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From Regionals to Top 4: My X-wing World Championship Experience


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#1 Rainbow_Chaser

Rainbow_Chaser

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 04:59 PM

It’s been two months since the X-wing World Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Though I meant to have this written up and posted right after worlds, my life since returning home has shifted gears dramatically, as I have been in the midst of moving to Idaho where I will be attending the University of Idaho starting this spring semester.  However, I know some amazing friends from around the world – and everyone from back home who watched my Top 4 game vs. Paul H. live that Sunday – whom I owe the full story of my World Championship experience. 

 

This article has been a long time in the making and is now almost as big as my high school senior project thesis – be ready for a very long read.  Also, a lot of people are mentioned here – out of respect for their privacy, I will be using only their first names and/or online usernames.

 

For those who don’t know me, I am Rainblaze – to those I’ve met through VASSAL and at Worlds, I am Jonathan. I’m from Vancouver, Washington, USA, where I share the same X-wing league with DavidWa and MrFroggies. 

 

On June 8, 2013, I participated in the Regionals tournament hosted at Dice Age Games here in Vancouver.  I really wanted to win a Regionals tournament – this one in particular – and not saying so would be a lie of omission.  However, I live amongst some of the better X-wing players in the Pacific Northwest.  All of them were my friends, and they would have my number that day.  So I didn’t expect that three match wins later I would be squaring off for a Regionals title and one my most memorable games with MrFroggies.  Winning that last match to take first place and become a regional champion was just another dream, and I was sure that’s all it would ever be – but it came true.

 

For those interested my regionals report can be found here.

 

Stepping into the winner’s circle for the first time is truly an experience like no other, and it’s my hope that every deserving player out there may someday share it with me.

 

I hadn’t been planning on attending the X-wing World Championship; but after winning Regionals and being handed a entry ticket to FFG’s World Championship Weekend event, I knew I had to go.  So on November 6th, MrFroggies, DavidWa, usmma95 (a friend of DavidWa), and myself made the journey together to represent the Pacific Northwest at the World Championship Weekend.

 

 

The Escalation Tournament

 

For months I had been focused on and practicing for the Championship tournament – and in that same time frame, I managed to come up with almost nothing for the Escalation tournament.  By the end of our day’s travels, on the eve of the Escalation tournament, all I knew was I was going to play Rebels and I wanted to fly Wedge Antilles.  However, with MrFroggies help, I soon had a functioning set of Rebel builds for me to fly in the Escalation tournament.

 

Round One:

 

Wedge Antilles + Swarm Tactics + Stealth Device

Garven Dreis

 

My first opponent, Joe H., was friend of Greg D. (JoynVengeance) who came up with him for the World Championship Weekend event.  He ran the following:

 

x2 Rookie Pilot

Gold Squadron Pilot

 

Rocks were set up in a crescent formation bowing to my bottom-left corner.  I set up right of center, Joe set up on my far left.  Not much here to write home about, however Joe was a good sport and made for an enjoyable first round.

 

1-0

 

 

Round Two:

 

Wedge Antilles + Push the Limit + Shield Upgrade

Garven Dreis

‘Dutch’ Vander + Ion Cannon Turret

 

Thomas brought a 90-point list that caught my eye because I had been toying with 4-ship builds using Roark Garnet and Jan Ors not long before Worlds, and I hadn’t even considered using either of them in an escalation build.  Roark may have had something more than this (Nien Nunb possibly):

 

x3 Rookie Pilot

Roark Garnet + Ion Cannon Turret

 

Rocks here are set up in two lines parallel to each of our deployment zones.  Thomas sets up on my far right in a box formation, I set up Wedge and Garven side by side on the left leading edge of my deployment zone, and placed Dutch directly behind them to make an inverse triangular formation. 

 

Unsure of how he’ll approach, I revert to straight-1 maneuvers on everyone.  Thomas pulls all of his ships around on right turn-2’s and drives them down his deployment zone towards my left table edge.  At this point I gather what he’s trying to do and so I keep my formation moving at a slow, straight pace to deny him.  His formation is almost lined up directly in my sights, and I figure he’ll either keep going straight or break left to meet me – he does the former.  I bring Wedge and Garven in doing left bank-1’s to lead his maneuvers, coming in on his formations 8 o’clock, and had Dutch bringing up the rear.  Turns out I was able to get one of his Rookies in Wedge and Garven’s sights.  Two attack rolls later, my opponent was down an X-wing before it ever got a shot off. 

 

From here I got Wedge and Garven working on removing his two Remaining Rookies, but not before Roark was able to ionize and ultimately destroy Wedge.  For a few turns later my rusty Y-wing skills began to show and Roark was able to successfully block Dutch for two consecutive turns, denying Wedge and Garven target lock support.  Wedge took out a second X-wing, and Garven shot down the third, leaving Thomas with Roark versus Garven and Dutch in the end game.

