If this is your first foray to the World’s biggest X-wing event, this may be a helpful little guide to survival. Even if a veteran of such, there might be a useful nugget below.
600 plus players
Due to population density and relative ease of travel, (ignoring the terrible road systems and poor public transport), the UK system open often attracts a fair old number of participants. One of the reasons it has sold out quicker and with more players than Uk Nationals and Euros over the years is that for all but the first event it has not been hosted at a gaming Expo and with the additional fees and accommodation issues that entails. Added to that, the system open events have the best participation prizes and a decent tournament structure for players of all abilities.
You get a great bang for your buck in terms of games and goodies.
The normal Stuff
You will see this in most tournament survival guides, but as always I recommend making sure you have plenty of water with you and sensible energy-boosting snacks. A chocolate bar whilst providing energy will be a quick hit followed by a slump. I would also recommend being aware that there may be gaps of 30 to 45 minutes between rounds due to the large numbers. If you are going to eat food on site, tactically decide the best moment to gather it, especially if you finish a round early.
Last year was impressive with 500 players getting match ups pretty smoothly and on time but expect to finish the sixth round at about 9pm on Saturday. With the likelihood of a pre-cut elimination round following for those on 5-1 records.
Last year the Sunday caused issues in terms of pairing times due to players dropping out of the side event, but I imagine the TO team have looked at their systems again for that this year with increased numbers taking part. This could still be a mildly late finish.
Check your ships and stuff
Templates, check, dice, check, dials, cards, space ships check as well as excuses like muh dice, bad matchup, road works on Chertsey road put me off, check! Anything else? Ticket, hotel accommodation, travel plans, printed off list, spare lists, options for Hyperspace, pen & paper, a bottle of Campari, cash or maybe rare 1.0 Alt art Omnicron group pilot cards for bartering in case a no deal Brexit happens on April 12th.
On a serious note, it might be worth to keep an eye on the news, especially if travelling from abroad. Its unlikely anything odd will happen, like the millennium bug a while back, whenever that was supposed to happen.
What list to take?
This depends on what one’s own objectives for having a good time or fun is. A recent blog by Paul Braggins looks at this and is worth a read.
We at Zombie Squadron cover a broad church of players from the winner of the most prestigious invitational event so far, the Corescant invitational 2018, to jank players and those just happy to dodge the rocks and roll dice making pew pew noises inside their heads. It’s worth putting your personal aspirations into some form of perspective before the event to gain maximum fun.
For example one of our guys who made the cut last year going 5-1 is having trouble ‘feeling it’ at the moment with a list that they are happy with flying. So in this regard, he has altered his expectations to not even to think about making the cut again but hopefully, a respectable 3-3 or 4-2 might be attainable.
More so just to enjoy six games on the Saturday and six on the Sunday with a list that might be fun to fly. Personally, I’d be happy with 4-2, and if it were better than that, it would be a real bonus.
Hyperspace list or Extended list?
If you feel that the Hyperspace event on Sunday might be more your jam then maybe playing the same list on both days could be a good option. Certainly, a variety of Hyperspace lists look competitive in extended. Some Zombies are looking to do this as they are looking to play either CIS, Galactic Republic, Resistance or First Order.
There has been little local data outside of Hyperspace to go on in regards to Extended in the UK of late. We know from recent System opens that quad Tie Phantom is good, Drea Renthal and friends are good, as well as Imperial Aces. We have also seen some breakthrough into cuts of First Order and Resistance. I would imagine we may see more Hyperspace styled lists in the extended event.
If we look at what has gone 5-1 at the recent Hyperspace events in the UK, we get an idea of what is probably good in this format going forward. The following lists at most lost only 1 game. All bar one set of results comprised of 6 round events, the other was a 5 round. This excludes the recent Dark Sphere event as I was already past writing it (and should have published this last week).
|List Type||No. of Lists|
|4 ship rebel salad||4|
|3 Yions 2X||1|
|mining guild swarm||1|
|Protectorate, Boba, escape pod||2|
|Vennie Lulo & Bastian||2|
|Vader mini Swarm||2|
|Kath Scarlet & tie mini Swarm||1|
|Darth Vader, Mareek & 2 tempests||1|
|Vader, Mareek plus 2 ties||1|
|Vader, Mareek, Vermeil||1|
|Kylo. Quickdraw plus one||1|
|vader duchess Soontir||1|
|Han, Fenn & old T||1|
|Han, Wedge, thane||1|
|Han Wedge, Norra||1|
|Poe and Nein||1|
|Fenn and 3 Zealous Recruits||2|
|Vader mini Swarm||1|
Interestingly Ollie Pocknell’s two wins with Fenn and 3 protectorates comes from a 7th and 11th place standing in the Swiss on 4-2. This may mean that the list in the right hands is a bit like double IG in 1.0. If you can navigate through the Swiss, you may be able to feast on the elimination bracket. Fang Fighter variance is something you may have to live with if taking it.
Top of Swiss
|4 ship rebel salad||1|
|Han Solo, Fenn Rau & Old Teroch||1|
Perhaps the interesting thing when looking at this small data snapshot is that both the winning lists and top of Swiss lists all look capable of doing the job in Extended.
Resistance 5s won the Dark sphere event which to me says that in the right hands they are quite potent, topping two in Swiss and taking the win in another.
What am I taking?
I’m slightly torn at the moment. I put Poe, Nein and Lulo down on the table to have a play and it turned out to be really good and fun. I have put a fair amount of time into the Imperial ace and mini swarm, and I’m still undecided on whether I take Duchess or Whisper as the accompanying ace in extended. Duchess is better with Fifth Brother, but you get to the points region of Whisper pretty quickly who has in-built shield upgrade comparatively. Soontir could be an option, also now hyperspace legal.
The resistance may be more interesting to fly versus the proven ability of the mini-swarm and the personal expectation to have a good crack of the whip with it. The internal conflict of “this will be fun” against “this should do well.”
Last year in a room of 500 players, over 6 rounds, I managed to play Ed from Firestorm Squadron from down the road, in round 2 and a Zombie off versus Dave in round 6. After getting knocked out of the cut by Jesper 1.0 from the 186th, I had a further Zombie off in round 3 of the Hyperspace on Sunday. Twelve of us made the trip last year and we had four inter-squad games in the main competitions. I expect to face a familiar face at some point again.
This in many ways is why we go to these big events. To catch up in person with some of our sparring partners from across the country or further afield. Most of the time, especially when your weekends are more limited to local events for local people, these are the people you only get to see in person a couple of times a year.
The Talk- still managing expectations
Prior to last year’s trip, I gave a pep talk to a few of the guys for whom it was their first Open. One of them was fairly new at the game and he was considering not going as he deemed himself not good enough to play and maybe a better player should have his ticket
“That’s silly,” I said, “look, there will be 500 or so people there. A third of them will be good players, another third will be average players with a variety of lists and the last third will be bad.”
“That may well be you, the bad players,” pause for nervous laughter, “but at some point, you will play people of your own level. You’re not expecting to win the thing, so there is no performance pressure, so just go and enjoy playing some games. You will probably win one game, anything else is a bonus”
So, with leadership like that…
But it did the trick. Settled some nerves, confirmed their own expectations and he went and had a good time and won one game, which he was delighted with.
At the end of the day, there can be only one tournament winner out of 630 odd players. Although a win for anyone is playing 12 games of one’s favourite game over the course of the weekend in the company of friends.
I have been really enjoying the Sith takers podcasts. They are intentionally on the short side, but as the old saying goes, less is more. Really worth a listen.