I’m not going to talk about the UK or Texas System Open, mainly because everyone else already has and I neither attended nor watched the streams of either beyond dipping in and out. Instead, this is going to kind of be one of those touchy-feely entries about mental health, with some X-Wing thrown in.
Let’s start with the X-Wing!
As people in Milton Keynes and Texas descended on (four) hundred-plus events, ten of us arrived at Showcase Comics in Swarthmore for a casual event. I’d been itching to try Zizi competitively, so I put a version of the “Poe’s Angels” list together that included her rather than Zari Bangel.
Please bare with me when it comes to names and lists, I seem to have misplaced my notes…
Game 1 vs FO Swarm
Eight TIE Fighters, with Shields, and Target Locks, and Midnight. I hate flying against swarms in the first place, the mental disconnect is still there despite a year to learn my lesson and beating the last two TIE swarms I faced (I still suck against Droids, though!)
Disengage brain, engage joust-mode.
Suffice to say, this game went poorly. I half-pointed everything except one fighter, in return for getting shot off the board. Two dice primaries aren’t enough against TIEs, even if you concentrate fire and have Advanced Optics. If I’d had five A-Wings rather than three, or four T-70s rather than one, things might have been different; that has been a recurring theme for me over the last few weeks.
Game 2 vs Braylen, Ten, 2x Red Squadron Veterans
This matchup was more my thing; Greer ended up moving before the B-Wings but I moved after everything with the others. Poe nearly got badly hurt early on by landing at range 1 of two X-Wings, but that handy Black One title (that I only decided to add on the way to the event) got him out of trouble. Fortunately by this time I’d remembered how to play the game, had got over my mental disconnect from Game 1, and sought to give this one my all.
The B-Wings were the priority, once they were down (and Ten took some killing), mopping up the X-Wings was reasonably simple. My opponent did very well, and I really liked his list (his B-Wings had the new S-Foils) despite my loathing of B-Wings since their release in 1.0.
Game 3 vs Andrew – Dengar, Fenn Rau, Nom Lumb
Two I6s, moving after Poe. Wonderful.
This was always going to be rough, and it was. Fortunately Dengar’s Torpedoes bounced off Greer the first time, and didn’t manage to kill her the second. Then Fenn died and the hunt of Nom Lumb began. This. Was. A. Mistake.
In hindsight, I should’ve tried to kill Dengar first. Nom Lumb took too damn long to kill for a ship of his points, and once I had him on the defensive I should’ve switched it up and let him spend several turns trying to re-engage while I ambushed Dengar. The lesson was learned, however – I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again.
Game 4 vs Marcelo – Fenn Rau, Boba Fett, Nom Lumb
Another Fenn/Nom list, but this time I was moving second.
Boba declined the joust while Fenn and Nom both accidentally wandered into suicide range of three A-Wings (range 2 and 1 respectively) and while Fenn decided discretion was the better part of valour and bravely ran away, Nom suffered for his mistake.
Hunting Fenn down was relatively simple with Poe moving second, which then left everyone vs Boba. Boba was, as per usual, a pain in the behind to kill and I sacrificed half of Poe stupidly in the last turn by blocking his arc-dodge barrel roll with Zizi. Losing half on Zizi would have hurt my MoV less than half on Poe, something I need to remember next for next time.
2-2 overall, and 7th out of 10 thanks to my rather shocking MoV from the first game. Happy I maintained a neutral win-loss ratio, but disappointed I wasn’t in the 4th-6th bracket I wanted to be in.
Now, onto the touchy-feely bit…
I’ve not had an anxiety attack for a while, which I am thankful for, but X-Wing is still often a source of anxiety for me. After that first game, in which I got comprehensively spanked again by a TIE Swarm, my personal monologue was filled with thoughts such as “why did you bother?” or “you wasted how much money getting here?” Though I wasn’t quite tempted to simply walk away from the event, which I’ve not felt since the Top Deck Games Hyperspace Trial last July, had my second game gone as disastrously wrong, I might have done.
So…why does this happen?
X-Wing is meant to be fun, and 99% of the time it is. The issue with anxiety, however, is that it can ambush you at the worst possible moment. Long-time readers would know I had an anxiety attack on the way to a casual tournament which then made me very nervous about attending the 2019 UKSO, thankfully people (many I’d never met) convinced me and I had a grand old time without any emotional hiccoughs; in hindsight it was £200(ish) well-spent on hotel, travel and ticket.
Except this year I want to try Worlds… The thought of spending probably the equivalent of £200 on ticket and flights to Minnesota without food or accommodation scares me enough, but potentially scrubbing out of the Last-Chance Qualifier and spending the rest of the long weekend feeling miserable while everyone else has fun is frankly, terrifying. That’s a lot of money to believe you’ve “wasted” if things go poorly…
Let’s also not forget that at some point after turning 18, I’ve learned to hate flying. Mainly thanks to the turbulence on the TransAtlantic crossing; you’d think being in a long-distance relationship for nine years would’ve cured me of that, but nooooooo!
Fortunately the Liberty Squadron guys are a supportive bunch, and hopefully I’ll see familiar faces from the 186th and TNX as well (this means you Mr UKSO Top 8 Paul! 😉 ) I don’t doubt I’ll have a wonderful time, regardless of result, with those guys around to keep my spirits lifted and, failing that, keep the spirits flowing at the bar afterwards 😛
So, what to fly? Well, I’ve got eight(ish) months to practice!
I’m thinking 5A or Quad-70s is probably the way forward; they’re solid reliable lists which don’t rely on strategic or tactical genius to do well with at an event. Having identical dials means I don’t have to worry about accidentally bumping ships while trying to maintain a loose formation or letting someone get too far out in front/left behind. The Luke/Thane/2x Red Veterans list from Texas is also intriguing, though I’d need to acquire and repaint a fourth T-65 (which would also probably force my hand on stripping down the Rogues again in favour of screen-accurate T-65s).
Ultimately the key to success is practice, and flying something simple may well be the way forward; if I can learn to fly it well basically with my eyes closed, fatigue shouldn’t factor into any game results. The basic lists might not ever get any screen time on streams, they might not look great on YASB, and they won’t attract any “ooh”s and “aah”s on Discord, but there’s something to be said for keeping things simple.
If only they hadn’t broken Composure on Snap for my PAX list…
I’ve ranted on for over 1200 words now, probably about nothing particularly important, so I’ll close this now. If you’re going to be at Worlds, or thinking about it, let me know: the more people I “know” there, either through real-life, Facebook, or Discord, will probably make my experience be so much better!
Thanks for reading!