Happy New Year! Greetings all, Ed here from NOVA Squadron Radio!
Scum and Villainy is on its way, but before they arrive some stores will have already held their Championships. What will you see on the table starting in January and what do you need to know to do well this year?
Store Championship Season is Upon Us!
With the turning of a new year, so turns a new competitive X-Wing Season for 2015! Worlds is behind us, Wave 4 a memory, Scum and Villainy is on its way, and the competitive X-Wing calendar stops for no man, or no Wave for that matter. Beginning in the very early part of January and running right up until Scum and Villainy release to the hungry masses, we will be in a Wave 5 meta for this early Store Championship season. Here are a few things that could help give you that little edge to performing well at your Store Championship level!
What is a Store Championship and How do I find one?
So if you are a new player to the X-Wing community, first welcome to your new addiction! You can join me in the front row! Second, you have probably already noticed that this game has a really good competitive community. You may have already heard tales of last year’s Regional Championships and that guy who won it with some crazy list. Or you may have heard names like Doug Kinney and Paul Heaver and wanted to know what it took to win a World Championship in this game. Well, they all got their starts each year at the Store Championship level and worked their way up.
If you are looking to take your game to the next level and enter into this amazing community of competitive X-Wing, and believe me when I say this community is really full of a lot of great people, here is where you get your start! Unlike some ‘other’ popular miniatures games, Fantasy Flight Games has a very strong support system for the competitive circuit, and it starts at the Store Championship level. Here is where you start on your path to Worlds and Championship glory!
A Store Championship is designed to be your top level local tournament. Almost any store that is willing to host one and has some room can have one. A complete list of every store championship can be found HERE, so I highly recommend looking at this list and planning your next few weekends out. I know I have. These really are designed to find some of the best local players in your area. Sure, you may have some guys roll in from out of town who will try to snag some of the prizes, but for the most part this will be your local group of guys playing some X-Wing and having some fun.
What is at Stake?
There are some really amazing prizes available to the winners in this year’s kit, which includes a very cool alternate art work Soontir Fel card and those all impressive official FFG acrylic focus tokens. These just makes you feel like a more accomplished player when you place them on the table, and impress the heck out of your opponent. But there is something just a bit more important at stake here, that impressive first round bye at the Regional level. That’s right, aside from some really cool prizes at this level, a win here will be your key to a free win in the form of a first round bye at the Regional level. So players will most certainly be taking this event a little more seriously than a standard monthly tournament.
I want to stress now that every FFG tournament from Store Champions to Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds are all open events. Anyone can enter these and anyone can win these. The first round byes offered up for the winners of these events do not grant entry to a super elite event that no one else can join in. It does however help give those really good players a little leg up when participating at the next level, which is always helpful. Wouldn’t you take a free win?
So if you are going to enter one of these events and now know what is up for grabs, what do you need to bring to be prepared for this tournament? What lists are doing really well right now? What does the Wave 5 meta currently look like and what do you need to be prepared for?
Large Based Ships with Engine Upgrade RULE!
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was. Coming out of the World Championships this past year, Fat Han was huge in the meta, no pun intended. This build was the product of a Phantom-shy Wave 4 meta and went all the way to the final table and won it all. In the hands of a great player, this list was able to conquer all comers and win a second World Championship in two years for Paul Heaver. So how did this happen? What was it about this build that did so well?
The real power in this list, aside from being flown by the amazing Paul Heaver, was the ‘Engine Upgrade’ on a large based ship. This allowed Han to do some crazy arc dodging with a 360 degree firing arc. When a ship that size can boost out of the way of firing arcs and still return fire, it is just that much better than most of the other lists out there. The ability to set up shots and see none in return is one of the keys to winning at this game. Phantoms shiver in fear of Fat Han as they are at their weakest when Han shoots first and most lists cannot handle that level of maneuverability.
Wave 5 did not bring us much different to change this meta, as these two ships will only add two new large based ships options out there who can take an engine upgrade. Now granted each of these two ships, the YT-2400 and the VT-49, have some very different dials and play just a bit differently than the Fat Han build, however the theme is still the same. Large based ships that can boost and arc dodge with a 360 degree firing arc. These three builds will be huge in the early Store Championship meta, so be prepared for them!
Fat Han – Still King of the Hill
Fat Han will still be Fat Han, and still will be doing well this year. Wave 5 did not bring anything to really threaten Fan Han all that much. Han has the ability to move after Dash and get within that blind spot of the doughnut of doom at PS 9 or 11. With his ability to shrug off 2-3 damage a turn with C-3P0 and R2-D2 (crew), a Dash or Decimator list will not have enough fire power to bring Han down before he is able to do some serious damage. The Z-95 has proven itself to be a great Rebel filler ship and a fairly good blocker and dog fighter. While it doesn’t do the same job as its Imperial cousin, the TIE Fighter, it still is a great addition to Han and makes for a great four ship build. You may see some new options but overall Fat Han isn’t going anywhere and most likely this list isn’t changing much.
