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Subject: 2 Feds 2 Furious: 2017 US National Championships rss

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H. Tucker Cobey
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Wow, is it Nationals already? It feels like the year just flew by--but US Nats went down today, and I was there under the State of the Federation Banner to tell you the tale!

General Observations

Best Day Ever?: We were hoping for 18. WizKids set up for 22. 26 showed up to play--tied for the second-largest recorded attendance at a Regionals+ event ever! But quality matters... which is why seeing players such as Robert Chest, Jordan Kott, Jared Hoffman, Dustin Gross, and of course the Canadian Crew of Peter Smith and Joseph van der Jagt go head-to-head was really amazing to see. A diverse range of builds, entire archetypes out of left field, exciting announcements in the fan appreciation event... this may well be STAW's best day ever!

A Lon Vacation: One disappointment to some of us who enjoy his play was Lon Porter bowing out to participate in other Origins events. He regretted playing in quickplays Wednesday and Thursday, as it left him feeling a bit burned out--plus, if he'd done well, he wouldn't be able to do anything else at Origins! (Can't say I disagree there; I've been here three days and still haven't had time to see the exhibition hall!)

Oh Captain, My Captain: There might have been a wide array of builds, but Jean-Luc Picard 9 and Khan Singh 6 were everywhere. Kor 8 also made several appearances; while he wasn't strictly a captain, Admiral Forrest was equally ubiquitous.

Warp Jump For Joy: I was disappointed when I didn't see any Warp Jumps at Fremont. Turns out, it was spending all that time getting ready for its coming-out party here. It felt like everyone had at least one--David Montgomery had four--and they served as everything from key repositioning to spot attack cancels. Look for more from this one going forward.

Across the Neutral Zone: While there was a wide variety of which ships appeared--USS Bellerophon, anyone?--Federation ships were far more prevalent than anything else (along with, of course, Type 8s and Upgraded Phasers). Reman Warbirds, meanwhile, were almost nowhere to be found--only one made the top 4, and it certainly wasn't a typical build!

Prized Fighters: There were so many fighters you guys. Peter Smith and Joseph van der Jagt both ran two, and one player even ran three! Single fighters also made many appearances--but were generally soundly countered by the prevalence of Upgraded Phasers.

The Swiss

Circuit Judges: Surprisingly, most of the judge calls were very minor--but they were constant. Hats off to Ben Cheung and Richard Kopacz for running a tight ship--and running all over the place!

Joust An Old-Fashioned Slugging Match: You'd think, in a format defined by obstacles, Warp Jump, and Admiral Forrest, that tense maneuvering games would be the order of the day. You would be wrong. Despite all the games, most fleets engaged fast and furiously

Everyone is My Co-Pilot: 26 players... over 20 copies of Co-Pilot. By the fourth round, if you didn't have one you weren't at the top five tables. It helped that Ben and Richard made the call that the first ability would work if declared--not that many people used it anyway!

You Must Flip It: One of the peculiar quirks of con play--we all had to wear our badges, and the players that leaned over their ships very nearly knocked them over several times! Jared Hoffman had the idea of flipping his around to the back, but it kept sliding back to the front--so he ended up flipping it over and over!

SWISS WORLDS CUT, FINAL STANDINGS:

1. Joseph Van Der Jagt, 4-0 (520)
2. Dustin Gross, 4-0 (77)
3. James Carter II, 3-1 (467)
4. Jared Hoffman, 3-1 (455)
----------CUT----------
5. Caley Roark, 3-1 (390)
6. Robert Chest, 3-1 (319)
7. Peter Smith, 3-1 (257)*
8. Chris Oberst, 3-1 (247)
9. Bill Buhler, 2-2 (391)
10. Joel Bennett, 2-2 (348)
11. James Mendez, 2-2 (342)
12. James Bess, 2-2 (342)
13. Matthew Dobson, 2-2 (313)
14. Jordan Kott, 2-2 (309)

*As sitting World Champion, Peter was already qualified for Worlds and his qualification went to 14th place.

