Note to start: You’ll noticed that all of our LCQ opponents go unnamed in this series of blogs. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to player names in the LCQ now that the event has wrapped up (they were present during the actual tournament). While I’ve been able to discover the names of several opponents, we’ve decided to be consistent and leave all of our opponents nameless. Apologies to all of our LCQ opponents for this omission!
The Space Bone-Arm crew is finally back for an update! Several weeks ago (March 23rd to be exact), the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) for the 2023 X-Wing World Championship took place in Schaumberg, Illinois. Luckily, two of the Bone-Arm crew (Steve and Ernie) are still Chicago-area locals, which made coordinating a trip for the out-of-towners (myself and Ted) easy.
After some testing, we had all locked in our lists the week prior. While I had personally been unable to rigorously practice my list in the lead-up to the event, I had still flown it at LVO 1 ½ months prior and was feeling mostly confident about all my triggers and general strategy. Most of the remaining crew had gotten in a good number of reps at local tournaments/FLGS nights or via Tabletop Simulator. Overall, we all had a fantastic experience, got a ton of swag (from AMG and opponents), and emerged from the event feeling enthusiastic about the current state of competitive X-wing.
Normally I would try to pen a write-up that included specific matchup details (see Steve’s Dragonfall writeup) or a general description of my tournament experience. However, we all failed to keep detailed game notes (or even take game pictures) due to the overwhelming amount of X-wing we experienced. Because of this, I decided to take a different approach for our write-up. I sent the crew a mini-survey that included pointed questions designed to reveal some key match-up/scenario details about their lists. In addition to allowing each crew member to expand on their experiences, I had the remaining crew members make educated guesses as to how our compatriots’ lists fared throughout the day. We knew each others’ records, but we had never really discussed favorable/unfavorable scenario and list matchups. I figured this would be a fun way to analyze each others’ lists while also providing readers with some tournament details and content during a post-Worlds X-wing content void!
Let’s get into Steve’s list and tournament experience!
Overview: Steve LaBarge
Commander Malarus: Cluster Missiles
DT-798: Elusive + Advanced Optics
Lieutenant Galek: Proud Tradition + Tractor Beam + Electronic Baffle
“Scorch”: Elusive + Fanatical + Advanced Optics
“Backdraft”: Elusive + Advanced Optics + Special Forces Gunner
Gideon Hask: Fanatical + Proud Tradition + Biohexacrypt Codes + Agent Terex + Tactical Officer + Targeting Computer
Leading off, we have Steve’s six ship FO list. Unsurprisingly, it contains the four super-efficient TIE/fos that have been all the rage as of late, the main twist being to outfit “Scorch” and DT-798 with the Elusive+Advanced Optics for some extra offensive juice compared to the common Shield Upgrade build. For his final eight points, Steve chose to go with “Backdraft” in the TIE/sf and Gideon Hask in the Xi class shuttle. Steve decided to outfit “Backdraft” with “Elusive + Advanced Optics” rather than the popular “Proud Tradition + Pattern Analyzer” combo, the reason being that “Backdraft” has no need for the 4K given his ability to add extra red dice to his rear arc attack. Steve’s Gideon was outfitted with a standard Agent Terex+Tac Officer combo, which maximizes his support potential. Fanatical and Proud Tradition help provide Gideon with innate offensive mods and flexibility when dialing in that red stop maneuver.
Scramble (win): BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Iden (TIE/ln)/ Vizier
Chance (win): BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Ubbel/Black Squadron Ace
Salvage (win): SoC Contrail/Sicko/CLT Obi/CLT Mace/SoC Kickback
Assault (win): Pre Vizsla/Grievous/Durge/Iron Ass/Haor Chall
A bit of a spoiler, but Steve only played in four matches during the LCQ. He was able to lead Space Bone-Arm with a 4-0 start and was paired with someone who greatly desired an Intentional Draw for the final round as their positions to make Day 1 of Worlds had been secured. We expected nothing less of Steve, who had just used his six FO list to take a second-place finish at a local tournament at Tyton Games.
