As I was unable to make my local Regional Championships (Victoria, Australia) and not having played for a while (1 to 2 months) due to work commitments, I was keen to get some serious X wing games in. As it turned out , I was free the weekend of the South Australian Regionals so I decided to have some fun!
For those unfamiliar with the geography, Adelaide is the capital of South Australia, and I’d need flights to & from Melbourne (my home town).
I booked some cheap flights (with only carry-on luggage) and a couple of night’s accommodation near the venue – which was the impressive “Infinity Games” http://www.infinitygames.net.au/
The store has plenty of play space, spread across four separate rooms – ample for the tournament.
I left work a bit early to catch my flight on Friday night and head to Adelaide – travel was uneventful and I grabbed a cab from the airport to my hotel – which I’d chosen for proximity to the venue (it was a 2 minute walk at most).
After getting settled in, I went for a walk to scope out the Infinity Games store and was impressed by the space available. This wasn’t going to be a cramped store championship – plenty of space for play and lay-off space for cards and rulers etc. The locals and the store had also supplied the beautiful FFG play mats for the weekend (I really need to buy the Bespin one – really nice and great to play on!).
Also at the store were 2 other Victorians who also play at NLG Ringwood – Darby and Drew – who were having a game, testing out their lists in one of the rooms – after saying hi, I decided to chill out a bit and grab some dinner and relax, while preparing my list for the morning.
As I hadn’t played for a while, and with the meta changing with the wave 8 release, I really wasn’t sure what to fly. I didn’t consider myself a serious contender, though I had set myself a stretch-goal of making the Top 8 cut.
In the end, I (in a crazy moment) decided to play a list that I had never flown before! I wanted to get back to flying an Imperial swarm, so I tried to fit as many Ties in the list with Howlrunner (which ends up being 7 – can’t fit the full 8!). So then it was a matter of maximizing their usefulness – so it came down to Howlrunner (with Crackshot), 3 black squadron Ties (with Crackshot) and 3 academy pilots. I must say that this list did well in one of the tournaments in the USA prior to this – so it was competitive (if not top flavor of the month with the meta).
Day 1 of competition dawned and I had a quick breakfast and headed down to the store again, after registration and saying hi to those I knew – it was down to gaming!
SA Regionals – Game 1 – Tim Nicholson (Dash, Poe)
This game started out well, with the swarm taking out Poe early – thanks to the crackshots. That left Dash – who pretty well skipped out on my blocking and arcs well for the rest of the game whilst taking pot shots at my Ties – ended up being a 17 point loss.
So a loss first up – disappointing but not necessarily unexpected as I get used to flying the swarm in formation. So I had to start to play well now to give myself any chance of making the cut!
Result: Loss (41-58)
SA Regionals – Game 2 – Nick Perry (Dengar, IG88B)
To be fair – Nick was a nice guy but I can’t remember much about the game – other than he seemed to only have a little experience with the list – so I focused on taking out IG88B first – with the help of the crackshots, this happened pretty quickly. Then focused on taking down Dengar for the loss of only 1 Tie – a nice MoV booster for me.
So 1-1 heading into round 3 and feeling a bit better about my flying.
Result: Win (100-12)
SA Regionals – Game 3 – Daniel Lawrence (Ghost, Zeb, Biggs)
This was the list that another Victorian’s (Johnny) Imperial swarm lost to in the first game – good setup with Biggs behind Kannan and the Ghost having tactical jammer to give Biggs an extra defense dice. So – I focused in on Biggs and took him out early – then started the slog of doing 16 damage to Kannan. I got him down in the last turn and he deployed the shuttle. I ended up losing 2 x black squad Ties but didn’t have the opportunity to take out the shuttle as time was called in the round.
Now at 2-1 I knew, whatever the draw, the next game was going to be difficult and would probably determine whether I could still make the cut.
Result: Win (72-30)
SA Regionals – Game 4 – Darby Mailing (Palp Shuttle, Soontir, inquisitor)
Tough draw here – Darby (another good Victorian player) was fielding his Palp Aces list and going well in the tournament with also only one loss.
He setup in the corner and did a slow bump to hold things up while I closed, then sprinted out at right angles with Soontir and the Inquisitor – leaving the shuttle in front of me. Not sure whether he wanted me to chase Soontir (or the Inquisitor) but with the Palpatine Shuttle right in front, I chose to dispose of the shuttle first – I got a good 1 to 2 rounds of shooting at it without harassment from the other 2 – which was enough to take it out for the loss of one Tie. Then it was a harder gig to deal with the two aces.
There was much positioning for little gain on my side until a few turns later when Soontir came around into the arcs of all my remaining Ties and bumped! Well after the game, Darby admitted that he changed his move at the last minute (not sure why) which caused the bump (rather than heading straight and coming back in for another run at the swarm). Soontir went down that round and the Inquisitor followed suit a turn later from the combined firepower of the remaining Ties.
OK – now 3-1 and in with a chance. I’ve been in this position before (at Store Championships) only to buckle under the pressure in the last Swiss game – I needed to keep focus!
SA Regionals – Game 5 (final Swiss round) – Drew Ashton (Palp Shuttle, Soontir, inquisitor)
Unbelievable! Not only do I have to face another Victorian NLG Ringwood player – but one with the same list as Darby! At least one of us was going to make it into the top 8 at this stage – I mentioned this fact to Drew (have to take at least one positive from the situation). At Drew’s suggestion, he and I then looked at the numbers and standings – it looked like if we ID’d (Intentional Draw) that we’d both make the top 8 – so in the end, we took the draw!
Result: Draw (0-0) / ID
So at the end of the Swiss rounds and day 1, the top 8 were:
So not only had I managed to make the cut, so had 3 other Victorians that made the trip west (Chris, Drew, Darby and myself). Given the standings, I was going to have to face up to Chris in the Top 8 game – a tough ask against an excellent player!
SA Regionals – Top 8 – Chris Annable (Wolf Pack – 3 x Jumpmasters)
Last time I had played Chris was in the Colac Store Championships – he was fielding 2 x Jumpmasters and a YV666 then. This time – he’d gone the “whole 9 yards” with the Wolf Pack (pre the R4 nerf).
I knew that I’d cop at least one barrage of torpedoes in closing with Chris – all my game modelling the night before showed this inevitability, so I went hard, expecting him to hold back – but he too came forward to engage knowing what scenarios I would have played through in my mind. Having said that, I still got the better of the opening rounds, managing to take down one of the Jumpmasters with the loss of only Howlrunner. Then focused on the second Jumpmaster and got it down to one hull – and that’s where my push for the win stopped.
Chris was whittling down the number of ties and I needed to kill the 2nd u boat to limit the damage I was getting (helped by the A4 Agromech) – but this wasn’t to happen as Chris managed to make his evades while taking out my swarm ship-by-ship. I won’t ever blame the dice for a loss, Chris out-flew me and limited my opportunities for focused fire on his damaged Jumpmaster. If I’d managed to complete taking down the 2nd one, my swarm would have lasted longer and had more impact on the last ship, but in the end, there was not enough firepower. Even what remained couldn’t get the last hull off the second Jumpmaster as a last gasp.
Result: Loss (85-49)
A disappointing end to the championships for me – but no disgrace in losing to a great played in Chris. I felt I could have gone further, but it wasn’t meant to be and provides some basis for further improvement in my game.
On the positive side, I made my ‘stretch goal’ of making the cut, 4 fellow Victorians made the cut with me and Darby managed to win the Regional from 8th place (beating Chris in the final) – great work!