So, the big weekend has been and gone, and I’d like to start with something of an apology.
My last blog entry was somewhat negative, as have some of my other posts that discuss the concepts of fun, mental health, etc. It turns out that several people (more than I’d expected) have become concerned about my well-being, and I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise for worrying you and to assure you that I’m fine, I was just having a rough time of it. The Open cured that, and I for one am glad I got to go, see so many familiar faces, and meet some people I’d never played before!
Thursday night post-rant brought with it some trouble sleeping; Dale Cromwell, who is an absolute legend, stayed up until past 1am helping me write some lists, but was (probably) asleep when I woke up at 4 so I made a few of my own before falling back to sleep. Friday started with a trip to The Oval to watch Sussex play Essex, and by the time play was called off for bad light at about 5pm, Essex were chasing Surrey’s 395 and looked comfortably able to catch them before the end of the weekend (damn!). A long wait and a short train-ride dropped me at the Hilton, where I checked into my room and was informed registration was still open. Wandering over to the hall, I handed over the first list I’d managed to grab; Danger Zone. I briefly considered swapping it, but I figured some kind of divine providence or fate had made me choose it (it was also by far the most interesting list I’d packed), so I left it. Then, off to the bar, intending a drink or two followed by a reasonably early night. I crawled into bed at 1am, woke up at 4.30 (and got the near-hangover out of the way then), before falling back to sleep at about six. This is usual for me before an event; it wasn’t nerves, I wasn’t expecting to win anything (my goal was a frosted Norra, so I could lose eight games over the weekend and still emerge “successful”), but anticipation. Or insomnia. One of the two.
Saturday morning arrived, and I took myself off to the event ready for six games in which I expected to face all manner of Extended filth and shenanigans, hoping not to draw Phantoms, Y-Ion, or Drea Scurrgs. Still, even if I did, my ships looked pretty (even though they weren’t finished).
Game #1 vs Phil Pond – Assajj Ventris, Palob, 4-LOM
This wasn’t a list I particularly wanted to face; Nien Nunb might be immune to stress shenanigans, but Poe and L’ulo are not. Little did I know at the time that Phil is a member of Basingstoke’s Firestorm Squadron and has been mentioned regularly on PhilGC’s blog; had I known that, I probably would have been even less confident going into my first match!
I made a critical mistake with Nien early on, which left him mostly-dead and unable to do a whole lot, but at a crucial moment Phil’s dice went cold and Nien lived long enough for Poe to draw first blood and remove 4-LOM from the field. Nien and L’ulo joined the droid soon after, as Poe hunted down Palob before finding himself double-stressed and unable to function; denying me the one hit I needed on Assajj for half-points and causing his untimely demise.
Result: 114 – 200 defeat.
Game 2 vs Iain – Boba/Fenn/Lando
Boba Fett and Fenn Rau are something of boogeymen for my X-Wing playstyle, especially when they move last. Fortunately for me, with Lando’s Escape Craft in the mix, they would be moving second and allowing me to be doing the arc-dodging for a change.
Despite what Iain felt at the end of the game, he made only one single mistake, and that was to co-ordinate Boba early-on. This left him stressed, unable to re-roll any of his dice, and open to range three fire that he hadn’t expected; Lando evaporated. Boba was next, but not after stripping Poe’s shields from a Proximity Mine and dropping one of L’ulo’s shields at range 3 despite the four evade dice and a focus. The killing move on Boba was a Nien Nunb three bank into a Tallon-Roll, out of arc, at range one.
Fenn bailed on the engagement, having taken a Torpedo from Poe and barely survived, but I got greedy and Poe overshot his target. Fenn half-pointed Poe before being gunned down by Nien; the first time the Mandalorian had fired all game.
Result: 200 – 42 victory.
I was ecstatic with this result: not only had I won a game in what was possibly the toughest gaming room in the country, if not Europe, but I’d very nearly won it 200-0! I was content with that, and knew that regardless what the rest of the day brought, I’d won a game at the System Open!
Game 3 vs Geoff – Han, Norra, Jake
This game was a nail-biter: there was a lot of health to chew through, and a lot of damage to be put out. I’d never faced a list like this before, and it was one of several I knew to be being played across the weekend owing to Nathan Eide’s success with it. Still, 1-Agility ships do not like Torpedoes, and I knew roughly where I wanted to put them.
The game stared poorly: Nien found himself half-pointed early on, died soon after, and I found myself unable to push damage through on anything. Han finally went down, but it was still two vs two, and Norra is a tough cookie.
L’ulo failed to land a killing blow on Jake and died for his failure; leaving Poe to deal with multiple foes alone. He managed it, but I once again got greedy: I wanted Jake off the board, and in the process lost the one hull that meant he, too, was half-pointed. Looking back, I probably should have just run the two or three minutes down on the clock and preserved 40-odd points, but I wasn’t playing for a World’s invite, so I wanted to finish the game properly (though I do admit, I could have easily rolled badly and lost thanks to that greed!)
