H. Tucker Cobey
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Hello again, Star Trek Attack Wing players! When I said my goodbyes to this community, I called out that, given the opportunity, I'd be writing up any high-level event that I attended. When David gave me a call (well, wrote me a Facebook message) to ask me to be an assistant judge at Modesto and to provide the official report, I couldn't have said yes more quickly--especially because heading up Modesto way allowed me to reconnect with some long-lost family in the area. Despite getting to the venue a little late because of this--my half-cousin, adorable as she is at all of eight years old, is apparently the only person in my family who's as competitive as I am and insisted that we finished an absolutely cutthroat game of Pick-Up Stix--I still had more than enough time to watch the goings-on as the players gathered for what turned out to be the largest Regional so far.

One quick note: I'll be updating this post with pictures and videos as I can. I need to upload the photos, and David needs to upload some of the videos; those gaps will be filled in as we get them up.

General Observations

Reunion, Part 1: I obviously met Will and Joseph in person last year at Worlds, but--despite having lived in the same state as him for most of the time we've known each other--Sunday morning was my first time meeting David in person. He's as great a guy in real life as he comes across in the media, and it was awesome to get some time to just hang out with him between judge calls. David: let's not wait until next year to do it again, yeah?

Reunion, Part 2: Of course, that wasn't the only face I knew in the crowd. Robert Fletcher and Albert Hsia, both of whom I'd met at Worlds, were here to compete. It was great to say hi and catch up a little, as both of them are good players that I am honored to call friend.

They Will Never Adjust To Starfleet Rules: This game has, at this point, a truly staggering number of rules documents. I'll be the first to admit that I made at least one mistake by virtue of how something used to work but doesn't any more. That's why David was the head judge, though: while given infinite time we'll both get to the right ruling (and I might be just a hair faster searching WORF than he is), David has a far, far better mind for making rulings from memory.

Turnout For What: 19 players showed up to do battle in Modesto--which, I believe, is the largest Regional thus far. Obviously this is a huge drop from the numbers we had the last time around, but it goes to show that STAW is still strong on the West Coast. One big absence was anyone from WizKids--I loved meeting Justin Ziran at Colorado and all the reps at Origins, and was hoping to see someone there.

Everybody Laughs Ending: The STAW community as a whole looks pretty ugly sometimes, but I was once again impressed with the friendliness, grace, and sportsmanship amongst the game's highest-level players. Their builds and playing might have been absolutely hardcore, but the smiles on everyone's faces were just as genuine.

The Swiss

The More Things Change...: Even outside of the blinds, the meta in this tournament was incredibly diverse. I saw a number of fascinating ideas among the fleets being fielded, and though I predicted the general trend--two large ships was the default, with only one shuttlenaught in play--I certainly didn't predict the exact field by any stretch of the imagination.

...The More Things Stay The Same: The portion of the meta that did well, on the other hand, was almost exactly what we've come to expect. It was the typical mix of dual Bios, dual Big Fed, Scimitar/Cloaked Mines, Cloaked Mines Turtle, Fed Shuttle/Evadenaught (though with an interesting twist), AB'Rel Cannon, and Borg packing Mags.

Blind Luck: In a turn of events that surprised absolutely no one, both Bioship blinds made the Top 8 while almost all of the weaker ones did not. In fact, the blinds in the Top 8 included both bioships, both Aldaras, both Kazon, a Klingon, and a Vulcan--with the other Klingon and Vulcan coming in 9th and 10th. (And this being 19 players, there were two of each except for the Romulan.) That's not to say that the players who had them aren't incredibly skilled and didn't deserve to be there--they are, and they did--but the power disparity was definitely felt all day.

These Ships Are Bananas: Of particular note was Albert Hsia's build--listed below, as he made the Top 8. Albert had decided to run two Predators, so naturally his blind buy was a third. This led to possibly the most obnoxious fleet of the entire tournament.

Top Eight Seeding and Builds

1. Craig Neil

Resource: Officer Exchange Program (Fed/Brg)

Assimilated Vessel 64758
Borg Queen (Tactical Cube 134)
Mr. Spock (Crew)
Data Node

Scout 255
Jean-Luc Picard (Enterprise E)
Dispersion Field
Second of Five
William T. Riker (USS Hood)
Improved Deflector Screens
Magnetometric Guided Charges

Blind:
IKS Buruk
Duras
Dishonorable Tactics
Targeting Systems
Kurak


Craig's build is an interesting twist on the scout cube/heavy hitter pairing we've all come to know and love. This version is much stronger defensively, having the ability to set evades on the Galor (which I am now far more impressed with after seeing him do it all day) and to just roll a ton of defense dice with 255--plus being able to get two crits pretty reliably with the mags. Craig himself has only been playing the game for about half a year, but showed in the Swiss and the Top 8 through to the finals why he's clearly one of the rising stars of the game.