His pairing into two different Battle of Yavin (BoY) Vader lists was representative of the tournament as a whole. Empire was the most popular faction and BoY Vader was the most popular ship in the LCQ. The next most popular factions were Galactic Republic, FO, and Separatist Alliance. Given that Steve’s final game would have been against FO, I would say that he faced off against a fair representation of the LCQ.
Space Bone-Arm Matchup Analysis
The idea for this section was that I would ask each Bone-Arm crew which match-up they believed to be the least/most favorable on paper and provide a brief reasoning as to why. The person that actually flew the list would then chime in with their own personal analysis. We could then compare notes and possibly gain some extra insight into how we view X-wing gameplay.
For fun, I also asked everyone which matchup they thought was the hardest/easiest. The distinction here is that sometimes your most favorable matchup might not be your easiest once the game actually begins!
Question 1: Which LCQ matchup do you think was Steve’s least favorable?
Ernie: “I’m going with Assault: Pre Vizsla/Grievous/Durge/Iron Ass/Haor Chall. I feel like this is the list that Steve would be the least familiar with. I also think he doesn’t particularly like Assault, so it’s more about the game type than list.”
Ted: “I’m going with Salvage: SoC Contrail/Sicko/CLT Obi/CLT Mace/SoC Kickback. In salvage, the Republic list has such a great capacity to avoid taking damage. Steve has Mal* to push through crits, but is otherwise forced to rely on natural crits making it through to pink off crates.”
*Note: Ted stated that Mal can help push through crits (via Mag-Pulse Warheads). However, that was a change Steve made for Day 1 Worlds as he found Cluster Missiles to be lacking. Still a great identification in list weakness!
Kev: “I’m going with Chance: BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Ubbel/Black Squadron Ace. This is a great Chance list that has fantastic trading tools. All the BoYs are super fast (via Afterburners) and have high initiative compared to most of Steve’s list. Ubbel should also trade well into the TIE/fos so long as they’re not constantly rolling paint.”
Steve’s Analysis: “I felt my least favorable matchup was Chance: BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Ubbel/Black Squadron Ace. This list is faster than me, throws as many dice as me, and it doesn’t have to play any objectives with this scenario. I won because an Afterburner didn’t fit by a few millimeters and put Backstabber/Mauler out of position.”
The Bone-Arm crew had varied responses to which matchup was Steve’s least favorable. Ernie identified a non-meta list that could give him trouble. Ted identified a potentially tough scenario that featured a defensive matchup that could possibly exploit a weakness in Steve’s list (and correctly identified an upgrade swap Steve would later make). Kev was thinking on similar lines to Steve by focusing on the offensive potential of a BoY list that was matched into an offensive focused scenario.
Question 2: Which LCQ matchup do you think was Steve’s most favorable?
Ernie: “I’m going with Salvage: SoC Contrail/Sicko/CLT Obi/CLT Mace/SoC Kickback. Steve has had lots of practice against Republic squads and was probably ready for this.”
Ted: “I’m going with Chance: BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Ubbel/Black Squadron Ace. I think the first BoY Vader list is more meta for a good reason. Plus, with Steve coming off a near-mirror match, but against less defensive ships (B-Ubbel Boy), I think he’s favored to win. Ubbel will need to carry his weight here and I would be that Steve managed to leverage his red dice to clean up in Chance.”
Kev: “I’m going with Salvage: SoC Contrail/Sicko/CLT Obi/CLT Mace/SoC Kickback. This is a bad scenario for this Republic list. Only Kickback really wants to carry a crate as Contrail/Obi/Mace all want to leverage their boosts. Sicko will likely bleed crits and be unable to carry a crate for long.”
Steve’s Analysis: “I felt my most favorable matchup was Assault: Pre Vizsla/Grievous/Durge/Iron Ass/Haor Chall. I had the firepower to chew through his droids quickly while also soaking up the Pre Vizsla hits with my double mod-ed green dice.”
Two of us picked the Republic list, but for different reasons. Ernie figured Steve could handle a list that looked similar to ones that he has experience against while Kev honed in on the Republic likely struggling on that specific scenario. Ted chose the BoY Vader list that Steve had previously identified as his toughest on-paper matchup. He figured that Steve would be comfortable with the matchup and could easily match its firepower. Steve might disagree, but it’s still an interesting take. Interestingly, Steve himself focused on the specific list matchup, rather than scenario for what he viewed as favorable. While he may be correct, I’m personally spooked by the potential offensive output of Pre Vizsla/Grievious/Durge. As such, it was interesting to hear that he didn’t find that matchup bad given his use of Gideon Hask to provide his list with additional defensive tech.
