Before I recap my day and explain how and why I ran Ugnaughts, I want to thank 401 Games for running some great tournaments and taking care of the players all weekend. We did not have a lunch break for X-Wing so they coordinated ordering pizza and the Imperial Assault lead was actually bringing water to the players in the later matches. I also want to thank all my new Canadian friends for being so welcoming to those who traveled from far away. The last thing I will do before I get started is apologize for the names I forgot or if I spell them wrong, I am not a tournament note taker and hardly even check my phone the day of a tournament.
I do not consider myself a meta player, I usually try to figure out a list to beat whatever is currently considered the top meta list and run the counter. However, I have been lucky enough in life that I get to travel to some of the big tournaments and if I am going to spend time away from loved ones and spend money to get somewhere the competitor in me demands I run something with at least a decent chance of winning. I also travel for work and it just happens I split my time between two areas with lots of great players so I am constantly practicing against the top players in the world and they deserve great credit for any of my success.
Just a few weeks before Canadian Nationals I attended the NOVA Open to play in US Nationals where I ran a not surprising double Weequay, Black Market Jabba, Vinto, Greedo, Hera, 3P0, Jawa list. Sure, it was a meta list but since that wave of expansions pretty much nothing else has done well. I had heard about Ugnaughts winning the North American Championship at Gencon but like many of my friends, I thought it was a fluke. Sometimes you can win a tournament because you have hot dice all day and perfect match ups. As I found out at NOVA, I could not have been more wrong.
I played Ugs 3 times at NOVA. The first time was against the eventual winner, Brett Kelly, and I executed an idiotic plan of sitting back and killing the droid to get one point at a time with Jabba while Brett just absolutely smoked me. It was like getting kicked in the balls repeatedly for what felt like 3 hours but was probably only 30 minutes. Having learned my lesson, I was able to beat the Ugs with IG and Onar in the top 16 round using the only viable strategy, an all-out suicide charge. Even then, I cannot credit the charge for the win as much as a mistake my opponent made by opening his door during the second round in Jabbas Palace before I opened mine and before my Weequays had gone. Between the end of round two and my first turn on round three the Weequays easily cleared Onar and IG without a response.
The NOVA US Championship Match, I had made it, final table, my opponent Brett Kelly again. The game decided entirely by my good friend who drew the mission card from the judge, Raining Freight. I will pause to say now what I said in that silly game, there is no shame is losing any game to Brett no matter the mission or the lists. He is unarguably one of the best players in the world but I am sure he will admit I had 0 chance given the lists and the mission. I lost 40 to 3.
Having already booked my trip for Canada I decided I could not go through that again and that I would run Ugs in a move that felt like selling my soul to the Devil. I even decided to run not only the broken Ugs but dropped IG, Onar and 1 Ug for the currently overpowered double Weequays and Jabba with Black Market. Why sell half when I can sell the whole thing?
I just hope now that my opponents understand why I ran my list and accept my apology for the bad play experience which I will discuss at the end.
Round 1 against Vincent:
Great guy, new player, running a fun list (rancor, elite HK, HK, Jabba with black Market, 3p0 and I forget what else) so I felt extra bad with Ugs. He forgot to train his Rancor round 1 which I didn’t catch either after a long day of X-Wing the day before. That one mistake in the game was the Weequays killed it round one while the junk droid went after the HK’s.
I forfeited to go play X-Wing as I had made the top 16 cut. Criticize me all you want but many of us play multiple games and it sucks that the events keep overlapping. I don’t mean to criticize FFG or the event organizers at Canadian Nationals, they don’t have much option of splitting up things over two days. In the X-Wing game my last ship took a hit and direct hit from a bomb to finish it off, my opponent was kind enough to roll off the attack I would have made against his ship with me and I would have won that game had I not drawn the direct hit. Never have I been happier to draw a direct hit.
Played my very good friend Gerry Russell. He was traveling with me that weekend. I have been teaching the game to Gerry and my other good buddy who will appear later in this batrep. They were both running the same list as me with just a couple command card differences. Gerry made one small mistake at the start judging a distance and I got a 1 point lead. I was then able to play conservative exchanging points for junk droid kills and getting a bigger lead with lucky black market draws. Gerry was forced to take a risk in the end but some bad rolling and it took him two tokened up Weequay shots to kill one elite ugnaught. The rolls on my counter attacks were much more in my favor and that game ended something like 19-10 with pretty much nothing happening until the last 10 minutes.
