If you are not part of a squadron or you have a loose play group, maybe it’s time to set a squadron up. This was not the article I originally intended to write. My thoughts on Poe Rey and making the cut can wait for another day.
At 500 players the UK system Open 2018 was the biggest X-Wing tournament to date. This was also the most players, eleven, that we had managed to get together for a large event. We have about 19 active members altogether. It’s not a huge swathe of bodies but reasonable enough, encompassing a range of player ability and experience.
The eleven of us set off on the Friday at various points in the day to travel up to Birmingham. I was driving up the rear collecting Brendon, Chris and Tom on route. Sadly I got derailed by my own stupidity in the afternoon and ended up in A&E for a few hours. Not perfect but we made in it in what seems the normal chaotic less than optimum style. Little did I realise that I was chauffeuring greatness… Brendan in his first major competition happily clearing up hanger bay for his first title. Tom on the other hand had decided that loosing was for other people and went on a 6-0 rampage on day1.
“Do not show off about your Hangar Bay win: no-one cares.”
Bob dee, Taking the Sith, (I take slight issue with this as I won a hanger bay at the 2017 open. It was the highlight of my year).
Brendon was somewhat modest about it and it didn’t register with me till Monday afternoon when I was asking for the results to find out who qualified to win our internal ‘Top Zombie at the System Open,’ competition. More accurately a quest for last place with shiny gold templates for the winner which they get to hold till some other designated tournament, a GIT GUD spoon for the loser. I should have trigged at Sunday morning breakfast when the nomination for the Barrowman shirt was Brendon. The scrubs table, (those that played in Banger Hay or whatever it’s called), seemed somewhat gleeful in their nomination.
Tom Forstner did somewhat well on the Sunday and made the actual final people cared about. This did take the suspense out of the scoring system. Going 11-1 in the main event secured the title despite a late proposition of 20 bonus points for those playing with flu or severe finger injuries. I only gained Richard’s support in this motion.
We made up 2.2% of the players at the event yet managed to have three Zombie on Zombie matches in the main event plus a further Zombie Mirror match in the Hyperspace, (this we won’t speak of). Five players made it to stage 2 then three into the cut. It was harsh on Dave though as the only two defeats he got in the main event where both against Simon and I. He went 5-1 in Hyperspace and I reckon he would have made the cut if he didn’t get drawn against familiar opposition. I knocked him out in round six which was kind of bitter sweet to say the least.
Most importantly everyone enjoyed themselves no matter where they finished. The group curry was quite entertaining on the Saturday night and it made me pause to think how we ended up here.
“If you wanna go fast go alone , if you wanna go far go together.” Rasta Maice speaking on either the Mynock or 186th squadron Podcast.
I couldn’t remember which podcast but both interviews were after the Euros at the height of the Leebo meta. It struck a chord inside that in some ways we had been a bit lax on the building and fostering the Zombie Squadron Community.
Back in the dark times of Woking First Founding Games club floundering at the brink of extinction the then chairman and founder stated that we either wind it up or do something to save it. The club had primarily been a Warhammer 40K club with a young group of Yughio players that also called it home. Once 6th edition and 7th edition hit as well as an out of town club relocating in a local pub the 40K scene vanished and so did the card players when they mainly went off to college and university.
So with the reins being handed to Simon and I we rebranded, set up a website and made T-shirts. First part and hardest part was choosing a new name. The idea of the club was to be X-wing orientated as that was what the cool kids were playing, (that’s me), but to still offer facilities for other systems. I hated the name at first . I can’t remember what the other options were but I felt it was like the least bad choice.
On the other hand the wife had taken a vague interest and couldn’t see the problem with the name. Simon then sent some concept art work for a logo which he had done to be sent on to a graphic designer friend based round the Zombie Squadron name. It was growing on me and at least it was not too star wars or X-wing to stop other players of other systems frequenting the club.
A grand opening night in early January 2016 was well attended but by March, Peter, the former chairman, pulled the plug on the venue. That left the two of us debating what to do with the ‘image rights,’ for lack of a better term. Initially not wanting to see the work we put in go to waste we discussed with our former sister club Tolworth First founding, (now called First Founding games club), whether they wanted to take it on and forge forward with it.
