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Subject: My Regional Report from 5/17 rss

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David Pontier
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I attended the Regional in Greenfield Wisconsin on Saturday 5/17 and thought I would give my session report. I’ve given lots of session reports from the tournaments I’ve been to this season, and since I’ve been lucky enough to be near the top tables in most of them, I think people like hearing what is winning these tournaments and what lists are doing well.

There were 59 people at this regional and the guys at Game Universe did an incredible job at running the event. They had rented out an addition empty room in the strip mall where the store was so they had plenty of tables and room. Plus, they had a digital screen where they posted matchups for each round so you didn’t have to listen to someone shouting out the different matchups. It took them about 5-10 minutes between each round to post the next matchups too, so there was very little downtime unless you finished a match early. They also made deals with the local Chinese and pizza places that if you mentioned you were at this tournament, you got a discount. In between rounds they handed out random gift cards for the store.

The tournament was 6 rounds with a cut to the top 8. I carpooled with three strong players from Chicago, and we felt it was likely at least one of us would make the top eight, though we agreed is was doubtful we all would, which meant those not playing the top 8 would have to hang around for a few hours waiting for everyone to be finished before we could all head home.

I brought my Rashon’s Split squad:
Howlrunner
Backstabber
Alpha X 3
Academy

In April it had won me a big tournament at Adepticon, so I was feeling real confident with it. My other list I have been flying a lot of is BBBAA. I had the chance in one tournament to flying my split squad against BBBAA and I squeaked out a 2 point modified win. I feel my split squad matches up well to everything, but not BBBAA. As I walked around before the tournament started I saw at least 2 BBBAA lists and felt that with this many people, the odds were I wouldn’t face it.

Round 1
I was facing BBBAA. Wouldn’t you know it. I was in for a long day and I really didn’t want to start with a loss. He won initiative and his A-Wings set up first letting me know where he was going. I picked an asteroid that was in the middle of the board and range 2 from the side he started on and based my whole approach on that asteroid. I angled my ships and played with the range so that during the first engagement it would be impossible for him to bank toward me with the B-Wings around that asteroid. He tried anyway. One of his B-Wings landed on the asteroid, and another one had to shoot through it while the third one was out of range to fire. I killed an A-Wing. On the next turn, he had to fly through that asteroid with one ship, I blocked another and was in good position. He passed up range 1 shots on my interceptors to shoot at Howlrunner at range 2 when he didn’t have actions and Howl had an evade. It didn’t go well for him, and I finished that game only losing one interceptor.

1-0

Round 2
I faced:
Soontir + PTL + Stealth
Mauler + Squad Leader
Night Beast
Scimitar + Homing Missile + Concussion missile + Flechette torpedoes

I had developed a new opening for my squad where I set up like I am going to fly straight forward, but I do hard 2-turns with some of my ships and set up Back and Howl sideways so I can get my 2x3 formation, but flying horizontally along my starting edge so I can decide where I want to turn up. Most people start Soontir in the opposite corner from their opponent’s ships, and my opponent did the same. But 2 turns later, because I could slide my formation sideways, my full squad was jousting with Soontir. On that turn, he did get his Scimitar in range to 1-shot one of my interceptors with the homing missile, but my other 5 ships shot at Soontir. If I were to replay that attack 5 times, I bet 4 out of the 5 Soontir dies, but this was the fifth time and I only manage to do 1 damage, but at least the stealth was gone. I wasn’t in a position to mount a good attack on Soontir the next turn, so I turned my efforts to the scimitar, blocked it, and took it out with two ordinances unfired. The next 40 minutes had my remaining five ships dogfighting in close quarters with his 3 high pilot skill ships. He took out both Howl and another interceptor, but my Alphas slowly dispatched his named pilots with Backstabber finishing off Night Beast with a 4-dice attack for the win.

2-0

Round 3
I faced:
Wedge + PTL + R2
Luke + Shield + R2D2 + DTF
Biggs + Hull upgrade + R2D6 + VI

I hadn’t faced a skill 7 Biggs before. This was a very good player. My friends knew him and I believe he is active on Vassal and Team Covenant. I was surprised to see that he was willing to joust with me. On our first engagement, I sent my Academy forward 5 and everyone else only forward 3. I got Biggs to crash, and then Luke crashed into Biggs. Wedge didn’t crash. He got a TL+F on one of my interceptor and I rolled blanks as he 1-shot me. Howl and Backstaber had range 3 shots on Biggs and did little to no damage. Luke 1-shot the Academy that Biggs had crashed into and Biggs got another of my interceptors to spend a focus token in defense reducing some of the effectiveness of his attack. The other interceptor did okay, and all told, I did 4 damage to Biggs, reducing him to 2 hull. On the next turn I K-Turned my lead interceptor, and since Wedge was stressed, I predicted his maneuver correctly and got him to crash into Backstabber. Biggs crashed into my other interceptor but Luke didn’t crash. Wedge took a range 2 shot on Howl and did no damage. Howl killed Biggs before he fired. Luke attacked the interceptor that Biggs crashed into, causing him to spend the focus, but then Backstabber and the Interceptor fired back at Luke each doing 3 damage (rolling 4 dice each) and killing Luke. My K-Turned Interceptor fired on Wedge and stripped his shields. It was over 2 turns later. That was the biggest swing I think I’ve ever experienced. I went from losing 2 ships in the first round and doing minimal damage back, to taking out 2 of his 3 ships and stripping shields from wedge without losing a ship on the second round.

