EXTERIOR: The Gold Squadron Podcast PAX Unplugged stream. We see a swarm of Quadjumpers approaching an asteroid with a Seismic Charge token atop it. We zoom in on the cockpit of the lead Quad. Its pilot is blaring Brandy by Looking Glass and clutching his steering toggle with white knuckles. He faces the camera.

*record scratch*

VOICEOVER: “So, you’re probably wondering how I got in this situation.”

Well it all begins after my last post, in which detailed how I took a tournament with Boba Fett, Palob, and a Zealous Recruit. In response, I got some grief for bragging about winning with Boba. Fair enough. Now let it never be said I don’t respond to reader feedback: I immediately decided that at my next big tournament, the PAX System Open, I would run a list to restore my hipster cred.

This was that squad:

Jakku Gunrunner — Quadrijet Transfer Spacetug 28
Ship Total: 28
Half Points: 14 Threshold: 3
Jakku Gunrunner — Quadrijet Transfer Spacetug 28
Ship Total: 28
Half Points: 14 Threshold: 3
Jakku Gunrunner — Quadrijet Transfer Spacetug 28
Ship Total: 28
Half Points: 14 Threshold: 3
Binayre Pirate — Z-95-AF4 Headhunter 24
Ship Total: 24
Half Points: 12 Threshold: 2
Drea Renthal — BTL-A4 Y-Wing 40
Dorsal Turret 4
Ship Total: 44
Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4
Torkil Mux — HWK-290 Light Freighter 36
Moldy Crow 12
Ship Total: 48
Half Points: 24 Threshold: 3

I was not the only person flying this archetype at PAX. In fact, as I only learned after the fact, I was not even the only guy named Sam to make the cut flying this archetype (spoiler alert). Interestingly, we both opted for six ships with Torkil—and no Escape Craft to coordinate the Tractor Array action to tugboats that bump or barrel roll. Other Sam, however, swapped a Quadjumper for another Z to get Han gunner on Drea.

Here’s the case for my version of the Drea swarm:

  1. The more Quadjumpers the better. The redundancy makes it harder for opponents to escape getting tractor beamed, both because they have fewer safe lanes and because they can’t kill them fast enough.
  2. Z-95s are far worse than Quadjumpers, especially late in the game. A single Z has no hope against an ace, but a Quadjumper has a surprisingly good chance. The difference in value is greater than four points.
  3. Torkil is better than two additional scrubs. Torkil often gives the same extra-shot effect as that seventh ship because his ability can save someone from being initiative-killed. Plus he gives you the ability to initiative-kill an enemy ship, an often fully modded three-dice shot, and…jam? (I never jammed at PAX, but have before.)
  4. The Z-95 is better in this specific list than L3-37 because it can leverage Drea’s ability, and can use its four-forward to run ahead of the Quads and block. There’s no rush to tractor beam. That can come later. On the joust, sometimes the best move is to focus up and become a Howlrunner swarm. The Z-95 helps with all that. Having just the Quadjumpers getting the Drea re-roll doesn’t feel like enough.

And in lieu of proper batreps, here are disjointed thoughts on the meta:

  1. I played Death Star Dash, the double-tapping initiative-seven terror, in rounds one and two of Swiss. The firepower is terrifying (Roark and Rebel Han gunner allows Dash to shoot twice at i7). But it seems oddly un-Dash-like to have a YT-2400 tethered to a HWK, of all ships. It weirdly reminds me more of Kanan Biggs than any of the first edition Dash archetypes.
  2. Sloan swarms were around. I like them, but personally don’t fear them with the Drea list, since double-stressing one of my ships isn’t that big of a deal. Looking ahead, Sloane might be a good answer to Rey/Poe.
  3. Rebels had a good a showing—there two Ten Numbs in the cut!
  4. Mike Gemme had the coolest list I saw. With Boba with Dengar gunner and Proximity Mines, plus two Quadjumpers, he had three different ways to trigger Captain Jostero’s ability. Captain Nym, you’re fired!
  5. My list hates Phantoms and Trajectory simulator. Hey, speaking of…

I lost to Ben Keller’s four Phantoms in round six, and then eventual runner-up Kent Whitney’s mix of Imperial ordnance carriers in the first round of Day 2. I’m not going to go too deep into that Day 2 game now—I’ll wait for that game to go up on the Gold Squadron YouTube page. But it couldn’t have been much closer. A great game to go out on.

In the shout-out department: All my opponents were pleasures to face. And big-ups to local player Solomon Lee of Skull Squadron who made the Top 8 with an awesome Fenn-Kavil-Palob list.

In the end, I feel I did well enough that I should lean in on being a “swarm guy.” It’s like becoming an “orgy guy,” but instead of buying robes and curtains you get fancy ship I.D. markers and watch YouTube videos of formation flying. If you’d like to be the Jerry to my George and join me in this journey of flying a flock, stay tuned. The Mining Guild TIE is right around the corner…

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