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Imperials in the Store Championship 2017

I’ve been thinking for the last days on what to write about as my next article after I wrote about the faction meta.  I knew I was not that interested in doing another history article playing around with the data found on List Juggler, I wanted to write about something that is happening now working with the data available even though I realise its  incomplete.

I decided to see if I could find valuable trends in the data that has been gathered for Store Championship 2017 so far and if I could apply it in some way to give people better insights into what to expect.

Lets start with checking out the most popular ships(Chart 1), pilots(Chart 2) and upgrades (Chart 3) players are using this season and looking at the winning lists. I will limit my database queries to the top lists and where we have more attendees than 17 people when looking at the details found in the data.

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Chart 1. Top 25 ships in the Store Championship (please note that this chart does not take the point cost for each ship into consideration)

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Chart 2. Top 25 pilots played in the Store Championship.

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Chart 3. Top 25 upgrades in the Store Championship

In this article my focus is mostly on the imperial faction and their status in the current meta with my own thoughts applied to the data, so be warned. I’ll share some insight as what to expect and share some of my own tips for the imperials.

I’m going to start with analyzing a few game mechanics which have a high impact on the game and how the factions are using them.

Lastly I talk about the imperials faction and how players are adjusting to the meta.

BOMBS!

Lets start with a short story. In one of my recent matches I played with the inquisitor in my list vs. a list with a K-wing. The Rebel player really wanted to get rid of the inquisitor as he thought he had the advantage on me since his K-wing was loaded with bombs.  When he went after my Inquisitor with his K-wing I decided to arc dodge and just keep away from it since I knew it was really vulnerable to bombs, this strategy came at the cost of excluding the Inquisitor from the fight but eventually the K-wing catched him and my Inquisitor was removed in one bomb drop where I got a cluster mined and took 3 hits with Sabine crew dealing the final blow. To make a long story short, I won that match but while the K-wing was following my inquisitor I could use my other ships to take out the rest of my opponent’s list and then finish off the K-wing later which was fortunately out of bombs at that time. The point of this story is that even with a list with with an ace like the Inquisitor which is extremely fragile and tends go down relatively easy when exposed to bombs, you can still adjust your play style to win matches.

inq-on-fire

Bombs are not an auto lose for aces, but boy they can be challenging. However, you can mitigate the damage with good flying and asteroid placement. One extremely important point to mitigate damage is to know when your opponent’s ship can drop bombs, either before he reveals his template or as an action (Table 1). This knowledge gives you the advantage of better anticipating your opponent bomb runs to act accordingly.

Count Type Phase
55 Rigged Cargo Chute Action
47 Cluster Mines Action
32 Seismic Charges Reveal Template
29 Thermal Detonator Reveal Template
28 Ion Bombs Reveal Template
14 Conner Net Action
12 Proximity Bombs Action
4 Proton Bombs Reveal Template

Table 1. Most popular bombs in the Store Championship 2017

You might have noticed that I included the illicit upgrade Rigged Cargo Chute but I think it’s relevant as it can be just as devastating as a regular bomb when placed on top of a ship, and a well placed Rigged Cargo Chute can deal stress in the turn it’s placed and even in the following turn if your ship template overlaps it. For simplicity I’m including the Rigged Cargo Chute when talking about bombs.

I’m now curious as to what lists are using bombs and how they are applied within the different factions. There’s a lot of data on List Juggler and I’m not going to mention all the lists which have bombs in them, so i’m going approach this by looking at the winning lists after cut which have more than 17 participants and same applies to the rest of the article. The data sample is already about 50 tournaments which matches this criteria, which I feel is enough to analyze the most common trends.

Rebel Bomb Lists

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The most played bomber in the rebel faction is Miranda Doni. Miranda most successful build this season includes Ion Bomb, Cluster mines, Conner Net and Thermal Detonators, fortunately not in the same list! The Miranda builds I looked at had four things in common to increase their efficiency with bombs and that was to included bombs which activate when you reveal your dial or when taking an action, the Sabine Crew, Extra Munition and the Advanced SLAM upgrade.

The list to beat in the current meta is a Miranda with Bombs and Dash with Heavy Laser Cannon and that’s actually the rebel list with the most success this season. The list success is understandable since the ships synergize well together. Both ships can be difficult to catch in arc, Miranda usually softens Dash targets up with bombs and punches really hard with the Heavy Laser Cannon. In the Euros 2017, we saw Miranda and Leebo vs Miranda and Dash in the finals, which the Miranda/Leebo build won. In my mind there is not that much of a difference of these 2 builds as Miranda really doesn’t care if it’s partner is with a pilot skill 7 or 5 since she’s 8 herself and Dash natural predators usually have an higher pilot skill than 7 anyways. But there was one huge difference which I don’t hear many if any talk about and that is that Leebo is better observing damage than Dash because of his ability and the build had countermeasures as well to further mitigate damage in that one round when it’s crucial, this was pretty good meta call in my opinion.

Miranda is also usually equipped with Twin Laser Turret and I was a little surprised that there were no Mirandas with Auto Blaster Turret on top since most know that Fenn Rau is all over the place (Chart 2). Nand Torf the world champion of 2016 and the runner up in Worlds 2017 certainly saw the value in having auto damage which he could boost to three dice using Mirandas ability. I saw a few games on streams where he slaughtered many of the aces that dared to come to close to Miranda.

