Monday, August 13, 2018

Workable Insanity AKA John's GenCon Wrap-Up!

GenCon! The second best 4 days of gaming all year! (Sorry, slogan bros, I had fun at Worlds).  And as we vaguely remember from our previous article, John ran his stupid mouth and made a bet that he shouldn't have! How'd that go? What'd John run? And what did he learn? Let's hit the jump and see what happened!
Star of the Show
As I linked to earlier with the article, I started this experiment in May almost right after Worlds after I made a dumb bet.  And while I said in that article that I needed to keep my super secret tech super secret to be sure I won, the actual answer is a lot less good.

I couldn't find a Leia list that was actually worth using Leia for.

Let's clarify that.  The Rebel problem right now seems to be that the game is moving away from MSU.  Wave 7 gave us a lot of options for running big ships and running them well, and it added in Early Warning System, which while hurting fighters ALSO hurt MSU groups.  And then there's Strategic Adviser, the most polite 4 points I've ever hated.
This may devolve into another article, later.
Leia IS an MSU commander.  In that she shouldn't have anything over a command 2 in her fleet as of this writing.  There's arguments for an Assault Frigate, sure, and I've seen people do..... fine.... with Star Cruisers and lightly upgraded other larges.  But at the end of the day, my opinion remains: command 2 max.  At 38 points for her cost, too, you want to be maximizing the number of ships you can bring with her ability.  I've never been a major fan of the "one real ship" Ackbar lists (Hashtag Worst Farm), as I didn't personally think I was leveraging my Commander to his best potential.  So I found myself running all sorts of different versions of Rebel smalls, trying to find something that wouldn't immediately die to some of the current Larges out there.  Looking at YOU, Vader Cymoon.
So before I began building my list, I knew that I had to deal with the fact that long ranged Red dice could theoretically cripple my list before it even got going.  Let's also bring out two points that I may have in my original Leia article (badly in need of an update after this experiment), but if i don't, they need to be included.  Her points cost and her restriction (no OTHER tokens can be used by that ship? Orf) are quite difficult to build around.  In a fit of honesty, I'll fully admit that Leia is probably overcosted.  She may not even be as good as Rieekan, and that's the other thing.

Right NOW, every Rebel MSU player needs to ask themself "Why am I not running Rieekan in this list instead of my current Commander?" The argument may be as simple as "I need the 10 points for Dodonna" or "I need Madine's ability to turn more than Rieekan's to keep alive a ship for one more turn" or "I have Sato plans that involve HH crits at long range" or "I'm better with Mon Mothma and want to run multiple MC30s."  You NEED a reason to pick someone who isn't the Zombie Lord, as he's STILL probably too good for his points cost.  So, I needed something that made my Leia list unique and not as good as being run under Rieekan.  I'd like to thank Eric for being the guy who was constantly yelling "Why not Rieekan" every time I threw out a list that COULD work, kinda.

I experimented with a few things, but before I get into the LIST, I want to talk about the objective choices I was running.

Precision Strike/Most Wanted, Jamming Barrier, and Salvage Run.

Eric had good luck with Salvage Run at Worlds, and I WILL humblebrag that I was the one who convinced him to include it.  So, very little reason to rehash what he had said there.  As for Jamming Barrier, it WRECKS long range damage, which is what I recognized I needed from my list.  And the red changed based on the list, but I eventually went Precision Strike (you'll see why soon...).  For me, before this effort, the red objective has always been one of the easiest to pick when fleet building, it's always the OTHERS that cause me trouble.  There was a slight diversion around Store Champs season where I went back to a version of the Adepticon list, running 3 VCXs with Fire Lanes/Sensor Net.  I was running a lot of MSU variations (Salvation! Admonition!  Hammerhead groups!) But nothing (maybe Salvation) was really sticking as "great with Leia" as opposed to "just great." Admonition ACMs sure is deadly, yeah.  But what was making it deadlier under Leia?
That gun, specifically
I took ANOTHER hard look at Leia and what she COULD do that was better than anyone else.  And I eventually came around to THIS:

Y Leia? Y Not?
Points: 399/400  
[ flagship ] CR90 Corvette A (44 points)
-  Leia Organa  ( 38  points)
Jainas Light  ( 2  points)
-  Lando Calrissian  ( 4  points)
-  Turbolaser Reroute Circuits  ( 7  points)
= 95 total ship cost

Hammerhead Scout Corvette (41 points)
Task Force Organa  ( 1  points)
-  Ruthless Strategists  ( 4  points)
= 46 total ship cost

Hammerhead Scout Corvette (41 points)
Task Force Organa  ( 1  points)
-  Ruthless Strategists  ( 4  points)
= 46 total ship cost

Hammerhead Torpedo Corvette (36 points)
Task Force Organa  ( 1  points)
-  External Racks  ( 3  points)
= 40 total ship cost

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
-  Boosted Comms  ( 4  points)
-  Bomber Command Center  ( 8  points)
= 30 total ship cost

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
Bright Hope  ( 2  points)
-  Toryn Farr  ( 7  points)
= 27 total ship cost

1 Jan Ors ( 19 points)
2 YT-1300s ( 26 points)
7 Y-Wing Squadrons ( 70 points)
= 115 total squadron cost

So how's this all work? Well, theoretically anything and everything is a carrier.  Realistically, not Jaina's Light unless we've hit a very bad spot (we'll get to that bad spot!), but I want to make sure I win the squadron war (Hi, Ruthless Strategists!) and then just start womping ships.  The benefit of Ruthless Strategists wasn't as easily seen until I started thinking about it.  Right NOW, stereotypically, Imperials run Sloane Aces and Rebels run Rieekan Aces a lot.  Right NOW, I don't often see anything overwhelming in generic high health heavy amounts of squadrons.  This seems like an adaptation of what Josiah ran at Worlds a few years back (as he pointed out to me at GenCon on Saturday, hashtag more humblebrag) and it DID start out with X-wings over the YT-1300s.  BUT, after losing those X-wings to some Sloane Aces at a store championship the weekend before GenCon, that's why I moved towards what he had run before.  After I win the squadron war, 7 Y-wings cleans up a lot of stuff.

As for the Hammerheads, they've always been aggravating little jerks who take more to kill than you want them to.  With the initial titled Torp friend to trigger the Task Force Title, they can tip the balance in.... alright, enough alliteration.  They can put out some helpful damage to take down whatever I need to shoot dead.  I assumed going into most games that they would die before the end of it, and whatever extra damage they COULD put in would contribute enough to ensure that I'd kill my opponent's ships.

So, enough backstory, how'd GenCon go? With convenient Street Fighter analogues for everyone!
For you, the day Leia entered your world was the most important one of your life.  For me, it was Saturday.
Round 1 I was faced against Mike Bohlmann, comatose on the forums, represented in this write-up by Zangief.  Why Zangief? Because Mike brought his list of Garm, dual Peltas (Adar on one, Toryn on the other), Yavaris, a GR75, and a metric ton of B-wings (Ten, Keyan, Dagger, 1 unnamed, Norra, a YT1300, and 2 HWKs).  His slow approach of deadly efficiency was like a Russian winter, unstoppable and frightening.
Anyone who knows Mike can immediately tell you that no part of this choice (personality, look, leg hair) was correct
He selected my Jamming Barrier, and we played slow chess for 2 turns, attempting to will the OTHER guy to jump the barrier first and watch his squadrons get flakked to death.  Red Rover, Red Rover, send your squadrons on over  However, with 3 activations after Mike finished, I "jumped" TO the barrier round 3 and shot up one B-wing and kinda damaged a HWK.  Thanks to the way the dust clouds and barrier worked, I lost one dice from my Y-wings shooting across either of them.  Mike did as well, but Jan was on my side there.  He pushed a few squadrons onto my side of things, and then Ruthless cut Ten and Norra down.  Mike's squadron dice were also VERY cold (a Y-wing survived 2 double taps from Yavaris) and I eventually ended up tabling him when time was called.  Ruthless Strategists is MEAN, if you're willing to sacrifice your own health for it (I was).  Mike was and is a solid opponent and knows his stuff, and his list is DEADLY if given time to operate.  Game 1 was a 15 round boxing match against someone who knows their stuff.

