Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Let's Compare Decks! - A discussion on the two different damage decks for the X-Wing Miniatures game

Question: when was the last time you saw someone using the original core set damage deck? I’d hazard a guess that it was just before the new core set came out, right?

Why? Because newer is better? Because of the large amount of people that claim it’s better?

Because you’ve sat down with both damage decks and critically gone through them with reference to your list and worked out that the new deck is better? Nah, me neither… until very recently.

My new list

I’ve gone Defender mad and I’m about to run this list:

2 x Deltas – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device
Vessary – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device / Juke

I’d heard someone say something about the old damage deck being better for generic pilots so I thought I’d have a look… now I’m going to have to dig it out and see if I still actually own all the cards!

Both full decks side by side

Note: from now on, I’ll refer to the deck that you get in the original core set as the “old deck” and the deck that comes in the TFA core set as the “new deck”

The first thing to look at when comparing new and old decks is the cards that have no change to them like Direct Hit! and the cards that only have slight changes in the wording of the cards, for example, Thurst Control Fire which has had a one word alteration to clarify some timing issues.

Old deck - Direct Hit!: (Ship) This card counts as 2 damage against your hull.
New deck - Direct Hit!: (Ship) This card counts as 2 damage against your hull.

Old deck - Thrust Control Fire: (Ship) Immediately receive 1 stress token. Then flip this card facedown.
New deck - Thrust Control Fire: (Ship) Receive 1 stress token. Then flip this card facedown.

As the slight change is only going to affect anything in a very small amount of cases, for the purpose of this, article, I will count them as being the same thing.

So then, these cards have stayed the same:

Console Fire

Damaged Engine

Direct Hit!

Thrust Control Fire

Damaged Cockpit

Stunned Pilot

So 6 out of the full 14 different cards in the deck are (near enough) exactly the same. This is a good start.

Clearing the crits with dice

There seems to be a trend in the new damage deck for making crits easier to cancel.
Damaged Sensor Array and Structural Damage can both be cancelled by rolling an attack dice, if you roll a hit, the crits are cancelled. The difference comes when that dice roll comes up as a crit. If you are playing with the old deck, the crit stays, if you are playing with the new deck, flip that crit down!

Essentially that means if you are playing with the new deck, you have a 50% chance of clearing the crit, however if you are playing with the old deck, you only have a 37.5% chance of clearing the crit.

This is just a fact of the decks and doesn’t really come down to what list you are playing.

Score one for the new deck!

Damaged Sensor Array

Structural Damage

Minors into Majors (shit got real!)

Two cards have been “upgraded” from minor effects in the old deck to major effects in the new deck. These are Minor Explosion and Minor Hull Breach (in the old deck) which changed to Major Explosion and Major Hull Breach (in the new deck). Let’s have a look at the difference.

Minor Explosion / Major Explosion

Straight up, this is a score for the old deck, obviously you would prefer to take a normal damage, over another crit, right?
Pretty much, but if you are playing certain lists, this makes no difference at all. A-wings, Z95s, Attack Shuttles, M3-As, TIE Adv. Prototypes, Phantoms and E-wings have 2 hull so if you take a crit and it comes up Minor/Major Explosion, it doesn’t matter if the subsequent damage is a hit or a crit, you roll a red dice and if it comes up a hit, dat ship go boom! This is an important consideration if you are playing a list where ALL your ships only have two hull, for example a Z swarm or an A-wing swarm.

Minor Hull Breach / Major Hull Breach

Well… these are different, maybe they deserved a more different name? Who knows, anyway, you can’t really compare them. This really IS list dependent.
If you are running an A-wing swarm, you really don’t care about Major Hull Breach because the next hit you get is going to kill you anyway, whether it’s a crit or not HOWEVER these swarm type lists tend to K-turn a lot so you don’t really want Minor Hull Breach.
If you are running Defenders, you can pretty much go whole games without ever doing a red maneuver (love those white K-turns) so Minor Hull Breach is a “good” crit for this ship BUT if you’ve still got three hull left, get Major Hull Breach then the next damage turns out to be a Direct Hit! that is bad times.

Two different lists, two different preferences.

Cards that have been replaced

Some cards from the old deck have been completely replaced by new, different cards in the new deck.

Munitions Failure is replaced by Loose Stabilizer
Injured Pilot is replaced by Shaken Pilot

Well, you can kind of see the reason for these. Imagine PTL Soontir getting Injured Pilot! No more PTL AND no more stress/focus shenanigans… that’s a well dead Soontir.
Now imagine a Delta Defender getting Injured Pilot… no change whatsoever.

