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Jeff Wilder

Quick and Dirty Fresno Regionals Report

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I'm old and busted, and I can't concentrate on taking notes or pictures while my mind is in tournament mode, so my apologies if I get any details wrong. It's not a reflection of any squadrons or players at Fresno -- it was an unqualified positive experience. (Okay, slightly qualified ... the seven total hours on the road were a grind, given the personal outcome. But that was it.)

I fly with Golden Gate Aces, from the SF Bay Area. There were about 12 of us there, I think.

Pretty sure Fresno ended up with 57 players. Six rounds, top-eight cut. I elected not to use my Store Champ bye, saving it for Mountain View. I'm actually glad I didn't, but who knows? The TO was Garrett, who IMO did a good job. There were some people grumbling over multiple re-pairings, and he got some community help with necessary pairings at the end, but he was friendly and engaged throughout, moving quickly to make rulings, and I'm pretty sure he was the only official TO. I know how hard it is to TO a sizable tourney, so I was pushing back against the grumblers a little bit. Give the dude some slack, guys.

I flew Brace Yourself:

Biggs + R4-D6 + IntegA (26)
Keyan + Opportunist + ProTorp + AdvS + GuidC (40)
Wes + DTF (awww, yeah ... ) + R2-D2 + IntegA (34)

Round 1 - I was matched against Steven, a super-relaxed, super-nice Mynock Squadron associate. He was flying Chewbacca / Kanan. He hadn't, of course, seen what Brace Yourself can do, so he flew pretty much into the teeth, leading with Chewie, I suspect counting on HP, crit immunity, and Kanan-nerfing to carry him through the other side with superior positioning on me. Chewie took 8 damage in the first combat exchange (Wes whiffed, but pulled a token), and (because he had initiative) I guessed he would turn Chewie further into me rather than fleeing, and he did, so Chewie died in two rounds, even with some Kanan-nerfing in the second round. Steven recovered, though, and made it as much of a game as possible with 45% of his offense gone, and killed Biggs before Kanan dropped. Judging from his skill at that recovery, I count myself lucky to have caught him flat-footed, which is the only reason I got 100-26 (1-0, 174 MoV).

Round 2 - Dallas Parker's Crack Swarm. Goddammmmmmmit. Re-pair? Oh, awesome! Okay, different table, so now ... Dallas Parker's Crack Swarm. Really, X-Wing gods? Following Theorist's (IMO, well-considered) write-up of ID strategy, I called over the judge and offered Dallas an ID. He declined, citing, "Too early." (Really, he was citing, "This is a 65% / 35% match-up in my favor, and that's before any skill disparity, so, yeah, let's play.") I suspect, at first, he was regretting the decision. I was making good choices, the dice were definitely rewarding me, and he was down two Blacks (neither having used Crack Shot) before I lost Biggs. But he gradually out-flew me, the dice regressed toward the mean, and I fell 51-100 (1-1, 225 MoV, and wishing SoS was still a thing). Dallas is always fun to play against, and I never play above the Regionals level, so I don't get the chance often.

Round 3 - Chihuahuas! Another Crack Shot swarm (five A-wings with Adaptability, Crack Shot, and Autothusters). I cannot remember the player's name (orange "Keep Calm" shirt, definitely with a big group), and I wish I could, because he deserves credit for his good grace, in light of the one-sided game. (EDIT: Don T!) I'm not afraid of this list, given the lack of Howlrunner and Brace Yourself's own semi-immunities, and in a vacuum I'd put it at 60% / 40% in my favor. That's complicated by the fact that people that can fly A-wings well enough to take a swarm to a tournament are usually very good flyers, and the Chihuahua-wrangler was no exception. ... Unfortunately, the dice said -- oh, and unbelievably emphatically -- "Nee." I have never been involved in a more one-sided game in my favor. (Several in the other direction, but never one like this in my favor.) My reds were on fire, my greens were amazing, and his greens were garbage. There was simply nothing he could do, and no amount of great flying could help. His A-wings popped one by one. (To give you the most memorable example, I shot with Wes at Range 3, through a rock: 3 vs. 5 + AutoT + an evade token. He took a shield hit.) He was justifiably upset at the ridiculous disparity, but he never took it out on me. I did what I always hope people will do when this happens to me: play fast and make it clear you, as the benefactor, are well aware of your good fortune. I saw him at the end of the tourney, and he was in good spirits, despite his dice not having turned around much, so whatever community he's with is lucky to have him. 100-0 (not a typo; 2-1, 425 MoV).