Result: 200 – 146 victory.
Game 4 vs George – L’ulo, Tallie, Nien, Ello
Not a matchup I wanted, not at all. It’s one of the most solid lists out there, and George is apparently a fairly good player, seeing as he made the cut. One of the issues with not following all of the podcasts or blogs is that, at an event like this, you’ll come across someone well-known in the community and think they’re just another player on 2-1.
L’ulo died on the first engagement, followed quickly by Poe and Nien. It was a short and brutal match, yielding the worst result I’ve had in X-Wing 2.0. I freely admit I made mistakes, but I own that I was outflown by a better player with a better list.
Result: 20 – 200 defeat.
Game 5 vs Ben – Drea, Lok x3
Oh wonderful! After the humiliatingly bad performance in game 4, this was just what I needed! Much like Phantoms or Y-Wings with Ion Cannons, this list is a strong contender for NPE of the year. However, Ben, or “Bengar” as he is apparently known, was a laugh and a great opponent. His tactic was not to just trundle one forward to victory as he could have done; that’s boring, we were here to play X-Wing!
So he Tallon-Rolled his Scurrgs every other turn, keeping arcs on target while being unpredictable and blocking the manoeuvres of my ships at the same time. He also nearly fell out of his chair laughing when Nien, who he thought he’d boxed in, did his three bank into a Tallon-Roll behind Drea (thanks Black One!) out of every arc he had.
Ultimately, however, the match went horrifically badly and ended with another sound and rather painful defeat.
Result: 26 – 200 defeat.
Game 6 vs Paddy – Vader, Whisper, Sigma Ace
I was tired by this point; it was around 9pm, I’d not slept well, McDonalds food fills a hole but lacks the nutritious value one needs at an event like this, and I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks. So a matchup against Vader and some Phantoms wasn’t one of those things that I was really looking forward to!
The opening engagements saw Vader lose two shields from a Torpedo from Poe, while L’ulo and Whisper were both dropped to half-points. Vader, suddenly realising that he was moving before Poe’s double-modded Torpedo, bugged out and went to victimise L’ulo while Nien pulled his now-signature three bank into a Tallon-Roll behind Whisper and killed her. Denied his shot at Vader, Poe put a torpedo into the Sigma and caused a Damaged Engine; making life hard for the lowest-initiative ship on the board given it was edging dangerously close to a board edge! Still, it took another two turns to put enough damage through to kill it, at which point Vader had given up trying to run and was flanking around to attack from the rear.
Cue the honourable joust! Vader tried, he really did, but facing down two ships at a significant health defecit isn’t really what he wanted to be doing, and despite his valiant attempts, he too was slain.
Result: 200 – 41 victory.
Final Result: 3-3 and 299th place.
I was really happy with this result (though that’s an understatement), given how I wasn’t expecting to win even one game with it. I think had I not made errors against Phil and George, and had Ben’s list not been wildly out of control with those Tallon-Rolls, none of my games were unwinnable. I certainly could have put up more of a fight, given my opponents a bit more of a game, and maybe come 290th or a bit higher. That said, I came in the top 300 of a 600(ish) person event and placed higher than several well-known personalities, so I can live with that!
Special Thanks To:
Obviously I’d like to thank all six of my opponents for their patience with me, and for providing six great and varied games; and to FFG/Asmodee/the MK Stadium staff/Hilton Hotels for providing a great weekend.
However, there are a few people I’d like to thank individually, without whom this weekend might not have been so fun.
In no particular order:
- Dale Cromwell (186th Squadron) for staying up late and offering to help with lists.
- Joel North (186th Squadron) for being supportive and offering advice and reassurance after reading last week’s blog.
- Harrison Sharp (186th Squadron) for offering me somewhere to stay if I didn’t have a hotel room.
- Henry Westcott (TNX) for looking out for me even when he should have been worrying about the cut (and maybe for the hangover…)
- Kevin Branch (TNX) for the ride back to London so I didn’t have to faff around quite so much with public transport.
- Darren Palmer (Wayland Wampas) for never being too busy for a quick chat and generally being a nice guy.
- Phil Marshall (Wayland Wampas) for telling me how pleased he was to see me at the event, and for being a supportive reader.
- Omer Ibrahim (Porg Patrol) for checking up on me and the two fancy Luke Alt-Arts (I now have a sizable collection!)
- And just about everyone else who has liked or commented on this blog over the last two weeks: without your support, this blog entry wouldn’t have happened!
That basically concludes my review of the event: Sunday’s Hyperspace Qualifier went badly owing to another 1am finish after celebrating three TNX pilots (and one pseudo-TNX pilot) making the cut (good job Henry, Janus, Ben and Jake (who has only been playing since November!)). I might write about it next week, but that all depends on whether or not I have something more interesting to write about!
Thanks for reading, and I’ll leave you with the theme tune of this entry!