2. Sam Tillis

Resource: Officer Exchange Program (Fed/Ind)

USS Voyager
Jean-Luc Picard (starter)
Quark (with Antimatter Mines)
Miles O'Brien (starter)
Goval
Tactical Station

USS Prometheus
Karr
Admiral Forrest
Denara Pel
Dorsal Phaser Array

Blind:
Species 8472 Bioship
Bioship Omega Pilot
Neuro Peptides
Organic Conduits

Sam's build is, on the face of it, pretty common: get big stuff, hit hard, hit fast. Obviously, pulling the bioship helped his plan a lot. He did have one major trick up his sleeve... which, unfortunately, would led to my biggest judging mistake of the tournament.


3. Albert Hsia

Resource: Officer Exchange Program

Relora-Sankur
Khan (promo)
Lure
Sulu
Quark (Cloaked Mines)
Power Grid

Nistrim-Culluh
Karr
Boheeka
Riker (USS Pegasus)
Power Grid
Cloaked Mines

Blind:
Kazon Predator-class
Culluh
Ambition
Rulat
Photonic Charges


This was easily the most obnoxious build in the entire tournament. When asked, Albert said that he simply found the best ships in the game for holding station, then laid down the Cloaked Mines and made his enemy sit in them to have to shoot him. The rest of the build is designed around deriving advantage from taking long-range potshots. From what I saw, this was exactly as frustrating to play against as you'd expect.


4. Daniel S.

Resource: Protocol

USS Enterprise (TOS)
Tavek
Elizabeth Shelby
Eric Motz
Sakonna
Quark (Multi-Adaptive Shielding)
Arsenal
Dorsal Phaser Array
Type 8 Phasers
Upgraded Phasers
Systems Upgrade
Enhanced Hull Plating

Quark's Treasure
Kor (TOS)
William T. Riker (USS Hood)
Tom Paris
Li Nalas
Amat'lglan
Koss
Cargo Hold

Blind:
Vulcan D'Kyr Class
Tavin
Solin
V'Tosh Ka'tur

I'm not releasing Daniel's last name because he is, in fact, a minor--a high school student, to be precise. And let me tell you, this build is nasty. It's the Fed Evade/Shuttlenaught we've all come to know and "love," but now it's got traditional Tinyprise tech mixed in too. Being able to switch out all of the slot-providing crew for their far more useful counterparts means that he gets to have his cake and eat it too--to the tune of five attack dice and five defense dice. Protocol means that he'll be backing that up with two Battlestations tokens a turn... or, if shields have gone down, two Evades to match his Enhanced Hull Plating. Which he can still get with Aux tokens around thanks to the Tinyprise named ability. Add in Kor's reroll--which, being actionless, also still works under APTs--and you've got one heck of a contender here. It won't one-shot you, but good luck killing it without one very specific counter.


5. Andrew Medlin

Resource: None

USS Hood
Jean-Luc Picard (starter)
Arsenal
Quantum Torpedoes
Type 8 Phaser Array

USS Excelsior
Mr. Spock (captain)
Arsenal
Quantum Torpedoes
Upgraded Phasers
Micro Power Relays

Blind:
Bioship Omega
Bioship Omega Pilot
Resistant Hull

I'm... honestly not sure what was going on here, but it basically worked out to be your typical Big Fed build. The Bioship was very helpful, obviously.


6. Todd Bullock

Resource: Officer Exchange Program (Rom/Dom)

Reman Warbird
Gul Dukat (Koranak)
Admiral Gul Madred
Romulan Helmsman
Interphase Generator

Prototype 01
Gareb (Weyoun 8)
Attack Pattern Omega
Type 8 Phaser Bank
Cloaked Mines
Cloaked Mines
Cloaked Mines

Blind:
Galor Class
Gul Jasad
High Energy Subspace Field
Concentrated Firepower
Aft Weapons Array

You all know this one too. Reman with BS with a drone minelayer as backup. The Type 8s are a nice addition to the Prototype, though, and Todd ran it with an interesting twist.


7. Paul Graham

Resource: Protocol

Bioship Beta
Jean-Luc Picard (starter)
Biological Technology

Koranak
Gul Dukat (Koranak)
Shroud
Boheeka

Blind:

Aldara
Gul Jasad
High Energy Subspace Field
Aft Weapons Array
Glinn Lasaran

Again: big ships roll big attack dice with Picard/Dukat backup. This time around the blind adds some 360 firepower instead of just another bioship, but the idea is basically the same.