Weaknesses: Fat Han still has the same counters he always did, Swarms and high damage output ships. If you can punch through his shields early and often and start racking up the crits on Han, he will fall. He is most susceptible to fire early when your list is at its strongest. Late game, Imperial Swarms have a tough time with Han as the 3P0 and R2 combo is really a tough nut to crack, but Rebel Swarms fair slightly better, as they have more red dice per attack.
Please see Paul Heaver’s World Championship list below as a really good example of something you will see this year:
58 Dash Special
I talked about this build a few weeks ago in a previous article HERE, so I highly recommend taking a second peak at that article. This build will be everywhere in the early Store Championship season, and I do mean everywhere. Fast, mobile, with the ability to lay down some serious damage, Dash and his doughnut of Doom will be a punishing list to face. It will do all the things that Fan Han could do offensively and still be able to out maneuver you. Make no mistake, you will see this build during your Store Championship season, the only real question is what to bring with it. Some folks have been running Talas, similar to a Fat Han list, some are Bringing Corran Horn with R2-D2 and an Engine upgrade. But overall, you need to be aware of this list.
Weaknesses: It is called a doughnut for a reason; it has a huge blind spot at range 1. Any ship that can get within that after Dash has moved and can fire off shots without return fire has the best chance of killing him, as Dash is only PS 7. Han, Whisper, Echo, these ships can break into that range 1 and do some serious damage to him. Also, the 58 Dash build functions in a state of constant stress. So anything that can cause stress on Dash will only help you, as his ability to pull off the triple actions is greatly reduced. Rebel Captive, Tactician, R3-A2, these things will be great helps to bring this build down.
The VT-49 Decimator
So, in my opinion, the jury is still out on this ship and where we will see its typical builds land by Store Championship Season. One thing that is almost certain is that you will likely see Rebel Captive and Engine upgrade on this ship. In most cases, Rebel Captive is a great counter to the 58 Dash build and TIE Phantoms and the Engine Upgrade is awesome because is makes this ship a great arc dodger with the ability to push out some sever red dice.
There are a lot of builds out there right now, including the every ‘rammy’ Captain Oicunn with the Dauntless Title and Daredevil to play interstellar bumper cars and rack up the free unchallenged damage. This build sometimes brings Anti-Pursuit Lasers at the cost of the Engine Upgrade to really dish out the damage from overlapping, 4 points total if you can get it to fire off, plus a regular shooting attack. Not my favorite build as it really hamstrings the ship on maneuverability, but if your goal is just to ram into people then who really cares how maneuverable you are.
I am in the two following camps with the Decimator right now however, the second I will preview below. The first is Rear Admiral Chiraneau with Expose and Experimental Interface, as the damage output is just straight up crazy. This basically takes the Decimator to a 4 attack die ship, 5 at range one, all of the time. As there are no negative attributes for ships in X-Wing, so Expose does not drop the Decimator to a negative 1 agility. This makes Expose on this ship almost a no brianer. Experimental and Expose basically act like two Elite Pilot Talents on this ship and greatly increase its overall damage output with the ability to now Target Lock or Focus and Expose every turn. With Chiraneau’s ability to move a Focus to a crit, he can then use Target Lock to get more hits. Couple him with another ship/(s) that can benefit from a 360 degree safety blanket, like Echo for example, or some filler TIEs, and you end up with a really tough to kill ship that does a ludicrous amount of damage.
Weaknesses: The Decimator is a crit magnet, and will be dripping with negative effects by the time it dies. Our own Neil Jenkins from NOVA Squadron had the best line when he said “this ship will wear crits like Mr. T wears gold chains!” Sure, it can soak up a lot of damage, but that 0 evade dice is really tough to swallow in the face of superior firepower. Builds that can lay down the red like Swarms will do well against this ship, but be careful as it can easily one shot a TIE a turn. Also, the VT-49 turns like a garbage truck, which is why it usually needs the Engine Upgrade to help compensate for that. Its green maneuvers are all in the 2 range, making blowing off stress a challenge, and it has no K-Turn. So cornering this ship into bad position on the board is a good tactic to killing it.
Here is a good example of a VT-49 list that will do well this year. I like it because with Captain Kenkirk’s ability plus Ysanne Isard’s free evade action makes it a little bit more durable in the end game. Add in Rebel Captive and Mara Jade for some serious stress control and you have yourself a scary big ship. Echo complements this build nicely, as she can still hit hard and out maneuver most builds :
So that is it for part one of my Store Championship preview Next week we will look into the Swarm Builds, the Control Builds, the odd ball lists and what Scum and Villiany may bring to the table.
Please, let me know your thoughts on this upcoming season, what do you see as being big this year?
If you are a new player looking to get into the more tactical end of the X-Wing Miniatures Game, or an old pro looking to up your game, why not check out our podcast, NOVA Squadron Radio! Every two weeks we review what’s new in the world of X-Wing Miniatures. We break down those top lists from the big tournmament, interview X-Wing personalities from around the world, and review all of the new ships, cards, and combos that are all the rage in the meta today!