Curio Cavern Tuesday Night, Aaron vs Clayton

Time for another game from Curio Cavern, the world’s leading weekly X-Wing tournament. In this match we have Aaron’s Corran/Biggs/Ezra list which made the cut to top 16 at the Maryland Regionals against a U-boat list with a twist — Palob, and one of the boats is running Ion Torpedoes.

Aaron’s squad: Corran w/Draw Their Fire, FCS, R2D2, Hull Upgrade; Biggs w/R4-D6 Integrated Astro, Ezra w/Elusiveness, Chewbacca, Autoblaster

Clayton’s squad: Scout w/Deadeye, Ion Torps, Extra Munis, 4-Lom, Overclocked Astro, Guidance Chips; Scout w/Deadeye, Proton Torps, Extra Munis, R4 Aggro, Outlaw Tech; Palob w/Adapt, Illicit Cloak, TLT, Tactician


We’re back with a special edition of F->A->H->S, analyzing just the data from the Games and Stuff regional championship in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

As always, this isn’t an analysis of what you should play. This is a look at what you should plan to deal with — not merely what squads are being played, but the squads that are winning matches. More details can be found on List Juggler.

Despite it seeming like Palp Aces were on every table, there were actually 18 different squad archetypes among the 31 players with 4-2 or better records. And, while Palp Aces are certainly the most popular, there were quite a few varities. The “Palp Aces” category here includes the Howards Special (OGP+Sensor Jammer, Soontir, Inquisitor), Mynock Special (Yorr, Whisper, Omega), and Soontir+Carnor.



And just to give a better idea of how Palp Aces isn’t the only thing you need to worry about, more than 40% of all squads didn’t feature an ace. You certainly need to plan for it, but building just to counter Palp Aces will leave you exposed to a large part of the meta.AcesGS


And now for something quasi-new, we’re trying out a new format for the Pilot Skill chart. This should be a bit more useful for figuring out how many squads are going to be above or below you in the movement/shooting order.PSBidGS


Finally, a slight change to the Control and Denial chart, Biggs is now being included.C&DGS2



Welcome to the next installment of the NoVa meta analysis. This analysis is based on 255 games played at 10 tournaments in 6 stores over the past 4 weeks. Additional information can be found on the FAQ. Click the images below for a larger version. Detailed squad lists can be found by combing List Juggler.

The first chart shows the leading squad archetypes:

Squads061016This represents a significant shift from the previous edition. Before, only 25% of squads were in the “Others” category, while now more than a third are. You need to have a plan for Scouts+Zucks and Palp Aces, but winning tournaments also means beating a number of oddball squads and having a well-rounded build.

AddSquads061016Here you can see that those “Others” comprise 28 different squads. And remember, this isn’t just what’s flying. This is what’s winning.


The dawn of Omega and the Inquisitor has made PS8 the new PS9, which means PS9 is the new PS10, and PS10 is the new Kyle+Jake combo. We’ve also now got the first inclusion of a PS bid that’s very near and dear to me, PS9 at 96 points.

C&D061016Finally, Control and Denial mechanics remain rare, holding steady around 2/3rds of squads. But, rare as they are, it still means you’ll be facing them in 1 out of 3 games, so be prepared to see 1 in a 3-round regular event, and 2 in 6 rounds at a premier event. It’s no surprise that Tractor Beam is the most popular thing on this list, with Zuckuss and 2 Scouts dominating the meta.




Curio Cavern Tuesday Night, Quinn vs. Dan

We’re back with another game from Curio Cavern’s weekly Tuesday night tournament, with Quinn and Dan squaring off in the final round. In this match we get to see Imperial Aces take on Imperial Bombers.