They had just had to move venue which came with increased cost and a bit of tension. Over an Ice cream at Creams we amicably agreed to disagree about the direction and what each party wanted although did agree that the mint ice cream sundae was rather nice. This left us deciding that we didn’t need a physical venue as such and could build an X-wing Squadron a bit like the 186th Squadron. The gaming community itself was shifting from independent gaming clubs to groups playing at the wealth of new independent gaming stores.
Build it and they will come: Slowly, slowly, catchy Members
We started with four, then it grew slowly. With Graham, Chris and Traitor Phil added, five of us hit Yavin 2016 in the first big away trip before taking three teams of three to the UKTC 2016 where one of our teams finished in 11th spot with a 4-2 record. The other two were 3-3 and 2-4 which isn’t bad and the whole experience had been great at expanding membership and creating a team atmosphere.
“and remember never to measure success by results just by fun had , create a family not a team then your always winning brother.” Rasta Maice
The problem being as mentioned above somewhere, “we had been a bit lax on the building and fostering the Zombie Squadron Community.” In retrospect I felt I took the foot off the pedal for a bit. After a couple of defections to other squadrons, (sadly not particularly interesting or as dramatic as it sounds), and interest in how to join, I had to set out a vague structure, (thanks to Andrew Pattison of the 186th for help). In the summer of 2017 we were flapping about a bit.
The build up to UKTC 2017 naturally helped, as well as our local store Ibuywargames running a league through the winter months. It was not the greatest league format but what it did do was bring everyone together and swell the ranks. We got three teams again to the UKTC with 4th spot and 5-1, (only losing to the Warlords in Round 5 and we didn’t need a toilet break), the others on 4-2 and a 2-4.
Much fun was had though regardless of results which fired everyone’s enthusiasm for the Open.
Our newest and least experienced member Richard, (those of you that played him at the open will probably be laid up in bed now with flu, thematic Zombie right), was pondering about pulling out of the system open a few weeks before as he was feeling that he would not be good enough. Maybe a better player should have his ticket. I pointed out that for a start that with 500 players, about a third will be bad, which probably includes you, (not you the reader, well maybe), but I expect you should win a game or two on the weekend. Above all it should be fun regardless. It took me six months to get to grips with things when I started playing in wave four. There are so many more options today to get your head around.
I’m not one for overtly touchy feely stuff whether in person or in writing but felt moved when I received this from Richard on Monday:
“Thank you. You and the zombies have really helped build my confidence, and take the edge off with the banter. I appreciate the encouragement and, especially this weekend, it’s great to feel accepted and part of the group”.
All hail Tom Forstner our new Zombie Overlord
Martyn may have walked away with the big trophy but did he walk away with reflective gold range templates which can blind both you and your opponent by just lying on the playing surface or a get shitty mug?
Conversation with Lloyd Bowman 186th Squadron whilst watching hte start of the final:
Lloyd: “You must feel a bit like a proud father watching this.”
Moi, slightly screwing face up: “Well it is mathematically possible just about.”
Lloyd: “Thanks for that image.”
I’m not stupid or vain enough to think that as a play group we can lay claim to contributing nothing more than minutely to Tom’s run to the final. A couple or percentage points at best and a bit of a chin wag about list options when I decided to run Reylo after the London Regionals, (sorry Horton). Good leadership percolates from the bottom up as Bill Walshe was fond of saying and from my rugby playing days a common phrase was you are only as good as your worst player on the pitch, in ability and attitude.
Unless you make a concise effort with everyone around you in your local play group no one gets better nor gets to enjoy the game more. There is no point being a big fish in a small pond. You need to make the rest of the fish grow too, into a shoal. Like most squadrons we’ve never set a success criteria for being able to join and will continue to do so. It’s more about attitude and the two main away trips each year to the Open and UKTC. The Wednesday X-wing nights now at Ibuy are much more relaxed and banter filled and all it took for that was getting a few more idiots to buy a red T-shirt with a stupid name on it.
It was not something either of us dreamed of doing when we first started playing X-wing and were quite happy to let Woking First Founding die during the early giddy heights of discovering X-wing in summer 2014. Even when the ball was rolling we didn’t expect it to grow or achieve much. I can only thank everyone that has ever been involved with Zombie Squadron, even the two traitors, for their enthusiasm as well as countless others in the X-wing community.
So if you are just a group of mates playing X-wing without a squadron, go get some T-shirts and stick a less stupid name on it. You never know where that will take you.