28 February 2014
Yup, you may have noticed a couple of ads for MiniatureMarket.com here on TheMetalBikini.com- they're officially my first advertiser! Cool huh?
What's better is I've actually bought stuff from them in the past and have been extremely pleased with their prices, service, and shipping times, so it's not even some weird deal where I'm like pretending to like their product while cashing the check, y'know?
They've got all of the Wave 4 stuff up for pre-order as well as the big, uh- huge ships, and the seemingly imminent Imperial Aces, so if you've got a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, click one of those ads and head on over there to ensure you'll be one of the first kids on your block to have the new toys to play with as soon as they're released.
27 February 2014
All right, so any possible respect I might have gotten from the competitive/ veteran gamer elite of the X-Wing Miniatures scene for being part of the duo that created APLs and Ionzes is about to soundly get flushed down the toilet with this article. Know that going in if you're one of those listy, math-centric people this article is probably going to make you want to burn down my house or something equally hyperbolic.
So in the days leading up to the tournament last weekend, Sean and I were messaging about our lists and of course, I was reading y'all's comments in regard to the list-centric articles I was running and as you'll recall, there was a whooooole lotta talk about B-Wings, BBXX, et cetera, et cetera, so naturally I wanted to come up with something that was tooled a bit into facing that meta.
Of course, that meta wasn't present at AG, but I didn't know that, so this happened anyway.
26 February 2014
The strategy here is one of blocking and ionizing. Your ideal situation is to lure a ship (or several ships) into overlapping your YT base and to then use a nearby HWK to repeatedly ionize that ship. After you have impacted an opponent’s ship, you can effectively stand still with your YT by performing repeated 1-straight (or even 1-bank or 1-turn and sometimes higher) maneuvers since you won’t be able to clear the ship you’re blocking, and force the ionized ship to repeatedly do 1-straight white maneuvers into your YT’s base. This results in a repeated cycle of your YT and one (or more) of your enemy’s ships being in base contact (essentially) and unable to fire upon one another, while simultaneously allowing your YT to roll a red die and do a point of damage 50% of the time, outside of combat. I don’t know if it’s like shooting ducks in a barrel or bobbing for APLs. But I think it’s probably both. Probably both is happening at the same time. A basket of fruit. A box of chocolates. Is it Christmas or Valentine’s Day?
In order to take full advantage of this build, asteroid placement and deployment are of key importance. You really only need half of the field of play to work with since you’re going to be crashing into people and not moving around a whole lot. I recommend trying to get the asteroids clumped on one side as much as possible and then deploying mostly on the other side. This will give you some room to move with your big base YTs. In deployment of your ships, ideally, you do not want to leave your YT without a nearby HWK that can ion for it. What you likely want to do is split into two teams of one HWK and one YT each. My favorite method of deploying is to put one team fairly near a board edge and run that team basically straight up the table as quickly as possible, while placing the other team at a 45-ish degree angle toward the line the other team will be travelling down and running them forward quickly to come in on the flank of the first team. This results in a nice “clump” of humanity over near a table edge which is just about what you want. Whatever you do, you want to try to close with your opponent as quickly as you can. Also, do be careful not to get your HWKs over too close to the board edge at the beginning. They have an unforgiving dial and you might run one out of play if you’re not careful, since you will have to perform a lot of red maneuvers with them to be effective. And you will have to keep them in the mix since they have no K-turn and are hard to get back into the action if they wind up out in the nether regions of the play area. Basically, you want the HWKs on the periphery of the battle, usually interior of the scrum, so leave them more toward the interior of the table. Doing so effectively means your HWKs will need to lag your YTs a bit so that they can take a peripheral course around the main battle.
If you do it right, your opponents ships will get stacked up and they’ll either overrun you because they didn’t really realize what your list was going to do or they will flat out run right into the black hole that is this list. Appreciate that one of your YTs is very likely going to get hit at range 1 multiple times in the first round or two of combat, but just try to remember that it has 10 hull and shields and at range 1, your YT shoots back with 3 attack dice…AND can shoot in any direction. Try not to sweat all the damage it takes too much because it will probably get harder to hit once you get your list into character. Most ships that are facing the wrong way and ionized don’t shoot back. What you do not want to do is pull a K-turn early on with your YT. You will want to do it. You will be getting shot up pretty badly by Wedge or whoever. But don’t make that K-turn. Just don’t do it. Sure, maybe there’s a point in the game when you have to, but you will want to keep banging into your opponent as long as you can. And that means sticking it out and repeatedly pulling 1-something maneuvers to crash you into the ship in front of you any time you can take advantage of your outer rim ion-APL oscillator.