My advise is to target prioritize Miranda as fast as you can since you don’t want to deal with her later when she’s regenerating shields and slamming away to safety or when your ships have taken a pounding and are even more vulnerable to bombs. There are exceptions, e.g if the player gifts one of his other ship to you, I at least usually take it and deal with Miranda later or just situations where you opponent makes errors you capitalise on and change target priority as the game progresses . One important thing often overlooked is that a fully equipped Miranda costs a lot of list points so having here on the board when time is called is usually not good if your lists has taken a beating.

There are some wave 11 shenanigans coming out for the rebels like the Bomblet Generator which I expect to become popular in Rebel builds later on.

Fun fact – 3 out of the 5 winning rebel lists had bombs and the total winning lists are 43.

Scum Bomb Lists 

Punishing-One-X-Wing

Ok, there are none at the moment!  This will change in Wave 11 when the Cad Bane crew is out where you gain the bomb slot on ships which can take crew cards, e.g. the jumpmaster.

They will also get a new dedicated bomber platform in the Scurrg H-6 Bomber, so based on bombs efficiency in the current meta I’m sure we will see some bombing scum lists in the near future. Cards which haven’t been used much in the past like Unkar Plutt crew which allows you to drop a bomb even if you lose your actions or even Genius might see play since they will improve scum efficiency with bombs in the meta to come.

But back to the Store Championship again, we have the Rigged Cargo Chute which has similar effects as a bombs and it’s very popular (See Table 1). You have to use an action to drop it and it’s purpose is mainly dealing stress and blocking lanes for the opponent. The stress can be devastating to ships which rely on their actions and the tactic used by the scum players is very similar as in the Miranda/Dash lists where the Rigged Cargo Chute weakens the ships by leaving them actionless and then it becomes easier to focus down. In some of the podcast I’ve heard that the top players include it in their lists especially to deal with Miranda Doni by removing her actions(SLAM) so she can be more easily focused fired and it’s also useful to shut down upgrades like expertise and such.

It can only be used once on a ship since it doesn’t get boosted by Extra Munitions card as the bombs do. There is one exception to that rule and that’s if the opponents also has the Jabba The Hut Crew in his list, which isn’t getting much play at the moment but I guess people are still figuring it out since the C-Roc was only recently released.

Lets take a closer look at what scum lists include the Rigged Cargo Chute (Remember when I dive into the details, i’m only looking at the winning lists this season)

I’m just going to mention in what List archetypes the Rigged Cargo Chute is included but they are;

  • Old Fennaroo
  • Rauboats
  • Paratanni

It’s the Jumpmaster which has the Rigged Cargo Chute load so be prepared and remember it’s only once a game and it’s an action and use that knowledge to your advantage.

To get more details on these archetypes lists, you can visit the X-Wing Meta analyzer.

Fun fact –  4 out of the 29 winning scum lists had the Rigged Cargo Chute and the total winning lists are 43.

Imperial Bomb Lists

Dauntless

Ok, let’s just go straight to the fun facts here – it’s the only faction which has a ship called the Tie Bomber but it was the Decimator which was loaded with an Ion bomb, lol – so it’s 1 out of 9 winning lists which had bombs and the total winning lists are 43.

One final note to the imperial players, since I have a lot of ground to cover and need to wrap it up at some point.

In a tournament scenario it can be daunting to play multiple games consistently where bombs are common, always escaping your opponents traps round after round. This might be one of the reasons the traditional aces are not as popular in the tournament scene as they were before. (Chart 4)

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Chart 4. Number of appearances of  traditional aces – For reference see Chart 2 above.

STRESS !!

Bombs mechanics is not the only danger that aces face in the current meta but one of the thing is stress dealing mechanics which can really hurt an ace that relies on PTL for it’s action economy especially if the ace becomes double stressed, and there is plenty of stress dealing mechanics in the current meta.

Next step here is to check what lists and pilots can deal out stress in the meta so let’s dive into the details.

Rebel Stress

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Only one list had made the top spot with stress mechanics, and it was in Peoria US.

The list had Braylen Stramm with Gunner, R3-A2, Alliance Overhaul(New stress hog), Captain Rex, Biggs with R4-D6 and Integrated Astromech and Jess Pava with adaptability, R2-D6, Integrated Astromech and Pattern Analyzer for 100 points. A solid Rebel Jank list.

The R3-A2 is not in the top 25 list of upgrades but it’s place is at 31. The upgrade which is at 25 is the Heavy Laser Cannon with 79 list appearances but the R3-A2 has 64 appearances to put this info into some context (See chart 3 above).

There are two kind of stresshogs in the game that i’ve seen people using, The Arc(Braylen with Gunner) and the Y-wing with the BLT-A4 title and Twin Laser Turret, sometimes the R3-A2 appears on other ships in the rebel faction as well, e.g. Jess Pava, Wes etc. But the stresshogs have it common to be able to deal two stresses in one round, one that triggers with Gunner and the other with the BLT-A4 title.

I found it difficult to create some scenarios where I could explain the strengths and weaknesses because I feel it depends on this list you and your opponent are playing. Most of the lists which have a stresshog are protected by Biggs so you need to deal with him first, I found it impossible not to mention him in my tips section.