So round 2, I ended up playing Justin Rasmussen, rasproteus on the forums, and here he can be seen as Blanka because sure why not.  His Imperial fleet of Vader on a Cymoon (with Entrapment Formation!), one Gozanti, 2 Slaved Turret Intel Officers, and a Demolisher with just the title and APTs was going to give me a run for my money.  He'd eventually make it to top 4 for the Sunday matchup, but did I knock him down to size in this round?
SHOCKINGLY also not an accurate representation, but maybe he's different on Vassal
No, I did not.  Justin made ME first player (boo, his objectives, boo!) and then I had to attempt to kill a lot of stuff.  At the end of the day, I nabbed ONE Arquittens in round 6 that started right before Ian called time on the round, and he grabbed 2 Hammerheads and not the Most Wanted Jaina's Light that almost died but didn't a few times.  I ALMOST nabbed Demolisher on his side, but my one Y-wing was JUST out of reach to hit it at the end, which resulted in a 5-6 loss to him.  I've talked to Justin leading up to this, but we had never actually faced each other at World's when we both went.  This was ANOTHER hard match that was really fun against a good opponent, that (again) I was spending the whole time making sure everything was in place and doing all I could to NOT die.

Lunch break happened, and then I found out my 3rd round opponent.  World Champion Nathan Coda, Guile in today's analogy (because of the only unironic U-S-A cheer I've ever been part of)
Does this make me Raul Julia? I think so.  Also, Nathan, do your hair like that.
Great.  Nathan was running an 8 activation Rieekan swarm powered by an IF! Pelta.  Two naked Torp Hammerheads, Quantum Slice, a Comms Net GR75, 2 naked CR90s (one had Jainas; neither had TRCs), and Admo powered for death.  He ALSO chose Jamming Barrier, and he outactivated me so badly.  I didn't want to fight swarm, as my list is geared towards either outactivating your real ships or outsquadroning your others.  When Nathan can both outactivate my real ships and come running at me fast enough with everything that I can't get a bead on him to squadron bomb him, I run into a lot of trouble.  He ran at the barrier with his swarm; the 2 ships he had go AFTER me OF COURSE made it to the barrier before my squadrons could hit his and damage him.  He looped around and ended up cutting so many things down.  However, throwing every squadron I could at him (this was that aforementioned bad spot!), including the last turn before Admo scooted away at speed 4, I was able to bring it down before Jaina's faced a hairpin terrifying near death experience.  In the end, I had Jaina's Light, the Bright Hope, my squadrons, and another 5-6 loss that was the scariest thing I had seen all day.  Nathan knows his stuff, and I was happy to walk out of there with a 5-6.

Which leads to round 4, facing Jason Dedrik of NOVA fame.  I had remembered his paint job from World's, and I still really liked it.
I gotta get my MC75 to be looking this fancy, too. Plans, of course....
So he was running Dodonna on Admo, with Garel's Honor and an MC75 backing it up.  2 GRs (one Slicer, one Comms Net), and Shara, an A-wing, and 2 YT2400s were all there too.  Fancy paint job means that we go with the fanciest fighter in the tournament: Vega.
Jason came dressed just like this, too, mask and all.
Jason came at me with Admo, and I eventually whittled it down with fighters, especially the YT-1300s as well.  Garel's came sailing in later, and I eventually whittled THAT down too, especially when Garel's couldnt get the Structural Damage it wanted/needed on the GR75 that it was ramming repeatedly.  The MC75 almost crossed the barrier, but it ended up trying to hem in Jaina's, which prompted me to have Leia take off as fast as humanly possible.  I ended up winning after cracking the Slicer Flotilla, Shara/A-wing, Admo, and Garel's.  As in all my games, my opponent knew what he was doing, was super nice personally, and also a nightmare to play against!

