25 February 2014

Tournament Talk: The Sleeper List, Part 1

Remember how I said I was going to talk about the lists that Sean and I ran in the Store Championship we played in last weekend? Well, much to my surprise, Sean wrote an article about his list for me. As Sean is one wordy son-of-a-gun, I'm breaking it into two parts that'll run today and tomorrow. Enjoy! 

The Sleeper List (by Sean)

Look up there at the top of your web browser. What do you see? This website is called www.themetalbikini.com. The story behind the name is one for another time, but the reason the name is not what you might expect for a blog about X-Wing Miniatures has largely to do with the dynamic that arises when your Blogmaster General and I freestyle associate with one another. I have said this once before, but it warrants repeating that the man behind the bar is an irreverent hipster. Myself, I’m an erudite skeptic. There is a lot we would disagree about (including the philosophy of BitCoin), but we usually don’t get that far because of one of our mutual degrees of concomitance: our disdain for “The Man”. And by “The Man”, I mean “The Meta”, which I guess you might think of as “Meta-Man” or whatever. In any event, we don’t like The Facebooks and we sure as hell don’t like that dude, “The Man”, I mean. He is bad. He should be in detention.

So as you might guess, when it comes time to discuss what lists we’re interested in trying out, you can bet the family fortune that the lists we all know and love will be met with nothing short of egocentric hubris. I mean, seriously? Like, I’m going to take a Swarm, or Han Shoots First, or a Dagger Squadron with Advanced Sensors list to a tournament? That’s like wearing the tee shirt for the band to their concert. Or referring to that actor guy as anything other than Marky Mark. You’ve got to be kidding me. All the cool kids are doing it. Ergo, it wicked sucks. In our simultaneous quest for style and any conceivable way to turn the meta inside out and fold it around over backward on itself, our love coalesced upon a most unusual list: two Rebel Operatives (HWK-290) with Ion Turrets and two Outer Rim Smugglers (YT-1300) with Anti-Pursuit Lasers, which I ran at the Armored Gopher Store Championship on Saturday. Now, I know what most of you are doing. You’re scratching your head, squinting your eyes or raising your eyebrows, and saying to yourself the same things that people said at the tournament on Saturday: things like, “there’s a list you don’t see very often” or “that’s an unusual list” or even “I’m scared. What is that? Aaaaaghhghhgh! HELP ME!!!”. Well, you’re right on all accounts. And, for me, that’s part of its charm. I would like to call this list “the Committee to Re-elect Arvel Crynyd….SHhhhit!!” or “CRASH!!” for short, but that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is it’s “APLs and Ionzes”. It sounds like a basket of fruit, and you’ll get one thrown at you for playing it. Sign me up.

Like the man serving the Sangria, I tend to believe that X-Wing Miniatures is quite balanced and that while there are several lists that might not match up too well for one side or the other, on the whole, most any list can be competitive in the right circumstance. The problem is that not every list can be competitive against every other list, and that creates a real dilemma at tournament time. One reason I think that people run swarms and have run swarms since day one is that swarms are good against everything. While there are certainly lists that can break swarms, there are no real “swarm-breaker” lists that are just going to send a swarm home in a couple of turns. The only real “weakness” of a swarm list is the ability of the player to fly it. I mean, yes, it has low damage and no shields, but if you can fly it well, you are always going to be competitive no matter what someone else throws at you. However, I think we could all agree that there are lists that are not so well-rounded. For example, I love running “Soontir, Vader, and Turd, Oh My!” but it has got some big holes in it. Its weakness is that it has low hull and shields and that its strength – fantastic agility and maneuverability – is easily thwarted by turret attacks or lists that can readily get shipsinto firing position. There are lots of ships that can do either or both, and since younever know what someone will bring to a tournament, I would consider “Soontir, Vader, and Turd, Oh My!” to be largely DOA in a tournament setting, because soontir or later, you’re going to fly against someone who is fielding something that is tailor-made to beat it.

Because X-Wing Miniatures has no real “best list”, (meaning something that is just unbeatable), the two ways one can try to get a competitive advantage in a tournament setting are (1) be the most skillful pilot with a well-rounded list or (2) do something that no one else is doing with a well-rounded list. APLs and Ionzes was derived as an attempt to promote the latter.

I ran APLs and Ionzes in the Armored Gopher store championship over the weekend and got second place...missing first place by a hair. APLs and Ionzes was dominating against two different Wedge, Luke, Biggs lists, and it performed very well against a seven (7) TIE swarm list featuring Howlrunner and Dark Curse. Against the X-Wings, I lost zero ships in the first match and destroyed all 3 of my opponents X-Wings. In the other X-Wing match, I lost one Outer Rim Smuggler and destroyed all 3 X-Wings. In the TIE
Swarm match, my opponent downed a HWK and an YT, and I downed Howlrunner (with Determination and Shield Upgrade) and two (2) Academy Pilots. The match was called for time after 75 minutes with my opponent having taken down 50 points of my ships and with me having taken down 47 points of his. I lost that match (to the eventual winner of the tournament) but APLs and Ionzes was very competitive against his well flown seven (7) TIE swarm, and this match easily could have gone another way.

Ok, so let’s see what we have here. Lengthy exposition: check. Self-serving, gratuitous proselytization: check. Now it’s time for the feature: What is APLs and Ionzes and how do you fly it? OR If you prefer: Master Qui-Gon, sir, I’ve been thinking, what are APLs and Ionzes?

APLs and Ionzes is composed of two (2) Rebel Operatives (16 pts.) with Ion Turrets (5 pts.) and two (2) Outer Rim Smugglers (27 pts.) with Anti-Pursuit Lasers (2 pts.). Under the new math, that adds up to a cool 100 points. The Outer Rim Smugglers are PS 1 and the Rebel Operatives are PS 2, so expect to be doing a lot of moving first and shooting ast. There’s really no room for changing anything around. It’s 100 points and all of them are put to a task, so there’s really no changing it around without totally changing the list.

If you are going to be flying this list (or against it), these are the primary things you should keep in mind: (1) The only other PS 1 pilots in the game today are Alpha Squadron Pilot (Interceptor), Academy Pilot (TIE fighter) and Prototype Pilot (A-Wing); (2) APLs and Ionzes sports four (4) ships that can fire in a 360 degree arc; and (3) Any time an enemy ship executes a maneuver that causes it to overlap the YTs base, Anti-Pursuit Lasers let you roll a red die and on a filled explosion symbol or un-filled explosion symbol the enemy ship takes 1 damage.

So then, how do you fly it?

You'll have to stop back by tomorrow and see what up with that. Peace!

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