Another thing to remember in this setup is not to underestimate how powerful and important the HWK is. Whether you are running this list or defending it, I cannot emphasize the utility of the HWK with Ion Turret enough. It’s only 21 points and it has a lousy maneuver dial, but people are likely to underestimate it, and it has 2 agility dice. It’s not that easy to take down, and often your opponent will fixate on the YTs. Remember that to a HWK firing an Ion Cannon there is usually no difference between range 1 and 2. It has a very challenging dial, but you are likely to get a lot of mileage out of the Ion Turret. Don’t be afraid to take red maneuvers with your HWK when you need to do it. Far better to have an unfocused shot with your Ion Turret than to get your HWK out of position. Even if you wind up losing both YTs, you could still pull this thing out with those HWKs, so don’t be that worried about using you Outer Rim Smugglers to tank for you. That is what they are there for. And in this list more than any other, you expect them to take a beating both from enemy fire and repeated collision. Remember to TL with your HWK when you are at range 3 since you can’t use the Ion Turret at that range.
If you’re running against it, in my opinion, I think the thing to do would be to take out the HWKs first. The weaknesses in APLs and Ionzes are: (1) the YTs’ low agility and (2) the HWK’s lousy maneuver dial. That’s really about it. If you fly against it, what you want to remember is that anyone running APLs and Ionzes should want to engage you immediately and to get into close quarters. One of the reasons this list works so well is that, often, X-Wing matches begin with everyone flying hard at one another right off the bat. That strategy plays into your hand if you are running APLs and Ionzes. One way to limit the effectiveness of APLs and Ionzes is for its opponent to spend some time flying around casually to force APLs and Ionzes to come to him instead of permitting himself to be drawn into a repetitive standstill. In so doing, an opponent of APLs and Ionzes can force the HWKs to fly around a little bit and once that happens, it can be hard to get the HWKs turned around and back into the mix because of the challenging dial.
In conclusion, APLs and Ionzes is a well-rounded list that is not immediately recognizable and operates differently than what your opponent may expect. It is good enough to be competitive against a wide variety of lists and unusual enough that many opponents won’t be ready for it. It has a fairly high durability (30 total hull + shields), multiple ways to limit your opponents maneuverability (Ionization and large base blocking), damage outside of combat and a way to cycle it (Ionization coupled with APLs), and 4 rebel ships each with the ability to shoot in 360 degrees. How ya like them APLs? It is weird, unusual, unsexy, and utilizes some ships that many people have probably never tried out or flown against, but that is exactly why you should give it a go.
So grab some Outer Rim Smugglers, throw on a couple of APLs and Think Different.
Hell. Now I sound like “The Man.” What is meesa saying?
25 February 2014
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!
24 February 2014
Last we'd seen on their site, the Store Championship for X-Wing was to start at 12:00pm with registration starting at 11:00am. Sean had already pre-registered us, so we rolled in around 11:30 and found there'd been some confusion about the starting time. I guess on their Facebook they'd stated the SC was to start at 11am. In any case, there were like 6 of us there including Sean and I, so once we rolled in and wandered around staring for a bit, the Tournament Organizer got the ball rolling and paired us up.
My first opponent was a guy named Robert-
As today's article will be the two hundred and, uh, somethingeth post on TMB, I gotta tell you- I need to do something to get stuff organized around here. I've gotten a couple of emails the past two months especially from readers who kindly and gently suggest that the content of the site is fun, informative, and entertaining, but the way that the site itself is laid out, and the organization of the articles themselves is atrocious.
I'm going to attempt to address that in the very near future.
As you may recall, back when I was having my domain snafu, I created a backup of TMB. I'm going to apply a couple of different templates over there to see how things turn out. If I come across a couple of good ideas, I'll post some links to them and you guys can check them out. As I've said before- I'm no web designer. That's a big reason why TMB is still hosted on a Blogger blog rather than an actual host. Well, that and because I'm kinda cheap and hosting on Blogger incurs me virtually no cost regardless of bandwidth, traffic, etc.
