So, after a super-deluxe “all work, all the time, what’s a weekend?” marathon work session, I’m finally getting to a chance to post about my Fresno Regional experience.
On the way up to Fresno from SoCal, I spent the time jamming out to the hottest throwback hip-hop station (103.7, sucka!!!) and stressing about my list. In reality, I guess it was a lot of wasted effort. The weeks leading up to the event I was having difficulty finding time to poop and tie my shoes, let alone practice. I just couldn’t get the time for practice. It’s like I signed up for a marathon, didn’t train, then stressed out about what shoes to wear.
Still, since Wave 8 dropped I haven’t found a go-to list. I had some success with Chewbacca, so I wanted to run a PTL + Kanan + Engine list. The two lists really giving me pause were Palp Aces and Triple Jumpmasters. While doing some solo tests with Chewie vs two Jumpmasters, the Jumpmasters kept winning. I really didn’t want to run x3 Jumps (nor do I own 3) but I thought 2 could work. I wanted to see if I could get the following out of a list: consistent and heavy damage, attack out of arc, reposition, mitigate damage, free actions, inflict stress, have PS advantage. Haha…a tall order to get all that, but here’s what I came up with:
Plasma Torpedoes + Extra Munitions
Tactician + Salvaged Astromech
Glitterstim + Punishing One
Proton Torpedoes + Advanced Proton Torpedoes
Boba Fett + R4 Agromech
Glitterstim + Guidance Chips
100 points total
On paper it sounded good, but coming up with it the night before is sketchy. I don’t have the experience with a Palp Aces list (I also forgot to bring a shuttle, haha) so this would have to do. Between the superior dial and combination of upgrades, I felt I had a good chance.
vs David running x3 Jumpmasters
Man…this was a lot of Jumpmasters on the table, though none of mine had such a nice paintjob or sweet magnet mods! David had some slight tweaks from the standard JM5K list…his ship with the Laker paintjob had more upgrades than the other two, and the others had Overlocked R4’s instead of R4 Agromechs.
In the initial torpedo exchange, I came out on top. By having the pilot skill advantage, I was able to get my shots off first and Boba Fett’ed away the Deadeye from his Laker ship. I think I only took one torpedo shot, while getting off two of my own, as well as a Dengar primary attack.
Though the advantage didn’t last. I made the mistake of not clearing stress from Dengar after popping ‘stims, and I also forgot to trigger one of my opportunities for Tactician. Manaroo couldn’t get a chance to get off her APT and Dengar was facing the wrong way to fire off torps or use his ability. In the end, I took out the Laker ship but lost Dengar as his dice couldn’t connect. If it wasn’t for a lucky (or unlucky for David) crit off of a Debris field, I would have lost. I ended up with a modified win as I was only ahead by two points.
End of Game 1: 1 Win (Modified)
vs Matthew with Soontir + Mini Crack Swarm w/ Howlrunner
After the first game, I was getting nervous. I should have known better to take a list with pilots that I’d never flown before, that’s competitive X-Wing 101! I’d gotten lucky, so I slapped myself across the face a few times and got ready. Take it slow, don’t take stupid risks, set yourself up for success.
I’d met Matthew previously at Battlegrounds in Lancaster and I was happy to see him again. I wasn’t, however, excited to see 4 Crack Shots and a Soontir across from me. Jumpmasters really aren’t that resilient and need their actions for offense; 4 Crack Shots can just cut right through the defense Jumpmasters can put up, so I was pretty nervous.
The game started my initial plan was to go hard for Soonir, as I knew I couldn’t take him 1v1. As I was moving into position, however, I felt like I was being led into a trap. Sure enough, Matthew knew what was up and had baited me with Soontir. He took off while the Crack Swarm came up on me from the side. Luckily, I left room to pull a couple of white S-Loops and keep in a good position. I was able to isolate a couple TIEs at R3 which allowed me to do good damage without taking much in return.
This game really highlighted how efficient Jumpmasters can be with ordnance to me. It’s very, very rare to not do full damage with torpedoes. If you’re shooting at a high agility/low health target, they have to roll exceptionally to have a chance of surviving. Unfortunately for Matthew, he never got much of a chance to use his Crack Shots; he either didn’t need it (1 hit vs 0 evades) or it wouldn’t have mattered (1 hit vs 2 evades) so he only used one or two.
I was thankful for Tactician in this match up (and I remembered to use it!). Versus Soontir, if he didn’t clear Dengar’s arc, he’s in trouble any way you slice it: Range 1, he’s taking 4 dice. Range 2, Tactician. Range 3, 4 dice again from a torpedo. Eventually, despite some artful dodging on Matthew’s part (even while double stressed!) Soontir eventually succumbed, scoring me a win.
End of Game 2: 2 Wins (1 Mod)
vs Drew flying Whisper & Vader Gunner RAC
I came into this tournament with large aspirations but without the practice or confidence to match. After a pretty successful start, I was getting the hang of those Jumpmasters and feeling good about my capabilities.