3-0

Round 4
I faced:
Chewie + PTL + Falcon
Biggs
Rookie + R2

This is only 93 points, but I can’t remember what else he had. Maybe R2D2 on Biggs or something else on Chewie. Before we started he asked me to take it easy on him because he was a newbie. I kind of scoffed at him saying that he was 3-0 and this was an extremely strong field. No newbie could be 3-0 if they had to play the people I had faced so far. But he told me that he was just getting started because his son was interested in the game (his son was there too) and he had just gotten lucky. Once I declared my set up in one of the corners, he set up in the other one. I went 5-forward in a 3x2 formation and then did a hard 3 toward the center of the board so I was flying at him in my preferred 2x3 formation. Because of the asteroids on the far side of the board, he stayed going straight without turning toward me. On the first combat round, only 1 of my ships was in range of Biggs, and the rest shot at Chewie. Because he hadn’t turned his ships, only Chewie could return fire. He realized the problem and did turn both his X-Wings on the next turn, but I was too close now and they both crashed giving me 4 range-1 shots on his rookie and Biggs, who was already injured from the first round. Both X-Wings died that round, and I hadn’t lost a ship yet. I chased down Chewie, losing an interceptor in the process. He might have been a new player, but it was good to see that he was able to fly in formation well enough to always keep Biggs at range 1. Our game ended early so he quizzed me for the next 20 minutes trying to replay the game and asking what he could have done better. I’ve played in a few lopsided games and some players take the defeat very poorly while others are actually happy to get beaten and thank me. This guy came up to me several other times during the tournament to thank me for our game because he learned a lot and it helped him out in the next games he played. I love seeing good sportsmanship like that. It helps build community.

4-0

Now I was excited. My group of friends had talked a lot about the award levels at a regional. Top 16 get acrylic evade tokens. Top 8 get translucent dice. Top 4 get maneuver templates. My goal heading into the tournament was top 8. I really wanted maneuver templates since most of my friends had them. Dom has 2 sets, one from top 16 at Gencon and one from top 16 at worlds, but top 4 was a little ambitious for me. Being 4-0 now meant I only had to go 1-1 the rest of the way to guarantee a top 8. We weren’t positive on the math, and we thought that one or two 4-2 players might get in also, and if I did lose my next 2 games, they would be against very strong players so it would help me. Because there wasn’t an even 64, it was hard to guarantee how many 5-1 players there would be.

Every round after the second you have a chance of a 1-loss player playing against a 2-loss player because there wouldn’t always be an even number of players at each level. Because it is impossible to predict if the 2-loss player wins or loses, it is impossible to predict how many 1-loss players there will be at the end. Also, because several people turned in store championships for first round byes, there was an inflated number of undefeated players. If seven players had first round byes, then 52 people would have played the first round, but you would have had 33 1-0 players going into the second round. So it is hard to be certain what you need to make the top 8.

And while I didn’t know how many 1 loss players were floating around, after round 4 there were only 4 undefeated players, which is consistent with a 64-person tournament.

Round 5
I played Jake. He won nationals at Gencon last year. I can’t remember the names of all the people I played, but I remember him. He was flying a 7-ship swarm.

I had always wanted to play against him and this list. I don’t know if it is the same thing he flew at Nationals, but it was 7 ships. Now was my chance to face it. He looked at my list, knew who I was, and knew about this list. He didn’t like the match up. He had initiative and while the strength of my list is the joust, that was also the strength of his list, and since he had initiative, he would be able to block me on the first encounter. This meant that I had to work hard to make sure he couldn’t do that.

The asteroid placement was indicative of two players that want to impede the opposing swarm but not hurt their own. So they were scattered across the center of the board, but with big enough gaps to fly through. My goal was similar to the first round where I wanted him to have to bank around an asteroid to face me. I know I wasn’t going to get him to fly through an asteroid, but if he had to bank toward me, he only has 2 choices: 2-bank and 3-bank. If he is flying straight at me he has 4 choices 2, 3, 4 or 5 straight. I can prepare for a 2 or 3 bank, but there is no way I can predict which straight maneuver he would pick.

He had to set up first (initiative) so I predictably set up in the opposite corner. I knew he liked to start backstabber off on his own, but he wisely kept him close to his main squad choosing not to send him against all six of my ships on his own. I started 3x2, went 4-forward and then did a hard 2 so I was flying in my 2x3 formation horizontally. He went forward 4 or 5 and then banked toward me. On the third turn, in order to turn his ships to face me, he had to do a 2 or 3 bank and I could visually see that if I went 2-forward I would not crash and would have his ships at range 1 or 2. He saw this too and choose the 2 lead academies to go 5-forward and then barrel roll on an angle toward me. It was a good move, but at most it would have only made my academy crash and all my other ships would be safe. But my Academy didn’t go 2-straight. I sent him toward backstabber (who was coming up the middle of the board by himself) with a 3-turn. I was hoping to get a crash with backstabber, but he pulled up just short. The rest of his ships did a 3-bank and all mine did a 2-forward. No crashes.

Before we rolled the first dice Jake declared the game over. He didn’t officially resign, but he made it clear he didn’t like his chances. I had a very good chance of taking out 2-3 of his ships and he had a good chance of killing 1 of mine but not likely 2. His Howl, backstabber and BSP all shot before my Alphas would. I didn’t expect much damage to come my way from those three ships. Howl can’t use her ability on herself and backstabber wasn’t in range of Howl, and if he spent his focus in attack, my Academy would light him up in return fire. The BSP would probably get 2 damage. I was right about everything except predicting how many evades I would roll. Howl rolled 1 damage. I rolled no evades and kept my focus token taking 1 damage. Backstaber rolled 1 damage (choosing not to spend his focus). I again rolled no evades and spent my focus token to take no damage. The BSP rolled two hits with Howl’s help and I again rolled no evades. If I had just gotten 1 evade out of those 9 dice, my Alpha would have been alive to exchange fire with his academies. But, it is a dice game and I took my interceptor off the board.

My backstabber and Howl did damage to one of the lead academies who barrel rolled but didn’t kill him. This forced me to waste an Alpha range 1 attack on the injured Academy, which did way more damage than I needed to kill him. I hate wasting hits. My remaining Alpha did 2 damage to another academy. His 4 academies all focus fired on Backstabber who had spent his focus in attack. I rolled evades this time, but he still died. Because his backstabber had kept his focus in attack, my academy did no damage to him.

After both of us thought I was going to win right before the first attack, we both felt very differently afterwards. He had removed 2 of my ships while I had killed 1 of his, and it was an academy.

The next turn was a problem for Jake. The remaining academy that had gone 5-forward and barrel rolled was at 45 to my squad, so he could K-turn, but all his other ships were facing me and a K-turn wouldn’t fit with my ships in the way. He had no choice but to just go 2-forward and hope for the best. He did and I K-turned behind him. His howl and BSP crashed into the backs of my ships. Now my Alphas were stressed, but had clear shots at his academies. I dispatched the injured one and also killed a healthy one. He didn’t take any of my ships off the board that turn.

