This is going to be one of those touchy-feely blog posts that not everyone is going to want to read, and one of those posts that’s going to be rather difficult for me to write: I don’t talk about feelings often (which really annoys my other half), and opening up to a bunch of strangers on the internet is not always a good idea. Despite this, events transpired this weekend that make me think that this is a subject that needs to be discussed, as it probably affects more of us than we’d think…
I was so hyped for the points changes, the change in Redline’s cost (limiting/changing what he could fly with) and the loss of Sloane or Vader on a Phantom were, in my opinion, things that needed to happen. A little bit of change never hurt anyone, right? Oh how wrong I was. In order to keep what I considered a “competitive” bid on my Resistance list, I had to drop Poe’s Torpedoes; only to find that apparently 189pts is not likely to be enough of a bid for I5 any more. Over the last week, I’ve seen several lists coming in at the 185 level, which some would argue is ridiculous, but on the other hand is probably the key to ensuring you’re moving on your own terms. The five test games I played last Thursday saw me lose twice to two Rebel 185/186pt lists courtesy of fellow-TNX member Dan Bouckley, and acquire three wins against three Rebel lists, including a twin Falcon list flown by my good buddy George, who, when asked about how the points changes had affected his twin Firespray list, said:
“I’m that sad that I’ve gone Rebel!”
– George, 2019
Going 3-2 was proof that the list had some legs, but I was missing those Torpedoes a lot. Poe simply lacks reliable punch, and adding a Heavy Laser Cannon (at the time) didn’t seem entirely worthwhile. Either way, punch or not, I was confident that it might perform quite well at Saturday’s Hyperspace tournament at Magic Madhouse in London.
I’d known in advance that Saturday wasn’t going to be a walkover: I’d gone undefeated (narrowly) last time I was there, but now there would be twenty players rather than five, and at least a quarter (probably closer to a third, looking back at it now) of those were members of the 186th Squadron getting practice in before the Hyperspace trial season starts: members who I have known and enjoyed playing against for years such as Simon Tournay, Steve Fase and Lloyd Boman; and players who I knew by reputation only, like Paul Full-On. Still, I was confident I could probably get two wins out of the four games, maybe three if I was lucky, and I was looking forward to the event immensely…
Then I had an anxiety attack at Woolwich Station… The first one in about eighteen months.
Anyone who’s had an anxiety attack knows that they aren’t pleasant experiences; there are myriad reasons for them, and though there are enough common symptoms for the internet to generate a list, each one is as unique as the person having it. When the episode abated after what I assume was a few minutes judging by how far the song playing on my iPod had progressed, the smart thing to do would have been to turn around and go home: I’d not paid for a ticket, only the travel expense of getting to Woolwich (which would hardly break the bank if I turned around and just went home).
Foolishly, however, I decided I was fine. I wanted to play X-Wing. I wanted to see my friends. I was going. So I went.
Game 1 vs Paul Full-On: Fenn Rau, Boba Fett, Autopilot Drone (185pts)
I’ve played this list before (with L3-37 and/or Han Gunner), and I’ve beaten it. Not with Paul flying it, and I had Torpedoes, but it should have at least been a lot closer than it was. Unfortunately the bid of insanity proved to be at least a factor in my undoing: I was moving first, allowing Paul’s arguably deadlier vessels to move with full knowledge of where I was and what actions I had taken. Though the AP Drone died (as it does) and I’d stripped Boba’s shields, the dice gods apparently were against me, and I couldn’t get those hits through to even score half points on Boba or Fenn (who had eaten a Hull Breach from the Drone exploding) in order to brutalise Poe (who had bumped it) in one volley.
In the end, it was a 200-12 defeat, almost humiliating in its brutality and probably the worst loss that I’ve suffered since my first game of 2.0. Paul claimed his dice were rolling hot, and at times they were, but I hold my hands up and admit that I was thoroughly out-played, starting at the list-building phase!
Game 2 vs Joachim: Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, Grey Squadron Pilot
Joachim had gone the other way to Paul, coming in at 198pts with all of the torpedoes he could fit into the list. Again, this was a list I knew I could beat, but now that little voice in the back of my head was telling me that it wasn’t going to work like that. That my list didn’t work, that his list was better, so on and so forth.
The little voice proved correct: I made mistakes when my opponent didn’t, and ultimately, though a T-70 is an amazing ship, it doesn’t like taking multiple Torpedoes to the face. I managed to score half points on Luke, but rather than finishing him off, opted to attempt for half points on Wedge and the Bomber (I failed), prompting a second defeat 200-33.