Quinn’s list:
Darth Vader w/x1 Title, Advanced Targeting Computer, Juke, Engine Upgrade
Turr w/Veteran Instincts, Autothrusters, Stealth Device, Royal Guard Title
Valen Rudor w/V1 Title, Push the Limit, Autothrusters, Proton Rockets

Dan’s List
Major Rhymer w/Deadeye, Proton Torps, Advanced Homing Missiles, Extra Minus, Guidance Chips
Captain Jonus w/Deadeye, Proton Torps, Extra Munis, Guidance Chips
Inquisitor w/V1, Push the Limit, Autothrusters, Proton Rockets

Exhibition Match: TIE Salad vs. Han/Jake

Howdy holonet,

This is a new format of video we’re trying out, where we play exhibition matches rather than commenting on recorded games from tournaments. The idea here is to let you hear from the players in real time to get an idea of what we’re thinking, while in tournaments the players aren’t quite so generous to their opponents. We’re generally going to stick to top squads, but occasionally will throw some fun stuff into the mix. For this edition, we’ve got TIE Salad (Ben’s Roanoke Regional list) and Han/Jake (Derek’s Critical Hit Games Store Championship list):

TIE Salad:
Omicron Group Shuttle w/Palpatine
Alpha Interceptor w/Autos
Scourge w/Crackshot
Howlrunner w/Crackshot

Han w/Lone Wolf, Luke, C3PO, Engine Upgrade, Falcon Title
Jake w/Push the Limit, Veteran Instincts, Autothrusters, Proton Rockets, and Test Pilot

We played the match twice, switching squads between games.

(This second video may still be processing; we’ve got games to get to this morning…)

Fear -> Anger -> Hate -> Suffering: Analysis of the Nova Meta Vol. 1 No. 2


We’re back with the second installment of the NoVa Meta Analysis.  This isn’t what people are flying, but what people are winning with, and what you should be ready to deal with to win in the greater DC area.

The analysis is based on 109 games played at 5 tournaments in 4 stores. If you’d like more info, check out the FAQ; if you want to see a larger version, click the images.

The first two charts are the leading squads. One caveat though, 5 tournaments isn’t that much data. Expect it to get a bit more normalized over the next few weeks. And no, no triple u-boats making the cut. You should still have a plan for them, but they haven’t been dominating the local meta lately.

Squads052716AddSquads052716PSBid052716 Aces052716

Why no Poe in the aces list? Check the FAQ, or just see the Pilot Skill chart and look for how many PS10 enemies you need to be prepared for.

Now for this week’s new chart, the Control & Denial mechanics. Not making an appearance among the winning squads were the Conner Net, Tactician, Stresshog, Ion Bomb, Ion Cannon, Ion Projectors, and Thermal Detonators.


Curio Cavern Tuesday Night X-Wing, Ben vs. Josh

Welcome to the first ever video from Curio Cavern’s weekly Tuesday night tournament. In this match we have Ben flying his famous TIE Salad squad against Josh’s Nera/Ezra/Poe squad (details after the video).

And we’d like to announce the start of our Patreon campaign. If you watch the video, you’ll see exactly why we need to raise a couple funds. Click here to provide your support and keep the Resistance resisting or First Order …firsting? (You can also support this site through our Amazon Affiliate link.)

Ben is flying “TIE Salad” — Palp Shuttle, Alpha Interceptor w/Autothrusters, Wampa, Scourge w/Crackshot, Howlrunner w/Crackshot

Josh is flying Nera w/Proton Torps, Extra Munis, Deadeye, Fire Control System and Guidance Chips, Ezra w/Push the Limit, Autoblaster Turret, and Kanan, and Poe w/PtL, R2, and Autothrusters

Fear->Anger->Hate->Suffering: Analysis of the NoVa Meta

This is the first post in a series that will analyze the meta in the NoVa region. This is based on data collected from 63 games played in 3 tournaments at 3 stores in the area in the last week. In coming weeks, more stores and tournaments will be added to the data, and new charts will become available.

This is not simply a compilation of all the squads out there. Instead, the data has gone through a highly sophisticated, proprietary grind in order to shake out not merely what people are playing, but what’s winning. This is a guide for what you should plan to beat.