Now I had killed 3 of his ships and he had only still killed 2 of mine.

For the next few rounds it went back and forth a lot. I killed his Backstabber and he killed my Howlrunner. He killed another Alpha and I killed his BSP. At the end I had an Alpha and Academy and he had Howl and an Academy. We danced around for a few turns with neither of us getting good shots. Time ran out on us while we each had 30 points on the board.

A Draw.

I had never had a draw before, but I figured it was better than a loss. Jake wasn’t too disappointed either. I think we both felt like we dodged a bullet.

4-0-1

In the other undefeated game it was a double Falcon against 4 Blues with Advanced Sensors. The Double Falcon won.

Round 6
I was matched up against the Blue’s with Advanced Sensors. I didn’t like my chances.

I once again planed my attack around an asteroid, but with advanced sensors, he just barrel rolled before he banked toward me. It got rid of a focus token, but I didn’t get him to fly through an asteroid. His evade dice were hot, and Howl Backstabber only did 1 or 2 damage at range 3. His B-Wings collaborated to take an interceptor off the board before it could fire. I returned fire and after two attacks I got one of his B-Wings down to 1 hull. He had a crit that when he overlapped another ship, he would take a damage. I figured I could block him next turn, and so I fired at a different B-Wing to soften him for the next turn. BIG MISTAKE.

I figured the injured B-Wing would K-turn, and he did, but I forgot about advanced sensors. He saw that I had blocked him, so he barrel rolled and then K-Turned. He then 1-shot the academy pilot that I had used to try and block him. Backstabber got 4 hits on the second B-Wing I had injured the first turn reducing him to 2 hull. Then he killed Howlrunner with his other B-Wings. I had 2 K-Turned Alphas that had the 1 hull and 2 hull ships in their sights and I thought with Howl’s help, they would be able to kill both of them. But with Howl off the board, I only got two hits when attacking the 2-hull B-Wing and he evaded one, forcing me to spend both attacks on the same ship. I killed him, but I was way behind now.

For some reason, when I killed his one B-Wing, he removed the cards for both injured B-Wings from in front of him. When he went to plan maneuvers for his ships the next turn, he was very confused because he had three ships on the board but only 2 cards in front of him. I helped him out and told him that I had only killed one ship but he had put two of his cards away. He dug out the injured ship with its 2 damage cards and put it back in front of him.

I don’t force my opponents to use the critical markers. I usually don’t use them, but in tournaments I always use them because I don’t know the play styles of my opponents, but I don’t force my opponent to use them. He didn’t have a critical marker on his injured B-Wing and I think with the removing of the cards and pulling them back out, he forgot about it. When his B-Wing crashed into his own ship the next turn, he didn’t seem concerned about it until I reminded him about the crit. Still, I was down to three ships against his 2 healthy B-Wings. He vaporized backstabber that turn and then we played cat and mouse for 50 minutes before he killed both interceptors. I’ve played that game over and over in my head and I have no idea how I could beat that list unless his evade dice go ice cold.

4-1-1

In the other game, the double falcon destroyed Jake. Jake lost all his ships and there was still a shield on Lando at the end of the game. I’ve always had success against double Falcons, and my list was partially designed to take out Double Falcons, so I was surprised on how that could have happened, but I was too focused on my game to sneak peeks at that one.

It turned out that there were five 5-1 players. That is a lot more than I had anticipated. My friend Lyle was one of them, but he had a modified win so he finished with 23 points. Jake and I had 21. The 6-0 player had 30 points and the 4 other 5-1 players had 25 points. That was your top 8. None of the 4-2 players made it. Had Jake and I not drawn, whichever of us had lost that game would have probably been the one 4-2 player to have made the cut. Because Jake’s final game was against the 6-0 player, he had a better strength of schedule than I did so he was the 7th seed and I was the 8th seed.

Someone told me that they weren’t counting modified wins and were just giving 3 points for every win, but either way, the top 8 came out the same.

Here were the top 8 lists:
1: Double Falcon
2: 4 Blue’s with Advanced sensors
3: Krasis + HLC + Recon + Seismic, Howl + Swarm + Stealth, Mauler, Academy
4/5: Chewie + 2 B-Wings
4/5: Howl, Jax + Targeting Computer, Alpha, Academy x3
6: Lyle – Howl+ Swarm, Backstabber, Scimtar x 4
7: Jake
8: Me

I’m not sure which was the 4 seed and which was the 5 seed. I only know they played each other. Also, I don’t know exactly how the Chewie with 2 B’s was equipped. There are 3 rebel lists to 5 Imperial lists, but the top 2 were Rebel. Also, each of the Imperial lists had Howlrunner while each of the Rebel lists are very different. Yes, they each are comprised of only B’S and Falcons, but each of the three lists fly very differently and you have to approach them very differently. This makes me want to fly more Rebel lists, and I will in my next regional. There are 4 swarms in the top eight, but depending on how the 4/5 seeds actually were, it is possible that the 4 swarms were seeds 5 thru 8. I’m not arguing against the fact that swarms are still doing very well, but this is evidence you don’t have to fly a swarm to win, or at least to make the top 8.

Round 7
I was matched up against the Double Falcon. I know he was 6-0 and, while I didn’t know him, my friends told me he is on Vassal and does well. Still, this is the match up I was looking for. I know that double Falcons apparently do well against a 7 TIE swarm as evidenced by Jake’s last game and I know that 2 double Falcons were the only undefeated lists in round robin play at nationals last year, but I still thought I had a good chance.

We predictably started in opposite corners, but I used my new opening to slide across my starting edge so I could engage the charging Falcons outside of the asteroids. I sent backstabber out on his own to attack from a different angle. I figured 3 attack with focus was better than 2 attack with Howl and focus. The double falcon banked around an asteroid on the first combat turn. Lando only had one of my ships at range 3, so both Lando and Chewie used TL+F against that Interceptor. Lando only got 2 hits and I rolled 2 evades with my 4 dice. Then Chewie got 3 hits, but I rolled eyes and evades and spent my focus token to take no damage. Then I returned fire with all my ships and did 9 damage to Chewie. My opponent was very demoralized. He had just gone undefeated, and from what I could see of his game against Jake, and his previous games against the 4 B’s with adv sensors and his game against my friend Dom, he had been beating very good players very easily. And here he was against the 8th seed losing badly. But none of my rolls were that odd. I had rolled 7 evade dice and had gotten 2 blanks, 3 evades and 2 focus. Most of my attacks had focus + Howlrunner. In the past I have killed a Firespray in one combat round with this list before. Already in this tournament I had killed 2 X-Wings in one combat round twice only using 3-4 attack ships. I was actually disappointed I had only got 9 damage on his chewie.

