Monday, July 24, 2017

Pastimes Store Championship wrap-up

So John and I went to the Pastimes store championship on Saturday and came away with first (for me) and second (for John). Our store, Fair Game, did pretty well too, with our friend Matt getting third and our up-and-comers Jack and Colin getting sixth and eighth. Out of twelve people, that's pretty good! John already wrote about his experiences (in three different articles), I'm gonna condense mine down to one.
Pastimes always has lots of space and Ron provides great event support!
The format was two rounds. I have mixed feelings about two-round events overall but the upside is clear in that it simply consumes less of the day (FFG itself ran two-round events at Adepticon this year). The downside is placement at the end of the day is more luck-dependent than a longer event (which reminds me, I've got an article about the tournament format to write at some point). We had some folks from a ways out of town and in general most everyone was looking to get done earlier; that's completely fine and I had no major complaints so long as I got to play with plastic spaceships! At the end of the day it also meant that for the first time in a while, John and I didn't need to fight each other in a tournament (which otherwise would've happened round three)! Yay!

I brought a heavily modified version of my competitive Ozzel fleet whose core premise was "I want to play with all four of my Raiders now that I have External Racks." I'm not confident this is superior to something more similar to what I won Adepticon with, but it is fun and that counts for something.

Crazy Train featuring Ozzel Osbourne
Points: 388/400

Commander: Admiral Ozzel
Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Fleet Ambush
Navigation Objective: Solar Corona

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
Demolisher  ( 10  points)
-  Skilled First Officer  ( 1  points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points)
-  Assault Concussion Missiles  ( 7  points)
= 86 total ship cost

[ flagship ] Raider-I Class Corvette (44 points)
-  Admiral Ozzel  ( 20  points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  External Racks  ( 3  points)
= 71 total ship cost

Raider-I Class Corvette (44 points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  External Racks  ( 3  points)
= 51 total ship cost

Raider-I Class Corvette (44 points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  External Racks  ( 3  points)
= 51 total ship cost

Raider-I Class Corvette (44 points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  External Racks  ( 3  points)
= 51 total ship cost

Gozanti-class Cruisers (23 points)
= 23 total ship cost

Gozanti-class Cruisers (23 points)
= 23 total ship cost

4 TIE Fighter Squadrons ( 32 points)

It's... weird. Only 4 TIE Fighter squadrons is lower than I'd like, especially with Sloane lurking about, and I'd never consider it nowadays if it wasn't for the four Raiders and their considerable flak. I know from experience testing the fleet out earlier that Rebel bombers can cause problems in that Y-Wings take a while to finally die to Raider flak and B-Wings can put out enough hurt, especially when activated en masse with something like a Pelta, to take a serious chunk out of a Raider once those TIE Fighters get mopped up around turn 3 or 4. Otherwise, it's got seven activations and with the External Racks, 5 serious combat ships. It punches way above its weight class and is extremely maneuverable. It's fun!

Okay so first game was against Joe Mahoney. Joe brought:

Faction: Galactic Empire
Points: 400/400  
Commander: Admiral Sloane
Assault Objective: Opening Salvo
Defense Objective: Hyperspace Assault
Navigation Objective: Superior Positions
 
Quasar Fire II-class Cruiser-Carrier (61 points)
-  Pursuant  ( 2  points)
-  Agent Kallus  ( 3  points)
-  Flight Controllers  ( 6  points)
-  Boosted Comms  ( 4  points)
76 total ship cost
 
[ flagship ] Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
-  Admiral Sloane  ( 24  points)
-  Minister Tua  ( 2  points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  Engine Techs  ( 8  points)
-  Electronic Countermeasures  ( 7  points)
-  External Racks  ( 3  points)
104 total ship cost
 
Gozanti-class Cruisers (23 points)
-  Boosted Comms  ( 4  points)
27 total ship cost
 
Gozanti-class Cruisers (23 points)
23 total ship cost
 
Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
-  Ordnance Experts  ( 4  points)
-  External Racks  ( 3  points)
63 total ship cost
 
1 "Howlrunner" ( 16 points)
1 Soontir Fel ( 18 points)
2 TIE Fighter Squadrons ( 16 points)
3 TIE Interceptor Squadrons ( 33 points)
1 JumpMaster 5000 ( 12 points)
1 Saber Squadron ( 12 points) 

So Sloane and lots of squadrons. Yikes. I chose to go first and chose Opening Salvo, which is always a relatively easy out for a multiple small unit (MSU) fleet like mine. It can come back to bite you a bit, but it's usually the easy choice compared to other more painful options.

Here's a rough picture timeline of the game:
This is where we were at the end of round one. Joe's two Gladiators are conga-lining there in the upper left and his squadron forces are roughly in the middle.