Question 3: Which LCQ match do you think Steve had the hardest time with?*
*note: remember that these questions were geared towards the actual “on table” experience rather than a pre-game matchup analysis.
Ernie’s Guess: Salvage: SoC Contrail/Sicko/CLT Obi/CLT Mace/SoC Kickback
Ted’s Guess: Assault: Pre Vizsla/Grievous/Durge/Iron Ass/Haor Chall
Kev’s Guess: Assault: Pre Vizsla/Grievous/Durge/Iron Ass/Haor Chall
Ernie went against his “most favorable” pick and guessed that Steve struggled with the Republic. Kev and Ted went with the CIS list, assuming that Pre Vizsla and Co were able to slug it out against Steve.
Steve’s Answer: “My hardest match was Chance: BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Ubbel/Black Squadron Ace. It had the same firepower, more maneuverability, and higher initiative”
If we remember Steve’s answer above, this match also came down to the Imperial player misplaying an Afterburners charge and disrupting his Backstabber/Mauler formation!
Question 4: Which LCQ match do you think Steve had the easiest time with?*
*note: remember that these questions were gear towards the actual “on table” experience rather than a pre-game matchup analysis.
Ernie’s Guess: Chance: BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Ubbel/Black Squadron Ace
Ted’s Guess: Chance: BoY Darth Vader/BoY Backstabber/BoY Mauler/Ubbel/Black Squadron Ace
Kev’s Guess: Salvage: SoC Contrail/Sicko/CLT Obi/CLT Mace/SoC Kickback
Both Ernie and Ted guessed that Steve had the easiest time on the table with the BoYs+Ubbel list, which Steve had analyzed as his toughest matchup. Steve has been pretty adamant that BoY Vader can “just die”, so predicting that Steve was able to dice Vader feels like a solid guess. I went the other direction and picked the list that I thought Steve had the best matchup against. I figured that Steve would be able to grab objectives and either bully the Republic list or avoid its LAAT dependent damage.
Steve’s Answer: “My easiest match was Assault: Pre Vizsla/Grievous/Durge/Iron Ass/Haor Chall. The ships were pretty predictable and I was able to easily focus my fire and take down the ones I needed to.”
According to Steve’s answers to Questions 1-4, it sounds like his games played out pretty closely to how he expected. His least favorable “on paper” matchup was his hardest “on table” and vice versa for his most favorable matchup.
Steve’s Final Tournament and List Thoughts
Despite Steve’s answers above, he did indicate that Salvage Mission was his list’s most challenging scenario due to its lack of crit generation (which is something Ted analyzed correctly for his predictions). I suspect that his pairing into a boost-reliant Republic list prevented it from being a truly unfavorable and tough match. As mentioned above, Steve did end up swapping Malarus’s Cluster Missiles for Mag-Pulse Warheads going into Day 1 of Worlds in order to shore up this weakness. Steve also indicated that Scramble the Transmission was his least challenging scenario. The inclusion of Gideon Hask and Fanatical and/or Elusive on many of his ships gave his six FO list plenty of extra actions/mods after taking a scramble action. As Steve said “scramble deez nuts.”
In terms of play experience, Steve’s favorite play of the LCQ was killing a BoY Vader that blanked out completely on defense and died. Knowing Steve, this felt like sweet revenge after all the test games in which he ran BoY Vader and found him constantly dying (despite being quite tanky on paper).
Overall, Steve was pretty much the King of the LCQ as he went 4-1-0 and finished #3 overall. As he said “The LCQ was pretty much my Superbowl, I should’ve played that final 5th match to see if I could have gone out with a bang.”
I know that Steve had a good time with all his opponents and his parting words were “Can’t wait for next year!”. Keep an eye out for Steve trying to grab one of those new Store Championship Worlds Invites for the 2024 Championship!
Have any comments? Leave them below! Tune in soon for Part 2, where we will recap Ernie’s LCQ experience!