As one of the earliest Store Championships of the season I thought it might be useful to get some insight into the state of the meta over in Calgary.
I was able to get one of the other staff members to be the main TO, allowing me to actually play in the event and just be the main Rules Judge if necessary. The fact that I hadn’t played a single game of X-Wing in the previous two months (December in retail can be a little hectic as you may imagine) meant that I was a little rusty and not exactly up on the details of the current meta but I threw a list together anyway.
I’ll try to give an overall view of the tournament with insights into my own matches along the way.
Last year for our Store Championship we had a grand turnout of 12 players. The growth of the game became apparent as we managed a whopping 30 players for this Store Championship, eclipsing even the 26 we got for our Regional event last year! Given that we had some out-of-towners from Red Deer and Edmonton I made the decision to play just 4 rounds of swiss and then a cut to top 8, so that we could try to finish the event at a reasonable time.
My own style has always gravitated to Rebel control lists, with my Regional list from last year being Golden Daggers. With the change in the meta that list doesn’t stand up any more but I decided to go for a variant and still keep the essence of the list there:
I opted for Biggs as an additional control choice, instead of playing a rookie and using the four points on a couple of FCSs or something. I’ll give thoughts on how that worked out at the end.
Round 1 vs Evan Hanks
Evan was a new face to me and he was running 3x Blues with Advanced Sensors plus… Biggs. I wasn’t expecting to come up against Biggs and didn’t really have a game plan for how to deal with him specifically so I just went with my standard asteroid layout of a cluster towards my side of the board so that I can creep up the centre and draw my opponent into them, hopefully then ionizing and causing them problems while I have relatively clear space to maneuver in.
I didn’t quite get the approach right and his Biggs proved to be a pain in the ass as my Gold Squadron was forced to use normal guns to shoot him at range 3 instead of the Ion Turret. He ended up bringing all three Blues around into a bit of a pincer movement and he finished off my Biggs but he was left with all three facing the large asteroid. His Advanced Sensors came into play as he was able to mostly avoid the rocks but was left with most of his ships disengaged and I was able to finish his Biggs off. Playing only 60 minute rounds the time was then getting on, and my Biggs was worth 27 points to his 25 so I knew I had to kill another ship. We both had one heavily damaged B-Wing but I was able to get my own behind his ships and out of the way while chasing down his, and on the last turn I finished off his damaged B to take a narrow victory 50-27.
Round 2 vs Darren Strohschein
Another new face to me, Darren came down from Red Deer with a couple of buddies. His list was an unusual one but proved pretty effective:
Jan Ors with Squad Leader, Ion Cannon Turret, Nien Numb, Moldy Crow Title and a Hull Upgrade
Chewbacca with Marksmanship, Assault Missiles, C-3PO, R2-D2, Millennium Falcon Title and Experimental Interface.
I did my usual start and decided to focus on Chewie since he was the big point cost in the squad. Darren turned both ships sideways heading along his edge of the board, using Jan to give Chewie and extra attack die and then straight maneuvers to get rid of the stress with Nien Nunb. I piled into Chewie and managed to get him down to four health before R2 started giving shields back and Jan managed to ion a ship each turn, forcing me to switch targets. In a frustrating moment Biggs was all lined to up to finish off Jan, with the simultaneous fire rule meaning that even when Chewie inevitably finished Biggs he would still get to attack Jan, except that a crit got through and I drew blinded pilot, meaning Biggs’ attack was not to be. On the subsequent turn, however, I was able to ion Jan and force her off the board. Chewie finished off my second B-Wing, leaving an undamaged Gold Squadron vs Chewie with one shield and four hull remaining. I had previously got Chewie with one ion token and he was stressed coming down towards my right corner of the mat. I expected him to do a hard right and keep the stress, knowing that a second ion at that point would just mean he would come across the bottom of my side of the mat and keep the stress, but ultimately not really be an issue, especially with R2 constantly regenerating the lost shield. Instead he choose a bank 1 to get rid of the stress and was left facing the edge of the play area. I think it was still a good option because he was able to evade for an action and my ion shot was coming through an asteroid. I rolled two hits and used the focus to make it three. He had one evade and was rolling two dice, calling one with C3PO, needing to roll either one or two to survive, but rolled double blanks to take a hit and a second ion token, which then forced him off the next turn and gave me an unlikely victory.