Also, I know I’m not great with charts. I’m just the analysis guy. We don’t have a charts guy. In the future I’ll work on providing something more elegant. Click on the charts to get the larger version.


The first chart breaks down squads by their archetype when one exists. Occasionally an oddball gets into the mix that doesn’t fit into a type; deal with it. The “+N” on a list indicates the number of additional ships in a squad. TIE Salad is Ben K’s Roanoke championship squad.Squads052016v2

This is a chart showing the highest Pilot Skill ship in a squad, plus that squad’s initiative bid. Should be self explanatory.PSBid052016

These are the aces that are appearing in winning squads. Ace is more than just high Pilot Skill. For this chart, I’ve looked at a combination of high Pilot Skill, arc dodging, and modified green dice. So, ships like Poe and Dash do not make it on, despite Poe’s high PS, and Dash’s ability to arc dodge. If you’re worried about those ships, hopefully other charts will provide you with the data you need.Aces052016

Tactics Jam: Biggs Hunting Kyle Katarn

This is a new type of post I’m going to be trying out, where I recreate a tactically interesting moment from a real X-Wing match. The idea is to go beyond just squad building, dice math, and learning not to fly onto a rock, and look at the real tactical decisions that often make or break a match.

This scenario comes from Round 5 at the Your Hobby Place Regional in my match against Ben K. (winner of the Roanoke Regional). Some details may be changed or omitted for simplicity, or because I just don’t remember, but the bones of the situation are there.

Let’s start with the lists.

Ben’s Squad: Kanan Ghost w/Accurate Autoblaster, Rec Spec, and a docked Ezra Shuttle; Biggs w/R2D2 and Integrated Astro

My list: Wes, Jake (VI, PtL, AT, Rockets), and Kyle Katarn with a TLT and Moldy Crow title.

In this scenario, Biggs has lost his shields and has 1 damage card (2 hull + IA remaining), Kyle has 3 damage cards (1 hull remaining). Kyle has also banked 1 Focus Token with the Moldy Crow. Jake still has Proton Rockets. Wes has a stress token. Now, here’s the set up. (Sorry it’s so blurry, but this is how things looked at the time with more PBR than food in my system. Also, I can’t hold a camera for shit.)

In this situation, Biggs (marked with a Tracking Token) is just within Range 2 of the HWK at the start of the round. He has Jake and Wes on his tail. Kanan has accidentally gotten himself out of the position.

The question is what maneuvers Biggs and Kyle should do.

The idea here is for you to take some time to think it through on your own before getting to my thoughts and learning what actually happened.

Kanan is basically out of the fight and can be ignored for this question. The important decisions here are really just Biggs and Kyle. You can continue once you’ve got your answer.


Got it?


Is this what you came up with?

Biggs does a 2 forward to regenerate a shield with R2-D2. Kyle does a 3 straight to gain distance from Biggs and then bank a second Focus Token.

This is the wrong maneuver for both players. In this situation, Biggs is back up to 4 total hit points (including IA). But, he’ll be taking a Range 1 shot from Jake, a Range 1-2 from Wes after they move, and then 2 TLT shots from Kyle.

And by the way, Kyle would Target Lock instead of Focus, in order to help guarantee he gets the final damage through if Jake and Wes don’t get him on their own.

Here is the correct move for Biggs:

Biggs does a 4 forward, and this is the move Ben picked in our real match. He gives up recovering a shield, but is able to close Range 1 to Kyle. Biggs would much rather have a guaranteed 1 HP loss (from not using R2D2) than risk a 2 HP loss from Kyle’s TLT. This also puts more distance between him and Wes (Jake can close range just fine), and gives him an extra attack die to hopefully finish off Kyle if he survives Jake and Wes’s attacks.

