Last week, I renounced the Ghost and stated my intention to instead fly a list that could beat it. I joked that I was becoming an X-Wing hipster, but not to the extent that I’d fly Triple StarVipers, a list often discussed on the excellent and appropriately named Such an X-Wing Hipster blog.
Little did I know another VCX veteran in Indiana, Ben Knotts, was on the same wavelength. He, however, had the sand to do what I couldn’t: put triple StarVipers on the table…and fly them to a Top 4 finish at a Regional!
“I flew Kanan/Biggs at the Crossroads Classic at that same store in October and got 2nd,” Ben told me in an email. “I knew I could pick up the Ghost and get success with it. But I wanted true success: take three ships that no one would expect and take them to the top!”
No one could possibly expect Triple StarVipers—unless they read Phil GC’s blog. The only thing more befuddling than a triple aces list with so-so pilot abilities and pilot skill is a triple “Push The Limit” list with bad green maneuvers. But as Phil explained it in the blog post debuting the list, the curved barrel roll mandated by the StarViper Mk. II title allows the ship to live off its green one-banks:
“Push the Limit doesn’t seem a great choice for the Star Viper at first glance due to the ships limited green moves. However the area of the board the can cover from those four moves and their inbuilt re-positions is absolutely huge.”
In few other life’s endeavors does one man’s experiment in the United Kingdom create a local legend in Indiana. Ben read Phil’s blog and decided to give Guri and friends a try. He got “five or six games” of practice in with the list before the tournament.
“I really only expected to go even, 3-3,” Ben said. “I knew I could beat just about any Gunboat list. Pilot skill gave me advantage there. It was the new Palp Aces that concerned me.”
He went 4–2 and finished 31st, barely making the 32-person cut in a field of 159. He lost his first match to Nym-Miranda and later to Rey-Poe.
In the Top 32, he faced those dreaded Palp Aces (the Quickdraw-Inquisitor-shuttle variety). He was able to erase Quickdraw early, and limp away with a one-hull Xizor. He then laid down key blocks on the Inquisitor to seal the win.
“Knowing all [opposing] ship movement dials is key to the list,” Ben said.
In the Top 16, he beat Accuracy-Corrector Chopper with Harpoon-Missile Jake Farrell. Then his Top 8 match—against four wookiees—put him on the Gold Squadron Podcast stream:
I was a little surprised while watching the game that he didn’t make the Auzitucks come through the rock formation at all. But Ben had scouted his opponent earlier in the day and feared a final salvo if he didn’t engage quickly.
“StarVipers do like to have freedom to move, so open space isn’t a bad thing,” Ben said.
He drew another low-pilot-skill, four-ship Rebel list in the Top 4. Ben, however, succumbed to not enough food and too many mind-melting bendy barrel rolls (to take nothing away from his opponent). He put Guri right in front of the swarm early and she died, creating an tough deficit. (That game is also on the Gold Squadron video.)
Ben’s run, though, was already a big victory for StarVipers, the Scum faction, and one man across the pond.
“I’ve flown some crazy stuff in the year since I started the blog but this is the best anyone has done with one of my lists,” Phil of Such an X-Wing Hipster told me. “It’s cool that other people are embracing the insanity/fun of this one.”
As detailed on his blog, Phil had a tough time flying the StarVipers himself at a local Regional. But then he woke up to a Facebook message from Ben about how well the list had done for him.
So just how good are the Mk. II Vipers? I reached out to Ben and Phil because theirs is a cool story. But my motivations weren’t entirely journalistic: I’m also a Scum player desperate for an aces list I like. Veteran Instinct Talonbane and Thweek just don’t get enough actions for me. Can this list really be that good?
“The Vipers are not for newer players,” Ben said. “I would even say they aren’t for intermediate players. The massive repositioning is hard to adjust to.”
X-Wing is a copycat game. So plenty of newer, intermediate, and expert players are sure to try the list soon, giving us more data. The Vipers may yet rise.