With all of the talk I have been doing here on the Store Championship Season lately, it was high time to put my money where my mouth is and go out and try to win one.
Greetings all, Ed here from NOVA Squadron Radio! Today I will review my performance in my first Store Championship of the 2015 Season!
A First Time for Everything
While this might come as a surprise to some of you with as much as I have been talking about them, I have never actually played in an X-Wing Store Championship before. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true. I didn’t really get serious about X-Wing until after the Store Championship Season of 2014, and by that time we were looking forward to Regionals, with Store Championships a distant memory.
So up until this past weekend, I had never had the opportunity to play in one before. If you are a fan of the podcast you know that I missed out on my first opportunity two weeks ago due to a previous family engagement. So I was really itching to get out there and roll dice with the best of them. When the guys from the Pittsburgh X-Wing Club announced they were making the two hour plus drive to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio to participate in the Underhill’s Games Store Championship I jumped at the chance!
We loaded the crew up into the minivan, with Chad my co-host driving, his son Logan, his girlfriend Linda, and Logan’s Brother Josh in tow, and we made the long journey out to Ohio to take part in this amazing event.
The Details of the Event
The Event was slated for six rounds of swiss pairings at 60 minute timed tables to be broken out to a Top 8 playoff. We had 24 participants that day, which moved the round number to five rounds of swisss, mercifully so considering how late it ran and the drive back home! Registration started at noon and dice rolled at 1 pm. CJ Gillespie (Osoroshii from the FFG Forums) ran the event like clockwork, with only one hiccup that I caused! Also, he was kind enough to meet us at McDonalds and hang out with us for about an hour before the event. This had to easily be my favorite part of the trip as it was really cool to put a face and a voice to a name in the FFG forums. CJ was a lot of fun to hang out with and I look forward to seeing him and his gang again!
So no big secret here, if you are a fan of the podcast you know this is the list I have been talking about for some time now. I absolutely love it and it plays exactly as I need it to, with a lot of hidden tricks in the bag to help me out of sticky situations. Of the three named VT-49 pilots, Rear Admiral Chiraneau (a.k.a. Chirpy) to me has the most offensive output and the most potential. At this juncture in the meta, when piloting a Large-Based turreted ship, Engine upgrade is almost a given to allow them to be able a better job arc dodging. Mara Jade has her uses and helps to punish those ships trying to get you into range one with stress for their troubles.
Now, when you add in Ysanne Isard you get to do a little neat trick with her free evade action in the combat phase. Because this is an action (don’t be stressed here guys, because it is an Evade Action after all), you can then Push the Limit in the combat phase to perform a third action. I have talked at length about the power of action economy in this game and any ship that can pull off triple actions in a turn is highly regarded as some of the strongest ships in the game. This combo is intense and can really pull off some cool tricks.
My personal favorite is the old Evade + Boost in the combat phase to further arc dodge in that round. But you can pull off some other tricks as well. Let’s say you have a target lock from the previous turn, and you plan to do a green maneuver which will force you to overlap another ship. No problem! Because it is in the combat Phase when you get your free Evade you can then PTL to Focus for example. Overall this combo is just deadly as it permits that triple action threat.
Echo is without a doubt my favorite Phantom pilot. I started flying her when I won the Phantom at Imdaar Alpha and immediately attached myself to Echo. She just has so many options with her declaok lanes and her ability to ‘step back’ with her decloak and 1-Turn is just amazing. She needs Advanced Cloaking Device (ACD) and Veteran Instincts (VI) and these upgrades should be considered standard on any named Phantom. Rebel Captive makes the decision to shoot at Echo a harder choice and Fire Control Systems (FCS) allows Echo to do some big time damage in the mid to late game on big ships as she can Focus and have a Target Lock already.
Round One Swiss: Let the Games Begin!
So, I want to start out first by stating that aside from one game in swiss, I played everybody I drove to Ohio with. Now, this was a little disappointing I will admit, as I did not drive two and a half hours to play people I could have played in my basement. However, this was by no means the TOs fault at all; it is just how the pairing worked out. This also meant was that all of my guys were doing really well and were floating up to the top tables. So in a way I was really happy for them, and of course really unhappy that I had to play them. This is my only complaint about the whole event, and it was really unavoidable.
