And it’s off to a 500 person strong tournament we go…..
Hang on I swore I wouldn’t be doing tournaments anymore, so how did I end up heading to the worlds largest system open? Ah yes- my fellow Zombies, basically the chance to bimble off on a weekend away with mates, X-wing/ beers/ Campari (sadly) and no doubt some serious trash talking of each other…. Yep sold.
I’d quit X-wing for most of 2017 so this was part of getting back into the game and a chance to improve on the serious game play side.
Having finished the iBuy X-wing/ winter league of banter feeling relatively confident that I was getting better and improving on my past level of gaming I was slightly stuck on what to fly. Imperials had been fun but I needed a change. After some soul searching AKA Google and Meta-Wing I settled on the Dengar Assajj build known as
Dengar Jumpmaster 5K, Expertise, Title, K4 security droid.
Assajj Ventress Lancer Class, Lone Wolf, Latts Razzi, 2x Glitterstim, Countermeasures.
So basically Time Warp Assajj and a friend
In this instance a Dengar geared up for purely offensive duties to compliment the massive defensive capabilities of the Time Warp Assajj build, he’s more of a glass cannon than previous incarnations with all the red die being flung around so I’d need to use him for maximum damage output over a small amount of time knowing he’d explode fairly quickly.
I’d not owned or flown the Lancer Pursuit craft before so I had about 6 gaming nights over 2 months to get the hang of it.
The more I played the list the more I enjoyed the various levels of subtle play. Dengar is the obvious main threat and easiest to kill, However he’s also the most manoeuvrable and I found baiting the opponent into chasing a kiting Dengar a surprisingly successful way to lure the opponent into an ambush. The other and most satisfying option is using Assajj like a bowling ball to skittle their formation and turn in behind them whilst Dengar then picks and focus fires a specific target.
One thing was clear though- timing was everything and if I goofed the opening engagement it was game over. My worst match up was proving to be Poe Rey- I couldn’t get enough damage in early to get to the end game with enough left in the tank.
The week leading up to the open I lost every game, all 4 of them…. ZS’s Graham putting me to the sword comprehensively and repeatedly.
We drove up at lunch time Friday and skirted the M25 traffic jam, arriving in our hotel room in time to grab a quick warm game before evening registration….. Which I lost again…. Maybe I’d lost my way with the list? Mild panic setting in we registered and then headed to the bar at our Travelodge with a half dead Richard in tow (ManFlu).
Although staying in the bar looked mildly dangerous it paled in comparison to the decent sized troll that ducked through the door from the kitchen area, cleaver in hand and demanded to know what meat we desired to be hacked up in the carvery. Richard as already mentioned was not feeling great and stood next to me in the que gently banging a fossilised Potatoe against the serving tray in horror’d fascination whilst I tried to keep a straight face and order what I hoped against all hope wasn’t long pig.
Dinner survived and quick midnight drink of Campari (apparently popular in the 70’s, tastes like raw ethanol) which was being ruthlessly wielded curtesy of a wounded Ian and Brendon, who had just arrived via a DIY visit to A&E, this allowed for some X-wing talk followed by my teeth enamel being dissolved by the Campari before it was carefully tipped down the sink.
Saturday and the first thing to say is that the organisation of the event was very slick, the mood in the hall was very upbeat and it was great to see some familiar faces including local rivals the 186thand Firestorm Squadron- nice blokes all of them.
My aim for Saturday was to go get through the first round of cuts (2-1 record required) try for 4-2, settle for 3-3 and most of all play a good competent level of X-wing and not embarrass myself whilst wearing team colours…. Here goes:
Round 1 vs Gary Green at table 2
Oh great the list I hadn’t been able to beat. Assajj lined up on the far right, arc aimed in towards the centre and Dengar took a slightly right of centre position just out of range 2 and sitting in a lane of asteroid that would either allow me to slow roll forwards or kite along my board edge depending what Rey did.
I think Rey slightly over committed in towards Assajj allowing me to briefly focus fire on Rey before an unexpected Sloop caught me with my pants down and almost scuppered my plans. I bumped Dengar into Rey as much as possible to save him from certain death and was in my opinion extremely lucky with some hot rolls against Poe who blew up far too easily. Dengar died and in a nail biting finish Assajj rolled a natties hit/ hit/ Crit to win it.
Round 2 vs Rory Wilson at table 102
I’ll confess I can’t remember what Rory was flying, I completely forgot to take any pictures. I’m pretty sure it involved a Rebel Shuttle and friends but I have a total blank over the game other than Rory was a top bloke, gave me one of the awesome Scottish team Buckfast PTL cards and we had a very enjoyable and extremely close game.
Lunch break; where despite having a rucksack full of snacks I still panic bought a baguette and chips… which I hardly touched. I think I was slightly shocked that I had qualified for the next round and wasn’t heading to the bar for a Whiskey chaser.
Round 3vs David Robinson at table 40
Oh No, 500 players and round 3 see’s me paired up against one of my own team mates. Me and Dave looked at each other and both swore, as a positive at least one of us would go 3-0.
Assajj again kited down the right hand side of the board intending to try and draw the central Wookie formation out of position and Dengar held back hoping to pounce at an opportune time. Dave didn’t fall for the ruse and I was forced to commit earlier than I wanted and it became a close game of stripping damage where I could at the non reinforced arcs and hoping I could get a couple of Wookies off the board before I was down to one ship. A win but only just.