Of course, he won’t survive. But, if Wes blanks his attack, it forces Jake to use his Proton Rockets to guarantee a kill this round. Ben really needs those rockets gone, while I much prefer to keep them to use against Ezra later.

All that said, this is also the wrong move for Kyle. Here’s what actually happened:

Kyle went 4 forward and took a stress. Jake went 2 forward and boosted into Range 1. Wes did a 3 bank, keeping his stress.

I had predicted that Ben would give up the R2D2 regen in an attempt to donut hole Kyle’s TLT, so I pulled the 4 forward and took a stress in order to keep Biggs at Range 2. Taking a stress and losing an action was worth it in order to guarantee I got to shoot at Biggs.

Biggs dropped that round to Kyle’s TLT, and Jake kept his Rockets. I was later able to 1-shot Ezra with the Rockets (4 dice, thanks to Kanan) when he deployed. He would have been extremely hard for Jake to handle with Kanan out there bringing Jake down to just 1-2 dice.

Had Biggs done the 2 forward and recovered a shield, while Kyle went 4 forward and stressed, he’d have ended up Range 1 of Wes instead of Range 2, and Kyle may have escaped to Range 3. Biggs would have recovered 1 shield, but taken 1 extra attack die from Wes, so the move is only worth recovering 0.5 HP.

A 2 turn for Biggs away from Kyle would not have escaped the TLT or Jake’s repositioning.

I believe in this situation, Ben picked the best move to give him a chance to both save Biggs and kill Kyle, but the HWK was able to counter by correctly predicting the 4 forward from Biggs.

I Don’t Know …Fly Casual

Let me start by first saying thanks to Ned, Aaron, Liz, Guy, and the fine folks at the Scum and Villainy podcast for their contributions to the Shaken Pilot Drinking Fund.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about what Fly Casual means, because a bunch of you nerfherders on the galactic holonet seem to have some misconceptions about it.

Fly Casual does not mean “Bro, you gotta let me cheat.” Mistakes are mistakes. Missed opportunities are missed opportunities. In a tournament setting, there is nothing wrong with holding your opponent to the rules. (More on this at the end.)

What Fly Casual does mean is that you keep in mind a basic fact about how X-Wing is played …that it involves tiny plastic spaceship models being moved around with cardboard templates, often in a very small, cluttered area.

Ships should be placed with a reasonable amount of precision. Yet, the very nature of the components means that things will sometimes be imprecise, especially as bumps start happening. Fly Casual means everyone is expected to try their best, and also that you shouldn’t get too bent out of shape when your opponent accidentally nudges one of your ships because his hands are shaking from the DTs.

And speaking of the DTs, let’s take a break to talk about my favorite kind of prize support:

Here we’ve got two drinks made possible by those lovely people I thanked up top. (The lovely people are Ned and Liz; everyone else I thanked is butt tugly.) First, Airen Cracken’s Kraken Mojito. Guaranteed to spice up your night. Just have a drink, and give someone close to you some free action.

And then the Tatooine Sunrise. It’s tequila and Sanpellegrino blood orange soda. Red Ace swizzle stick optional. This shouldn’t be confused with my personal favorite, the Tatooine Sunset, which is made by purchasing a Sanpellegrino regular orange soda during Tuesday night x-wing at your favorite FLGS, drinking a bit, and then topping it off by pouring tequila directly into the can.


Where was I? Something, something fly casual. I’ve been to a lot of tournaments, and have a bit of a reputation for going to damn near everything in the area (and in NoVa, that’s a ton of stores). The number of people I’ve seen clearly cheating by manipulating ship placement is somewhere between 0 and 1. The number of people I’ve seen simply being careless — but not seeming like they’re trying to get an advantage — is somewhere between 1 and 2. Literally every other person I’ve gone up against has attempted to do the best they can while working within the limitations of little plastic spaceships, cardboard templates, and clumsy human fleshpaws.

And speaking of clumsy human fleshpaws, here’s another picture from the Lego X-Wing Cantina. Just imagine trying to move ships with Lego hands.