Top 4: The Builds

JOSEPH VAN DER JAGT

Worlds 2015 finalist. National champion of two countries in 2016. Worlds top four 2016. Too many regionals to count.

You know who he is. And he was back to defend his title.

USS HATHAWAY
Jean-Luc Picard 8 (USS Enterprise-E)
Admiral Maxwell Forrest
Conditional Surrender
Warp Jump
Type 8 Upgraded Phasers
Upgraded Phasers

CONSTITUTION CLASS
Khan Singh 6
Conditional Surrender
Sakonna
Quark (Warp Jump)
Type 8 Phaser Array
Upgraded Phasers

FEDERATION ATTACK SQUADRON
Coordinated Attack

FEDERATION ATTACK SQUADRON

Resource: Co-Pilot

Joseph piloted a deceptively simple two Fed/two fighter list with tricks and punch. The Warp Jumps and Conditional Surrenders were effectively two attack cancels per ship, and the rest was high skill, high quality attack dice. Sometimes, the bread and butter gets the job done.


DUSTIN GROSS

Hailing from Carlisle in the heartland of Ohio, Dustin barely missed qualifying for Worlds last year, but he came back with a vengeance today with this list:

USS PROMETHEUS
Khan Singh 7
Admiral Maxwell Forrest
Hidden (William T. Riker [Pegasus])
Hidden (Warp Jump)
Hidden (Quantum Slipstream Drive)

SCIMITAR
Jean-Luc Picard 6
Interphase Generator
Interphase Generator

QUARK’S TREASURE
Gul Madred
Li Nalas
Quark (Warp Jump)

Resource: Co-Pilot

Dustin’s build is designed to do two things: gank a captain or two with Madred and then run the hell away. This led him to a 4-0 Swiss with all of 77 fleet points. Opponents tried just about everything they could think of against it, but had very little luck all day--up to and including Peter Smith, who was knocked out of the game and ultimately the Top 4 by this strategy in round four despite being 3-0 at that point!


JAMES CARTER II

If you were wondering who this year’s dark horse is, you’re looking at him. Straight out of Cincinnati, Ohio, James is entirely new to the national stage; he's never even played in a Regionals+ event before.

USS ENTERPRISE-A
Shakaar Edon
Admiral Maxwell Forrest
Picard Maneuver
Janice Rand
William T. Riker (Pegasus)
Secondary Impulse Reactor
Sakonna
Tactical Station
Type 8 Phaser Array
Upgraded Phasers

USS PROMETHEUS
Khan Singh 7
Second of Five
Hidden (Pavel Chekov [Reliant])
Hidden (Projected Stasis Field)
Hidden (Quantum Slipstream Drive)

QUARK’S TREASURE
Matt Decker 2
Jennifer Sisko
Positron Beam
Quark (Tractor Beam [MU])

Resource: Co-Pilot

James’s build is designed to rush in before an opponent is ready and throw their formation into disarray--which, for most fleets, is too much to come back from! If an opponent made the mistake of moving forward too far on the first turn, the Enterprise-A could (with the help of both Forrest and Picard Maneuver, thanks to Janice Rand) run in and start hitting them turn one. Positron Beam--which gets the range it so sorely lacks on a shuttle--and Tractor Beam frequently comboed to mean that one ship never saw actions again!


JARED HOFFMAN

Another Ohio native, this time from Mount Vernon, Jared posted a Top 8 finish back at Worlds 2015. His fleet was one after my own heart:

SPECIES 8472 BIOSHIP
Jean-Luc Picard 9
Biological Technology

SPECIES 8472 BIOSHIP
Khan Singh 6
Admiral Maxwell Forrest
Cloaked Mines

1ST WAVE ATTACK FIGHTERS
Flanking Attack

Sometimes, you just need a lot of attack dice with near-perfect quality. The real winner here, though, was Biological Technology combined with Co-Pilot--it very frequently meant that the bioship was almost as good as cloaked!