Result: Win and Qualifying for the next phase.
Round 4vs Ben Taylor at table 10
Normally I’d go for QD first and in hindsight this would have been a better option…. However things went south in the second turn of the game when I got the ship dials mixed up and Assajj parked on a rock facing straight towards the Decimator and QD… apparently I was now jousting.
Ben said afterwards that this completely threw him and was actually a sound option, problem was I’d planned for something completely different. I didn’t fly at all well and although I killed RACLO and managed to get a lucky hit on QD to strip the shields I goofed up my calculation of half points and began to run when I should have chased. Almost clawed it back but Ben deserved the win and rightfully got it.
Round 5vs Nick Purnell at table 21
Miranda Doni (K-wing) + Twin Laser Turret + C-3PO + Long-Range Scanners
Rey (YT-1300) + Expertise + Millennium Falcon (2) + Engine Upgrade + Finn + Kanan Jarrus
Arrgghh another Rey build, I slow rolled in my corner and tried to force a confrontation in amongst the asteroids which I got.
Dengar died as did Rey- Miranda could have run but instead stayed committed and after some hair raising dice rolls I managed to sneak enough damage through with Assajj to kill of the K-wing and win another match with only a couple of hull left.
Round 6vs Matt Hill at table 14
Despite this being effectively a knock out match for the cut to Sunday it was played in remarkably good spirits and Matt is one of the nicest fellows you could hope to meet. I opted for the slow roll and tried to take down the Wookie first whilst getting him caught between arcs, failing that I’d take the most opportune shot I could.
Eventually we ended up in the horribly familiar position of two hull left each and a dice off to win the game. Rey clocked up 4 hits and Assajj rolled an evade/ blank and lone wolfed to 2 evades and then spent Rey’s stress for another evade, leaving her on one health before suspiciously rolling another natties hit/hit/Crit for the umpteenth time during the day to win the match.
So I finished 5-1 for the day and qualified for the Sundays knock out stage. Final placing for Saturday: 49th out of 500. Non to shabby but every game was a knife edge from defeat. My MOV was a terrible 786 points which reflects how close those games were.
Turns out it was a late finish Saturday and several of the Zombies had already staggered back to a curry house near our hotel for some much needed R&R (Beer). The curry was good, the banter just as good (“Hey fella’s what’s this hyperspace thing?”) and then we staggered back for sadly more Campari and lemonade. I did try and introduce Jim Beam but apparently this was a 70’s themed room.
3am lights out with myself, a 6-0 Tom and a 5-1 Ian chatting for far too long into the small hours.
Round 7- Simeon Dellapina
This won’t take long to describe as it took Simeon a mere 20 minutes to wipe me off the board. I failed to plan properly and basically auto piloted as if I was playing a Rey Miranda build. Simeon had an excellent engagement strategy and I completely forgot about the Ion bombs. He dupped me into jousting towards the left board edge and promptly Ion’d Assajj off the board before Cluster mining Dengar into little crispy bits. Simeon was a gentleman and I couldn’t have lost to a nicer chap.
At this point I feel I should apologise to Jesper Hills of the 186th, having packed up my kit I shambled over to Tom (on a bye at 6-0) who watching Ians’ game against Jesper. Aware of another red shirt suddenly sitting on the sidelines Ian enquired about my game. Tired, and mental check points currently off-line I gave a somewhat crude reply. I felt instantly bad as my comment effectively interupted their game which is inexcusable.
Social faux pas over I was seamlessly integrated me into the Hyperspace tournament that was running in the next hall. I think in hindsight I would have been better dropping after my third game in Hyperspace, and definitely after my 5th. My sixth round opponent was not offered much of a game as my battery empty light was blinking inside my skull and I did little to test his skills. I finished on a 4-2 record for the Sunday but most of it was down to list mechanics as opposed to finesse flying.
However Game 3 of Hyperspace offered a surprise grudge match against another team mate (what are the odds?) and good friend…. Ian
The opening salvo from Ian was “Hey Simon, I’ve got a bye for the next round. Do you know who you are playing?”
Followed up during set up with a surprising“What level of trash talking?”…… I replied “Maximum?” curious to see what would happen…..
What followed was not exactly Queensbury rules including the new shiny gold Zombie Champion templates being used as a blinding distraction device, which only stopped after Ian accidently half blinded himself in the process.
When Matt strolled up with 20mins left and asked how the game was going I replied as smugly as possible:
“The game? The game good. The friendship… Less so.”
I still think the list is good and undervalued. I enjoyed flying it immensely and considering all I wanted was to be half way competitive it overperformed. The only thing I wonder is how close those games were and in a regular store champ setting would I make the cut with such an awful MOV?
Tournament wise this was a really well run event and I cannot say enough what a good experience the gaming on Saturday was, every game was against a friendly competitive opponent who was focused on playing a quality game in good spirits. Most of this was true for the Sunday although fatigue was playing a part in some of the games and I definitely would have been better dropping mid-afternoon.
A big shout out to all my Zombie Squad mates for making the weekend excellent. Especially Ian and Tom for the Campari and shield tokens.