Round 4 - Finally! The list I designed Brace Yourself to beat: triple JumpBastards, run by Gabriel, who I suspect is either Spanish or Portuguese. Heavy language barrier, but mostly on my side. He was very friendly, and impressively excellent at maneuvering three Large bases. And, wouldn't you know it, my good fortune from Round 3 flips around (not completely, because Round 3 was stoopid, but pretty bad). Gabriel only got one torpedo away, for 2 damage, and almost never fired with any modifications except for Wired on his Jump-bumper, but simply never got any non-hits, and I was around 10% evades. I also drew two crits in the game, both Direct Hits. I had killed the two Torp-boats (because, I mean, that's what my list does), and the Jump-bumper was down to 1 shield, when Keyan fell. 68-100 (2-2, 493 MoV).

At this point, I figured I had only the slimmest of chances, but my MoV was excellent (given my record) and I was still having fun, so I didn't drop.

Round 5 - William, another just unbelievably nice guy (X-Wing players have the highest incidents of being great than any gaming community I've been in, in my mumble-mumble years of gaming), flying Lothal + super-Dash. He was inexperienced (this was his first tournament), and it showed. In the first turn, he gave my entire squadron a shot on Dash with no tokens. Dash took 5 shields, and with no tokens and (consistently) poor red dice, he did no damage in return. In the second turn, I read his Lothal move and turned my attention there, doing 9 damage or so and blocking any 5-K next turn. Dash again, token-less due to inexperienced maneuvers, and rolling bad reds, landed no damage. He landed 1 hit on Biggs from the Lothal. I read the Lothal again, slipped into Range 1 with Keyan and an AdvS-BR, K-turned Wes and Biggs behind him, and landed 10 total damage. I was in position for Dash the next turn, and ended it there, having lost 1 shield for the game. I hope William sticks with the game, because he seems to love it and with experience and love comes "being good at it" (awww, yeah ... ). I don't know his final record, but if he only got two wins, I hope he knows that's excellent for a first tourney. 100-0 (3-2, 693 MoV).

So now I've done the math and I'm not mathematically eliminated, for sure, though my chances aren't great. I do have the highest MoV of the 3-2 players, and I have pretty good MoV for the entire list of players.

Round 6 - Unfortunately, I get paired against Michael Timpe, an excellent fellow GGA flyer. He designs fantastic squadrons, and I only say "unfortunately" because the squadron he has is IMO both good and ballsy (Slaver x2 with fantastic crew, JumpBastard torp-boat), but it's the kind of squadron Brace Yourself does eat for lunch. And that's pretty much what happened. I jumped quickly on what I think may have been a spacing mistake (one Slaver too far away), and mauled it, killing it and landing a little damage on the torp-boat in the second round of shooting. Over the next three or four rounds, he had landed damage on Biggs, but lost the other Slaver. Once I had position on the JumpBastard and landed a little damage, Michael conceded, even though I'm 90% sure he could have killed Biggs. It wouldn't have mattered (as it turned out) at all, but it was a gentlemanly gesture, and one of these days I'll get the chance to return it. 100-0 (4-2, 893 MoV(!)).

So, yeah, in six games, I didn't even lose Biggs in three of them. (We will ignore the ridiculous luck-fest of Round 3, and the likelihood I would have lost Biggs in Round 6, because it doesn't sound as impressive if I explain all that.)

The sweat begins, and as results come in I climb to 8th. But then ... there's only one game left, and whomever wins that game will push ahead of me. I finish 9th, 4-2, 893 MoV. (I am not certain, but I believe my MoV, even at 4-2, was the third-highest for the Swiss rounds. It was definitely in that ballpark.) Ah, well. Three GGAs made the top nine, which is pretty good. Our community is stronk!