Anyway, I then K-Turned with half my squad while going 2 forward with the rest. My ships were now facing each other in opposite directions. Chewie moved in front of my ships while Lando crashed into the back of the K-Turned ships. My K-Turned ships killed Chewie, but not before Chewie killed backstabber, and the non K-Turned ships had Lando at range 1. Over the next couple turns, Lando had fun 1-shotting my ships as I slowly whittled him down. Lando killed three of my ships before Howlrunner finished him off. After the dramatic first combat turn, I was kind of going through the motions for the rest of the game and I made some careless mistakes that cost me my three ships that Lando killed. I got in at range 1 too much and focused. I should have stayed at range 2 and evaded. With Howlrunner, I still would have done significant damage, and I would have lasted longer, but I won anyway.

In the other games The Imperial list of Howl and Jax beat the Chewie + 2 B’s. Lyle and his Bomber swarm lost to the Krassis list. Jake played the 4 B’s with Advanced Sensors. The TO told us these final three rounds would not be timed. I don’t know if that is legal, but I guess it is their decision. Had the games been timed, Jake would have lost, because at one point it was 2 full health B-Wings (50 pts) against 2 academies and backstabber (40 pts). Even though it wasn’t timed, my friends and I were still sure the B-Wings would pull it out. Since my game finished in about 40 mintues, and it looked like Lyle’s and Jake’s games were going to go over 2 hours (and they did), I played a board game with my 2 friends who didn’t make the top 8 so they didn’t have to just sit around doing nothing. So I didn’t watch Jake’s game, but somehow he pulled it off.

Round 8
I faced:
Krasis + HLC + Recon + Seismic, Howl + Swarm+stealth, Mauler, Academy

He had initiative and I set up my entire squad opposite his academy. He put Mauler and Howl next to the academy, but started Krasis in the opposite corner. He hard turned with his TIEs away from me, so I went forward and then barrel rolled my entire squad inward so I could bank inside an asteroid the next turn. After I banked and he turned up toward me, his Mauler and his academy were in range 3 of my front two Interceptors. He used swarm from Howl to shoot both this first at one Alpha I took 2 damage with a crit that reduced me to a skill 0. But, I was still alive. Both of my ships could only shoot at the Academy, and since Mauler had kept his focus token, it was an easy choice and I killed the academy. Krasis wasn’t in range yet. On the next turn, I should have done a 3-bank, but only did a 2-bank to straighten out and face Mauler and Howl. He did a 2-forward and just avoided a crash. He decided to ignore the skill 0 interceptor with 1 hull left and swarmed to Mauler to fire first on a full health Alpha at range 1. I think he was hoping to 1-shot the alpha and then use Howlrunner to kill the skill zero interceptor. Mauler only did 2 damage to me, and the Howl finished off that same interceptor. My backstabber and Howl did 1 damage to Mauler.

Krasis then used the HLC on the injured alpha but unluckily only got 2 hits and I evaded it with a focus token. From that moment forward that skill 0 interceptor would be the bane of his existence. My remaining skill 1 alpha and TIE killed mauler, and the Skill 0 stripped the stealth off howl.

On the next turn I turned all my ships to face Krasis except for the Skill 0 who K-Turned. Krasis did a hard three. Backstaber was able to barrel roll out of his rear arc and had Howl at range 1. His Howl K-Turned so he only had the skill 0 to shoot at. He only rolled 1 hit, which I evaded. Howl and Backstabber took all but 1 shield off the Firespray. My alpha that turned didn’t have Krasis in arc so Krassis chose to shoot at the academy and did 2 damage. The academy returned fire for no damage. My Skill 0 gave Howl a console fire.

On the next turn I got Howl to crash into my skill 0, which my opponent was thankful for at first, because it meant I couldn’t shoot him, but when I asked him to roll for the console fire he realized that because he didn’t get an action, Howl’s life depended on a 50/50. He rolled an eye. Meanwhile, I forgot that Krasis had a seismic charge, and I piled three ships up behind Krasis before he dropped the charge and K-Turned. The charge killed the academy and did 1 damage to the Alpha and Howl. I did minimal damage to Krasis at range 3, but I think I burned through all the shields. Krasis missed with the HLC.

On the next turn I moved my alpha 5-forward to initiate a crash with Krasis. Then backstabber crashed into the alpha and howl crashed into backstabber. Howl and backstabber each had range 1 shots on Krasis, and got him down to 3 hull. Krasis did 1 damage to backstabber. His howl couldn’t K-turn for risk of the console fire, so there were no other attacks that round. On the next turn he K-Turned Krasis and I K-Turned all 3 previously crashed ships. My skill 0 pulled up behind Krasis at range 1. My opponent had a choice: take the unmodified shot at range 1 against a ship that has a focus, or take the HLC with a reroll against one of three ships that are stressed, 2 of which have damage. He chose the HLC shot and did only 1 more damage to the Alpha. My three ships at range 3 had Howl to help, but only managed to do 1 damage against the Firespray’s 3 agility reducing Krasis to 2 hull. Then the skill 0 fired and got 4 hits with focus. Krasis dead. His Howl died the next turn and I was on to the final game.

While I didn’t watch the other match between Jake and the Howl/Jax Swarm I did hear about 30 minutes into our game that Jake resigned. I looked over there in shock (they were a few tables down) and saw that Jake had lost 3 TIEs and the other player (Steve) hadn’t lost any.

Round 9
I have been playing X-Wing for 14 hours straight. During the last game and this one, my friends watching over my shoulder would ask questions about why I was doing certain things and my response was always the same. It’s 2-freakin-am. But I am in the finals and I need to concentrate for one more game.

I was playing against Steve who had come here with his son who was watching over his shoulder. He also occasionally questioned what his dad was doing, but that was out of the inexperience of the son, not because Steve was making mental errors. He played great.