 

2-0

 

 

Round Three:

 

Wedge Antilles

‘Dutch’ Vander + Ion Cannon Turret

x3 Rookie Pilots

 

My third round opponent was James, and I remember collecting my jaw off the floor after seeing his 120-point list:

 

x3 Bounty Hunter + Heavy Laser Cannons

 

This was going to be an uphill battle.  Rocks were set up in an “S” formation from my top-right to my bottom-left, with one of the smaller rocks placed on my upper-left side of the map.  He set up his Firesprays up in a row off my center-right side, and I set my ships up in a similar gun-line fashion off my right side, with Dutch to the left of the Rookie line and Wedge on the left of Dutch.  We rolled for initiative, shook hands, and soon after got the green light to engage.

 

One or two HLC-packing Firesprays is bad enough – dealing with three is almost enough to make a few brain cells melt.  Trying not to overthink things, I kept my approach slow and straight towards the BH formation until my ships were just outside range 3, and then jumped to range 2-1 to possibly deny him actions and HLC advantage.  Thus, the first two exchanges consisted of us rolling a stupid amount of 4-dice attacks, resulting in two destroyed Rookies and two of his Bounty Hunters losing their shields.  By this point I had a big hole in my lines, was down 2 X-wings, and in serious trouble. 

 

My opponent began to fly his Bounty Hunters in a Koiogran switchback pattern to keep his HLCs aimed in my direction.  What I realized was that, if I could reposition my formation towards my right side edge of the mid-field and get them aimed to my left, I could possibly mess up his attack plan.  Two turns later I managed to do just that without further casualties, and Wedge and Dutch together were able to drop the first of the shield-less Bounty Hunters in the process. 

 

The following round he had the second shield-less Bounty Hunter Koiogran-3 back to face Wedge and my last remaining Rookie, while the third untouched one did a right 3-turn into the asteroids to get distance and line up shots on Wedge.   Unfortunately for James that Firespray ended up on a rock, which is probably why both Wedge and the Rookie made it into the following rounds.  Wedge fired on the second shield-less Bounty Hunter, dropping it to 2 remaining hull.  The same BH then fired on my Rookie, all but destroying him.  With one hull point remaining, my Rookie returned fire into the second Bounty Hunter landing 3 hits and destroying it. 

 

With one Bounty Hunter remaining my opponent fled to my top-left side of the map, looping around to meet Dutch head-on (who I had looping around my top-right side of the map).  However, doing this allowed me to maneuver Wedge and the Rookie through the rocks to the BH’s 4 o’clock.  Two more rounds and a dead Dutch later, I manage to keep my X-wings in his blind spots and rolling attacks – down his third and final BH goes for the win.

 

3-0

 

 

Round Four:

 

Wedge Antilles + Push the Limit + R2 Astromech

 ‘Dutch’ Vander + Ion Cannon Turret

Garven Dreis

x3 Rookie Pilots

 

So before this point, Mȧrten C. (the Nordic X-wing Champion) and I had been hoping to play a game together at some point during the four-day event.  Not only did I get to play him for a Top 4 spot in the Escalation tournament, I got to play the one 150-point Escalation build that I don’t think anyone else wanted to:

 

Howlrunner

x11 Academy Pilots

 

A dozen TIE fighters, and (almost) all of them re-rolling an attack die thanks to Howlrunner.  I can’t remember how the rocks were set up for this match, some kind of deformed “h” formation I believe.   He sets up his 11 Academy Pilots and Howlrunner in a 6 x 2 block on my top-left side of the map, I set up in a 3 x 2 grid on my bottom-right side of the map. 

 

If I remember right, Mȧrten and I didn’t fire a single shot until about round 4-5 – something about dancing on a 3 x 3 star map with 18 ships can give the micro-manager in you a run for your money.  Our first exchange saw Mȧrten lose 1 Academy, while one of my Rookies lost its shields.  Second exchange saw me lose the shield-less Rookie and another Rookie get a good beating while I downed Howlrunner and a second Academy Pilot, possibly two. 

 

At this point my memory gets fuzzy on how things actually played out during the mid-game, but I remember how it ended.  I was left with Dutch versus 5 somewhat intact Academy Pilots.  Dutch was left of center of the map and did a right bank-3 around the big rock to escape arc on four of the five Academies, but flew right into range 1 of the fifth.  Dutch tried to ionize the closest of the other 4 TIEs in hopes of getting it stuck on the big asteroid, but that attack failed.  Mȧrten’s range 1 Academy fired on Dutch for the win.

 

Final Score:  3-1

 

Battling a dozen TIE fighters at 150 points might not be seen as your typical ‘pleasant’ experience, but Mȧrten and I had a lot of fun playing each other and it was definitely a memorable end to the escalation tournament.  I also got some of FFG’s new acrylic stress tokens for taking 5th place in the escalation tournament.  Yay!

 

 

The World Championship Tournament

 

At some point I must have flown every build I could imagine.  I always had a new idea that I thought needed to be play-tested, and thus I was constantly jonesing for another game of X-wing.  Despite driving each of them nuts at least once or more with the mental tangents I managed to travel, my friends were gracious and played many practice games with me; showing me the good, bad, and ugly of my builds.  After all my brainstorms had passed, I had paired down my Worlds list to two different Rebel builds:

 

‘Dutch’ Vander + Ion Cannon Turret

x2 Rookie Pilots

Blue Squadron Pilot + Heavy Laser Cannons

99 points

 

…or…

 

Garven Dreis

x2 Rookie Pilots

Blue Squadron Pilot + Heavy Laser Cannons + Advanced Sensors/Fire-Control Systems

100/99 points

 

Chances are I would’ve gone with the build using Dutch just because I’m so familiar with the tactical options he provides, and he gels with the firepower of X-wings and HLC-packing B-wings very well.  I know it’s one of the oldest Rebel strategies, but Dutch + firepower – when tuned right – still gets the job done well.