Braylen Strengths

  • Front and Rear Arc
  • Gunner crew
  • Ability to clear stress himself
  • 3 red dices
  • It’s durability

Braylen weaknesses

  • His sides
  • The ship total point cost
  • Sometimes Gunner won’t trigger to give you the extra stress you need
  • The dial
  • 1 green dice

Y-Wing with the BLT-A4 title and Twin Laser Turret strengths

  • Title with TLT and can always deal out 2 stress in a turn if it has a target
  • The ship total point cost
  • It’s durability
  • Twin Turret Laser with a primary attack with the title to deal double stress

Y-Wing with the BLT-A4 title and Twin Laser Turret weaknesses

  • It’s inability to clear stress
  • The dial
  • His sides and back (If you can get an ace behind the ship it’s usually game over for it)
  • 1 green dice

TIPS

  • Focus fire on Biggs and kill it ASAP 🙂
    • Some of your ships will most likely become stressed;
      • Don’t be afraid to disengage and return to the battle later when the stress has cleared
      • Don’t be afraid to clear stress with a green movement and bump
        • This will prevent at least one ship shooting at you but keep in mind this is very situational
    • Players tend not to want to shift target priorities, keep that in mind
    • Do everything you can to keep some guns pointing at biggs after the first encounter to increase your chance of removing it from play
  • The rebels don’t have a lot of re-positioning so use that to your advantage
  • When you encounter the stresshog and Biggs in the same list, it’s very likely that the player is flying his ships in formation
    • The rebel player usually approaches the battle slowly
    • Use the asteroid field to break up the formation
    • The Rebel formation is slow to adjust since it doesn’t have much re-positioning
    • If you approach the battle from more than one direction, the rebel player usually commits all his forces into one direction
  • Flank, since both stresshogs types have their sides exposed
    • The Y-wing is very vulnerable if you can get behind it
  • Try to lure your opponent to shoot at the ship that has the most resilience against stress in your list
  • Don’t use Push the limit all the time if you can get away with it
  • And finally include Captain Yorr into your list with inspiring recruit and you should be good 🙂

Scum Stress!

iamfear

The queen of Stress in the meta is Scum Asajj Ventress.

The Asajj Ventress is one of the most popular pilots out there, 3rd place to be exact so you need to have a plan to deal with her. She is featuring in 9 winning lists out of the 29 successful scum lists this season.

Asajj Ventress is rather durable ship with 3 shields and 7 hull and it can also increase its survivability with Elite Upgrade Cards like Push the Limit and Attanni mindlink where the later is more common. Players usually use the Latts Razzi to further enhance her durability by removing stress from opponents(there are no range restrictions to use the Latts Razzi crew). She can also deal out stress herself if you are caught in her mobile arc in range 1-2 which synergizes really well with the Latts Razzi crew. Her dial is fantastic, but can become predictable if she’s equipped with Push the limit or if she needs to clear a stress herself. Here action bar also has the evade action, which also boosts her durability.

Lets take a look at some of the lists where she is featured;

The Paratanni Archetype, which featured the Asajj Ventress, Fenn Rau and Manroo with the Attanni mindlink upgrade but after the FFG nerf on Manaroo, people started experimenting with other ships than Manroo so today when I think of Paratanni archetypes, Manroo is not necessarily in the list but we can expect any other ship that has the elite pilot title with Attanni Mindlink to be included to generate focuses(See table 2).

Count Elite Pilot Title Pilot1 Pilot2 Pilot3
3 Attanni Asajj Ventress Fenn Rau Manaroo
2 Attanni Asajj Ventress Fenn Rau Palob Godalhu
1 Attanni Asajj Ventress Fenn Rau Contracted Scout
1 Attanni Asajj Ventress Fenn Rau Jakku Gunrunner
1 Attanni Asajj Ventress Contracted Scout Contracted Scout
1 Push the Limit Asajj Ventress Y-Wing TLT Y-Wing TLT

Table 2. Winning lists where Asajj Ventress features

Of those 9 lists 2 had The Rigged Cargo chute which can deal stress, which I cover earlier in the article hence the possibility to double stress an enemy ship.

To get more details on these archetypes lists, you can visit the X-Wing Meta analyzer.

I included The Rigged Cargo Chute in the bombing section, so I’m not going to cover it in any details here.

Now, I find myself in the same spot as before finding it difficult to explain any one strategy for dealing with Asajj Ventress, so I’ll just include some tips below which people might find useful but keep in mind that there are always exceptions to all rules.