Top 4: The Matches

Joseph van der Jagt vs. Jared Hoffman: Joseph is dice with quality. Jared is dice with quality. As you might expect, this isn’t exactly a maneuvering game. Both line up along the edge and joust right at each other--though Jared did hold back his ships a bit on the turn of engagement to avoid being in fighter range. Jared trades a shield off of one of the Fed fighters for all of Khan’s shields--a poor roll on his part along with a rolled evade means no fighter token for him. On the next round, Jared drops Cloaked Mines in the middle of the scrum and flies Khan right up against the fighters while Picard hangs back. The Hathaway proceeds to take out Khan while getting three crits through. It looks like Joseph might take a nasty stab-at-thee of simultaneous fire… but the third flipped crit is Stunned Helmsman! Jared does manage to knock off some fighter tokens here, but that’s a poor consolation prize--especially since Joseph takes off a Hideki token and one of Picard’s shields in reply.

At this point, Joseph predicts that Jared will move forward and perhaps come-about, and performs 1 come-abouts with both fighters… but Jared just moves Picard 1 forward and has the squadrons’ backs right in front of him. Joseph does take off two more Hideki tokens with the Hathaway, which has now moved to flanking position, but takes heavy damage to the fighters--leaving them with two tokens on one and one on the other. Another set of 1 come-abouts fixes that, though, and now everyone’s back in arc. Picard gets chipped down to three hull--Biological Technology does a lot of defensive work here, but it can only do so much. Meanwhile, once again Jared can’t find the dice to take out more than a shield on the fighters, which fire back and kill Picard. Jared’s now down to his fighters, and tries for Joseph’s one-token fighters as a consolation prize--he rolls four hits, but Joseph rolls straight evades on three dice. After that, it’s a mop-up operation that leaves Joseph with his fifth tabled opponent of the day.

Dustin Gross vs. James Carter II: David got this match on film; I had to move back and forth to watch both, so I missed some of the earlier moves. Still, here’s roughly what happened.

James starts the game by Jennifer Siskoing both of Picard’s Interphase Generators--this winds up being a key play. His Prometheus charges in with a quick Quantum Slipstream after docking the shuttle; Dustin, meanwhile, docks his own shuttle and moves Madred and Li Nalas over in preparation for Gul Madred. Then it’s James and the Ent-A, which charges in with Forrest, Rand, and Picard Maneuver all in a row. Dustin, apparently flabbergasted, leans back and says, “I wasn’t prepared for this!” It looks like it might be a bad opening for him… but the Ent-A winds up millimeters out of range and he breathes a heavy sigh of relief.

James responds by launching the shuttle on the next round to use beams both Positron and Tractor to make sure Picard doesn’t get his standard complement of actions… but his tractor beam whiffs! Dustin Warp Jumps his Prometheus out of harm’s way--it’ll reappear on the opposite end of the board later--and only the Ent-A has a shot. 6 damage looks like a good start, but Co-Pilot turns 3E3BS on the defense roll into 6E!

At this point, it’s all about the dance. Madred has already hit Edon--that happened prior to the Warp Jump--so James now needs a kill to win. Another shot on the Scim forces Dustin to burn another Co-Pilot, but no damage gets through. James keeps up the chase, though, with the Ent-A and the shuttle tailing the Scimitar and the Prometheuses headed to do battle. The Scimitar looks like it finally might get a chance to take an action and put the game literally out of reach… but Tractor Beam pays dividends and an aux token goes down! The Ent-Ad also gets a crit through; the Scimitar’s Agility is reduced by 1. That’ll help, but James had to be hoping for something better.

Meanwhile, Madred (who is still around thanks to Li Nalas) makes James’s Khan see five lights, but winds up right in James’s sights and has to burn his other Warp Jump to get away. The Scimitar doesn’t get away without some damage, though, and takes another crit… which gives it its fourth aux token! (The shuttle had been beaming more on there.) There’s no way those Interphase Generators will ever be enabled--that Jennifer Sisko pays huge dividends now. It still has five evade dice and Co-Pilot… but will that be enough to survive to the end of the match? Decker makes this even harder on the next turn, bringing the Scimitar down to three durability left.