So it’s a balance thing, the new damage deck was brought in to level the playing field, in that previous example, using the new deck instead would have got both ships a Shaken Pilot crit, more rough for the Defender and less rough for Soontir.

You could extrapolate similar findings with the Munitions Failure / Loose Stabilizer crit if you looked at a HWK with TLT and a base X-wing. With Munitions Failure, your HWK would be totally useless for the rest of the game but the X-wing would be unchanged, whereas with Loose stabilizer, both ships are equally inconvenienced.

I think it’s worth stating that this part of the new deck benefits the game, as a whole, massively. (who wants to win against a nerfed Soontir, anyway!) BUT it doesn’t mean that if you are working on a list by list basis, the new deck is unquestionably better. Do some thinking!

Other honorable mentions

So there are two other crits which deserve a mention.

Blinded Pilot

Blinded pilot went through a change, whereby in the old deck, you had to wait for the opportunity to attack another ship (ie. have another ship in range and in arc and then declare that ship as the target of your blinded attack) before the crit would clear. In the new deck, the player just has to wait for the next time it would be that ship’s turn to attack, then the crit clears.

The old deck is fine if you are a turret but what if you are an arc dodger, you effectively have to come around for another pass JUST to clear the crit. Bad times!

Weapon Malfunction and Weapons Failure

This change was due to ships carrying cannons or turrets not being affected by Weapons Malfunction as it only nerfs your PRIMARY weapon value. (Dash’s favourite crit). Weapons failure effects all ships equally.

So, if you have a squad that uses just secondary weapon turrets, you would chose the old deck, right? Nope, because what happens if you get the Munitions Failure crit? One of your scary 3 dice TLT Y-wings becomes a 2 dice ship that only gets to fire once AND has to have his target in arc! MEGA NERF!

That was interesting... Now stop rambling and tell me which deck to use!

So that’s all the crits discussed, let’s look at a few lists and see what which would be the best for that list.

I have analyzed the effectiveness of each damage deck over three lists. I’ve tried to use lists that I have a fair amount of experience playing with or playing against. To that end, I’ll look at my old Imperial list with Vader, Omega Leader and Redline, my new Defender list with Vessary and two Deltas and finally the 5 A-wing crack swarm that Joel has been playing for a while (and consequently, I have played against a lot!)

As some things will benefit or handicap a list more than other, I have tried to set up a scoring system ranging from -3 (Soontir getting an Injured Pilot crit. ie. useless Soontir) to +3 (Delta Defender getting an Injured Pilot crit. ie. no change whatsoever) It’s obviously VERY subjective so only here as a general guideline and to help you make your own decisions.

Also, I’m going to completely disregard Console Fire, Damaged Engine, Direct Hit!, Thrust Control Fire, Damaged Cockpit and Stunned Pilot as they are exactly the same in the old and new decks (as stated before).

A-wing crack swarm

Joel's A-wing crack swarm

5 x Green Squadron Pilot – A-wing test pilot / Chardan / Adaptibility / Autothrusters / Crackshot

So let’s go down the list.

Damaged Sensor Array and Structural Damage – the new deck wins on both of these because of it’s slightly easier method of clearing these crits. As there is only a 12.5% difference I’ve only awarded the new deck +1 for each crit and the old deck -1 for each.

Old deck: - 2 points
New deck: + 2 points

Minor/Major Explosion – it matters not! Having only 2 hit points means that whether that next incoming damage is a hit or a crit, that ship = dead! No points for either deck here then.

Old deck: - 2 points
New deck: + 2 points

Minor/Major Hull Breach – Major Hull Breach is negated (once again) by the 2 hull points. Who cares if the next hit is a crit or not when it will kill you regardless. I shall award the new deck + 3 for that!
Minor Hull Breach however, will inconvenience this list a fair bit. The swarm likes to K-turn a fair bit in my experience and having to roll an attack dice every time you do that and possibly blow the ship up is not so good! Therefore, I will award the old deck a – 2

Old deck: - 4 points
New deck: + 5 points

Munitions Failure and Loose Stabilizer – Munitions failure is a dream crit for these A-wings. They have nothing to discard. + 3 for the old deck there!
Loose Stabilizer is a bit of an arse for the A-wings though, they really rely on their agility to get out of tight situations. - 2 for the new deck.

Old deck: - 1 point
New deck: + 3 points

Weapon Malfunction and Weapons Failure – No difference here as the A-wings only use their primary weapons. No points!

Old deck: - 1 point
New deck: + 3 points

Blinded Pilot – the new deck is always going to get my vote on this, often it doesn’t make too much difference though, especially to a swarm so I give the old deck – 1 and the new deck + 1.