TIPS

  • Asajj can only deal stress with her mobile arc
  • It can be predictable how Asajj is played
    • Look at the dial and green moves
    • Near edge board to increase its efficiency to use it’s mobile and front arc (Flanking)
    • Players try to lock their mobile ARC in one direction to not have use Asajj action to change it
      • If players feel it’s more advantageous to deal a stress than taking an evade or focus action, they will not hesitate to change the mobile arc to ensure they will get one of your ships stressed.
    • When she is stressed she has no short moves, unless player decides to keep the stress on her
      • In Attanni Mindlink lists, people sometimes keep the stress to be less predictable since the other ships can generate a focus for her.
  • I usually don’t pick Asajj as a target priority, since she can be a tank with all her durability
    • Remove her friends first to lessen her action economy with Attanni Mindlink lists
    • Remove her friends if they are TLT, an advice from Paul Heaver which played that list in Worlds 2016
  • Vs. The Paratanni Archetype list with a Jumpmaster, I target prioritize Fenn
    • Manaroo can pass target locks to other ships which makes her difficult to deal with if your list uses FCS to up it’s damage potential
    • If you choice to go after Manaroo, remember to take focuses instead of Target Locks.
  • Vs. The Paratanni Archetype list without Manaroo, I target the pilot3(Table 2) since that ship is usually is the weakest link in the list.
    • If Fenn is an option early I might switch Target Priority to him
    • The contracted scout is different than Manroo, since it can’t pass the Target Locks acquired to other ships and you gain much by removing it early on
  • When Asajj is the only ship left in an Attanni Mindlink setup, she becomes much less of a tank and is much easier to take out.
    • If games go to time remember that a half health Asajj is only 20 points
  • If the opponent plays recklessly with Asajj, punish them for it – so keep an open mind to sudden change of plan.
  • Stay on target, stay on target – even it’s tempting to do something else.
    • If the player is luring you to take the shots on Asajj, but you have options to take shoots on his other ships, I would usually resist and fire on them instead
    • You might even feel you are losing when you do this, but if your ships take damage but survive and you can get Fenn out – the list looses it’s one main Cannons which works to your advantage
  • Don’t use push the limit if you can get away with it, there are mainly two reasons for this
    • Asajj might double stress your ship
    • Asajj usually has the Latts Razzi Crew and can add an evade to her defence roll if your ship is stressed
  • Use asteroids to your advantage since the imperial faction usually can navigate better through them than Asajj can.

Imperial Stress!

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They are just not there in the meta, there are a few rebel captive crew here and there and I didn’t see the Mara Jade crew once in the data but both of these unique upgrade cards are limited to the imperial faction and can deal out stress.

Alpha Strikes (Missiles and Torpedoes)

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How does one increase its potential damage output in a list? Alpha strikes, Alpha Strikes.

Missiles, Torpedo’s, guidance chip and 4 red dices, let’s remove all range bonuses and make sure we can repeat these steps with Extra Munitions. This formula doesn’t sound too bad does it?

The missiles and torps are very popular in the meta and we can see that only by looking at the top 25 upgrades(Chart 3), where Guidance Chip is the 3rd most popular upgrade, followed by Extra Munitions in the 5th place and Plasma Torpedoes coming in as the 9th most popular upgrade card.

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Chart 5. Most popular missiles and torps this season. Note that Extra munition and Scavenger crane work with bombs as well.

Now, I’m again curious to see what lists are popular so let’s dive in it for each faction.

Rebel Missiles and Torps

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There was one rebel list that made the top spot with missiles. Norra with Plasma Torpedoes + Dash Rendar, something you don’t see every day. Since I didn’t have much to go on here, I must admit I cheated and took a larger chunk of data just to inspect it. I was expecting to see at least a few Mirandas with Homing Missiles and there were some, but that setup seems to have run it’s course for now in favour of bombs.

There are Rebel archetypes that work well with Missiles and Torpedoes, e.g. Rebel Jank lists with Y-Wings packed with Plasmas or even Nera Dantels with Plasmas to mention something. I know those lists can be good but they seem to be played only by few people.

Scum Missiles and Torps

Hermanos-Solis-Cantina

The missile deal was handed to the Scum & Villainy faction as they are the clear winners when it comes to equipping their ships with the most deadliest weapons in the galaxy.

Of the 29 successful scum lists, 18 had some missiles and torpedoes in them.

Lets break down the lists to archetypes as we have done before to get a clearer picture of what to expect.

Count Archetype
5 Worlds 2017 Winning List (Tel and Dengar)
4 RauBoats
2 Bossk and Dengar
1 Bossk and Ketsu
1 Fenn and friends(Ndru, KaaTo, Zeuolous)
1 Fenn and Dengar and the token generator (Inaldra) – Sick Fang Man
1 Fenn(PTL) and Dengar
1 OldmanFenn
1 Triple Jumps
1 Paratanni with a contracted scout

Let’s try to analyze what’s going on, all these lists have the contracted scout in common which is a great platform for carrying ordinance with the two exception of the Fenn and friends archetype where the ordinance is loaded on Ndru and KaaTo and Bossk and the Ketsu Bossk archetype. What stands out in my mind here, is the jumpmaster platform and we need to know how to deal with it.

It’s very different how you would approach each combat when dealing with these archetypes, joust, arc-dodge, bump, asteroid placements etc. So I’ll just cover the basics when dealing with the Jumpmaster platform, since I would probably need a new article if I were to cover more scenarios.

TIPS

  • The Dial, The Dial – seems pretty basics but you must know it by heart
    • White sloops left
    • Red sloops right
      • Attanni Mindlink, negates this to some extent
    • Green lefts
    • If you know it the dial well
      • you can better range control
      • you can better control the battle, since you can anticipate his moves better.
        • The jumpmaster want’s to bump you or get those torps off
  • Try to let them spread out their fire and ordinance
  • Don’t joust, make the opponent work for all his missiles launches
  • Select your engagement area, make sure you have asteroids to help you out
  • Low pilot skill (Contracted Scouts(PS3), Manroo(PS4))
    • Range Control
      • Low Pilot skill Jumps need a target lock to get those missiles off
      • Next round, be aware of possible bump scenarios
    • Find out if the list has Intel Agent and which Jumpmaster has it, I would try to target prioritize that ship
    • If Fenn is in the squad, try to have the option to turn your attention to him
      • You don’t want him flanking and shooting with 5 red dices to often in a game
      • If you are sneaky you might catch your opponent guard down
    • If you have Autothrusters, make it difficult for them to maintain ARC
      • Range 3 is very good here if you can stack tokens
      • Try to have the player spend his missiles in that scenario
  • High pilot skill (Dengar and Tel w/Veteran Instincts)
    • Range Control and select where you want to engage
      • Everything that works in your advantage to stop those white sloops work in your advantage
    • More vulnerable to red sloops
    • More vulnerable to stress, since Dengar is sometimes with Expertise
      • The jumpmaster dial becomes more predictable in this setup
    • I’ve found it better to take initiative if I only have equal pilot skills in my squad (PS9), to have more possibilities to block Dengar rather than arc-dodge him but I guess this depends a lot on playstyle we all have
      • The reason is I want minimize how often he can take his revenge shoots
      • If I don’t have the init bid and have an PS 9 ace, it’s sometimes valuable to try to place him just in the spot which prevents Dengar to take his white sloop
    • If I have lower pilot skill and a PS9 or above I pass it, then I can block and move with my ace later.