One of them was my ride-mate, Darryl, and although he was willing to grab his dice and leave, as we'd decided we'd do before even coming to Fresno, I could tell he wanted to stay and play. This is Darryl's best big tourney finish (2nd in Swiss), to my knowledge, so I told him he could stay and play if he wanted, and as I expected, he jumped at the chance. Another GGA, Sam, did grab his dice and go, so -- since Darryl was staying -- I decided to stay in and play as well.

Top-Eight - I was matched up with James, another guy there with at least a few friends, and (as usual) another great guy to play X-Wing with. He was running Vader / Inquisitor / Omega Leader. We played cat-and-mouse for 45 minutes, because while he could arc-dodge me, if I did get my guns turned on a ship, he knew I could erase it. So he nibbled at my edges, getting Biggs' shields with a Homing Missile from Vader, then Wes's shields, while I scratched Vader's paint. It's hard to explain why, because there was not a tremendous amount of action in the game, but it was a really excellent game. I never quite managed to get a good Opportunist shot with Keyan's torp (given the aces' action economy, I needed Wes and Keyan on the same target, and James was very careful and skillful enough to not let that happen. (He was 1st after Swiss, after all!)) He eventually killed Biggs. Keyan was down a couple of shields, Wes was at 1 shield, 2 hull, and I'd gotten 1 shield off Vader, 2 shields off the Inquisitor, and I think 1 shield off Omega Leader.

Time was called. I had two shots: Wes at Range 1 versus the Inquisitor (neither of us with tokens) or Range 2 versus OL with 4 HP (Hull Upgrade) and an evade token. Keyan had a Range 2 versus OL, but ... Keyan's TL was on Vader, who had slipped out of arc. (I should say, at this point, that if I hadn't second-guessed myself and AdvS-BRed to try to catch Vader, I would have had Keyan -- with TL, a Proton Torp, and Opportunist -- pointed at the Inquisitor. But I did second-guess myself. It was a bad move, and IMO not one I would have made earlier in the day.) So James has Biggs' 26 points. The Inquisitor was worth 34, I think and had 2 HP.

So I rolled on the Inquisitor: hit, hit, blank, blank. Inquisitor's roll: blank, blank ... evade. Ouch for me!

Great, great game. Those are the games that I genuinely don't mind losing (and I seriously hate losing). It put a positive capper on the disappointment of being Bubble Boy, and took the trip from being "pretty good" to being "I'm very glad I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to go." (BTW, Darryl also lost his Top Eight game in a re-match with ... I wanna say "Joe"? 17-year old Mynock Squadron kid.)

Thanks again to Crazy Squirrel Games in Fresno, to the TO (Garrett), and to all my phenomenal opponents. Congrats to my squadron-mates, Darryl and Sam, who have pretty new dice! D. Yun, among about 20 people I am really glad I got to meet in person, I'm calling you out in particular. Continue to be most excellent and admirable in the field of ... just plain overall being right about stuff in general.

Edited by Jeff Wilder

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This is James. I really like our match. You had the first squad that freaked me out! I knew that any slips would spell disaster. And the naked dice on both sides saved my bacon. Jeff is a force to be reckoned with!

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This is James. I really like our match. You had the first squad that freaked me out! I knew that any slips would spell disaster. And the naked dice on both sides saved my bacon. Jeff is a force to be reckoned with!

Thanks, James. You have the qualities that make a great Imperial Aces pilot: patience and selective aggression. Such a fun game and a great ending.

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Unfortunately, no! Dice were, as they should be IMO, named out after Swiss. I could have literally won the Regional ... but not gotten dice.

You're screwing me out of a set of Regionals dice! What do you expect me to do now, earn them myself?

That's the last straw, Jeff: we can no longer be friends.

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You're screwing me out of a set of Regionals dice! What do you expect me to do now, earn them myself?

That's the last straw, Jeff: we can no longer be friends.

 

I mean, but ... if I had gotten dice, there is literally no proof I wouldn't have sent them to you, so that's worth something, right?

 

And, yeah, Dallas did end up winning it, Blair.

Edited by Jeff Wilder

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Well done, Jeff! You're making me regret skipping that regional... But I should see you at the Mountain View event! It's my only chance to play in a regional, so go easy on me!

 

Fat chance, Andrew, after the scare you gave me last year.  I'll be lucky if I manage to hang with you and make it a game.  And I say that before taking into account how lost I am in the current meta.

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