Old deck: - 2 points
New deck: + 4 points

Injured Pilot and Shaken Pilot – Injured Pilot will pretty much do nothing to the A-Wings as they don’t have an in-built pilot ability, Adaptibility is set at the beginning of the game and they will almost always have spent their Crackshot by the time they get down to hull. + 2 points (not the full + 3 in case they haven’t spent Crackshot)
Shaken Pilot could cause a bit of an annoyance, depending on the situation. Not being able to do a straight maneuver for the one turn where you expect to get a block can be frustrating. - 1

Old deck: 0 points
New deck: 3 points

So the new deck comes out on top for this list. Let’s see about those Defenders!

Defenders of The Universe

Be afraid! Here come the Defenders of the Universe!

Vessary – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device / Juke
2 x Delta Squadron Pilots – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device

Damaged Sensor Array and Structural Damage – same as with all lists, the new deck wins this (but not by much).

Old deck: - 2 points
New deck: + 2 points

Minor/Major Explosion – Well, getting a Major Explosion, then rolling a hit and pulling a Direct Hit! is the worst thing in the world on a three hull ship (well, maybe not, but still…) The old deck definitely wins this one! Old deck + 2, new deck – 2.

Old deck: 0 points
New deck: 0 points

Minor/Major Hull Breach – Any mechanic that will net you extra crits (such as Major Hull Breach) is bad. Not the worst thing because the Defenders only have 3 hull so as long as you don’t get this crit on the very first point of hull damage, it isn’t worth anything. Not terrible but could be bad! - 1 for the new deck.
The maneuvers I tend to use on my /x7 Defenders are straights (all greens), 3 turns and banks (all whites) and that lovely, white 4 K-turn. Losing the ability to safely do any red maneuvers because of Minor Hull Breach… not much of a bother at all! + 2 to the old deck!

Old deck: + 2
New deck: - 1

Munitions Failure and Loose StabilizerMunitions Failure, I wish all (my) crits were like this! Nothing to discard so no change here. The full + 3 points for the old deck!
Loose Stabilizer? I spent 3 extra points getting my agility to 4 and now it’s gone all the way down to 2??? Not what I’d want. - 2 for the new deck.

Old deck: + 5
New deck: - 3

Weapon Malfunction and Weapons Failure – And again, no difference here, us modern Defenders don’t use any secondary weapons! Nil points for either side!

Old deck: + 5
New deck: -3

Blinded Pilot –bad times for the old deck here. Not being able to clear this crit by running away, then coming back again would be very annoying! Old deck – 1, new deck + 1.

Old deck: + 4
New deck: - 2

Injured Pilot and Shaken Pilot – Well, this is actually a pretty difficult one. Injured Pilot won’t have any effect on my Deltas but on Vessary it will strip his ability AND Juke. Bad times. That said, it does only have the potential to affect a third of my list. Old deck gets a – 1.
Shaken pilot is also awkward to analyse for this list. I don’t often do straight maneuvers when in the thick of a dogfight (it’s worth mentioning that the 4-K is NOT treated as a straight) I’m usually either turning or K-ing. It could still be annoying though. I think the new deck gets a – 1 for this as well.

Old deck: + 3
New deck: - 3

So by a rather large margin of 6 points the old deck wins!

Lots ‘O’ Locks

Lots 'O' Locks

The previous two have been fairly easy to analyse because they comprise the same ships. This one is going to be awkward but let’s see how we go...

Vader – VI / Engine / Title / ATC
Omega Leader – Juke / Comms Relay
Redline – Plasmas / Clusters / FCS / Guidance Chips / Extra Munitions

Damaged Sensor Array and Structural Damage – same as with all lists, the new deck wins this again.

Old deck: - 2 points
New deck: + 2 points

Minor/Major Explosion – And again, getting a Major Explosion, then rolling a hit and pulling a Direct Hit! = bad! The old deck definitely wins this one! Old deck + 2, new deck – 2.

Old deck: 0 points
New deck: 0 points

Minor/Major Hull Breach – As with the last list, more crits is bad, but Vader and Omega Leader only having three hull each makes this not so bad. Redline, however, could end up with 6 crits from the new deck!!! Fairly bad, - 2 for the new deck.
Minor Hull Breach however, will also have a fair bit of an impact on all the ships in this list. I K-turn with all these ships, Redline included! Who needs actions when you’ve got target locks AND guidance chips? More badness – 2 for the old deck.