The Jumpmaster platform has very few weaknesses and is strong platform overall but I wrote what I could remember in tips section and of course there more tricks, basics and advanced techniques you can use but I can’t cover them all. The old advice of practice makes perfect applies here, and the more practice you get in with dealing with the Jumpmaster the better you become.

Then we have a few Bossk builds out there in the meta and the biggest weakness in that list is the YT-666 platform which is slow and with a 180 ARC, depends a lot on 3 turns so it can be predictable but if you joust Bossk it will punish you, at least have a plan to get out of arc in the round after. Usually I try to focus Bossk down, even if his dial is bad and he’s leaving the battle for a few rounds to turn around. You don’t want all that firepower to re-enter the battle later on.

The Imperial Missiles and Torpedos

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Didn’t you get the orders, all ordinance should be loaded to the Death Star?  You will just have to make them lasers work for you. Imperials are not packing. Over and Out.

With one exception, The Inquisitor was in one winning list in France, Lyon fully loaded with Proton Rockets.

The Imperial Meta in the Store Champs

quickdraw

The meta is packed with stress and ordinance and it seems that the traditional aces are not coping well so imperial players have started to look elsewhere for solutions within the faction or even outside it. Whisper and Omega leader seem to be the exceptions since they are still played with some success and even though both ships are vulnerable to bombs they have better durability than most aces, e.g. A cloaked whisper has 4 green dices and is hard to pin down for the opponent and Omega Leaders ability can remove all red dice modifications if he has a Target Lock on his opponent, hence more durability.

One of the solution is that many Imperial players are turning to is the Tie S/F like Quickdraw and Backdraft (See chart 6) and I think one of the factors is the Tie S/F has increased durability in hull and shields vs the traditional imperial aces even though it comes at the cost of less green dices. The Tie S/F can use the Lightweight Framework to up it’s defences in some scenarios and that seems to be a popular choice.

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Chart 6. Top 10 appearances of imperials ships in the Store Championship

It doesn’t hurt Quickdraw and Backdraft to have solid pilot abilities, high pilot skills and good upgrade slots available which players can tweak to their liking, e.g. building your list to have an alpha strike or just go with the pure efficiency of the ships and their pilot abilities with the later being more common.

Now lets look at the most successful lists with the Tie/SF (Table 3), but 6 out the 9 imperial lists which have won a Store Championship this season had QuickDraw in it.

France Lyon QuickDraw, Colonel Vessery, The Inquisitor
Italy Citt di Castel QuickDraw, Colonel Vessery, Pure Sabacc
US Austin QuickDraw, Colonel Vessery, Pure Sabacc
US North Liberty QuickDraw, Colonel Vessery, Omega Leader
US Portland QuickDraw, Backdraft, Omicron Group Pilot
US Carlisle, PA QuickDraw, Backdraft, Omega Leader
US Kingsport QuickDraw, Backdraft, Colonel Vessery

Table 3. Winning Imperial lists for Store Championship (For details on the exact upgrades please look up the tournament on List Juggler)

Vessery seems to be popular partner as it synergizes really well with the Tie/SF as it’s usually equipped with a FCS and Colonel Vessery can take advantage because of his ability. Colonel Vessery is also durable with 3 hull and 3 shields and can be rather tanky with the X/7 title. Some people like to up his offensive capabilities with the X/D title but that usually comes at the cost of durability and list points, but keep in mind sometimes the best defence is offence.

In many archetype lists we have a core of two ships that carry that list so to speak, e.g. in Paratanni we have Fenn Rau and Asajj Ventress . There are two cores which are emerging from the data for the imperials. One is QuickDraw and Vessery and the other is QuickDraw and BackDraft. One might argue that that there’s the 3rd core with QuickDraw and Omega Leader and that might just be the case, but I’m personally do not build my lists around Omega Leader.

There are more builds out there with the Tie/SF and I’ve seen people mixing it up with Whisper, The Inquisitor and Vader so there are other options available and it will be exciting to see if new builds appear when we have more data in List Juggler.