He was flying:
Jax + Targeting computer
Howl
Alpha
Acadamy x3

It is similar to mine but with 2 interceptors and 4 TIEs. He split his squad up having the Alpha go up the far side of the board, Howl and the 3 TIEs started in the middle, and Jax started directly opposite my entire squad. I was really hoping that he was mentally tired and thought that Jax had a chance jousting with my squad, but he proved the smarter one and on the second turn after I had charged hard to get Jax in my sights, he turned hard to run away with his interceptor and was out of my range. This allowed two academies and Howl to shoot at me from the middle of the board and I couldn’t return fire. Because only one of the academies had a focus and it was at range three, I took no damage, but I felt stupid that he got three shots on me and I had none. If I had three interceptors to fire back I could have taken a ship off the board.

On the next turn I turned all my ships in to fire except Howl, she went straight and evaded. His Jax and Howl fired first and did two damage to one of my Alphas. His alpha had managed to zoom in, but its only shot was through an asteroid and he did no damage. His three academies worked to finish off the Alpha and attacked another ship doing 1 damage. Because of simultaneous fire my dead Alpha still got to fire and he hit Howl for 1 damage. When Steve had moved Howl, all my interceptors had already moved and he saw that Howl was range 1 from all three of them. As he placed Howl down at the end of the template he said something funny like, “Hello, my name is Howlrunner, the lynch pin to this entire squad.” He knew she was dead. And I took the bait. The next Alpha killed her. My third Alpha 1-shot a TIE that Backstabber had stripped the focus from. My Academy took a hail Mary on the Alpha and missed.

All this while Jax was sitting there at range 2 with no focus or evade, having boosted to get into firing position. I thought killing 2 of his ships, one being Howlrunner, and only losing one myself sealed the victory for me. It actually sealed my fate. I can’t remember everything that happened after that but I know that on every single turn Jax screwed up everything. I never had a good shot on him after that until the end. I thought I had him one turn, but Steve unexpectedly parked him on an asteroid, which I didn’t see coming, but was still range 1 from 3 of my ships, so their attacks were neutered. We went back and forth trading ships and I was either up a ship or we were even the whole game.

But from that point on, I was able to spend a focus token maybe twice the whole game. At the end it was Jax against Backstabber and an Alpha. Jax had 2 damage with a crit that reduced his agility. My Alpha had 2 hull left and backstabber had 1 hull left. I thought I had him in perfect position when Backstabber came around an asteroid and the Alpha was right in front of Jax. He had just K-Turned so I expected a 2 or 3 forward, which would have him crash into the Alpha and allowed Backstabber to shoot 4 dice into Jax’s ear. Instead he did a 1-turn toward backstabber. If Backstabber hadn’t been there, Jax would have ended up very close to the asteroid, possibly on it, so it was a ballsy move, especially because he was stressed. Instead he hit backstabber and turned just enough to still have the Alpha in his sights. He rolled 4 naked dice, got 2 hits, and I rolled no evades. Because of Jax’s ability, I couldn’t use focus or evade.

Backstabber and Jax danced around for a while, but because of pilot skill, I couldn’t get anything to work. It was 3:30am and I decided to let the dice decide. I assumed Jax would K-Turn and I put Backstabber in position to exchange fire. Except he didn’t K-Turn, he did a 1 hard and the barrel rolled out of my arc. He got 2 hits with his 4 dice and I rolled eyes and blanks.

Game over.

Tournament over.

I came in Second. I was too worn down to really understand anything that had just happened other than that Steve outmaneuvered me to the nth degree. From the first combat round where he faked me out with Jax until the end when Jax owned both my ships he flew way better than me. He was a very worthy champion. I’m still thrilled with second place.

My final thoughts.

Yes, swarms. I know. My defense is that most of the best players flew swarms, so swarms one the day. Had the best players brought rebel lists like Bloody Daggers or Biggs Walks the Dogs or Wedge+Biggs+2 more or Han shoots first or anything else, then that would have won the day.

Having said that, two rebel lists were the top 2 builds after round robin.

It was also interesting to look at the top players and how they did. I thought a lot about the World Series of Poker. I used to watch that a lot and the final table was usually made up of mostly pros but there was always a few amateur players at that final table. Poker has much more luck than X-Wing, so a good amateur player can still make it to the top.

I’m not trying to call any of the players I played against amateurs. And by the same token, none of them are pros either. But there are lots of players out there who have built up reputations on Vassal or Team Covenant or by winning big tournaments. Those players filled most of the spots in the top 8, but not all of them. I drove there with Dom who had just won a 60 person cancer benefit tournament and had won the last Vassal tournament. Jake, the reigning national champion was there. Hothie, the previous world champion was there. But they all didn’t all make the top 8. This gives hope to everyone else that if you bring a strong list and know what you are doing, you can beat anyone in any given game. However, it also still rewards players with skill as they will still usually rise to the top.

I don’t know how much Steve plays. He was there with his son, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he usually only played with his son and went to this tournament because it was local. He said repeatedly that he had played all day with a care free attitude and he wasn’t going to stop now just because he was at the final table. I wish I could have that attitude as well. But that makes him sound like a casual player, not a tournament “Pro.”

Okay, that was really long, but it was 9 freakin games. If you admit to reading all of this, I question your sanity.
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TLDR.

Oh, okay, I did read it, actually.

Great report. So pleased for you. You've given me much to think about as we in the UK head towards the 64-player X-Wing Open.
 
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Holy wall o' text.

A great read and I realize this was probably impossible since it was a competitive environment but I wish this had pictures with it (it would be easier to read and illustrate the activities a lot better). I think every session report that features a miniatures game, especially, should have them. But again, probably hard to do in that environment.

Sidenote (and David I promise this isn't directed at you, specifically) - I can't stand the thought of people already considering others or themselves as "pros" at some fun little miniatures game. Really people? We've come to that? It's a game, just have some fun with it, even at tournaments. Just my opinion, of course...maybe I'm just too naive about this stuff and everyone's getting more competitive in this hobby as time goes by.



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David Pontier
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wytefang wrote:

Sidenote (and David I promise this isn't directed at you, specifically) - I can't stand the thought of people already considering others or themselves as "pros" at some fun little miniatures game. Really people? We've come to that? It's a game, just have some fun with it, even at tournaments. Just my opinion, of course...maybe I'm just too naive about this stuff and everyone's getting more competitive in this hobby as time goes by.