8. Alexander Jorgensen

Resource: Ready Room

Regent's Flagship
William T. Riker (Assimilation Target Prime)
Admiral Worf (Regent's Flagship)
Make It So!
Elim Garak (Regent's Flagship)
Jennifer Sisko
Brunt
Aft Phaser Emitters

Assimilated Vessel 80279
Borg Queen (Tactical Cube 134)
Drex

Blind:
Nistrim-Culluh
Culluh
Rulat
Stolen Technology
Photonic Charges


The Assimilated B'Rel Cannon build first reached the limelight at Worlds last year, where Richard Bliss piloted it to third place. Alex has here crafted a refinement of it, and his changes are interesting to say the least. Notably, this is the only ship pure build in the Top 8--and he's upgraded to the named AB'Rel in order to capitalize on its ability to reroll attacks made during the Movement Phase. Using the retail cube Borg Queen means he can Target Lock as well, and--since Drex converts for all attacks made in a turn--that gives him five dice with full quality on both attacks he makes per round.


The Top 8

Craig Neil vs. Alexander Jorgensen: This was, by far, the loudest and most boisterous match of the tournament. In fact, it's pretty likely that you'll be able to hear a lot of the table talk over the players that we actually chose to record this round. The only other match that gave it any competition in this regard was in round three... which was, in fact, Craig vs. Alex. Craig won that one, and Alex was looking for revenge here. Unfortunately, Craig nailed his B'Rel early and from there Alex's plan started to become unglued. His Kazon went next, and an Injured Captain crit eventually sealed the deal when the Flagship was too low to shoot before Scout 255 could destroy it.

Sam Tillis vs. Paul Graham Not only did I make a judging mistake in this match, but I made it again in the next round and didn't realize until after the entire tournament was over. Sam's ace in the hole was putting Voyager right next to or behind his opponent's ship, then dropping Antimatter Mines on them enhanced with Battlestations and a discarded Tactical Station. That's something you used to be able to do, but I found out afterward that they'd apparently changed it in the Tournament Rules document--which, between it, the FAQ, and WORF, is the rulings list with which I am least familiar. The rest of this match was a fairly standard slugfest, and Sam emerged on top.

Albert Hsia vs. Todd Bullock: This match was videotaped; I'll post the link here as soon as David gets it online. A warning, though: it's almost physical painful to watch. Albert's entire strategy was to drop Cloaked Mines and hide behind them the entire game... but unfortunately for him, Todd had even more Cloaked Mines than he did and used Dukat's Battlestations to supplement a cloak that dropped after shooting and only came back after actions--meaning the shields were up to absorb what few hits the mines dealt out. Meanwhile, Prototype 01 simply regenerated whatever hits from the mines it took. This game was long and extremely drawn-out; Todd won, which was nice because I am honestly not sure I could have taken having to sit through another one of these matches.

Daniel S. vs. Andrew Medlin: This match started with a joust and ended with a chase. Daniel's Vulcan went down quickly, but since he was a full four points below maximum Andrew had nowhere close to enough time to stop Daniel from docking his shuttle and dropping off everyone. After that, it became a war of attrition as Daniel slowly picked off Andrew's ships one by one. Key to this game was the Tinyprise's movement dial: when you've got five APTs, white 2 hard turns are vital. Andrew just couldn't get through Daniel's multilayered defense, and eventually even his bioship fell.

TOP 8 RESULTS:
Craig Neil defeats Alexander Jorgensen
Sam Tillis defeats Paul Graham
Todd Bullock defeats Albert Hsia
Daniel S. defeats Andrew Medlin


Semifinals

Craig Neil vs. Daniel S.: As there were only two games left, David asked that we each pick one and focus our full attention on it. As this match was recorded--and I will post a link when I have one--I did not get a chance to watch it. I do know that Daniel's Tinyprise finally met its match against the one card in the game to which it is most vulnerable: Magnetometric Guided Charges.

Sam Tillis vs. Todd Bullock: I was able to watch this game very carefully. It began with both sides in formation--perhaps R1 apart from each--and slightly offset towards the side of the map facing me. Both sides charged forward in what looked like a joust, though the faster Feds kept pace with their slower Bioship compatriot while the Reman did the same for its Galor and drone. Todd then dropped all three sets of mines in a row down the middle--none overlapped, but they extended a little past the middle of the engagement towards the center of the map. After some quick initial fire and a failed attempt to Madred against Karr, there was a traffic jam in the middle that allowed Voyager to position herself perfectly directly behind the Reman once said Reman banked in. Sam did his mine trick--which I again failed to see the illegality of. The Reman had one damage to the hull and was cloaked at this point... and it took four hits, one crit, and flipped Direct Hit. Todd suddenly seemed to be at a huge disadvantage. That momentum quickly swung back, however, when the Prometheus died to mines even after scanning. The Prototype then landed four natural crits on four dice against Voyager, dropping an automatic Warp Core Breach onto it. It didn't explode and took out Todd's Galor on the next combat turn, but the Prototype's next shot did the trick anyway. Now it was a match between a wounded Bioship and a Prototype in the middle of a huge minefield. The bioship moved and took one damage from the mines, leaving it with one shield and five hull--and, since the drone was unhurt, the two ships now had even durability. The drone did a 3 come-about to face the bioship, and the odds looked to be in Sam's favor... but the two ships were milimeters outside of range three, meaning that not only would Gareb likely get a shot with five dice but the bioship would also be taking another round of mine damage. This ended up being the difference: after the end of the next round, the drone had 2 Hull left to the Bioship's 1 and shot first. The bioship evaded, but the drone rolls four natural hits and not even straight evades couldn't save the bioship then.