Then, out comes Hoth templates and shield tokens, World’s dice, and this badass binder that displays the full list (sorry for the bad pic, but you get the idea). Also, a skillfully painted TIE Phantom in a First Order color scheme, to boot. This guy doesn’t mess around.
We begin and the game becomes more of a dance than dogfight. I think we went at least five rounds without combat, despite having turrets. I had to give myself a real serious pep-talk at this point; while I’m just doing my best to slow roll and avoid hitting asteroids, Drew is performing a ballet on his side of the map. Turning RAC one way and boosting to the other, then flying Whisper straight toward asteroids only to decloak and 1-turn away from it. It was brilliant.
So combat starts and I focus on RAC; that Deci’s gotta go before he starts Vader’ing me to death. At one point, I got lucky and using Determination, was able to nullify a Vader crit on Dengar. As cool as that was, I also forgot to trigger Dengar’s ability, which may have been costly as it kept RAC around for an extra turn.
We trade Dengar for RAC and Manaroo starts getting worn down. I’m decent at dodging Phantom arcs (as best as one can expect, anyway) but the 2 dice primary just isn’t enough to cut through Whisper’s defenses. The game takes a turn for the worst; I can’t get Whisper in arc, I pop my ‘stims at the wrong time, and Manaroo keeps taking hits. Time, as she tends to, was also not on my side.
We end up in the corner of the map, Manaroo dying and sorta pointing toward a post K-Turn Whisper. Manaroo has a TL from a previous turn. We’re setting dials, and I decide to YOLO with a wild move…1 forward, followed by a Barrel Roll, facing the board’s edge. There’s only one maneuver on Whipser’s dial that gives me a chance. Drew is stone faced as he reaches for it. He could 1-turn and arc dodge, any other turn or bank will result in a bump, and if he goes forward too quickly, he’ll also arc dodge.
He flips the dial.
2-Forward, to clear the stress.
Oh my god.
I’m out of Whisper’s arc.
and she’s in Range 1 of mine.
Can’t barrel roll out of range. Drew decides to Cloak. I spend the TL to fire the APT’s. I’ve got Guidance Chips, but no Glitterstims. 5 dice, I can turn 3 blanks into focuses, but a lot of good that’ll do without ‘Stims. I roll.
Hit Hit Hit Hit Blank. G-Chips flip the blank to a hit, for a total of five. Drew rolls.
Focus Blank Blank Blank.
….wait…what? With a smirk, Drew extends his hand and says, “That’s game.”
I one-shot Whisper off of a sub-optimal move and scored a win. I then proceeded to have a mini-heart attack and poop myself at the same time. Honestly, a win is a win, but I really stole that one. Were we to face off again, I’m not confident I’d be able to beat him a second time. Highlight of the day.
End of Game Three: 3 Wins (1 Mod)
vs James flying Imperial Aces (Vader, Omega Leader, Inquisitor)
The win against Drew was costly. He’s definitely a world-class player and it took everything I had to beat him. James, who I met at Otto’s in Bakersfield, was my next opponent. We’d been paired up twice before, once today and once at Otto’s, but never actually played due to re-pairings. He’s a super friendly guy and I was genuinely happy to finally get a game with him.
I was feeling pretty good about this match up; after my game with Matthew, I knew I could overwhelm at least one of these aces with a double torpedo strike. Without Palpatine to backup their defenses and my Tactician to impair their action economy, I felt I could take him.
We started the game with a fairly dense asteroid field in the center with his aces spread out. Out of all the potential targets, I felt Vader was the best. Highest offense, weakest defense (arguably, anyway), so I wanted him out straight away. Like Drew, James is surgical with his aces, skillfully waltzing along the edge of the asteroid field via repositioning actions. I should have taken the hint…
I enter the asteroid field aaaaand…I blew the approach. I put Dengar on an asteroid with a bank when I should have gone straight. “C’mon Cody…get in the game,” I told myself. I took some bad hits, but Manaroo put Vader in the red, so I was still feeling OK. I just had to make sure I didn’t do it again.
Well, James definitely has experience with his aces. Just when I thought I had one, he zoomed away, turtled up with tokens, and hit me in the back with someone else. It didn’t help that I kept screwing up my S-Loops, I kept landing on asteroids and missing shots.
I almost feel like I owe James an apology. I definitely didn’t give him my best and I think he could see it. He kept saying “next time we play, you’ll get me.” Maybe. James went on to make it into the Top 8 and is one of the best player is Central California. I still feel like my list has a chance vs his list, but with James at the helm, maybe not.
End of Game 4: 3 Wins (1 Mod), 1 Loss
vs Alex flying RAC and Soontir
So I knew I was in real trouble at this point if I still wanted to make Top 8. Lucky for me, Alex looked at my list and said “Oh, I’ve never played against Jumpmasters before,” so I thought I had a good chance. I’d beaten Soontir and RAC today, just not together.
This game was what I call a good ol’ fashion beatdown. Soontir hit hard and so did RAC, but my guys did as well. Like before, I went for RAC first but ended up with a Range 1 shot on Soontir early on. I went for it and got lucky with Dengar hitting him and Manaroo finishing him off.