The Tie/SF is doing good for the imperials but we can’t forget the Decimator as it seems to be still valid, based on the results from Worlds and in a few Store Championship tournaments this season. The decimator is a tank in regards of hull and shields so less affected by bombs and alpha strikes and here again we see the trend of what’s very valuable in todays meta and that’s plenty of hull and shields even though the decimator has the agility value of 0. The decimator has other ways to mitigate damage than its agility and usually it’s equipped with engine upgrade to arc dodge and Real Admiral Cherenau which is the most popular pilot has a solid pilot skill of 8, which some people boost to 10 with the veteran instinct elite upgrade card. Upgrades cards can also be used to mitigate damage to get the Decimator out of trouble and the most notable card is the Kylo crew which can lower ships pilot skill to 0 or hand out blinded pilot twice in a game if you can somehow manage to get a crit through their defences. The Imperial player that chooses to field the Decimator often choices one partner and can choice from various aces available to the imperial faction, like Whisper, the Inquisitor, Omega Leader, Vessery, Ryad, Backdraft, Quickdraw or even Vader(which has good synergy with Kylo Crew) but those aces seem to be in the most popular partners. There are exceptions of course how people choose to build their list when playing with the Decimator and a few have found success with not investing to many points in the Decimator to field more ships with it.

As for other builds, we have one tie crack swarm victory and another one with the Upsilon, Whisper and Wampa and there might be more undiscovered builds just waiting for their time in the meta for the imperials.

One thing I picked up from an interview with the current world champion is that he said the kryptonite to his winning list(Dengar/Tel) is a triple defender list and fortunately for him there weren’t that many at Worlds this year. So that list might still be viable in the tournament scene.

Ok, I’m wrapping it up here as I feel this article has become way too long and If you made it this far, I thank you for your attention! Hopefully you have gotten more info on what dangers are lurking out there for the imperials to better prepare for the tournament season ahead of us.

star-wars-propaganda-20100301-135405

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There’s nothing wrong with the JM5K

WHAT AN OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM!!
-I know.

ARE YOU GOING TO BACK IT UP WITH DATA??
-Nope.

I’ve looked at the data and I’m not sure it’ll work to my advantage. I might be able to manipulate it to suit this article but I’m no good at that so it’ll take WAY to long. I’ll leave it to my buddies to support claims with anything that might be considered factual. Anyway, it’s besides the point.

My first 100 point competitive list was SuperDash and Corran Horn. I’ll never forget the first game I won with it against an experienced local player that wanted to try out his new list in a competitive scene. He was not happy with the loss and was very vocal on how Dash was “easy mode” and the negative impact Dash (who very recently released at the time) had on the game. Mind you, this was at the height of Whisper’s dominance. Looking back, I’d attribute that win to the way my opponent chose to play. I had very little to do with it, the lists even less. Overall, experienced players would most often be victorious when facing inexperienced players like myself, no matter what I brought to the table.

This is very much the story of x-wing as long as I have played. Something comes along that shakes the community, be it a new ship, upgrade, pilot or list. The “New hotness” enjoys a spell of success and has a lot of adoption with new players that are learning the ropes.  The community often has a spell of outcry but then adapts to it and moves on.

There is no doubt that we have had our fair share of dominant mechanics. Looking at Han Solo , Soontir Fel, Palpatine, x7 defenders and Whisper at the respective periods, they were all dominant for a time. What makes the JM5K any different? Some say that the the platform (or Chassis to use the popular term) as such is dominant. I would argue that it needs to combine with complementing upgrades. Referencing the list juggler dat, Attani Mindlink seems to be the strongest upgrade today but if we look at specific time periods, the best ranked upgrades over each period match up with the respective ships that that wave dominated over the set time periods so there’s nothing new there. Then what’s the real problem now?

Perhaps we need to look at pillars of x-wing. When I explain the game to new players or those curious about the game, I tend to break it into 3 pillars, in the order of how I approach the game itself:

  1. List building. Creative list building has in my mind always been a huge part of the game. Perhaps it comes down to the fact that when I started, there were already so many options in place. As the game progresses, the importance of list building increases. Players that excel at finding new ways to combine use of mechanics and options and utilizing them for their benefit have a distinct advantage of those who do not. The community is not always helpful in this aspect. The stronger voices within the community tend to create biases around various options in the game that tend to limit the creative aspect of this pillar.
  2. Obstacle placement and deployment (Turn Zero). As one of the most important parts of the game, there are articles on turn zero floating around so I won’t repeat their content here. I will stress though that more often than not, countering certain aspects of opponent’s lists and strategy happens at this stage.
  3. Pilot Skillz. The Z is just for flare. A player with good spatial awareness, who has practiced his/her list extensively, understands the various game states and knows the strengths and weaknesses of opposing lists is very hard to defeat. Practice goes a long way here. A good player will also be conscious of  luck and take steps to mitigate it’s affect on the game.

We’re not going to find many players that excel at all of these. Most probably, players’ strengths vary within the individual pillars.

The one pillar that stands out in that aspect is list building. The notion that there are only a handful of viable lists to play is actually pretty ridiculous and has been disproved over and over in this game. The fact is that list building is hard and time consuming. Like any theory crafting, it takes a lot of time to understand the various and ever changing mechanics, compose and test lists. It’s much easier to take a list that’s popular and put it on the table.

One might even argue that there are actually very few players with enough confidence in their list building skills. This is ever apparent in the tournament scene where it’s become “safer” to show up with a list that is popular and base your success on the other pillars than to break the mold. Even so, we constantly see creative and stand-out lists do well in tournaments. Kinetic Operator and Sable Griphon have demonstrated their skills in creating great lists using often overlooked components multiple times with great success. Less than a month ago, Nand Torfs made a lot of folks “eat it” when he took a stand-out list to the final table at worlds. It’s happening all around us, and still we’re not seeing it. Why?

