Sunday, August 7, 2016

NA Championships - Final Day

I headed in to the final day of the NA Championships with a 2-1 record, 23 tournament points, and 4th place overall.  I was certainly surprised to be in that spot after my first round loss.

This year I had traveled with a friend, and frequent Armada opponent, Chris.  We had chosen different days for our prelims as we didn't want to to play each other.  Well, as luck would have it we both ended our days with 23 points.  There were 3 of us tied at 4th place with 23 points.  I was bummed that we might have to play each other on the final day.  But, the other player with 23 points decided to drop to play Imperial Assault.

This was great.  It meant one of us would play 3rd place and the other someone with 22 points.

Then that player changed his mind after apparently dropping the Imperial Assault tourney.  Our bad luck had him paired with the 3rd place player and Chris and paired up for our match.

Then, he dropped.  Again.  But, after pairings had been made.  So, 3rd place got an 8 point bye and we had to play each other.

I got to be honest and say I am a little peeved about this.  I understand dropping a tournament.  That's fine, but do it in a way that impacts as few other players as possible.  I don't think he could have dropped in a way that had a greater impact on the first round of Saturday's games.

Enough about that, let's look at the game.  Chris was playing 4 GSDs and a strong anti-squadron force.  We played Superior Positions and I setup in as neutral a formation as I could.  I used Jaina's Light to distract Demo for a turn and headed the rest of my fleet towards his other flank.

We both played very cautious, with me playing much too cautious.  I flanked Jaina's Light around Demo, but took such a wide path that it was really late to the party.  He got the jump on my squadrons and beat me badly there.  Chris made a strong choice and stopped his GSD just outside long range of my MC-30, which cost me a turn of shooting.

I finally killed one GSD on the final round, but came up short of killing a second with a poor roll.  With his squadron kills being worth more than the GSD, Chris earned a very narrow 6-5 win.

We just knew each others tricks too well and played too cautiously to get a larger victory.  Ah well.

The 6-5 loss knocked me 2-2 and 8th place overall.

I played Don, who had a 2 ship Rhymerball.  We again played Superior Positions.  I was hoping to use my activation advantage to force some good shots.

I made a big mistake though on my first turn.  Wanting a big win I decided to go after the ISD first with my whole fleet.  I was thinking I could get there before Demo could get to my flank.

I was wrong.  In hindsight I should have gone after Demo first.

My Assault Frigate did a great job of hanging around, but eventually Demo killed it with some help from some bombers.  I did start working over the ISD and had it in bad shape.

Then, I made my second, worse decision.  I started a round with the MC-30 at close range of the ISD and Jaina having it double-arced.  I thought the MC-30 could take a hit and I knew I needed to kill the ISD to have a shot at winning.  I didn't want to lose the double arc if he moved the ISD next.  Jaina did a lot of damage, but I really misjudged how hard he could hit the MC-30 and how much it had already been hit.

So, I lost the MC-30 and didn't kill the ISD.  Had I gone with the MC-30 first, I could have gotten it to safety and probably killed the ISD a round later.  Oops.  I went for maximum damage potential, when my typical instinct and play style is to preserve ships at all costs.

My squadrons did fine and I killed all but a couple of his.  But by running from Demo it was able to kill too earn a brick of objective tokens.  I lost 9-1.


So, I ended up in 12th place with a 2-3 record.  My losses on the final day were to the eventual 2nd and 3rd place finishers, so I had the highest strength of schedule.  

The final day certainly didn't go as I had hoped, but I still enjoyed my games and playing in the tournament overall.  I went first in all 5 games, although with 399 points it was only by choice once.

My fleet was fine and I feel like I could have won in my losses if not for some questionable choices.  All in all, my opponents were all very skilled and I was really impressed the level of play.  That Motti/Demo/Rhymer won isn't terribly surprising given the regionals data, but I am still impressed that the top 2 finishers each had only 2 activations.  I need to adjust some of my own biases about ship count.

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