I agree, but I don't have another word for it. My nephews are casual players. They don't care about points or theme or anything. They aren't very good, but they have fun. Then I have some other local friends that I see at local tournaments and they are above average, but they would never drive more than an hour to go to a game and they don't spend a lot of money on the game. Some of them only own ships from one faction.

Then there are the other players. The ones that drive 5 hours to go to tournaments. The ones that go to as many tournaments as humanly possible. The ones that own enough of every ship to run every possible list. I saw several custom built wooden trays on Saturday designed to carry your squad and all your cards, dice, templates and everything else at a tournament so you could easily move your stuff around. I have no problem with these players and I whish I had a cool tray like that. I played against a guy that had 2 laser levels that were custom mounted so he could mark the location of ships to move them when another ship was flying through.

I agree that Pro is the wrong word. How about Hard Core?

But what I really wanted to point out is that the division between these players and everyone else is not skill. Yes, these hard core players are often better, but there are also a lot of casual league players or tournament players that can hold their ground against them.
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Cicimeena Almon

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David raises a good term here, hardcore is probably a better word.

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Cletus Van Damme

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Were you recording these games? How do recall the turn by turn damage/maneuver breakdown of 13 hours worth of x-wing? If its strictly memory im insanely jealous. Anyway congrats on making top 2
 
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I agree with: "Hardcore" since "Pro" could mean "Professional" and playing for a living/income. I would say that I'd fall in the Hardcore category. When I move to TN, you guys should start seeing me at the major tournaments. I'll definitely will be a Gen Con and Worlds.
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John Goodhand
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wytefang wrote:


Sidenote (and David I promise this isn't directed at you, specifically) - I can't stand the thought of people already considering others or themselves as "pros" at some fun little miniatures game. Really people? We've come to that? It's a game, just have some fun with it, even at tournaments. :) Just my opinion, of course...maybe I'm just too naive about this stuff and everyone's getting more competitive in this hobby as time goes by.

YES, it was a great report and gives me plenty to think about and learn from. I am an older gamer that just happens to enjoy the newer quasi-[simplified]-War Games with miniatures, ever since I've been trying to introduce my grandsons to the hobby. But I don't get to play very often (once or twice per month) and usually drive 50 - 100 miles to participate in various clubs and/or tournaments. I prefer playing scenario based games purely for the FUN factor and the socializing with other gamers with similar interests. Now that Fantasy Flights has realized that they have a successful product line on their hands and have ramped-up the regional tournament schedule, I have become reluctant to participate in them, because I have seen how the "Pro's" or "Hard-Core Fans" seem to come out of nowhere to dominate the tables. It turns me off to see normally good natured, friendly, gaming buddies suddenly turn into viciously competitive gaming zealots whenever there's some monetary reward or prizes of some perceived value (i.e. trophies) at stake. It's not just SW X-Wing, it every miniatures game system that I've witnessed over many years, so it must be human nature. It's a shame that certain personalities totally loose sight of their interpersonal relationships (the meta-game) when in a contest situation. After all it's still ONLY a game.
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Jeffrey Nolin
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I've just gotten into X-Wing and I found that I could follow your games exceedingly well. Also, the flavor of the day and nuances of the matches came through well, too. Better than watching it live, more like watching it on TV with really good commentary! Great report!!
 
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John DiMaggio
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ciciman wrote:
David raises a good term here, hardcore is probably a better word.



Eh, I'm not a fan of either "pro" or "hardcore" actually. Both have a negative connotation to them. Pro tends to denote that somehow those players are better or superior, and implies a hint of elitism. Hardcore is a bit derogatory towards players who spend a lot of time, energy, and hard work refining their game. I tend to like the terms Spike, Timmy and Johnny from Magic http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtgcom/...as they don't have the layered meanings that "pro" or "hardcore" do.

That said, I thought your comparison to Poker was a very astute one. I completely agree, that X-wing does indeed reward strong players, but given that it's still a dice game, any player can do well on any given day. That's exciting .

I would love to get your input on the current tournament scene as well. Frankly, I'm amazed that Interceptor/TIE swarms have been doing so well, considering they've been around since Wave 2. Might you give some input as to why you think that is, and possible advantages over your traditional 7-TIE Howlrunner swarm?

Two other important lessons that I learned from your article included:

1) Knowing that if you lose initiative with your swarm, that trying to engage around an asteroid or in a 2, 3 bank scenario (vs. 2,3,4,5 straight) very much helps you mitigate action denial; and...

2) Having options in your set up via high PS Backstabber and Howlrunner can help avoid fighting in an asteroid field, and set up a preferred formation.

Question: Can you describe what "3x2" vs. "2x3" means? I think 3 x 2 means 2 horizontal rows of 3-ships each, while 2 x 3 = 2 vertical columns of 3 ships each?

That aside, great job, Piqsid! Well deserved for sure, as others have commented, you've done an amazing amount of work supporting and contributing to this community. Thank you!

P.S. - Just curious, do you have an eidetic (photographic) memory? Your ability to recall details from every match is astounding to say the least O_o.
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Jean Ouellet
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Excellent report thank you! I read the whole thing and it's not insanity, you are an interesting person to read! I'm sane, I swear!

Incidentally, Pros, Hardcores or spikes, the term does not matter to me, but skill is involved, so this rewards players who can really give themselves into it and I don't care, as long as the bedside manners are kept friendly. "Steve" is a great example, excellent player, but can joke about losing his key ship! Sounds like I person I would like to play with (I try avoiding the words "play against")!
 
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Jeff Dunford
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I read this on my phone last night. Didn't look ahead to see how long it was going to be. Finished the whole thing, then looked at the clock... modest

Thanks for the great read!
 
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David Pontier
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JohnnyD144 wrote:

Two other important lessons that I learned from your article included:

1) Knowing that if you lose initiative with your swarm, that trying to engage around an asteroid or in a 2, 3 bank scenario (vs. 2,3,4,5 straight) very much helps you mitigate action denial; and...