Maybe we should add the affects of change into the equation. I work with change management quite a bit and have seen first hand how people resist change. Not us people of course, just other people – irony intended. Change makes us insecure, takes away our control and usually forces us to put more time and effort into things. To put it into x-wing terms, each wave presents new and often unwelcome challenges to players. And they should. Evolution is a natural phenomenon. Without it, we would still be playing BBBBZ, tie swarms or whatever is in our comfort zone. Thankfully, there is a constant demand to rethink our lists, strategies and styles. Without it, playing x-wing would be a repetitive and mundane experience.

That brings me back to the claim that there’s nothing wrong with the JM5K. What I’m suggesting is actually wrong is that we, as a community, are not adapting to the changes in the game. More specifically, we’re not upgrading our skill sets to include list building to the degree that we need to. What we’re doing is disregarding options on one hand and complaining about options on the other hand. In the meantime, the Meta only reflects what we bring to the game tables. If we don’t bring creative solutions to the tables, if we become content with following the herd, the Meta can’t be diverse.

So it’s up to us. Adapt or Die.

dengar2

 

The Evolving Meta of the X-Wing Miniature Game

I have been practicing my very limited SQL skills and crunching data from list juggler over the past few evenings.  However, instead of discarding the data I decided to do an analyse of the data and write this article. As this is a short article I will skip going into the details on how the data is derived.

I was interested in how each X-wing season had developed.  I especially wanted the results in each season(Store, Regional, National and World Championships) for each faction. There are of course multiple reasons why things progress as they do but that was not the main purpose of this article, I just wanted to look at the data for each faction for the fun of it.

ffg tourney piramid

Picture 1. FFG tournament structure over a whole season.

The first thing to mention is that the List Juggler data is not complete.  For example when looking at what factions people are playing you often get ,,unlisted“ as a result.  I therefore have four factions to work with. In the article I’ve filtered out the Unlisted lists, but in the end of the article you can see them with the rest of the data (Table A,B,C).

    • Unlisted
    • Rebels
    • Imperials
    • Scum

As I was not only interested in what factions people were playing, but also what factions were doing well, I decided to look at what factions were placing high at tournaments.  As a baseline I used the following table from FFG when crunching the data.

tourney structure

Finally, I tried to shed some light on how the meta has been evolving for each faction based on the breakdown above.  It must be noted that Store Championship is not over for 2017, but I found it interesting to look at the incomplete data at the end of the article to compare it and get a better feeling of the current meta state. Please note I have made some changes based on readers comments from my original blog, posted on the 16.06.2017 but I included the data from the Store Championship 2017 in the charts but of course the data is incomplete from that season as it’s not over until August.

After I crunched the tournament data on list juggler I could see it’s rather incomplete, so please keep that in mind when you continue to read. But I’m hoping that it will shed some light on how the meta is evolving. Below is the total number of players and tournaments played but that was my starting point (Chart 1).
chart1-5

Chart 1. Total number of players and tournaments.

Next step was to break the tournament data into the three factions; rebel, imperial and scum (See Chart 2).

chart2-5

Chart 2. Total number of lists from each faction per tournament.

The oldest tournament data I got was from Store Championship 2016(SC 2016) and we can see that rebels were probably (remember the unlisted faction) the most popular faction then, followed by imperials and scum. In those days Darth Vader, Soontir Fel and Emperor Palpatine were kings, swarms were back in it with crackshots, Miranda had just come out in Wave 7 and was making a name for herself with her evil re-gen friends, Dash and Corran were powerful allies and BroBots ruled the Scum faction.

After the Store Championship 2016, Wave 8 was out and Jumpmasters entered the meta. The competitive scene seems to have changed at that moment, scum become more viable at the competitive scene and were right away the most popular faction in the following tournaments(Nationals 2016).

Now, we should have a better overview on how the meta has evolved for the factions, or at least that’s my hope.

But I want to check out if all that scum love ‘in has some merits to it, let’s check out which factions have been winning.

To start with I will break it down to top4 for store championship, the rest is cut to top 8 with the exception to Worlds 2017 and Euros 2017 where I will cut at top 16 (Chart 3) for each faction. Then I’m just going to show the winner(s) of each tournament (Chart 4)

chart3-5

Chart 3. Factions lists after cut. R=Rebels, I=Imperials and S=Scum

chart4-5

Chart 4. Winning lists in tournaments per faction. R=Rebels, I=Imperials and S=Scum

Keep in mind that the data is not complete as there are missing entries on list juggler and sometimes there are even duplicates which I tried to fix when I found them, so this is best effort from a non SQL database crunching expert.

Is it just me, or can you feel the rise of scum faction from early last year to today?

As of this writing there are 1466 lists entered in List Juggler for Store Championship 2017 where 608 are unlisted, 292 are rebels, 243 imperials and 323 scum(Chart 6) and the scum faction has a 66,7% winning rate of taking the first price(See Pie 1).

 

pie1-3

Pie 1. Winning lists in Store Championship 2017

Keep in mind that season is far from over and the data might even out somewhat for the factions when the Store championship season runs its course in August but this trend of available data from mid june is interesting.

For comparison of the incomplete data of the Store Championship with other charts in this the article, I’ve added Chart 5 to 8 below.

