officially sanctioned tournaments. In any case, I do plan on attending assuming nothing crazy in my personal life goes down. 

As for what I'll be flying, well, it'll either be really effective or really stupid. I've not had a chance to play much at all the past few months, but as I'm wont to do, I shunned the usual tournament lists for something of my own devising. It's slightly cooler than my 4 TIE Advanced list I rolled at the Urbana Regionals last year, and by cooler I mean more dangerous, but who knows if I'll actually be able to do anything with it. I'll tell y'all all about it on Monday. 

Those of y'all playin' in your Store Championships- what are you flying? Are you sticking with Fat Hans and VT/ Phantoms or what? 

Scum and Villainy Release TODAY!

As usual, I'm actually writing this in advance, but from everything I've seen, by the time you read this (or very shortly thereafter), S&V will finally be available. I don't know if the same West Coast longshoreman's slowdown is what's been affecting S&V's release date, but it's definitely been causing some issues with overseas parts here at the plant. In any case, they're supposed to be available from your favorite retailer today, so for those of y'all who didn't pre-order, you oughta be able to swing by your local FLGS or your favorite internet game store and get hooked up with S&V.