 

But this isn’t what I ran.  Remember how MrFroggies helped me come up with my escalation tournament builds?  Well, the night before the Championship Tournament preliminary rounds, he and I were once again discussing what we might see the following morning.  Our conversation took a turn at reflecting on the U.S. National Top 4 and Finals rounds for X-wing Miniatures at GenCon – in particular, the 3 X-wing Rebel build that looked something like this:

 

Biggs Darklighter + Shield Upgrade

Luke Skywalker + Draw Their Fire + R2-D2 + Shield Upgrade

Wedge Antilles + Shield Upgrade

 

I shared with Frogs how I made a 4 X-wing build using the same Luke/Biggs combo, which I playtested for Worlds with reasonable success against DavidWa.  It looked like this:

 

Luke Skywalker + Draw Their Fire + R2-D2

Biggs Darklighter

x2 Rookie Pilots

 

He suggests that, instead of keeping Biggs Darklighter in my build, I switch him out for a third Rookie Pilot and spend the remaining points on a Shield Upgrade for Luke Skywalker.  The final product looked like this:

 

Luke Skywalker + Draw Their Fire + R2-D2 + Shield Upgrade

Rookie Pilot

Rookie Pilot

Rookie Pilot

 

A four-ship build, and all of them were X-wings – both of which I was intimately familiar with from previous experience.  Even without any practice, I knew I could pilot this build with skill.  After running it through our combined imaginary gauntlet of worst-case scenarios, MrFroggies and I soon realized this was the build I needed to fly in the Championship tournament. 

 

 

Round One:

 

Because I was a regional champion, I was awarded a 1st round bye.  So I decided to get some lunch, prepare my X-wings for battle, and go root for my teammates.

 

1 – 0

 

 

Round Two:

 

I was placed at table 21 against a fellow named Andres M., apparently the only regional champion from Mexico.  Though I may have missed something in my recollection, I believe he ran:

 

Han Solo + Determination + Gunner + Chewbacca + Nien Nunb

Rookie Pilot

Blue Squadron Pilot

 

I can’t remember how the asteroids were laid out, I think it was a 3 x 2 bent in a chevron shape pointing towards Andres’ table edge.  He won initiative, and set up his Blue and Rookie Pilots in the center.  I set up my rookies in a tight square formation with Luke Skywalker in the bottom-left corner.  He sets up Han Solo on my far right table edge.

 

I really don’t remember too much about this battle, but it was rather painful because I goofed up my initial setup and approach to his ships.  I lost my lead Rookie Pilot to Han Solo and his Rookie in the first exchange – wasn’t much I could do in return due to how I positioned myself.  Several exchanges later into the fight, I end up losing a second Rookie to Han Solo, but not before dropping Andres’ Blue Squadron Pilot. 

 

Now it’s down to his Han Solo (previously untouched) to an undamaged Rookie and slightly damaged Luke Skywalker. Often this isn’t a bad thing with X-wings, but because I was now playing merry-go-round the big asteroid with a YT-1300 – and Han Solo no less – I had no advantage.  I couldn’t get him in arc without risking asteroid collisions, and he had 360 shooting.  Not the position I wanted to be in, but thanks to my poor setup and initial losses, there wasn’t much I could do about it at this point.  A few bad evade rolls later, Han Solo bags Luke and my remaining Rookie for the win. 

 

1 – 1

 

 

Round Three:

 

At table 39, I met Bob J. from Wisconsin.  He ran what I guess some have been calling ‘Blue-bacca’, which looks like this:

 

Chewbacca

Blue Squadron Pilot + Heavy Laser Cannon

Blue Squadron Pilot + Heavy Laser Cannon

 

Between my previous experience flying with/against HLC-packing B-wings back home, and MrFroggies’ advise from the night before, I found myself well-prepared for what stood before me.  By the third round of engagement, I had destroyed both HLC-packing Blue Squadron Pilots in exchange for losing one of my Rookie Pilots. 

 

From this point on, between my mediocre attack rolls and my opponents absolutely amazing attack rolls, Chewbacca proceeds to gun down both of my remaining Rookies and beat up Luke, while I manage to all but destroy Chewbacca.  I still can’t believe the Wookie snatched the upper hand from me, outnumbered 3 to 1 in a battle of attrition, but I suppose that’s Chewy for you.

 

Chewbacca and Luke – each with 1 hull point left – found themselves in a sudden death match.  Luke had done a K-turn last round, so I had him perform a straight 2 to regain a shield, lose the stress, and target lock Chewbacca.  Chewbacca had done a left 1 bank and target locked Luke for a range 1 shot.  He rolls the attack: 3 hits after spending the target lock.  I roll to my two agility dice: one evade, one eyeball.  Luke’s ability kicks in to turn the eyeball into a second evade, and the third splashes on the shield.  Luke survives. 