In any case, if y'all feel like giving some feedback and stuff on the new layouts, please feel free. I'll post up some links when I get some candidates for TheMetalBikini.com v2.0 going.
And if you're one of those frustrated readers who got into all this a little late and find it easier to Google X-Wing topics instead of banging your head against the bar to find what you're looking for here, give me a little time and hopefully this will all get MUCH easier pretty soon.
21 February 2014
All right, y'all. I'll be leaving for Mattoon here in an hour or so to play in the Store Championship at Armored Gopher tomorrow. Follow me on g+ for some pics and stuff of the trip and the tournament, or wait until Monday and I'll post up a summary of the weekend's festivities.
Hope to see some of y'all there!
18 February 2014
While browsing around the forums and stuff reading up on the current tournament scene, I ran across a lot of discussion and a bit of a meta shift that I wanted to talk about a little bit on here regarding Rebel builds and whether they should be 3-Ship builds or 4-ship builds.
First, let me just say that I didn't get the impression that either is exactly what you'd call dominant right now. During Wave 2, rolling 3 named pilots with high PS values was pretty popular. Han Shoots First of course was the main representative of 3-ship builds, but there were (and still are from what I saw) a lot of Wedge, Luke, and Biggs type lists getting played a lot too.
And for good reason- most of the time, you can take just about any named fighter pilot's card text and stack it up against the various upgrades or Elite Pilot Skills and it becomes pretty obvious pretty quick which is better- the card text. Sure, there are exceptions, and ideally you have both, but in general, if you're looking at sticking an Astromech in the backseat of Red Squadron, it isn't going to equal Luke Skywalker for the points.
That card text can give you the foundation of your in-game strategy too, obviously. A lot of folks try to create strategies that will inflict their gameplan on their opponent, but just as important I think are the strategies that address your own shortcomings as a player as well.
Having trouble downing your opponent's ships? Throw Wedge or Han out there. Having trouble staying alive? Try flying Luke or Chewie for a game or two. Losing Actions due to collisions? Try mitigating that by flying somebody who passes around tokens like Garven Dreis, Dutch Vander, or Lando.
Even though this is kind of a Rebel-centric article, you can apply that same line of thinking to your Imperial squadrons too- if you're still having trouble picking smart maneuvers, take Boba Fett with or without a Navigator, if you have trouble killing stuff with TIE Fighters, let Backstabber or Mauler Mithel do some dirty work for you, and so on.
Identifying where your game is lacking can be difficult, but it's a skill like anything else and with some careful analysis and removal of bias via objectivity and data, you might be surprised where you're actually losing your games. I talked about this a loooong time ago in an article called, Why Do You Lose? If that topic seems interesting to you, give it a read.
Back on topic though, 4-Ship Rebel builds are coming into popularity for fairly simple reasons- namely more ships is more durability, more guns, and overall more forgiving to fly.
I've mentioned before that I tend to gravitate towards 4-Ship builds. I can't exactly explain to you why, but I just seem to play better with a couple of 2-Ship fireteams on the table instead of whatever combination of 3-Ships I can come up with. Again, maybe it's for you, maybe it's not, but as this style becomes more popular, it's something that's going to turn up more.
So your typical 4-ship list has a multitude of ways it can be setup because of the fact that X-Wing is fairly balanced for the points. I've flown 4 X-Wing builds before (remember my Regionals list from last summer- Wedge, Luke, Rookie, Rookie), 2 X-Wings and 2 Y-Wings, all kinds of stuff, but there are a few things I try to do when I make a 4-Ship build. Maybe they'll work for you, maybe they won't, but it's some food for thought if nothing else.