Old deck: - 2 points
New deck: - 2 points

Munitions Failure and Loose Stabilizer – Munitions Failure on Redline is a bit rubbish as you have to discard a missile or torp BUT it’s not as bad as something like Dash losing his HLC. It doesn’t have any effect on Vader or Omega Leader, so that’s good. - 1 for the old deck.
Loose Stabilizer is a bit more of a kicker for any of these ships, Omega and Vader because they rely on those greens to keep them alive and going down to no green dice on Redline just feels wrong! - 2 for the new deck.

Old deck: - 3 points
New deck: - 4 points

Weapon Malfunction and Weapons Failure – Well, the only difference is that if you are using the old deck and Redline gets this crit, his torp and missile shots aren’t nerfed. Not much change, I know but it still edges the old damage deck in front for this one. - 2 for the old and – 3 for the new.

Old deck: - 5 points
New deck: - 7 points

Blinded PilotBad times for the old deck here. These ships are arc dodgers (well, two of them, anyway) and won’t have shots every turn. This makes the old damage deck worse for this list than most. Old deck – 2, new deck + 1.

Old deck: - 7 points
New deck: - 6 points

Injured Pilot and Shaken Pilot – Injured Pilot is awful for this list! Redline’s tactics hinge on getting 2 target locks, Vader is great with his 2 actions and Omega Leader without Juke and her ability is just a high PS TIE F/O. Very bad times! - 3 for the old deck!
Shaken pilot could be bad but then again, it’s only one turn and then it gets flipped. Not great but not terrible. - 1 for the new deck.

Old deck: - 10
New deck: - 7

The new deck, once again comes out on top here but the way my scoring has turned out, it really shows how much crits in general hurt named pilots more than generics.

So those are my findings, they are obviously subjective but the point I’m trying to get across is that you should try and do a bit of critical analysis on which deck is best for your list.

I’m going to dig out my old deck and give it a try on my Defenders of the Universe list!

Redd XIII signing off.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Battle Report - Lost Ark Games, Stevenage - 03-07-16

Wow, it feels like a long time since I’ve played X-Wing competitively! It’s actually only been just over a month since Warboar regionals and it’s not like I haven’t been practicing on Vassal and at Dark Sphere Tuesdays, but walking into Lost Ark this morning, I actually felt really nervous.

So, what did I run? Well, I’ve gone Defender mad! I’ve been practicing with the following list for the past few weeks:

Vessary – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device / Juke (38 points)
Delta Squadron Pilot – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device (31 points)
Delta Squadron Pilot – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device (31 points)

I’ve been doing pretty well with it, between Vassal and “in person”, I’ve got in 12 games and out of those 12 games, I’ve only lost 2! Both of those losses were against lists with Zuckass crew. Stating the obvious, that means I have a 100% success rate against Rebel and Imperial lists!

As this was one of the “I Am Your Father’s Day” events FFG have been running, Lost Ark decided to only let Rebel and Imperial lists play (because Luke was a Rebel and Darth was an Imperial)… I’ve got a 100% success rate against those lists so I should definitely take this list, right? I didn’t.

The day before, I came upon the amazing realisation that a fully kitted out Inquisitor comes in at exactly the same points as one of my Deltas. I should definitely swap them, right? Because the Inquisitor is incredible, right?

Well, I did swap them out and I ended up taking this list:

Inquisitor – TIE/v1 / Autothrusters / PTL (31)
Vessary – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device / Juke (38)
Delta – TIE/x7 / Stealth Device (31)

The Inquisitor certainly looked good

I like the idea of this list, the one thing that always frustrated me about Vess and 2 Deltas list was when to try and acquire the target locks with the Deltas to trigger Vessary’s ability. I get my free evade from the title but then do I focus or target lock. Difficult. Not so much with this list as the Inquisitor with the title always wants to acquire a target lock.

So in essence, I took this list to a tournament when I’d only flown The Inquisitor once before. Potentially, a mistake.

Let’s see how the games went.

Match 1 vs John Kane

Jake – title / Autothrusters / PTL / Adaptibility / Proton Rockets
Miranda – TLT
Sabine – TLT / Lone Wolf / Chewbacca

I recognised John from a previous game, I asked him whether we’d played before and he said he thought we had played at the Dark Sphere winter kit. That was a long time ago and before the blog so I have no idea how that matchup went down.

So, first game of the day. Unfortunately, my brain was not logged in. I was playing badly, I forgot a few actions, made some bad decisions. Sorry John!