Yes, that’s IG-88C. Yes, that’s Gonk. Yes, that’s Airen Cracken holding a teddy bear.

The one area where I think there may be some genuine unsportsmanlike conduct going on is in regards to taking too much time. I don’t want to say stalling for time though, because I can’t see into anyone else’s heart. Except the Howard brothers. Their hearts are full of rot and termites. Everyone else though, I don’t know if there’s any intention to stall or not. All I know is that sometimes I think people are taking too long.

If on average, you take longer than 3 minutes to set your dials, you’re taking too long. 2 minutes is pretty reasonable for most rounds and most squads. Some squads obviously take a little longer than the average, and some rounds will present particularly tricky options. And that’s why I said on average you shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes.

Here’s the thing though, taking too long even when you’re genuinely trying to decide on a maneuver is also unsporting in my book. You’re essentially using your idiocy to gain an advantage over your opponent. The only ways being stupid should help you out is if you’ve brought a wacky list no one knows how to fly against because it’s too stupid for them to have thought about (Latts, Kavil, Palob anyone?), or because you’ve picked moves that are too stupid for your opponent to think you’d actually execute (4K onto a rock!). But, grinding down the clock because you need to check for a fifth time to see if your Lambda Shuttle has a white 1 hard turn, that’s not okay.

Yet, Fly Casual means I don’t think we should have an official time limit on the planning phase, or introduce chess clocks to tournaments. Fly Casual means we solve this problem by setting a standard, and the standard is to just try your best within the limits of your alcohol-addled meat-based brain. It also means to give your opponent not only a relatively fun experience (within the bounds of his crappy dice rolls), but also a fair chance to win or make the next cut that isn’t hampered by your own ineptitude.

And now here’s another picture:


My final thoughts on Fly Casual have to do with missed opportunities and stupid mistakes. You are well without your rights to hold your opponents to their mistakes. Missed opportunities are explicitly addressed in the rules. But speaking of the rules, let’s see what it actually says:

“If a player forgets to use an effect during the timing specified by that effect, he or she cannot retroactively use it without the consent of his or her opponent.”

The rule here is interesting because it says both that you can hold your opponent to the mistake, and that you can let them fix it. The key point here though is that Fly Casual does not require you to let your opponent fix a mistake.

The rule of thumb I go by is that you can always retroactively take an opportunity so long as you have not received any new information that could reasonably impact your decision making. New information would be something like seeing an opponent’s dial, learning where precisely a ship lands, or seeing the result of a dice roll.

Can you get R2-D2’s shield regen midway through a round? I’d allow it. You’d take the shield regardless of what else happens in the round, so your decision is the same no matter what new information you’ve received.

Can you take a Focus action at the start of combat with a ship that took no actions? Sure, go for it! Focus is just the default action choice. (TL and Evade tend to be based a bit more on seeing ships’ positions though, so unless it’s clear from the build and play of the game that a different action has become the default for a ship, I’d only allow a Focus.)

Can you choose to un-spend an evade token when your opponent starts to activate gunner? I think so. You’re making the change based on information you forgot — you’re not changing because you didn’t think they’d use gunner.

So, can un-spend a token when your opponent announces that the Luke (crew) shot will be on a different target? I think not. They’ve revealed a secret tactical decision that you didn’t know about before, and this new information locks in the choices that have been made.

You can’t decide to barrel roll a ship or move in a different order once you’ve realized you’re going to bump. But, you can take back a focus action to flip down your console fire.

The important thing here though is just that these are the allowances I would make in a game. The rules don’t require you to make them, and I don’t think you should be accused of not flying casual if you don’t allow your opponent’s the same latitude. I think it makes the game more enjoyable when we give people these little corrections, but it’s still on you to get your shit straight to begin with. Be nice to each other, but don’t blame other people for your mistakes.


No more Lego X-Wing pictures. For now.