First, I try to keep the ships fairly even points-wise. I talk about the 33 point thing on here a lot, so naturally I try to stay away from creating single ships that cost more than 33 points. While that's not possible with some of the Big Ships, it's not to hard to pull off with the fighters. By not investing a ton of points in a single ship, then skimping on everybody else, I'm trying to do a couple of things- one, I'm trying to not paint a giant target for my opponent to focus on with that expensive ship, and two, ideally I'd like all of the ships in my squadron to be capable when necessary. In other words, instead of having one monstrously effective ship and three weenie ships, I'd rather have 4 ships that can all hold their own, at least on paper. Of course, this line of thinking is also part of the reason I wasn't a fan of the HWK for so long, which I've since recognized as a mistake, so take that for what it's worth.
Secondly, if possible, I try to make all of the ships the same Pilot Skill. It's not something I do every single time, but if I'm just kind of lost or I'm going to play against people I don't know or whatever, it's not a bad trick. Pilot Skill's effect on movement and shooting orders makes such a profound difference in this game, by having four ships all at the same PS, you instead can pick what order in which your ships move and shoot. This isn't just a great idea for the new player still trying to get his head around Pilot Skill- it can also help a cagey vet make good contextual decisions outside of the Pilot Skill mechanic, at least to a certain degree.
Having multiple ships at the same PS almost virtually assures going last or close to it (you're likely to be at PS 2 or PS 4) in the Combat Phase if you're the Rebels, but you do gain that advantage of picking the order your ships fire, which can be a pretty big benefit. Moving in teams or formations becomes easier too as you can at least choose the order in which your stuff moves, which sometimes can be the difference in a collision or not.
If shooting last isn't enough of a downside for you, bear in mind too that picking low PS pilots virtually assures you'll be locked out of all those fun Elite Pilot Talents. The introduction of Modifications dulls that pain somewhat, but if you hang your hat on stuff like Push The Limit, you'll likely have some trouble adjusting at first.
Almost inevitably, whenever I'm building one of these 4-Ship lists, I'll end up trying to decide between the lower PS generic pilot and the higher PS generic pilot. Which one do you choose? Well, it depends, but generally speaking, I pick the lower.
It also kind of depends on the ship itself that I'm taking. With X-Wings, for example, the point difference between two Rookies and two Reds is a set of Proton Torpedoes, a Shield Upgrade, or a couple of Astromechs. Sometimes those upgrades play into my overall strategy better than having a PS of 4 rather than 2. Again though, it's pretty contextual with what's going on in the rest of the list. If we were to start talking about A-Wings, I might take the Green over the Prototype because the Green has an Elite Pilot Skill slot. Of course, if I didn't really have the points left to spend, I probably wouldn't. There's no real hard fast rules for this, at least in my book.
All that being said, just because you're shying away from named pilots and taking stuff all at the same Pilot Skill, you can still come up with some pretty diverse lists. Take this one I just made up for example-
17 February 2014
So I did some browsing around and reading over the weekend and decided after getting some good-natured ribbing about playing the wrong side in the upcoming Store Championship I'm going to be playing in, I'd talk a little about the Imperials today.
As near as I can tell, the Swarm is still the king.
Sure, sure. There are other Imperial builds, but from what I read, the deeper you go in tournament results, the less you see the Trelix or Kath Scarlet and 4 or 5 TIEs build, the double or triple Firesprays, a bunch of Shuttles, or the small side elite ship builds.
So why is that?
There's so many variables present in trying to figure stuff like this out, I don't think anybody can make a real conclusion, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's the result of Falcon lists still being pretty popular. Swarms are sort of the natural counter against low-count, big ship builds. This seems to be starting to change- I saw a lot of good, competitive Rebel lists that were low PS, four ship builds rather than 3 ship builds with named pilots and high PS (something I'm likely going to talk about in tomorrow's article, by the way), and as that pendulum swings away from the Falcon, I think you'll see more Imperial players branching away from the Swarm.
Of course, they're also pretty damn effective against low-count, small ship builds too. Simply put, Swarms just bathe the enemy in blaster fire, inflicting the death by 1,000 papercuts deal, y'know? It doesn't hurt that your basic TIE fighter is actually pretty hard to hit straight up, and also pretty maneuverable.
I talked about Swarms before, has anything really changed much?
First, I see more references to the larger 7-ish ship count Swarms than I do the 5 or 6 ship builds with more named guys. Again, I'm not saying I'm some big chronicler of the tournament circuit, just telling you what I see. Most of them look pretty close to what the guy who won the Star Wars Weekend thing back in May was running-