 

The next turn we both K-turn to face each other, and wind up just outside of range 3 – no shots fired.  He moves Chewbacca up straight 2, loses the stress and target locks Luke.  Luke performs a right 1 bank to lose the stress, regain a shield, and Focuses.  There is an asteroid between us at range 2, giving Chewbacca 2 agility dice.   Between the TL and focus, Luke lands 3 hits, and down goes Chewbacca for the win.

 

2 – 1

 

 

Round Four:

 

Olivier L. G. was the third X-wing player I had met at the World Championship Weekend who was from another country (I believe he was from France).  Olivier flew dual YTs (they were beautifully hand-painted!) and as best as I can recall he ran:

 

Lando Calrissian + Veteran Instincts + Gunner

Chewbacca + Veteran Instincts + Gunner

 

When I first saw this list, I mistook the Veteran Instincts for Draw Their Fire.  Fortunately, I realized my mistake before setup and altered my plans accordingly.  Asteroids were spread out in a roughly diamond pattern/double triangle pattern. 

 

We set up on far opposite corners of the star map – him on the left, me on the right.  The first three turns we fly vertically up the sides of the map.  Somewhere between turns 3 and 4 I begin to weave my X-wing formation into the asteroid field.  Around turn 4-5, I have all of my X-wings bearing in on the center of the star map – 2 Rookies coming in on a horizontal vector from the right side, and the 3rd Rookie and Luke coming in on a vector from my top-right corner.  That same turn he steers his YTs around on left 1 and 2 turns respectively, engaging my lead Rookie Pilots head on.

 

Next turn, based on the asteroid layout, Chewbacca has only three plausible maneuver choices that I could see (Lando is still out of range) – go straight ahead 2, right 2-bank, or left 2-turn.  Though I am unsure of his plan, my prior experience flying against DavidWa and Cody B. (both friends and skilled YT-1300 pilots) leads me to believe my opponent would not directly expose Chewbacca to my lead X-wings.  With this in mind, I plan on him sending Chewbacca straight 2 or left turn 2 to use a nearby asteroid for cover.  I move my three Rookies into their attack positions, using 1 and 2-speed maneuvers to adjust firing arcs and deny Chewbacca asteroid cover.   Turned out I was right – my opponent maneuvers Chewbacca straight 2, and all four of my X-wings now had a clear shot.  It didn’t go over well for the Wookie.  By the end of next turn, Chewbacca was destroyed.

 

From this point on, Lando manages to destroy one of my Rookies, but not much else.  The remaining rounds are spent by me trying to get my X-wings back into something of a formation in order to concentrate fire on Lando.  Luke ends up having to jump a few asteroids to keep Lando in his sights.  My three remaining X-wings ultimately catch up with Lando several turns later.

 

3 – 1

 

 

Round Five:

 

My fourth and final preliminary rounds opponent was Tyler O.  He was my first and only Imperial opponent for the day, running:

 

x3 Bounty Hunter

 

A triple Bounty Hunter build can be very intimidating at 100 points.  Tyler, however, was a surprisingly generous and friendly opponent.  It was a pleasure to meet such an enjoyable adversary in the midst of the World Championship.

 

I believe the asteroids were arranged in a semi-circular pattern arcing out towards my bottom-right corner of the star map.  I set up my Rookies and Luke in a T-formation (Rookies in a line in front, Luke centered in the back) on my far left side, Tyler sets two Bounty Hunters directly across from my formation and the third he places sideways facing my left side of the star map.

 

Based on his initial set-up, I figured Tyler was going to bring in that third Bounty Hunter in directly behind the other two, or right alongside them.  I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to fly my X-wings straight into the teeth of 2-3 Firesprays.  On the flip side, X-wings have a “center of mass and down they go” kind of play-style – and between slightly superior numbers/firepower as well as Luke covering the Rookies’ defenses, I knew I had a chance of coming out on top in a direct attack – so I took that chance. 

 

Two exchanges later my X-wings had dropped a Bounty Hunter with minimal damage in return.  I K-turned my X-wing group the following turn to keep his remaining BHs in front of my guns.  From this point on, I got peppered with rear shots from both of Tyler’s BHs, but my agility dice caught fire back in the first two exchanges and apparently stayed that way for the rest of the battle.  Ultimately, and unbelievably, I destroyed all three Bounty Hunters without losing a single starfighter.

 

4 – 1

 

 

Making the Top Cut

 

By this point I had 4 match wins and 1 loss, and it was time to see what the top cut would look like.  Because of my early match loss to Andres, I expected my day would be over (and honestly, I had just finished 4 and 1 in the World Championship – how can you not be happy with that!?)  However, I was tied in both score and strength of schedule for 16th place with a fellow named Ian H., but by some arbitrary call (alphabetical order maybe?) I was ranked 17th – one spot shy of making the top 16 cut.  I challenged this call, because Ian and I were the only straight up tie out of 114 tournament players.  I asked if it was possible we could play a tie-breaker round to settle things, and I was informed that allowing such a tie-breaker round would push back the top 16 round to about midnight.