Here is my forgotten name full apology. Younger kid, teenager, friend of Logan who I faced in the finals, very good player, and running the same list as Logan. Double Echo’s, elite Sab, Mak, Hera, Gideon, 3P0 and Jyn. Having lots of experience with all of those units I was frightened. I knew I could not make any mistakes and needed to get the spys off the board ASAP. He knew how to play the Ugnaughts also with a first round charge on the Anchorhead Gaining Favor mission. It was a back and forth game with no one holding a lead larger than 5 points for more than 1 activation for most of the game. Eventually the junk droids 1-3 damage per attack at 5-9 attacks a turn swung the game in my favor.
Another list I was a little scared of because of the high health and damage output: Onar, IG, Luke, Giedon, 3P0, Elite Jawa. Also, a great player, Brett Piddle who I had told my new to the game buddies to watch out for early in the day. I told them they could not afford a mistake against Brett. I was able to almost kill Onar with the junk droid while still in his deployment zone while Brett used son of skywalker to charge Jedi Luke across the map and quickly dispatched both my elite Ugs and one regular which we agreed was his best option. However, Luke cannot stand up to 4 Weequays making him reroll any dodges and a junk droid that is going to push 1-2 damage through each attack while attacking so many times each round. Simply a case of my list being better but, I am definitely running his list soon as it looked like a lot of fun.
The players left standing were Logan, his brother Bailey, my friend and other traveling companion John Grasser, and me. The bracket, John vs me, and Logan vs Bailey.
The mission, Raining Freight, automatic win for the Ugs. Another simple one decided outside of the actual playing of the game. Up against another mirror match, I won Initiative so I won the game. My junk droid was able to get 3 of the starting crates while his got one. This forced him to have to approach me first while taking long shots, a couple of which missed. Then I could move up and take shorter shots that hit. All decided on initiative.
Logan vs me, with his double Echo, Sab, Mak, Jyn, Gideon, 3p0. Lucky life has taught me not to underestimate anyone, especially just because they are young. I was already mentally prepared for a hard match before I found out he was top 8 at Gencon. I would classify every move Logan made in one of 3 ways:
1) I wouldn’t have made that move but what he just did was not wrong.
2) Yep that was the perfect move.
3) Holy #$@* I didn’t even see that. This kid is smoking me!
He charged my Ugs quickly wiping out all but 2, then 1 before I could even re-position my Weequays to respond. The game was something like 24 -5 and all my friends but Gerry left to go grab a beer because they knew I had lost.
I drew on my memory of Desmond Miller’s top 4 game at worlds in 2016. Desmond was down 25-0 on the old Dianoga mission, he kept his cool, focused, and clawed back. I tried to channel my inner Desmond doing the same, giving Logan hard choices, taking calculated risks and I came back. In the end I needed two perfect command card draws, take Initiative and Squad Swarm to go with all my Weequays before Logan could finish them off. I was up 32-30 going into the last round, I stole initiative tapping out Jabba. I went first with one set of Weequays to finish off an echo and go to 37 points and damage 3p0. I then played squad swarm to chain into the second set of Weequays getting another shot on 3p0 to kill him for the win. If 3p0 had rolled a dodge on either of those rolls he wins.
I still cannot believe I won against such a good player given how the game went early on. I have had the privilege to play most of the best players in the world and I am telling you if worlds was tomorrow Logan could win the whole thing. His friend I played was very good also and I assume his brother Bailey who made top 4 is in the same league.
Anyone that has hopes of doing well or winning a big tournament including myself better hope these guys get more into dating when they start driving. Otherwise, we will continue to see these young guns at the top tables making us look like fools and taking home trophies.
I cannot end without addressing Ugnaughts. They just won all 3 Championships in North America – they are broken. One of the most important factors of any game is, “does someone have fun while losing?” and Ugnaughts break this important factor in every way.
There are some missions where it is impossible to beat them, impossible, there is no argument to be made the other way. I have faith FFG will errata and fix them as they have done before but I do not know how to fix them without making them useless. I have heard some cries for a quick fix but quick fixes are not good either. There has to be a process, data has to be gathered, and smart decisions made. None of us wants a game where they react to every little thing and make fixes we do not truly need.
I feel dirty for running my list but I am hopeful and confident there will be a fix prior to Regional season. I’m excited for the upcoming expansions, and hope to avoid those teenagers at future tournaments!