Here is my attempt to recreate the first three turns of my game against Jake:


He used the “Pinwheel” (I think that is what it is called) which I don’t really know how to set up, but this is basically what happened. He went forward 5, banked, then sent 2 ties forward 5 and barrel rolled and then banked with everyone else. As you can see, this was his only real choice to approach me. If he had gone forward twice and then turned, I would have been more aggressive with my approach and made sure that I wouldn’t crash if he did a 3-turn with everyone. Now, I made up this strategy on the fly, so there might be ways to improve it or defeat it, but my recommendation to anyone who fears getting blocked by a swarm is to try and approach the oncoming swarm at a right angle. This will force them to either bank twice or do a hard turn. This will prevent them from being as aggressive as they want and you can get range 1 combat while keeping your actions.

JohnnyD144 wrote:

2) Having options in your set up via high PS Backstabber and Howlrunner can help avoid fighting in an asteroid field, and set up a preferred formation.


Question: Can you describe what "3x2" vs. "2x3" means? I think 3 x 2 means 2 horizontal rows of 3-ships each, while 2 x 3 = 2 vertical columns of 3 ships each?


This is what I call a 3x2:


It is 3 ships across and 2 ships deep.

This is a 2x3:


I prefer to attack in this position. I can do it vertically as shown or horizontally as in my game against Jake. My goal is to either have my front block of 4 ships at range 2-3 and have Backstabber and Howl out of range of the enemy, or have my front block at range 1-2 and have Howl and backstabber at range 3. Having Howl out of range of the enemy for the first combat round is great against an HLC or a Vader Shuttle. In the two times I’ve flown this list against a Vader shuttle, I was able to get 3-4 of my ships to shoot at the shuttle, and on the next turn, I killed it with Backstabber and Howl before it got to fire again, so it never had a chance to give Howl a crit.

Now, since with 1’s, I am often going to set up first, I don’t know where my opponent will set up and I don’t know how I will want to approach him. So I always start with the main 2x2 block of three Alphas and a TIE. If I am going to try and block my opponent, then I put the TIE in front, but if I want to exchange heavy fire from my front line, then I put 2 Alpha’s in front. I make sure I leave enough room to put Back and Howl where I want them.

If it looks like I am going to want to attack horizontally in the middle of the table, like against Jake, then I set up the ships 3x2.

If I get to set up second, or my opponent sets up opposite me and I want to joust, then I set up like this:

My friends call it the “Piqsid Pointer”

If you go forward 5 with the block of 4 ships, you can swoop in with Howl and Back with 3 banks. Alternately you can start going forward 4 and sweep in with 2-banks, but you have to start the angled ships in a little further. This will give you a 2x3 formation with Howl at range 1 from everyone.

If I set up first and after I see where my opponent goes I want to switch location along my edge before charging into battle, then I put Howl and Back like this:


By doing a hard 2 with everyone and a 4-forward with Howl and Back, I create a 2x3 formation sliding sideways. When I get to the point along my edge where I want to turn up, then I do a 1, 2, or 3-hard turn with everyone, and I will have a 2x3 formation attacking vertically. I used this very well to get Soontir when he set up in the opposite corner. Also note that all the ships are within range 2 of the starting edge so the asteroids won't hinder you.
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Geordan Rosario
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Piqsid wrote:

My friends call it the “Piqsid Pointer”

I think it ought to be called the "Pontier Pointer", to maximize typing difficulty.
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Really great recap! Thanks for all the insight and strategy you provided. To have the mental capacity to manage all the moves without looking like bumper cars is a thing of wonder.
 
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Gabriel Alonso
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What do you do vs assault missles? Any changes to your set up?
 
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Penguin Bonaparte
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As a lesser swarm player I'd say I try to use evades to counter a single missile, but if it's more than one things get scary. It stinks, but I've gone on to win games in which I've just soaked one to my squad. At the moment I'm thinking about squads to counter Blount by killing him before he can shoot, but I'd love to hear some expert answers as well.
 
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David Pontier
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galonso wrote:
What do you do vs assault missles? Any changes to your set up?


I've only ever faced assault missiles once when flying this list. That was against a double Falcon, each with assault missiles. There are 3 ways I strategize against it.

The first is to block actions. Against a double Falcon it was pretty easy to get both Falcons to crash on the first engagement turn. In order to fire their missiles, they have to fly at you because they can't use their 360 firing arc to shoot a missile. This is true of any ship. And because my interceptors can go 5 forward and boost, I can easily go from out of range to right up in your grill in one move phase. And since the Falcons have such big bases, it is easy to get them to crash. It isn't as easy against a bomber swarm, but those ships are still predictable.

The second thing I do is get into range 1. Sometimes you can try to block someone, but you just can't go far enough or you guess wrong and they pull up just short of you. But, if you are at range 1 of them, then they can't fire their missile. Assuming we are talking about bombers here at skill 2, my front 4 ships will move, then the bombers will move. I either get them to crash or all my ships are at range 1. My backstabber (6) and Howl (8) haven't moved yet, so they are out of range for a TL. Assault missiles can only fire at range 2-3.

The third thing I do is barrel roll. Against the Falcons, Lando is a skill 7. So even if I can get him to crash, he will do a green maneuver and pass chewie an action. All my skill 1 ships are crashed into the Falcons or at range 1, but Backstabber is at range 2. Since Lando moves after backstabber, he can pass an action to Chewie to get a TL. Knowing this, I will move backstabber and then barrel roll him away from the rest of the group. He may still be in range 1 of 1 other ship, but not all of them. Also, usually in this situation Chewie, or what ever the ship is that got an action from squad leader or some other free TL, doesn't have a focus token to go with it, so while Backstabber will probably get hit, he wont die and won't do additional damage to the rest of my squad.
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Piqsid, we should play a game on Vassal one of these days with one of my Imperial Assault Missiles squads.
 
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Have you faced them with an all Tie swarm? I'm imagining a lot of the problems are going to be fighters in the asteroid field, which'll make blocking and a quick range 1 a lot harder without the boost.
 
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USMMA95 wrote:
Piqsid, we should play a game on Vassal one of these days with one of my Imperial Assault Missiles squads.


I've always wondered why with the prevalence of swarms at tournaments, why don't more people use assault missiles? Do your bomber lists work well against non-swarms? Have you taken a missile list to a tournament and beaten swarms with it?