 

When I found out I had a chance of getting into the top cut, I was completely and utterly amazed.  It had been a long-time goal of mine to win a tournament, and I accomplished that at an X-wing Regionals.  Winning a ticket to Worlds was awesome enough, as was being able to attend with my friends.  When I realized how close I had come to making the top cut… how I wanted that chance.  However, as far as I may have come, I didn’t feel justified in pushing my wants at the expense of everyone else – so I shook hands with Ian and accepted that that would be the end of my run. 

 

Dustin P. never had to speak up to tournament officials about his miscalculated score – but he did so multiple times before they changed it, and when they did it dropped him out of the running for top 16.  I was in the middle of packing my ships away when one of the judges came by and told me I would be replacing someone for the top 16 match-ups.  There aren’t many people I’ve known who would go out of their way to be honest like Dustin did.  Had he not spoken up about his score, I wouldn’t have had any chance of making the top cut.  Shaking Dustin’s hand and giving him a most sincere and heart-felt “thank you” was the least I could do for his gracious act.  Making the cut to Top 16 is not a happy memory – it’s a humbling one.  This quality of character is a rare and amazing thing to behold in a world that seems at odds with the virtues like integrity and selflessness, and I pray it remains the fabric our X-wing communities are made of.  Please pass it on when you have the chance.

 

 

Round 6 – Top 16:

 

I met Aaron B. online via VASSAL a few months before Worlds.  He is a friend of mine and member of the Nebraska/Omaha group, and was my round 2 match in MrFroggies’ autumn 2013 X-wing VASSAL tournament.  His list, the Rebel Convoy:

 

Gold Squadron Pilot + Ion Cannon Turret

Gold Squadron Pilot + Ion Cannon Turret

Outer Rim Smuggler

Outer Rim Smuggler

 

I remember wanting to get a rematch in with Aaron before Worlds, but I didn’t expect to meet him at the Top 16.  I can’t quite remember the asteroid layout here, but it ended up not mattering that much since we both set up our fighter groups within two range bands of my left edge of the star map. 

 

Amongst other things, the Rebel Convoy is really good at blocking, action denial, and removing individual ships that are important to an opposing build’s synergy.  My set-up and approach wound up being similar to how I dealt with the triple Bounty Hunters the previous round.  I set my Rookies up in a gunline with Luke Skywalker bringing up the rear.  From our previous match on VASSAL, I knew the Golds had to go first or they would seize up my formation and deny me shots.  I decided to take the Y-wings head on after the first round of maneuvers – Aaron was going to bring them up the left, and my list had enough firepower to take them out before they did much damage. 

 

First exchange occurred about turn 3 or so at range 3.  The Outer Rim Smugglers and my lead Rookies plinked a couple shields off each other.  Turn 4 and 5 is when it all went down.  I moved in my X-wings on right 2 banks into a safe, open corridor of space – where I could K-turn and afford to be ionized without colliding or flying off the board – while keeping firing arcs on the opposing ships.  Aaron closes up his formation, using the YTs to try and block my X-wings.  The following turn he bumps into my formation of ships to limit the movement of his YTs, and I – suspecting he would do just that – used the big bases of his YTs to stall my own formation – this in turn prevented his Gold Squadron Pilots from escaping my firing arcs, running into the backsides of the YT-1300s instead.

 

This bit of maneuvering cost me the use of my actions, but gave my X-wings another round of putting shots into the Y-wings, destroying one of them if I remember right.  I in turn lost a Rookie Pilot to concentrated fire, ionization, and an asteroid collision, but my other ships survived the initial exchanges in one piece – I K-turned the remainder of my X-wings to finish off the second Gold Squadron Pilot.  The remainder of the match saw me lose a second Rookie and Luke take a good beating while I chased down the Outer Rim Smugglers.  Eventually, my X-wings destroy both of them to win the match.

 

 

Round 7 – Top 8:

 

After winning the battle against Aaron, I was scheduled to play Jim B. the next morning, another member of the Nebraska/Omaha group.  He ran:

 

Gold Squadron Pilot

Gold Squadron Pilot

Rookie Pilot

Rookie Pilot

Blue Squadron Pilot

 

I had yet to face a swarm-style build until this point.  I was certain I would face an Imperial TIE swarm at some point, and had been practicing against them… if you consider a lot of that practice to be DavidWa wiping the floor with me using Liz Malette’s six-TIE Fighter Vassal build for at least six consecutive games (poor MrFroggies had to pull me out of the mental black hole that was “unkillable TIE fighters”).  Anyways, I had not counted on meeting up with a Rebel swarm, which was a very cool and different build to see in the top cut.

 

Once again, I don’t remember how the asteroids were placed because the entire course of the battle literally took place within the two-range-band clearance on my right edge of the star map.  It probably wasn’t the wisest plan on my part, but I decided that I could take this 5-ship build in a head-on attack, and once again I set up my ships in my standard T-formation.  Jim deploys his ships in what would become by the end of the first maneuvers a YY-XX-B forking conga line.