I felt a little undeserving but I also felt a little unlucky earlier with the Biggs situation and also with my green dice failing me and allowing the 2 Bs to go down easily, so I was happy to take a victory 100-77.
Round 3 vs Neil Sponholz
I’ve never played against Neil but he’s part of a group of friends that have been playing together for a while and decided to come out to a tournament for the first time. His list was:
Etahn A’baht with R2 Astromech
Red Squadron Pilot
2 x Blue Squadron Pilot
I lined up in my usual fashion, whereas he spread his ships out along his edge. Etahn was directly opposite so I decided I should try to take him out early. Best laid plans of course meaning that it didn’t quite work out that way. He closed in with his ships in a bit of pincer in the middle of the mat and damage was spread out somewhat, with Biggs taking hits and Etahn also losing shields. A couple of surprising k-turns from Etahn and one of his Blues meant my Gold Squadron took some damage, but Biggs lived and was able to help finish off his Red Squadron on the left of the picture. I was also able to Ionise Etahn and after this shot was taken I took control, forcing most of his ships out of the fight for a couple of turns while I was able to pick off more shields.
With Biggs and my Gold Squadron both heavily damaged I decided to take them away from the returning Etahn and focus my Blues on finishing his, who were out of position. The match ended with me finishing both his Blues off, leaving Etahn alive after all, but with no casualties on my side.
Final result was a win for me 67-0.
Round 4 vs Paul La Rue
Paul and I have had a few battles in the past as he often makes the trip down from Edmonton with his son Jean-Luc, who I managed to beat in the final of the Regional last year. Paul is also a very tough opponent and was one of only 3 players with 3 full wins going into Round 4.
Soontir Fel with Push the Limit, Stealth Device, Royal Guard Tie Title and Targeting Computer
Rear-Admiral Chiraneau with Engine Upgrade, Ysanne Isard, Gunner, Predator and Rebel Captive
I didn’t like the look of this as my chances of pinning down Fel seemed slim and the Decimator wouldn’t be too bothered by my stress, what with Chiraneau’s ability, Predator and Gunner. I took the decision to go for the Decimator first, thinking that it would be easier to pin down with shots and that if I could take it out I might somehow get a victory on points. With the engine upgrade it turns out the Decimator can also be a little slippery and I screwed up early by letting him get past and out of many arcs, taking heavy damage in return. I did manage an early hit on Fel, removing his stealth and ionizing him but without stressing him as well it wasn’t enough to keep him in my sights. Somehow Biggs continued to survive with some lucky green dice rolling. Back to focusing on the Decimator I was able to get heavy damage on him but the last of my ships was vaporized with the Decimator on one hull remaining and Fel still with two hull remaining.
So a heavy loss on paper 0-100 but with a little bit of luck I could have taken down the Decimator to give me a better MOV.
After the swiss I was 3-1, but I knew my MOV was not good at all. As it turns out I scraped into 8th place to make the cut, with one other player at 3-1 missing out in 9th due to one of his wins being a minor victory.
Quarter Final vs Paul La Rue
Going 4-0 with an excellent MOV Paul ended up in 1st place after the swiss, meaning that with the bracketing I would face him again. I didn’t fancy my chances but hoped to have learned from the last game so that perhaps I could do better.