At the end of round two, things are getting real. His squadrons have pounced on the central right Raider and over two turns inflicted some damage and stripped the brace and one evade due to Sloane. His Quasar is heading into Raider alley and a speed 4 Raider has a good shot at the Quasar or Gozanti, depending. The Raiders have begun flakking and have been destroying or nearly destroying several of the generic squadrons. Demolisher pounced on the flagship Gladiator (the furthest from the camera), but did not roll terribly well for its turn 2 attacks. I chose to Engine Techs it in to improve my odds of being able to jump to safety but it cost me the double-arc on the flagship. That was a mistake, honestly, but we'll get to that...

Here we are at the end of turn 3. Demolisher activated first and took an attack on the flagship that left it at 2 health, shot the other Gladiator in the face, and booked it at speed 3 + Engine Techs to the back of the table to avoid any responsibility. The Sloane flagship Glad was finished off by a concentrate fire Gozanti plus Opening Salvo token for a 4 dice 3 damage attack, which was exactly enough to get the job done (which was rolling average on 2 red + 2 blue dice, for what it's worth, but it's nice when you need something and you get it). It's not smart on me for having to rely on something like that, though, which is why my earlier Demolisher move was a mistake. Anyways, his surviving Gladiator attempted to destroy the Gozanti in revenge but couldn't get an accuracy result (which is always frustrating against flotillas).

The Quasar was destroyed after wandering into Raider alley by the combined efforts of the front arcs of the Raider and Gozanti (with Opening Salvo, External Racks, and a concentrate fire dial that Raider rolled 9 dice) and the side arc of the speed 4 further up Raider, which took out the Gozanti with its front arc. Most of the generic TIEs were dead by now (on both sides).

By the end of turn 4, we're kind of making the rounds to the end game. I'm trying to corral his surviving Gladiator with my Ozzel Raider and another generic Raider, waiting for it to move into range of the Raider in its front (which is at medium range) and then hoping to sneak in Ozzel for a rear arc shot (he is also at medium range, thankfully) at the top of turn 6. Soontir Fel was finally brought down by my surviving TIEs earlier this turn, but they're all dead at this point.

By the end of turn 5 we see the trap is sprung on the Gladiator and surviving squadrons are making a break for it. I'm trying to get that fleeing Gozanti but it's likely not going to happen, it's simply going too fast.

This is effectively end game. Ozzel's Raider finished off the Gladiator (side note: External Racks are amazing and I'll be updating that Raider article soon to indicate that I consider them to be default Raider gear at this point) as expected. His Gozanti survived with 1 hull left, as I expected, haha. We called it at this point as the only thing remaining to do was to move the unactivated ships which weren't going to be doing anything of value anyways.

At the end, he had I believe Saber Squadron and one TIE Fighter and the Gozanti left and I had all my ships remaining but no TIE Fighters. Because all the remaining Gozantis (mine and his) were damaged and because one of my Raiders was also damaged, the Opening Salvo half-points kicked in and I believe it was around 370 to 96 or so. So a 9-2 split.

Joe and I had a disagreement about attack ranges around turn 3 or 4, I believe. He believed they were measured from plastic base to plastic base. I believed strongly they were cardboard to cardboard. I don't want to say it got nasty (it didn't), but we were both pretty firmly entrenched in our positions which was unfortunate because it added some contention to what was otherwise a polite game; another player (Kevin, hello) agreed with me on it being cardboard to cardboard and we went with that. 

For the record for anyone who is unsure about that themselves, I double-checked and it is cardboard to cardboard. Attacks are measured from hull zone to hull zone and hull zones are defined on page 6 of the rules reference guide as "A hull zone is a section of a ship token delineated by the two firing arc lines that border it. It does not include any part of the plastic base." When measuring other ranges (for example, for commanding squadrons or passing a Comms Net token), you use plastic to plastic (not counting the plastic extensions by the shield dials or the shield spinners themselves or squadron tabs). If that helps prevent any disagreements for any of you in the future, then mission accomplished.

Thanks to Joe for the game! It was a tough matchup for him - I out-activated him and the huge piles of Raider flak against his generic 3-hull squadrons was going to be rough. I had some hot dice rolls towards the end as well (to be fair I had some colder dice rolls earlier on from the Demolisher and with some of my flak, but I digress), which doesn't help. I think if he had deployed one of his Gladiators on the flank his Quasar went on it would've been tougher on me. The two of them being together near Demolisher made them easy to dance around (with Ozzel Raiders) and get some damage on them early.