Game 3: Bye
I was pretty fed up by this point. The voice in my head wouldn’t shut up, telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I should quit X-Wing. I’d not been made to feel like this by the game since February 2018 when I went to Wayland with a completely sub-par triple T-70 list. Until now, barring the hiccough that was my first competitive 2.0 game, 2.0 had been kind to me. I had intended to leave, but my phone was dead and Stratford is like a maze, so I wasn’t getting back to the station alone without it.
I’d also begun to wonder what the points change had actually accomplished, and was getting a little bitter about it. For example: Yes, Proton Torpedoes had risen in points, but the Y-Wing had dropped by roughly the same amount of points… Wedge and Luke, who I’d expected to rise in points a little, had remained the same. I’m not sure if this was me projecting my annoyance at myself onto FFG, but that game had shown me that as far as Hyperspace Rebels are concerned, not a whole lot has changed… I was also furious at whoever had reserved a place and then not turned up, guaranteeing four people would lose out on one game’s worth of play; it didn’t matter to me that they might have gotten lost, or that the snowfall had prevented them attending, they were a convenient target for my anxiety-spawned ire, simply because they were not there.
Connor, a good friend of mine from the late and great GW Bexleyheath, had attended the tournament with me and insisted on getting a beer into me. I’d considered it after game 1, but had decided against it, not wanting to trigger another attack. As it happened, maybe I should have done that in the first place: with a pint of Guinness inside me, I started to cheer up; I walked between the games, seeing how the people I knew were doing, and actually started to enjoy myself. Kevin, the other TNX representative at the event, thought that it was the sitting down and chilling out was what helped, and he may well have been right! I think there was no one reason as to why my mood began to improve during those 75 minutes, but it was nice that I had people looking out for me.
Game 4 vs John: Wedge Antilles and Lando Calrissian (188pts)
Outbid by a point! I was beginning to wish I’d gone for the 199 Torpedo option, or dropped Pattern Analyser on Nien Nunb to go at 184 and control who went first! Again, this was a variation of a list I’d beaten before, but I was not confident of the outcome when we put the models down.
The opening engagements were satisfyingly brutal: Ello was half-pointed on the same turn as Lando, and would spend the rest of the game limping around the board on one hull having suffered a Hull Breach, Damaged Engine, and as Fuel Leak. Nien Nunb and Lando finally obliterated each other under Simultaneous Fire. Poe disliked moving before Wedge, though he did get a few craft blocks in, until the two faced each other at range one, with Ello flanking Wedge for support, just in case.
Poe fired first, and killed Wedge with three hits and a crit (which I’d hoped would be a Weapons Failure, but alas, no dice). Wedge fired next, and a two health Poe can’t survive four hits even when rolling two evade dice, let alone one. The smoke cleared, Wedge and Poe were dead; giving me a 200-161 victory, and leaving Ello Asty to venture home alone; on fire with bits of his ship hanging off.
Somehow, the bye and this victory put me at 11th out of 19. On the journey home, I reflected on my day, what I’d done right, and what I’d done wrong. Often when a player is having a really bad tournament, you might hear them say that their first mistake was turning up; this definitely felt like my first mistake, and in hindsight I probably should have just turned around and gone back home as I mentioned earlier. On the other hand, what would that have accomplished? I’d have been at home alone had another attack happened, while at the event, there were other people around me who would be able to help.
What I have taken from this episode is this: I’ve possibly started taking X-Wing too seriously again. I’ve got tickets for Warboar’s Hyperspace Trial in March and the UK System Open in April, and I think I may need to seriously reconsider my attendance at these events; if this is what happens at a small twenty-person event, imagine what it could have been when there are more than a hundred (or five hundred) people packed into the same venue?
I also need to re-evaluate why I play and what I fly: I’ve long maintained that I fly the ships/pilots that I enjoy regardless how good they are (mostly aces), maybe that needs to change; perhaps I need to reinvest in another couple of Headhunters and run a Rebel swarm, or something sufficiently tanky that will survive even my most incompetent strategies.
I generally need to take better care of myself, too: get more sleep/maintain a regular sleep schedule, eat and drink less junk, and so on. Spending less time in front of computer screens and going for longer walks is something I always promise myself in the New Year, but January is awful weather-wise, and by the time it warms up and the some comes out, I’m already submerged in bad habits.
I get the distinct feeling that I’m not going to find any answers quickly; this is going to be one of those things that requires a fair amount of soul-searching. What I do know is, the T-70s are being put to bed for a while, and I’m going to find something silly to try for the next few weeks: that should at least give me an indicator of whether I still enjoy flying or not!
Thanks to everyone who will read this, especially those who helped me out on Saturday, and apologies to Paul, Joachim and John if your games against me weren’t the most enjoyable of experiences: hopefully reading this will help you understand why!
I also hope that anyone else in similar circumstances will read this and realise that they are not alone: that there are people out there who are fighting the same fight, and that together we can win!