James’s Prometheus is in pretty bad shape too--Dustin takes a shot at Range 3 with his, and rolls 2H2BS. After some heart-rending choices, he decides to save the Co-Pilot for the Scimitar… which bites him when James rolls 2E on two dice! The Ent-A rolls 5H1C against the Scimitar, and Dustin burns his last Co-Pilot to save it with one hull… not realizing that Decker can (and does) take it out automatically one turn later. Ten minutes is called--If Dustin can take out James’s Prometheus he might just pull this off. (His shuttle is still docked on Prometheus, remember!) He rolls three hits, but James spends an Evade token and his last Co-Pilot to save it.

After a turn of running from James and backing up to avoid flying off by Dustin, the Prometheus takes a Decker hit and uses the die to finish off its opposite number. The Ent-A is still around, though, and hits the Prometheus hard enough to put it down to its last two hull. Even so, everyone can feel the time pressure. Dustin sends the Prometheus as far away as he can, but some deft Forrest maneuvering just barely keeps it in range and arc. Even after a target lock reroll, the attack ends up with just three hits… Dustin has two green dice and needs to roll straight evades… but he only rolls one and the game is over--and as Dustin extends his hand in congratulations, the timer beeps the end of the round!

SEMIFINALS RESULTS:

Joseph van der Jagt defeats Jared Hoffman
James Carter II defeats Dustin Gross



FINALS: JOSEPH VAN DER JAGT VS. JAMES CARTER II

The last man standing of the Canadian Crew versus the Queen City kid who came outta nowhere!Joseph beat James in Round 4 of the Swiss, but it was very close--can James come back and do it again?

James wins initiative and starts setting up on the edge. Joseph knows he has to be very careful here with his setup--whatever formation he decides on will probably be attacked almost immediately. He sets up his fighters in the middle, with the Khan Connie on the side... Jared sets the A in his corner on that same side and Joseph sets up the Hath opposite it. Jennifer Sisko hits JLP's Warp Jump and Conditional Surrender... and the game is on! Jared’s shuttle docks, figgters both go 1F and evade--these first-turn actions matter in this matchup! James flips the Prometheus maneuver dial, showing… 1F?! And the Ent-A’s does too?!

Where's the ambush?!?!

Joseph, on the other hand, goes 2F with the Khannie and 1F with the Hath... is he planning on holding station by going back and forth? It’s time to set maneuvers again already--I had already expected some shooting by now. One fighter 1 come-abouts; the other banks towards the A--he's covering his flank with one while moving the other up to attack. Important when your opponent can teleport behind you!

James is taking forever to reveal his dial--it's a 6F! The question he must have been asking himself: does he Quantum Slipstream here? He decides not to--which is probably the wrong call. It looks like Joseph might have the less experienced James psyched out. The Ent-A charges right in with Picard Maneuver, though--possibly to make up for the Prometheus’s lack of aggression. Shooting will happen this turn! Joseph moves up the Hath 1F, then leans over the table to examines Shakaar Edon and company... he doesn’t see many tricks here besides a Warp Jump, and James obviously can't afford to burn that this early. After some thought, Joseph throws down an evade and BS--this is a little rough because James, who has initiative, will use the nearby derelict ship to remove the Ent-A’s aux token before Joseph can clear the Hath’s.

The Khannie moves up and takes a BS. Hathaway's Conditional Surrender is still disabled, so Joseph Warp Jumps it well out of harm’s way. The Khannie gets a single hit on the Ent-A; the Ent-A responds by using Upgraded Phasers to knock two tokens off the fighters with Coordinated Attack--which also means it won’t get a shot, because with two tokens gone it can’t punch through the Picard Maneuver penalty. When it comes time to drop Picard back onto the field, Joseph moves him all the way to the diagonally opposite corner.