 

The details of this match are a bit hazy now, but the entire was basically a pattern of K-turn switch-backing and trying not to crash into who we wanted to shoot while crashing into/getting out of arc of everyone else we didn’t want to be shot by. I also clearly remember Luke Skywalker reminding both us of how annoyingly tough he can be to destroy between hot evade rolls and having R2-D2 on board.  Needless to say, it was a bit of a traumatizing battle for Jim.   With Luke drawing and dodging my opponent’s firepower, my Rookies stuck around to pick off the opposing ships for a full match win. 

 

 

Round 8 - Top 4:

 

Moving into the top four, I met my final opponent, Paul H., who ran:

 

Biggs Darklighter

Rookie Pilot

Dagger Squadron Pilot + Advanced Sensors

Dagger Squadron Pilot + Advanced Sensors

 

Our match was played at one of FFG’s Twitch feature tables.  Between the recorded video of our match (which can be found here) and Paul’s discussions on how his list worked (which can be found here), I’m not sure there’s too much I can say that hasn’t already been talked about.

 

First of all, my Top 4 game versus Paul was one of the better games of X-wing I’ve played.  Paul’s list of choice for the World Championship was, to me, a strange sight when I first encountered it on VASSAL.  X-wing/B-wing builds were no surprise by the time of the 2013 World Championship, and prior experience had me well-versed in their capabilities.  However, I was used to seeing Biggs working in conjunction with other named pilots.  So when I saw Biggs working in tandem with a Rookie Pilot and a pair of Daggers with advanced sensors – all generic ships – there had to be more going on here than move-shoot-barrel-roll-K-turn-BOOM rinse and repeat awesomeness.

 

From watching his previous games, Paul had a series of specific opening moves he tended to follow, so I decided to hold my X-wing formation back for several turns and force his formation to come after me before I made my first move.  Considering Paul’s tactical edge with the advanced sensor-equipped B-wings and the way the asteroids fell for that game, I chose to set up on the right side of the star map and put as much distance between us as possible.  I kept my ships flying on 1’s for the first several turns, waiting to see how the opposing ships would approach.  I figured I could keep straight and then bank left at the right moment to attack and possibly drop his lead Rookie/Dagger early on.  However, I course-corrected my X-wing formation a turn too late, which conga-lined my X-wings and resulted in a dead Rookie at the business end of his Daggers’ guns.  Had I began to line up my formation a turn earlier and kept a more conservative pace, I may have been able to drop Paul’s lead Rookie Pilot or one of his B-wings with Biggs out of range.  Alas, I now had to destroy Biggs – which I did – but not before I lost Luke to mediocre evade rolls under concentrated fire. 

 

With Luke destroyed and my remaining Rookies caught in 3 to 2 odds against a pair of Daggers with advanced sensors that could moon walk across the star map, I knew I was in for an uphill battle for the rest of the game.  Having flown moon-walking B-wings myself for a time, I used my knowledge/experience to try and railroad the Daggers in between a nearby asteroid and my two Rookies so as to deny their barrel-roll-then-move tactical superiority.  It was a tough few turns of some clever maneuvering, and though I was able to keep up my end of the fight, I wasn’t doing enough damage to gain any real upper hand.  While I managed to destroy one of his Daggers and beat up his Rookie Pilot, Paul’s remaining ships destroyed my two remaining Rookies to win the match. 

 

Paul was a pleasure to play against, and proved himself a very skilled X-wing player.  After shaking his hand and packing my gear, I left the table a Top 4 finalist: one of the highest-ranking players of the X-wing World Championship.  Ever since returning home, my friends have made a point of reminding me about my new status.  Admittedly, I still turn a shade or two red when they refer to me as “Top 4” or “Number Three”, but to be held in such regard by my fellow X-wing players is a badge of honor I wear proudly.  I try not to let the Top 4 title get to my head, but whenever I look back in reflection, my 2013 X-wing Worlds experience continues to amaze me every time.  It will forever be a treasured memory.

 

- Rainblaze


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#2 The_Brown_Bomber

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 07:57 PM

awesome writeyp. congrats on ur top4 finish Rainblaze. i like ur 4X build. solid. Draw Their Fire is a gamechanger at times. that escalation final round was very cool.


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#3 mrfroggies

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 12:25 PM

You did great that day, I was super happy to see you make the top tables.

 

Here's a link to your top 4 match Jonathan.

 



#4 PS10

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 03:43 AM

I watched all the matches and good job sir!

However I still am a bit puzzled why you would drop Biggs in favor of a shield upgrade. His ability to spread damage just seems so incredibly strong. As I am probably at the low end of noob compared to you, would you like to explain why you made that change in the end?


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#5 Kelvan

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 03:17 PM

Johnathan it was a pleasure meeting you and playing board games with you. I was cheering for you the whole time.



#6 Rainbow_Chaser

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 03:31 AM

Thank you mrfroggies :D

 

Having that opportunity to represent at the Top 4 was an amazing honor I never dreamed would be mine.  Your advice made that X-wing build what it was, and the time you spent practicing with me honed my skills for the challenges I faced those two days.  

 

Though I might be a good X-wing player, I am grateful for friends like you who remind me how I became that way.



#7 Rainbow_Chaser

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 04:14 AM

I watched all the matches and good job sir!