I again decided to go after the Decimator and pretty much ignore Fel. This time I was wiser to the Engine Upgrade and didn’t allow him to escape so easily. However, in a more traditional fashion, Biggs died early and he set to work trying to take out the Gold Squadron. With some concentrated fire I did actually managed to finish the Decimator, however, my positioning was not the greatest in the aftermath. One of my Blues was undamaged and one with a few shields stripped, but facing away from the action and unable to re-engage for a couple of turns. Fel was in behind my heavily damaged Gold Squadron who was also stressed, and with nowhere to go he was quickly eliminated by the Baron. Trying to then engage Fel proved tricky and he quickly finished off the damaged Blue before he and my final Blue engaged in a little dance, going around in circles. The only option I had to potentially get a shot would involve barrel-rolling and would then allow him in close, with focus and evade vs my no tokens, so we continued to circle with no shots for a few turns. Eventually it became clear I’d have to just take the chance and hope to some very good fortune with the dice, but it wasn’t to be and he finished me off successfully.
So, a 65-100 loss. An improvement but still a loss to knock me out. With hindsight I think I should have tried to take out Fel first as he is the ship that can evade me in the late game, but I think either way would have been a tough way to win.
Paul is a great guy though and a great player, so I felt no shame in losing to him.
I’ll list the other top 8 lists below and then the results of each match from after the cut. This is the order from after the swiss rounds:
1st Paul La Rue
2nd Kyle Hebert: Chewbacca with Predator, Gunner & C-3PO plus Leebo with Determination, Gunner and a Heavy Laser Cannon
3rd Jeremy Steward: Han Solo with Push the Limit, Lando, C-3PO and an Engine Upgrade, plus Wild Spage Fringer with Heavy Laser Cannon and Recon Specialist
4th Jean-Luc La Rue: Rear-Admiral Chiraneau with Darth Vader, Moff Jerjerrod, Rebel Captive, Expose and Experimental Interface, plus 3x Obsidian Squadron TIE Fighters
5th Darren Strohschein: My opponent from Round 2
6th Kris Sherriff: Corran Horn with Fire-Control System, R2-D2, Engine Upgrade and Push the Limit, plus Chewbacca with Nien Nunb, C-3PO, Lone Wolf and Engine Upgrade
7th Nick Hutcheon: Howlrunner with Swarm Tactics, Mauler Mithel, Black Squadron TIE with Draw their Fire and 4x Academy TIEs.
8th Myself (Greg Jackson)
In the other quarter finals:
Nick defeated Kyle 100-24
Kris defeated Jeremy 100-0
Darren defeated Jean-Luc 100-39
That left a semi-final line up of:
Paul vs Darren and Kris vs Nick
Paul defeated Darren 100-35, despite R2-D2 and C-3PO’s best efforts
Nick defeated Kris 37-52 in a tight game that could have gone either way with more time.
Onto the final:
Paul vs Nick. I did leave prior to this match taking place. Much as I would have loved to watch, a pregnant wife at home meant I was inclined to head home. I was unsure how this would play out, as a swarm seemed fairly well equipped to deal with Paul’s two ship list, but Paul had the capacity to remove a TIE or two every turn once they were engaged.
As it turns out Paul was able to keep Fel alive and disengage after he took a couple of hits and the Decimator was able to keep pumping out the damage.
The match ended with Fel on one Hull and the Decimator on four hull, but a decisive points victory on paper of 100-0 and a win for Paul!
I was really happy with the turnout for this event and the fact that we got a lot of new players to come out. There were a good variety of lists out there but I definitely saw a lot of turrets and less of the old traditional four ship rebel builds. Lots of two ship builds on both the Rebel and Imperial sides. As evidenced by the final the TIE Swarm is still alive and kicking. Phantoms seemed to be less common or perhaps just didn’t do as well with all the turrets out there.
In regards to my own performance I was happy with a top 8 finish given how little I’ve played lately. I think I would probably change the squad a little and use a rookie instead of Biggs, adding FCS to both Blues. Biggs is going to be killed early so you don’t get much use out of R3, whereas a rookie may be left alone somewhat. It does mean the opponent will be able to target whoever they wish but I think that is an acceptable tradeoff.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading and hopefully I can continue to give the occasional update from the other side of the country!