On the next round of maneuvers, Joseph intentionally turns his fighters right into a debris field--sacrificing a shield but rolling a blank on the die. The other set turns around to face the engagement. After the Prometheus finally pulls the trigger on Quantum Slipstream and winds up spitting distance from Picard, it uses Second of Five to pick off his Conditional Surrender. Then it’s the Ent-A’s move, and Joseph’s fighter maneuver goes from looking odd to absolutely masterful: the Ent-A 3 banks right in the middle of their firing arcs! James has practically no choice but to Forrest out of there, clearing him from one arc but losing some quality in the process. Unfortunately for James, the Khannie makes a turn that leaves it pointed right at the Ent-A’s backside. This isn’t going to be a good day for it.

Or the Prometheus--Picard scoots out to the side of its 90-degree arc with a 4F, then a Forrest hard turn leaves the Prometheus in arc and with very little room to maneuver--it’s facing the edge of the board and may not have room to turn. Shooting starts, and the Khannie lays 4H1C against the Ent-A post Co-Pilot. James, with two shields left on it, rolls 1E1BS and elects to save his Co-Piloting for a better time. One crit gets through… and it’s a Direct Hit! James has to regret that one; it puts the A’s survival in serious jeopardy. It knocks two tokens off a fighter, but Joseph manages to eke out 2H1C from the ravaged squad. James does get an evade and spends the Co-Pilot to only take the crit and save the ship… but the crit is another Direct Hit and the Ent-A is gone!

James only has his Prometheus on the board, and it’s facing the edge--he launches the shuttle and takes the reverse. He Positron Beams Picard and Deckers for good measure, but the fighters are starting to turn towards the Prometheus now and the Khannie has the shuttle in range. Picard, on the other hand, pulls a 4F and just keeps the aux token to stay out of everyone’s range. The Khannie attack winds up with 5H on the shuttle, but one evade result and a Co-Pilot save it for one more turn--and allow it to take a single shield off Picard.

The shuttle runs up to Decker Picard again, but that puts it in arc. A hard 3 from the Prometheus, which loses the aux thanks to Chekov, puts Picard in PSF range--which James triggers just to give the shuttle a shot. Unfortunately, Joseph moves up his whole fleet for the joust and the shuttle dies horribly to the Khannie anyway. The Prometheus takes a token off a fighter, but without Upgraded Phasers that’s all it can do. It’s down to five durability.

The fighters move in for the kill--and the bump, as the Prometheus smacks right into one and ends up in both their guns. Ultimately, though, the Khannie deals a kill shot--6H after Co-Pilot is enough to take the Prometheus out, and Joseph has done it again.

Joseph van der Jagt defeats James Carter II and remains the US National Champion.

Final Thoughts

It is impossible to overstate Joseph’s dominance in this game. He faced the toughest and most competitive STAW tournament field I’ve ever seen and ended the day 6-0 with a perfect 780 fleet points. He may win Worlds tomorrow, or he may not ever win one; regardless, he’s made an undeniable mark on the early tournament history of this game.

And one more thing: having seen today the amazing array of strategies and builds out there, and tonight a small glimpse into the future of the game, I once again find myself incredibly optimistic about its future. Great things are just around the corner… and I, for one, can’t wait for tomorrow.

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Thanks for tbe writeup.

At this point Wizkids hopefully throws Upgraded Phasers or Type 8's in the upcoming card pack since they're both so essential for competitive play.
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David Montgomery
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They did mention reprinting fan favorites that are hard to get. I would expect those, I would expect Interphase, Cloaked Mines, and many others.
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H. Tucker Cobey
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And before anyone says anything: I know for a FACT that they have some people with a very good idea of which cards those are. Hopefully, we'll see them soon.
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Justin Hare
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Excellent write up. Extremely thorough. Keep it up man
 
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Joseph van der Jagt
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What a field we had! There were so many great builds. I was especially impressed by all the disruption, which isn't seen that often.
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