However I still am a bit puzzled why you would drop Biggs in favor of a shield upgrade. His ability to spread damage just seems so incredibly strong. As I am probably at the low end of noob compared to you, would you like to explain why you made that change in the end?

Oh, thank you!  And trust me, you're not on "the low end of noob" compared to me.  Top 4 title or no, I am not better than anybody else.

 

Honestly, I at first was not sure of the change.  My initial reaction to seeing Luke at 37 points was a mental red flag telling me I had all my eggs in one basket.  It, however, turned out to be a very tough basket.  There were several factors that lead mrfroggies and I to this decision.  Mostly, it was how strongly Draw Their Fire, R2-D2 and Shield Upgrade synergized with Luke's pilot ability

 

The X-wings (Rookie Pilots) that made up the bulk of the squad only have two shields each, both of which will not last long under concentrated fire.  Draw Their Fire allowed Luke to absorb critical hits that would normally mess up a healthy X-wing.once its shields were down.  This allowed those Rookie Pilots to remain in play for longer than normal, and R2-D2 could keep the shields coming.  A shield upgrade would increase the number of critical hits Luke could use Draw Their Fire on.  



#8 ManOnAWire

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 08:49 AM

 

I watched all the matches and good job sir!

However I still am a bit puzzled why you would drop Biggs in favor of a shield upgrade. His ability to spread damage just seems so incredibly strong. As I am probably at the low end of noob compared to you, would you like to explain why you made that change in the end?

Oh, thank you!  And trust me, you're not on "the low end of noob" compared to me.  Top 4 title or no, I am not better than anybody else.

 

Honestly, I at first was not sure of the change.  My initial reaction to seeing Luke at 37 points was a mental red flag telling me I had all my eggs in one basket.  It, however, turned out to be a very tough basket.  There were several factors that lead mrfroggies and I to this decision.  Mostly, it was how strongly Draw Their Fire, R2-D2 and Shield Upgrade synergized with Luke's pilot ability

 

The X-wings (Rookie Pilots) that made up the bulk of the squad only have two shields each, both of which will not last long under concentrated fire.  Draw Their Fire allowed Luke to absorb critical hits that would normally mess up a healthy X-wing.once its shields were down.  This allowed those Rookie Pilots to remain in play for longer than normal, and R2-D2 could keep the shields coming.  A shield upgrade would increase the number of critical hits Luke could use Draw Their Fire on.  

 

You've got me seriously wondering about dropping the Shield Upgrade on Luke and changing the Rookies to Blues. Luke would want to move slow anyway to stick around the B's, so green maneuvers would be the preferred option in a lot of cases anyway (triggering R2). Did you contemplate that as an option, and any thoughts on whether it would work based on your play with your 4X squad?


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#9 pheaver

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 12:27 PM

Hey Jonathan!  This was a great read.  TC put their commentary up on our match at http://teamcovenant....han-g-v-paul-h/ if you haven't seen it.

 

As for commentary on our match, after rewatching it last night:

 

I always think when I'm watching my moves that I'm going to clip an asteroid.  But, the video doesn't show me measuring for asteroid placement in the setup phase, as I know if I placed my asteroids in certain spots and follow the same moves, I'll dodge them barely.  You were certainly right when you wrote "Paul had a series of specific opening moves he tended to follow".

 

I think you should have done a sweeping arc a lot earlier with your ships.  If you, say, had the Rookies do a 1-bank, 2-bank, 3-bank, with Luke 2-banking as well, then you could have come at me at an interesting angle and avoided the conga-line.  I expected something like that, with the big rock forming the center of a 3 rock line on your left, and the other lone asteroid on your right.  Otherwise, I think your only choice was to rocket out from the start and make it to my side of the board, then turn around.

 

If I had initiative, and set up my rookie where I did, would you have set up yours opposite mine for a joust, or where you did?  I'm not sure what the right answer is.  I think Advanced Sensors and higher skills wins the joust better than Luke's upgrades spreads the damage, but 12-dice on 12-dice jousts are messy regardless.

 

I REALLY liked your 2 left turn with the back rookie, when he parked right in front of Luke.  That messed up a lot of my plans.

 

I didn't realize just how good our Attack rolls were in the beginning until watching the game afterwards.  That Rookie of yours and my Biggs just ate a bunch of hits.  Rebel on Rebel games rarely go to time. :)

 

Looking forward to seeing you again in November!

 

Paul


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#10 mrfroggies

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 12:23 PM

I watched all the matches and good job sir!

However I still am a bit puzzled why you would drop Biggs in favor of a shield upgrade. His ability to spread damage just seems so incredibly strong. As I am probably at the low end of noob compared to you, would you like to explain why you made that change in the end?

 

I have to say that I'm a little puzzled now about it.  It could be that we made the list at like 3am the night before.  Another reason was it's a long day, so you want to keep things simple.  As the day moves on your brain power goes down, so the less you have to think about your moves, the better.  Having 3 ships at the same PS makes maneuvering a little easier.  Paul had played his list for a long time and had a few planned openings that really took advantage of Biggs ability.  Jonathan really didn't have the time to come up with something like that, so again keeping things simple was the better choice.

 

With time and practice I think the Luke, Biggs, x2 rookies is the better squad.