I ended up scoring 27 points, putting me in 7th place, which was enough for a fancy medal, range rulers, and some chaff/Raid tokens.
I'd ALSO like to point out that I had the strongest strength of schedule, in a fit of NOT being humble.  I had hoped to get to be in the Seal Cub Clubbing Club, but instead I walked in to round 3 of Mike Tyson's Punch Out.  Where the heck was Glass Joe?
My Cracken list only has 2 larges in it, but it works! That baseball bat sure looks nice, mister!
So I'm proud of how I did.  No humblebrag, no modesty, I'm happy.  I didn't WIN, but I put in some good games and several people commented to me and Eric that I seem to have made Leia "work" as best as she can.  I put up the best results in a tournament with a list I crafted from nebulousness.  I ran the 2+3 before at Michigan, and I talked about how I came to it, but there I went back to what WAS working.  Here? No starting help, no plans.  Leia was and still somewhat IS unexplored, and I LIKE being The Leia Guy who people come to for advice/thoughts.  I LOVE hearing Leia ideas from people, seeing what they see and how she can be developed.

I also, as in all the big Armada events, got to hang out with all the Armada bros.  It's honestly fun for me seeing all these names I know from THE INTERNET, seeing and talking to them.  I met shmitty, but we never got that game in so I could prove to him that Leia is good and get that article he owes me.  Next year, next year....

So what the heck did I get out of this all?
Well, I think I proved that Leia isn't BAD, having gone 2-2 against INSANE competition.  I can't claim she's the best Rebel commander.  But for the list I ran with her, she was the best choice I could make.  I won games BECAUSE of her and her ability, not IN SPITE OF.  Why not Rieekan? Because I needed to throw more squadrons all day erry day.  Leia, as much as people will give me crap about her, isn't ALL bad.  As I said above, her restriction and point cost need to be worked around, and I think I DID work around them pretty well.
Damn straight.  Now I need to go read Wishful Drinking....
As I said, people were commenting that they actually really like this list (and several people have borrowed it since and ran it to various degrees of success, which, cool!).  The general plan a LOT of squadronless lists have is to just run Slicer Tools at the carrier and then kill it the next turn.  I have 5 carriers each pushing like 2-3 squadrons, you let me know when you can stop them all.  The other fun of this list is that Sloane is just kicked right in the head by it.  Oh, you threw 6 damage into the YT1300 with a perfect roll? Jan says that's 3 and i still have 4 health left, counter 1.  Ruthless will bring your scatter Ace down another health, especially after I throw some Y-wings at it.  I ran this at Atlanta this past weekend and several people again said they didn't like seeing 7 Y-wings across the table.  Just, there's no way to flak them to death efficiently, they can reach out and wail on a lot of things, just keep punching.  I made some mistakes in Atlanta and DEFINITELY got outflown in a couple games, but I don't blame the list for it more than my mistakes.  Leia is NOT a forgiving commander thanks to that restriction, and I can look back on the 2 games in Atlanta I lost and see my mistakes.

Did I learn to not run my mouth? Oh helllllllll naw.  Anger/passion/motivation is what pushed me to get this thing going, and it's pushed me to better marathon finishes than if I don't have it.  Yeah, yeah, anger leads to hate, but I'm NOT actually mad at any of the mockery I got (specifically because I know and have met most of the guys mocking me, except Truthiness, and I know it's mostly in jest). If I could guarantee a ticket to Worlds, I'd promise running Leia there, and I'd start calling out community members right now just to prove a point, haha.  But because I can't guarantee that spot unless I win a Regionals.... well, I don't learn lessons.

In fact, lemme run my mouth right now.  I'll take on ANY SSD list with my Leia list when it comes out.  We'll see who wins, me and my Wishbone friends, or you and your giant target.
(Flight of the Valkyries plays)
I also ended up REALLY liking this list.  Or some variant of it.  I can't claim I'll be running this specific thing at the next Regionals or World's, but some potential variant of it is intriguing, for sure.  If I change the YT1300s into X-wings, and add in Biggs, fit in an MC30, and........ I finished all this prep for GenCon, having been playing Leia since May, and the first thing I start thinking after it's all over is how I can improve this list and get better with it!


  1. How nobody commented on this is beyond me. Absolutely brilliant article. I'd love to see if you have worked on Leia more and made any changes. You're definitely onto something here never suffering anything worse than a 5-6 against insane competition

    1. Ha, thanks! I've been playing Leia for a while still. I have yet to settle on anything specific, but I've got ones built with an Assault Frigate and 3 other non-flotilla friends now (and one flotilla: 90, HH, Neb, and like 90 points in squads), and I'm trying to find a way to make one with zero flotillas. We'll see what I can get going!