Game two was against Jack Otto from Fair Game. Jack is a few months in and definitely improving; he did well with his gunline in the prior game and so I had the unfortunate situation of needing to fight one of my crew. Sad times. We knew it was inevitable (5 of the 12 participants were Fair Gamers) but I don't like it when any of our successes come at the cost of the failure of our buddies. Ah well.
Faction: Galactic Empire
Points: 399/400  
Commander: Moff Jerjerrod
Assault Objective: Advanced Gunnery
Defense Objective: Fleet Ambush
Navigation Objective: Dangerous Territory
 
[ flagship ] Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer (110 points)
-  Moff Jerjerrod  ( 23  points)
-  Avenger  ( 5  points)
-  Boarding Troopers  ( 3  points)
-  Phylon Q7 Tractor Beams  ( 6  points)
-  X17 Turbolasers  ( 6  points)
-  Leading Shots  ( 4  points)
157 total ship cost
 
Gozanti-class Cruisers (23 points)
-  Comms Net  ( 2  points)
25 total ship cost
 
Arquitens-class Light Cruiser (54 points)
-  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits  ( 7  points)
61 total ship cost
 
Victory II-Class Star Destroyer (85 points)
-  The Grand Inquisitor  ( 4  points)
-  Gunnery Team  ( 7  points)
-  Disposable Capacitors  ( 3  points)
-  Quad Battery Turrets  ( 5  points)
-  Leading Shots  ( 4  points)
108 total ship cost
 
6 TIE Fighter Squadrons ( 48 points) 

So Moff Jerry and some fat guns. Of special concern to me was the VSD with Disposable Capacitors - the Boarding Troopers Avenger against anything but Demolisher at close range was likely to achieve exactly the same outcome as an ISD without those upgrades - a dead small ship. I chose Fleet Ambush because overall I've found it's not too tough with Ozzel due to his amazing speed control and because my black dice ships (hello Demolisher) like starting closer provided I can wait out the other fleet, which with 7 activations to Jack's 4, I could.

This is the end of the first turn. Things were going to get ugly on turn 2 from the get go. I forgot to take pictures of those turns, sorry.

Turn two between the Demolisher and Raiders, the VSD was destroyed. The Disposable Capacitors Gunnery Team shots definitely hit those Raiders earlier that turn and scared me a bit - landing 4 total damage (2 to shields, 2 to hull) on a Raider from long range is not something I'm comfortable with. His Gozanti was tagged by a Raider. Dogfighting between TIEs was going about evenly, although two of his TIEs in the middle were killed by Raider flak and opposing TIEs.
Turn 2 his Arquitens made the following shot at Demolisher:

Fickle red dice, exhibit 2382

Why did I remember to take this picture but not other turn pictures? I don't know. I felt like I had to document poor Jack's awful dice roll. Red dice are fickle creatures. He did manage to bring it up to 1 with Dual Turbolaser Turrets but still, oof.
Anyways, by the end of turn 3, his Arquitens had been destroyed by the Demolisher looping around, his TIEs were nearly destroyed, and his ISD was making its way around but was going to get flanked and nibbled to death by Raiders who refused to stay in its front arc. Jack called it top of turn 4, which I accepted (if someone concedes to you, you accept it for both selfish as well as, more importantly, gentlemanly reasons). It was a full 400 point wipe to 8 points (one TIE Fighter), which is a 10-1 split. Sorry, Jack 😧. Thanks for being polite about it, I know it's tough getting jumped.
In terms of my errors, I think I should've started Demolisher double-arcing the VSD and then flown out right away first activation. I was a bit more pensive, but it was an option and I probably should've taken it. Otherwise, I think Jack deployed too wide. I was able to focus on his fleet minus the ISD and then turn around to focus on it later. I'm always nervous about Fleet Ambush as an objective (I have it in my own fleet but with 4 Raiders I expect I'll do fine at catching over-aggressive enemies) - perhaps  Contested Outpost would've been better?
So in a two-round event I ended with 19 tournament points, which got me the win. Overall, it sounds like everyone had a good time at the event and it was nice to meet some of you (a few blog readers were in attendance!). A few impressions I had from both my own games as well as the games and fleets I saw on other tables:
  • It seemed like an even split of Rebels and Imperials despite the fact that all of my games were triangle-on-triangle violence.
  • Lots of Hammerheads on the tables. Mostly Torp Hammerheads with External Racks.
  • Imperial fleets with Sloane were fairly popular, with at least 2 such fleets.
  • Also a smattering of VSD-IIs with the Disposable Capacitor setup and some ISDs with Avenger and Boarding Troopers.
  • No other Imperial fleets that resembled my Ozzel fleet much, but that's not too surprising. I gather from other events I've been to that it's not a common archetype in the area (Chicagoland and Milwaukee and elements of central/southern  Illinois). That's undoubtedly beneficial to me as the fleet is really slippery and tough to pin down if you're not used to dealing with it.
  • The Rieekan nerf was extremely popular amongst most participants. The other nerfs were acceptable but not as widely spoken of or as widely hailed.
  • Activations ranged between 4 to 7, with most fleets having around 5.
  • Squadrons ranged between minimal (like my fleet with around 30) to heavy-ish (I'd say around 100) but nothing going up to the 134 limit so far as I recall.

Thanks again to everyone who came out and to Pastimes' Ron for managing the event!