Edited by mrfroggies, 17 January 2014 - 12:25 PM.

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#11 pheaver

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 01:34 PM

Ooh, and there's a cool opening that you can do that's similar to my typical opening, to put 3 of the X-Wings towards the middle and Biggs a range increment back.

 

You set up like so:

Luke>   Rook1

Biggs    Rook2

 

Luke's facing to the side.  Then the three forward facing X-Wings do a 4 forward on turn one, while Luke does a 2 turn.  You end up with the Rookies and Luke in a vertical line, and Biggs to the left.  Now you can move them as a formation and hard turn towards the middle of the map on turn three.  I like this: everyone's within 1 of both Luke and Biggs, and if your opponent can't rotate his army effectively, you can do a lot of damage.

 

Paul


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#12 Rainbow_Chaser

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 04:11 PM

Hey Jonathan!  This was a great read.  TC put their commentary up on our match at http://teamcovenant....han-g-v-paul-h/ if you haven't seen it.

 

As for commentary on our match, after rewatching it last night:

 

I always think when I'm watching my moves that I'm going to clip an asteroid.  But, the video doesn't show me measuring for asteroid placement in the setup phase, as I know if I placed my asteroids in certain spots and follow the same moves, I'll dodge them barely.  You were certainly right when you wrote "Paul had a series of specific opening moves he tended to follow".

 

I think you should have done a sweeping arc a lot earlier with your ships.  If you, say, had the Rookies do a 1-bank, 2-bank, 3-bank, with Luke 2-banking as well, then you could have come at me at an interesting angle and avoided the conga-line.  I expected something like that, with the big rock forming the center of a 3 rock line on your left, and the other lone asteroid on your right.  Otherwise, I think your only choice was to rocket out from the start and make it to my side of the board, then turn around.

 

If I had initiative, and set up my rookie where I did, would you have set up yours opposite mine for a joust, or where you did?  I'm not sure what the right answer is.  I think Advanced Sensors and higher skills wins the joust better than Luke's upgrades spreads the damage, but 12-dice on 12-dice jousts are messy regardless.

 

I REALLY liked your 2 left turn with the back rookie, when he parked right in front of Luke.  That messed up a lot of my plans.

 

I didn't realize just how good our Attack rolls were in the beginning until watching the game afterwards.  That Rookie of yours and my Biggs just ate a bunch of hits.  Rebel on Rebel games rarely go to time. :)

 

Looking forward to seeing you again in November!

 

Paul

 

Hey Paul!  Thanks for the link to our match.  I wasn't sure TC would post it up since FFG had already done so earlier, but I'm very happy they did!  

 

So I've watched and re-watched our Top 4 match several times as well.  

 

You are right, I should have banked my formation left much earlier than I did - at the start of turn 2 instead of 5.  I also should have paid more attention to he way the asteroids were laid out on my left-hand side of the star map.   Had I done just what you said - a 1-bank, 2-bank, 3-bank with the Rookies and a 2-bank with Luke - at 4:07 in the TC video and approached your formation on the diagonal at 5:08, the only viable choices I see would've been for your formation to continue straight ahead or turn to face my formation on 1-banks or 2-banks.  To me, banking seems like it would put your ships in a better position relative to mine but doing so could alter your formation to give me a Biggs-free target - and possibly the upper hand - in what would be the first exchange a turn or two later.  I don't mean to sound arrogant saying all this, it's just interesting to me how one choice made differently could have potentially altered the course of the battle.

 

As for pilot skill and advanced sensors vs. Luke's damage spread ability, I'm not sure.  Being able to tie up an opponent's firepower in the first exchange with Bigg's ability is powerful, and you certainly used it to your advantage.  However, the X-wing build I ran is particularly good at engaging just about anything at the 100-point tier in a head-on assault and coming out on top (not to boast, but my prior tournament rounds to playing you are proof of that).  Assuming I can maneuver at least 3 or all 4 of my X-wings in range, I can reasonably expect to drop a ship like Biggs in the first exchange, second at the latest.  What killed it for me was losing Luke so early on in the actual fighting - something that had not happened in my seven prior games.

 

12-on-12 attack dice Rebel duels are short and painful no matter how you slice it.  I can't believe how fast you destroyed my first Rookie, and then how badly I tore up Biggs.  That was a brutal first exchange.

 

Thanks for the complement on my 2-turn maneuver :D  It was rather off-the-wall, but it worked well and it was the only ship I saw who could effectively pull it off.  I only wish I had had Luke do a 1-straight that turn, regain a shield, and take a shot at that Rookie of yours.  Might have been a better play.

 

Thanks again for such a great Top 4 match.  Maybe we can play again sometime :D


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#13 Rainbow_Chaser

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 04:16 PM

Thinking about it now, Luke + R2 + Draw Their Fire, Biggs, and x2 Rookies would probably be the better of the two builds.

 

I think I need to practice flying it though.


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#14 Grapthar91

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 11:13 AM

Dude, I just want you to know that you have inspired me to make an (hopefully) epic tournament journey in 2014.  Great story, but the thing that makes it great is, its true.  Congratulations on making the top four and thank you for the inspiration.  I'll see you at Worlds in 2014!


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