I lost the initiative roll and John game me initiative so my Inquisitor was moving before Jake and Miranda. Bad start.
The one thing I seem to keep coming back to in these blogs is initial engagement. This was the first of many times, I screwed up with The Inquisitor. I went in too fast so on the first round of combat, most of John’s ships had shots on him and both my Defenders were out of range. Bad times. He died.
Special mention goes out to Vessary, Jake got his prockets off and Vess, now on one hull, pulled a console fire crit. He hung around for another two turns after that (without clearing the crit). He died to a TLT shot ( blank blank hit) where he totally blanked out. Boooo!

The Delta stayed on the board. I took none of John’s ships off :(

Loss 0 – 69

Don't put your Inquisitor in the middle of the board... it's a dumb idea!

Match 2 vs Ian Kafka

Maarek Stele (Defender) – Adaptibility / Twin Ion Engine MK II / Tractor Beam / TIE/D
Vader – Adaptibility / TIE/x1 / ATC / Engine
Omega Leader – Juke / Comm Relay / Stealth Device

I’d played Ian before when I went to an event in Harlow. Unfortunately, that was before I’d started blogging so I couldn’t tell you the result of that one, either.

We ended up meeting in the middle of the board with pretty good shots from both sides. I managed to take down Vader but lost The Inquisitor (going down first is his speciality). A few turns later and Ian reveled his dial for Maarek – a 1 left bank, he meant to do a 1 right bank. Assuming the dice didn’t sway particularly in anyone’s favour, it was possible that Maarek could have tractored my Delta onto a rock, bringing it into Omega Leader’s arc and preventing my shot. What happened is that after the 1 left bank, Maarek barrel rolled to get my Delta in arc, leaving himself with no tokens. The tractor missed, I think the primary did as well, I shot back and took a few health from Maarek.

A few turns later and Maarek is dead. Now it’s the showdown between a fairly beaten up Vessary and Delta against a full health Omega Leader. This took an age and by the time the match was called, Omega was on 2 health. On a side not, from a movement perspective, it was quite liberating going against Omega Leader, seeing as my evade token would do nothing, it freed me up to take the odd 1 or 2 speed maneuver when needed.

Win 71 – 31

Maarek is in the middle (with no tokens). I had nice shots this round!

Match 3 vs Hadrian Tulk

Dash – title / HLC / PTL / Kanan / Engine
Corran – VI / FCS / R2-D2

My initial thoughts on this matchup was that I really needed to take Dash down before my Inquisitor went down. Having that PS advantage over Dash would be invaluable.

Unfortunately, the Inquisitor went down really early here again. My problem is definitely range control, if I want to continue playing with him, I need to get that down.

I ended up managing to take down Corran with quite a nice killbox (Delta and Vess had range 1 shots), then Dash killed the Delta. A half health Dash, vs a two health Vess. Dash get’s the PS0 crit and time is called, this is the final round. If Vess died, I had lost but if I killed Dash OR no one died, I had won. Vess 4Ks and ends up looking at Dash. He’s close, it’s not range one but, maybe, just maybe if I’d barrel rolled as far forwards as possible, it might have been range 1. I didn’t I took a focus. I needed to get all 3 shots through and Dash to get 2 blanks. I ended up getting him down to 2 hull and then got blasted in the face with HLC… Dead Vessary… Deddary!

Soooooo close!

Loss 71-100

This was a tense game. So this is the only photo I got of it!

Match 4 vs Alex Vickers

Omicron Group Pilot – Palp / FCS
The Inquisitor – title / Prockets / Autothrusters / PTL
Soontir – title / Autothrusters / Stealth Device / PTL

Right, so for the fourth time in four games I put the Inquisitor in the thick of things too early. All shots on him, with the Defenders still out of range. To sum up – dead Inquisitor and a few shields off the shuttle.

I did manage to set up another nice killbox again. Alex’s Inquisitor in range 1 of both Vess and the Delta. Vess did take a procket to the face and suffered a minus one agility crit but was still just alive enough to strip tokens from the Inquisitor so the Delta could finish him off.

Soon after I made short work of the shuttle then it was a full health Delta and a badly damaged Vessary against Soontir. I managed to get a few nice blocks in and Soontir took a crit (Direct Hit!) which meant no more Stealth Device and then it was just a matter of time.

Win 100 – 31

This was the turn the shuttle died. If I remember correctly, my Delta also took a Soontir shaped hammering!

So I came 13th of 28 players, not awful. But honestly, I really wonder how it would have gone if I’d bought the triple Defenders list. The Inquisitor is a great ship but I really think he needs practice to fly well. I definitely hadn’t had enough practice.

I’m going to return to the triple Defenders and try and make the most of them for a while. One of the best things about this list is my PS1 Delta blocker. He did great, so I’ll have another one please :)