I was relieved to have Soontir out, but my ships were both in pretty rough shape after that. I knew this game wouldn’t last long and with Issard on RAC, he would last longer than normal.
The final round, I flew Dengar over a debris field and gave him TL/Focus from Manaroo, as well as popped his stims. I hit RAC with a torpedo, barely survived the return fire, and then used Dengar’s ability to end it. It was fast, but damn, I think this was the most brutal game all day.
End of Game 5: 4 Wins (1 Mod), 1 Loss
vs Joe “King of SoCal” Desmond flying Mynock Special (Omega Leader, Whisper, Yorr).
It had to happen at some point, Mynock on Mynock hate. This was either my chance or Joe’s chance to sneak into the bottom of the Top 8. Because we each had a modified win on our records, somebody had to win and somebody had to lose.
Joe, aside from being a powerhouse player, also knows Mynock Special like the back of his hand. I wasn’t feeling good walking into it but if there was a way to push damage through on these guys, torpedoes was the way to do it.
As we moved into combat position, I got a shot on Whisper with Dengar’s Plasma Torpedo. Even if only 1 damage got through, it’d be enough to drop Whisper to half health. Unfortunately, it didn’t connect. Oh well…Whisper’s hard to hit. Next round, I positioned Dengar to get an in-arc Range 2 shot on Omega Leader. I believe the shot missed, but due to Dengar’s ability, I was still hopeful I’d be able to get a second attack. Then, on Omega Leader’s shot, Joe declines to attack.
Ugh…stupid jerk =). After that, I changed tactics. Taking advantage of the PS deficiency, I had Manaroo switch to a blocker, another role the Jumpmaster excels at. By denying Omega Leader the chance to get that evade back, I felt Dengar had a good chance at blasting him. After two successive blocks, Dengar only managed to bop OL on the nose.
At that point, Dengar was on death’s door with Whisper closing in, so I had to make a move. Omega Leader had Manaroo locked, so in a last ditch effort, I got a little distance, sent all of Manaroo’s tokens to Dengar (including Omega Leader’s TL, haha ), then popped Manaroo’s Glitterstim. In a moment of hilarity, Dengar was *so* close to surviving Whisper’s attack because of Determination, but ultimately succumbed. Manaroo then had a focused Range 1 shot on Omega Leader, but it didn’t connect, even with the ‘stims.
We played another round but c’mon, you know Manaroo can’t hang against a full Mynock Special. She promptly blew up, securing Joe’s spot in the Top 8, bumping me down to 20th. Ah well…for not putting the time in and running a list I wasn’t familiar with, being 1 win away from the Top 8 is pretty good.
Joe made in the Top 8 as well as fellow Mynock Dallas Parker, who went on to take the whole thing. Congrats, homies!!
So, even though I only made it to 20th place, I still feel pretty good about this list and am not ready to put it on the retirement shelf. I think it’s a swiss army knife that can deal with a lot of situations.
I think Dengar and Manaroo are the right choices as they give me a lot of Pilot Skill advantages; Dengar’s PS9 and Manaroo’s PS4 means I beat Contracted Scouts, meet and beat most aces, but am able to also block said aces. The Jumpmaster, aside from being an effective turret and torpedo boat, is also an amazing blocker. Being able to switch between torpedo boat and blocker is a great strategy and something I wish I had done more during the tournament. Speaking of, I also wish I had flown Dengar differently. I had a couple occasions where I should have sacrificed out of arc shots for a bump. I would have lost the opportunity to attack, but it would have helped me maintain arc, which is where Dengar shines.
I was really pleased with my combination of upgrades. Determination and Salvaged Astromech is a great defensive combo, especially with all the extra crit abilities floating around (Palp, Vader crew and pilot, Proton torps, etc). Blocking RAC crits, seeing people Palp blanks into hits, and even resisting Vader crew was really satisfying. Boba Fett was a must for taking down key targets, especially blasting the Deadeye off of enemy Jumpmasters. Tactician was a good choice, especially with Dengar’s ability. You can shut down aces dumb enough to shoot at you or nerf enemy Jumpmasters. Punishing One on Dengar was also nice; not only is it good for his PS and ability, but with Manaroo having APT, both ships have a strong R1 attack to careless enemies.
Action economy is a bit weak with these guys; Manaroo helps a mitigate this a bit, but Glitterstim gives you more options and help keeps each pilot self-sufficient. The list is somewhat lacking in it’s staying power. It doesn’t take long to wear down the Jumpmasters, so if I miss out on torpedo attacks in the first couple turns, it’ll be an uphill battle.
I think with this list, its got the tech and the tools, but needs a good pilot to succeed. I did much better than I expected and I think with some more practice, can be real trouble for most lists.
All in all, I was quite pleased with Crazy Squirrel. It’s an awesome store; plenty of space, friendly staff, good selection and prices (its the only place that has carried all 3 dial kits at the same time!). Also….they had this…
I made all kinds of friends with this one, though I was too afraid to drink it during the actual tournament. If you ever find yourself passing through Fresno, I highly recommend stopping by!