At this regional, there were 59 people. I obviously didn't see every list out there, but I was familiar with about 15 of them, including the top 8 and I didn't see one assault missile. I faced against one bomber the whole day and he was loaded with: Concussion, Cluster, and Flechette. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that, but I was also really confused by it.
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John DiMaggio
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Piqsid wrote:
USMMA95 wrote:
Piqsid, we should play a game on Vassal one of these days with one of my Imperial Assault Missiles squads.


I've always wondered why with the prevalence of swarms at tournaments, why don't more people use assault missiles? Do your bomber lists work well against non-swarms? Have you taken a missile list to a tournament and beaten swarms with it?

At this regional, there were 59 people. I obviously didn't see every list out there, but I was familiar with about 15 of them, including the top 8 and I didn't see one assault missile. I faced against one bomber the whole day and he was loaded with: Concussion, Cluster, and Flechette. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that, but I was also really confused by it.


I've never seen assault missile squads win consistently. They're just too steeply costed in my opinion. Your opponent knows you're running it, and if you're running 5-10 pts of your squad on a 1 time ordinance shot that may or may not hit, that's a big risk. In tournaments I just don't see competitive players willing to take that kind of risk.

I wonder if Z95's, specifically, Lt. Blount will change any of this. My guess is no, as you're spending 22 pts on an assault missile. That's so much…penny-for-your-thoughts, Piqsid?
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I think people are finding other ways to beat a swarm. When I ran into the 4 B-Wings with Adv Sensors, I don't think I could have beaten that list but maybe 1 time in 5. With the Phantom, you will rarely be in 1 firing arc, much less the entire swarm. And with its 4 attack and 4 defense, it matches well against a 2-attack TIE. Because of this, I think the swarms will slowly lose their strangle hold on tournaments.

However, I still think an assault missile is good against a Biggs list. A good Biggs player keeps him at range three during the first combat round. This forces you to attack him with 3 dice while he rolls 3 defense. An assault missile gives you 4 attack against 2 defense. It is much more likely to hit Biggs than it is a TIE with its 3 agility. And the bonus of splash damage to the rest of the squad, who will be, by definition, at range 1 of Biggs is a big advantage later in the game. I don't think you need Blount to carry the missile either. A bandit that gets a TL from someone else will be fine.

However, I fully expect FFG to keep pumping out new and exciting ordinances, that will make bombers viable, and since you have a lot of extra room in a bomber squad with 3 16 point ships and Jonus, throwing an assault missile in there will usually be a good choice.
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Piqsid wrote:
Round 6
I was matched up against the Blue’s with Advanced Sensors. I didn’t like my chances.

I once again planed my attack around an asteroid, but with advanced sensors, he just barrel rolled before he banked toward me. It got rid of a focus token, but I didn’t get him to fly through an asteroid. His evade dice were hot, and Howl Backstabber only did 1 or 2 damage at range 3. His B-Wings collaborated to take an interceptor off the board before it could fire. I returned fire and after two attacks I got one of his B-Wings down to 1 hull. He had a crit that when he overlapped another ship, he would take a damage. I figured I could block him next turn, and so I fired at a different B-Wing to soften him for the next turn. BIG MISTAKE.

I figured the injured B-Wing would K-turn, and he did, but I forgot about advanced sensors. He saw that I had blocked him, so he barrel rolled and then K-Turned. He then 1-shot the academy pilot that I had used to try and block him. Backstabber got 4 hits on the second B-Wing I had injured the first turn reducing him to 2 hull. Then he killed Howlrunner with his other B-Wings. I had 2 K-Turned Alphas that had the 1 hull and 2 hull ships in their sights and I thought with Howl’s help, they would be able to kill both of them. But with Howl off the board, I only got two hits when attacking the 2-hull B-Wing and he evaded one, forcing me to spend both attacks on the same ship. I killed him, but I was way behind now.

For some reason, when I killed his one B-Wing, he removed the cards for both injured B-Wings from in front of him. When he went to plan maneuvers for his ships the next turn, he was very confused because he had three ships on the board but only 2 cards in front of him. I helped him out and told him that I had only killed one ship but he had put two of his cards away. He dug out the injured ship with its 2 damage cards and put it back in front of him.

I don’t force my opponents to use the critical markers. I usually don’t use them, but in tournaments I always use them because I don’t know the play styles of my opponents, but I don’t force my opponent to use them. He didn’t have a critical marker on his injured B-Wing and I think with the removing of the cards and pulling them back out, he forgot about it. When his B-Wing crashed into his own ship the next turn, he didn’t seem concerned about it until I reminded him about the crit. Still, I was down to three ships against his 2 healthy B-Wings. He vaporized backstabber that turn and then we played cat and mouse for 50 minutes before he killed both interceptors. I’ve played that game over and over in my head and I have no idea how I could beat that list unless his evade dice go ice cold.


Sorry it took me this long to discover the site and your reports, but this was a a great read. I completely fogged out on most of the details of our match until this read. Reading it though, I am concerned. I made "clerical" errors vs Jake as well (absorbing damage I had canceled, and removing shields from the wrong ship), and late in our recent Chicago tilt the same thing. I think the late night, deep tournament play, and generalized anxiety (not suggesting a disorder, just competitive anxiety I think...) has me addled and struggling in the record keeping. I pray my mistakes are always to my detriment…embarrassing.
 
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fleurdelis wrote:

Sorry it took me this long to discover the site and your reports, but this was a a great read. I completely fogged out on most of the details of our match until this read. Reading it though, I am concerned. I made "clerical" errors vs Jake as well (absorbing damage I had canceled, and removing shields from the wrong ship), and late in our recent Chicago tilt the same thing. I think the late night, deep tournament play, and generalized anxiety (not suggesting a disorder, just competitive anxiety I think...) has me addled and struggling in the record keeping. I pray my mistakes are always to my detriment…embarrassing.



Having played you twice now late in tournaments, I think you are surprised that you are there. Don't be. You made top 8 at Wisconsin with the second seed and won the Chicago regional. You have officially earned the right to expect to go deep into tournaments. I don't know what all of your games have been like, but hopefully after playing against me and Dom in Chicago, you realize we don't bite, at least, not hard enough to leave marks. Most of the top players I have played against have been very easy going and good natured. Chicago was timed at 60 minutes, so we had to play fast, but most big tournaments will give you more time to play. Just relax and take it easy. Let the game be fun.

I look forward to seeing you at GenCon.
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