With the new Wave 11 ships and new expansion pack(Guns for Hire)on the horizon, as the tie aggressor, the Gunship and the Scurrg it will be interesting to see if that will change the faction meta going forward – I have doubts that’s enough for the other factions but I hope I’m wrong. The Guns for Hire expansion pack will certainly improve the Starviper and Kihraxz for the scum faction but time will tell if they will enter the competitive scene as real competitors.

I hope you liked my first article and please feel to contact me on slack (Vassal league), reddit or comment here if you feel something is missing, not correct or have your own opinions which you want express.

Resolver

chart5

Chart 5. Number of lists and tournament for Store Championship 2017

chart6

Chart 6. Total number of lists for each faction list – Store championship 2017

chart7

Chart 7. Factions lists after cut Store championship 2017. R=Rebels, I=Imperials and S=Scum

chart8

Chart 8. Winning lists in Store Championship 2017 per faction. R=Rebels, I=Imperials and S=Scum

Date Year Tournament T.Players T.Tournaments
Starting in May 2017 2017 Nationals 2017
June 2-4 2017 Euros 2017 320 1
May 13 – August 26 2017 SC 2017 1466 66
May 3-7 2017 Worlds 2017 374 1
January – April 2017 2017 Open 2017 1565 5
November 12, 2016 – February 25, 2017 2016 Regionals 2016 4126 76
November 2-6 2016 Worlds 2016
August – September 2016 2016 Nationals 2016 1067 8
January 1st through March 31st, 2016 2016 SC 2016 6000 252
Total 14918 409

Table A. Current Data from List Juggler with total number of players and total number of tournaments.

Date Year Tournament T.Players Unlisted Rebel Imp Scum
Starting in May 2017 2017 Nationals 2017
June 2-4 2017 Euros 2017 320 272 17 6 25
May 13 – August 26 2017 SC 2017 1466 608 292 243 323
May 3-7 2017 Worlds 2017 374 277 24 24 49
January – April 2017 2017 Open 2017 1565 1267 99 77 122
November 12, 2016 – February 25, 2017 2016 Regionals 2016 4126 1709 832 767 818
November 2-6 2016 Worlds 2016
August – September 2016 2016 Nationals 2016 1067 827 74 79 87
January 1st through March 31st, 2016 2016 SC 2016 6000 2648 1351 1130 871
Total 14918 7608 2689 2326 2295

Table B. Total number of factions for each tournament type including unlisted.

Year Tournament C.cal T.cut R.cut I.cut S.cut T.l R.win I.win S.win
2017 Nationals 2017
2017 Euros 2017  16 16  31%  19%  50%
2017 SC 2017 4 127 21.3% 31.5% 47.2% 33 9.1% 21.2% 66.7%
2017 Worlds 2017 16 16 19% 6% 75%
2017 Open 2017 8 40 35% 18% 48% 5 40% 20% 40%
2016 Regionals 2016 8 474 28.3% 32.9% 38.8% 67 22.4% 25.4% 52.2%
2016 Worlds 2016
2016 Nationals 2016 8 31 16% 42% 42% 5 0% 80% 20%
2016 SC 2016 4 553 39.2% 34.9% 25.9% 134 31.3% 37.3% 31.3%

Table C. Top 4 to 16 cut and winning lists for each faction

Is interest in X-wing dying down?

Over the last few months several experienced X-wing players have voiced their opinion that interest in X-wing is dying down. According to these players we are seeing fewer people at casual game nights at local stores, fewer people in Store Championships and many notable X-wing players moving to other games (with Imperial Assault and Destiny being the prime suspects).

Given our fixation with data at this blog, I decided to look at some numbers to see if there is any indication that these pessimistic predictions are true. There are of course several indicators we could look at if I had the data. But as always you have to try inferring from the data available. This has its problems of course, most notably the streetlight effect.  So take this analysis with a grain of salt.

Streetlight

The best available data is the Store Championship data.  As the current Store Championship season is not finished yet we will only look at the first month from this and last season.  Are we seeing any differences compared to last season?

Lets start with some caveats. First, the current Store Championships season is far from over. It is quite possible that this data will look completely different when the season ends.  Second, this season is held at a different time. This could cause conflict with some other events at local stores. Leading to stores scheduling their X-wing championship at the end of the possible period.

Now with that out of the way lets look at some indicators.  As can be seen below the total number of players in the current season is down by about 37% (974 to 616).  This is a substantial reduction and seems to indicate that the anecdotal evidence mentioned before has some merit.

Number_of_players

Now this reduction of players could of course by explained if we simply have fewer stores holding their championship in the first month of the season.  Either planning to hold them later or alternatively not holding them at all. As can be seen below there are a bit fewer Store Championships being held in the first month of this season. 35 to 29 to be exact.

Number_of_SC

Finally we can look at what I consider the best indicator we have for now.  Average size of Store Championships between seasons. Now unless larger stores have more incentive to move their X-wing championship to a later date then smaller stores, this indicator should be a rather unbiased measure of X-wing demand. As can be seen below the average size of Store Championship has gone down by 25%.  In my opinion this is a rather substantial decrease.

Average_size2

In conclusion it seems that the anecdotal evidence is support by the scant data we have so far.  If this conclusion holds up as more data becomes available the real question become why we are seeing this decrease.  Has the game developed in a wrong direction?  Are people simply moving on to other games that have recently become available?  Have we lost our fly casual attitude leading to loss of players?  I am sure we will have no shortage of opinion on these subjects among the player base. It will be interesting to see how this Store Championship season develops and I will of course do another post on this subject as more data becomes available.

K-3PO