SEMIFINALS RESULTS
Craig Neil defeats Daniel S.
Todd Bullock defeats Sam Tillis


Third Place Game And Finals

As 19 players meant three qualifying spots for Nationals, David and I made the decision to have a third place game in addition to the finals.

Third Place Game--Sam Tillis vs. Daniel S.: This game was filmed, and I will add the link as soon as I have it. Suffice it to say, however, that Daniel's build went back to exactly what it had done all day against anyone who wasn't running Mag Charges. In fact, at the end all Sam had left was Voyager--and we figured out after the match that, since the Tinyprise had lost its shields and Daniel was running Protocol and Hood Riker, Sam would have needed to be at Range 1 and have Daniel roll straight blanks on five dice to even damage him at all any time Daniel took the Evade action.

Finals--Craig Neil vs. Todd Bullock: This game was live-streamed, which means that Youtube automatically recorded it and has posted the recording. That recording can be found here. Ultimately, like the Worlds finals last year, this match was decided by a single play mistake: Madred did indeed nail Picard 8, but Craig lost his Galor before he lost his scout. What was his mistake? Simply this: he had brought the Borg Queen for her action economy and to use the ship's defense die setting ability, and forgot she could transfer herself to his other ship. Had that happened, we might well have seen another Borg victory; as it was, however, the old familiar combination of Dukat on a Reman with Cloaked Mines carried the day.

THIRD PLACE AND FINALS RESULTS

Daniel S. defeats Sam Tillis, and earns a spot in National.
Todd Bullock defeats Craig Neil, and is the 2016 California Regional Star Trek Attack Wing Champion.

Congratulations to Todd, and thanks again to David for inviting me up to judge--it was a pleasure and a privilege. Watch this post for a few more photos and video links. Until then, thank you for reading... and may Q be generous with your dice!
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David Montgomery
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Another awesome write up Tucker. Thus demonstrating why you should be the official reporter for STAW.
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Justin Hare
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Well written. Quite a bit clearer narrative than mine.

2 regionals now have writeups and there were different builds winning both. Hell, top 4 in each didnt have a repeat. Still a few super common cards though.
 
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Xander Fulton
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tsuyoshikentsu wrote:
Simply this: he had brought the Borg Queen for her action economy and to use the ship's defense die setting ability, and forgot she could transfer herself to his other ship. Had that happened, we might well have seen another Borg victory; as it was, however, the old familiar combination of Dukat on a Reman with Cloaked Mines carried the day.


Did that myself, once.

Such a *powerful* ability, but it happens SO RARELY (Borg Queen ship dies with another Borg ship still alive in the fleet) that when the situation comes up, you commonly forget to trigger it.

Only way to get used to that is just to fly with her *a lot*, so you get used to transferring her when her ship dies and she has a candidate to jump to (every fifth match or so).
 
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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Quote:
...In fact, at the end all Sam had left was Voyager--and we figured out after the match that, since the Tinyprise had lost its shields and Daniel was running Protocol and Hood Riker, Sam would have needed to be at Range 1 and have Daniel roll straight blanks on five dice to even damage him at all any time Daniel took the Evade action...


I can do that. I can totally roll five blanks on those green dice. Just you watch...
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Sam Tillis
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tsuyoshikentsu wrote:
That's something you used to be able to do, but I found out afterward that they'd apparently changed it in the Tournament Rules document--which, between it, the FAQ, and WORF, is the rulings list with which I am least familiar.


Oops! I had no idea. Guess it's time to retire this build...

Thanks for the coverage! It was a great day, and I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of builds folks brought to the table, even if it came down to the traditional Borg v Cloaked Mines.

It's Tillis, by the way, though I see how one might be thrown by my abysmal handwriting.
 
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H. Tucker Cobey
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Whoops. Sorry, Sam. Should be fixed now.
 
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Joseph van der Jagt
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Great write-up. Thanks Tucker. You're the best in the biz.
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