I didn't know I would be able to play in the tournament until the night before. I had been on the east coast the previous week and was fighting some major jet lag, but opted to make the 2.5 hour drive north for the tournament anyways. Despite some hiccups I'm glad I made the trip as it was fun to meet a bunch of other players and get some games in.
The tournament was a part of the Evergreen Tabletop Expo. It's an effort to get a tabletop gaming expo going in the Seattle area and it features a bunch of different FFG Regional tournaments as well as a few other events. It is only in its second year, so we will see if it takes off in the future. It was fun having the other tournaments going on at the same time as it added to the atmosphere of the event.
Unfortunately, it also led to the big issue with this tournament. In order to allow players to play in both the X-Wing and Armada events they opted for a 4:30pm start time. Well, the first round didn't actually start until 5:30 and the X-Wing tournament was still going, so it was a moot point. This late start meant that we were up against the deadline of the convention center who said that we had to be out of the place at midnight. Because of this the last 2 rounds had to have their time shortened considerably.
I appreciate that the organizers wanted to maximize the attendance opportunity, but it put a lot of stress on the players and the judge. It also meant I had a long drive home after midnight.
Aside from that issue, the venue was actually really nice and the organizers pleasant to work with. Hopefully they get this ironed out and the event can be stronger next year.
For myself, I opted to play with a fleet I had worked up in my head, but hadn't hit the table yet. Normally, that's a big no-no for me. I think the first rule of tournament play is to go with a fleet that you know how to play really well. In this case though I made an exception. The fleet that I took is one that I am thinking of taking to GenCon this summer and this seemed like a good chance to find out how it would hold up in a serious tournament. I will write up another post about the fleet later, but this is what I took:
2x Assault Frigate MKIIb w/ Gunnery Teams
2x CR-90a w/TRCs - one with Jaina's Light, the other with Ackbar and Leia
I was going for something that was simple and well rounded.
I also completely neglected to take photos during the tournament Sorry for that, you are stuck with a wall of text. As this was a new list for me I focused more on how the pieces of the fleet worked in my games.
Round 1 - My first opponent was playing 2 VSDs, a Raider, and a Rhymerball. I was excited about this matchup as it gave me the chance to see how well my YT-2400s would do at chewing up his squadrons. I ended up going first and chose for us to play Superior Positions.
I opted to deploy the Jaina's Light corvette on a flank, with the rest of my fleet in the center. This ended up being a mistake, as I missed the firepower of that TRCR90 early in the game. He played aggressively with his Rhymerball and our squadrons were engaged early on. My YT-2400s were able to really start chewing up his squadrons. I got an early shot in on his Raider, but wasn't able to follow it up. This ended up being important as the Raider not only survived, but used Impetuous to really chew up my squadrons. With out the Raiders help, my YTs would have mopped him up. As it was, his squadrons didn't do much damage to my ships and I was able to start working over his VSDs. I ended up dropping them both, but his squadrons chipped in just enough Superior Positions tokens to keep the game close. Normally I am able to earn plenty of tokens myself, but the combination of mis-deploying my CR-90s and losing the YTs kept me behind in that fight. Still, I had a 7-3 win as I ended up not losing any of my ships tanks to some timely Engineering commands.
Even though I lost all 6 YTs, they were really important in this game. They chewed up the Rhymerball and earned their points back in squadron kills. If I had mixed in even a single early squadron command, it would have gone even better for me. So, I learned quite a bit about my new list. The YTs are great, but should get one squadron command early on. I also need to deploy so that I can concentrate fire.
Round 2 - My second match was against another Imperial player. This time it was Screed leading an ISD, Demolisher, and 2 Raiders backed up with 4 TIE Fighters. I felt like this was a good matchup for me and deployed to use range to my advantage. We played Most Wanted which ended up being a great deal for me in the end.
I had gotten used to playing some fairly conservative players in the FLGS, so having my opponent jump his ISD to speed 3 and be on me on the second turn caught me off guard. I'd fought that style before, but just hadn't been expecting it. He coordinated his ISD and Demo really well and had me in a pretty bad spot. He was able to use gunnery teams to hit both of my assault frigates with full frontal shots from his ISD. In each case he got the one accuracy needed to block my brace. This was the first game I ever found myself wishing for ECM. Demo was then able to kill an AF and Ackbar's CR-90. I should have activated Ackbar earlier and gotten him out of the way. I was able to kill Demo, but some poor rolls meant I only stripped shields from the ISD despite the extra Most Wanted dice.
He had misdeployed his Raiders a bit and they were late to the party. I was able to escape with the 2nd AF and tried to start pounding the ISD, but his squadrons and Raiders arrived just in time to tie up my YTs. It was looking pretty bad. This is where my opponent's aggression caught up with him. He ended up flying off the board with the ISD, granting me a ton of points. Nothing else died after that although I tried hard to kill a Raider. The match swung on my opponent's piloting error and I ended with an 8-2 win.
This fleet is the first time I've tried placing my admiral in a light ship. I learned a lesson here about how to protect it. Had I activated it first, it could have gotten out of harm's way. The assault frigates were great in the first game, but in this game their dice rolls were really lacking. I missed having some dice modification, but am not sure how to make that work.
Round 3 - While I was undefeated at this point I knew I was unlikely to win as the top players had larger wins than me. Still, I felt good about my chances of a Top 8 finish and some shiny new dice. I was also learning a lot about the fleet that I was playing.
My final opponent was playing a Mothma swarm with 3 MC-30s and 2 CR-90b's with Jan, 2 YT-2400s, and 2 YT-1300s. I knew that I had a significant range advantage in this game. My opponent went first and selected Superior Positions. Again, my opponent rushed at me faster than expected and managed to get a CR-90b in front of my 2 assault frigates. I had debated whether to place a Nav order 2nd on my stack when setting up, but opted for Engineering instead. Had I gone with Nav, my AF would have escaped and saved a bunch of bumping. I also could have used Leia to switch the order, but forgot. It ended up costing me a bunch of damage and misplayed shots.
Usually I am also careful about staggering my conga lines, so that the rear ship can get around the front, but had forgotten that as well. This is the first time I had ever had one of my lines really blocked. Oops.
The game went on with us trading shots and eventually I lost both assault frigates. I was able to kill and MC-30 and a CR-90. The squadron match was pretty much a wash. Had I snuck in a squadron command it could have gone better for me. It ended up being a very close match, but I was slightly ahead based on having collected 7 Superior Position tokens. It was a game I could have easily won or lost, so a 5-5 seemed appropriate.
20 points in the end was enough to put me in 4th place, although I was 5 points out of first. I would have needed a 10-0 win to even tie for fist in that last round. That's okay. I accomplished my goals for the tournament:
- I played 3 new, great players with different fleets and tactics than I am used to.
- I learned a lot about the fleet I was flying and how I might refine the list and tactics.
- I did well enough to bring home some cool promo materials.