All lists and matchups for the event can be found HERE so I will only hit the high points of the lists and mostly cover the head to head matchups.
So round one was against Logan, Chad’s son, and his four ship Wedge-centered Rebel Build. This same build had crushed me 100-0 on the previous Thursday’s practice game. So I was not looking forward to it as despite what it looks like, Logan knows how to beat Phantoms with this list. With Echo hard countered and likely dead, Chirpy would be doomed.
However this time I played it much smarter, as I kept Echo as far away from Wedge as I could, and managed to get two early kills by pulling the B-Wings off of the board. When those two ships dropped off, I played keep away for the rest of the match, doing my best to keep an injured Echo still on the board. In the end, Wedge tried to hunt down Echo and Chiry poured on enough damage to kill him. When time was called, he only had the Y-Wing left on the board. I had one hull left on Echo and he was half way through Chirpy. Logan would go on to make Top 4 with this list, for the record, so he really was one of the better players in the field that day. Result 77-0 Win
Round Two Swiss
There was only two things I was really worried about facing off against with my list and that was either Whisper, or another PS 9 or better pilot build. When I pulled Louis in round two and found out he was flying both I knew I was in trouble! The list was basically VI-Whisper plus VI-Boba Fett with a Heavy Laser Cannon (HLC). Ugh! This match up spelled bad news for me all over it. Both pilots would be able to shoot Echo before she could cloak and most likely vaporize her before I could do anything.
My plan going into most matches is that Echo is going to die anyway, this is a given. Most people focus her down because they are scared to death of that ship, so I plan to lose that ship every game. The trick is if she can take enough points off of the board before she dies. Going into this game my plan was to trade Echo for Whisper and leave it as a shoot out between Chirpy and Boba, and I was confident I would win.
So on the key round where I knew I was going to lose Echo, Louis did some pretty good flying and didn’t lose Whisper like he was supposed to. This left Chirpy to fend off both Whisper and Boba and that did not go well. Louis won the match, but I would get my chance at redemption later as Louis made it to the Top 8. Result 0-100 Loss
Round Three Swiss
This round saw NOVA Squadron Radio hosts face off in an epic battle as Chad and I threw down! All kidding aside, I was really proud of Chad, as to this point he was 2-0 and really kicking some butt. To be honest he should have crushed me this round. On turn two I made a stupid mistake and landed Echo on a rock, and he subsequently turned her into space dust. So it was basically my Chirpy versus his entire Whisper plus Mini-Swarm. Things were not looking good. Before Echo died she took a TIE with her and Chirpy took one out before it could shoot. I spent the rest of the game fighting for my life and one-shoting TIEs left and right until it came down to Whisper vs Chirpy. In the end, Chad had one bad round of green dice which allowed me to land a Direct Hit and Kill Whisper. A great game overall and Chad would repay me by getting to the final table of the event! Result 100-40 Win
Round Four Swiss
This round saw me up against one of our up and coming players, Josh. He’s young, and makes a few mistakes, but overall he and that Fat Han list of his are just brutal! He is like our Mike Tyson really, he will hit you like a Mack Truck, but if you can take that punch and survive, you have a chance. This was another list I was expecting to lose to, hands down. Josh knows me, he knows my style and knows how to beat me. At this point Josh is 3-0 and on a heck of a roll, so I decided to spilt this out into two different forces, Echo vs his three Talas and Chirpy vs Han. I got lucky as he made a weird move with Han that took him out of the fight for a round which allowed me to mop up the Talas and then focus Han down until he died. I was sweating the whole game and should have lost it in the end. But I’ll take the win against a strong opponent, who barely missed the cut for top 8! Result 100-0 Win
Round Five Swiss
So, as the day wore on fatigue was starting to kick in with a lot of players. None so much as it was for my last swiss opponent, Linda. I love playing her; she is a sweetheart! The list she was running I made for her. As I knew the list I knew exactly how to attack it and how to beat it. It didn’t help that for three straight rounds of shooting with Chewie she rolled 3 blanks, followed up with a Predator re-roll that resulted in another blank. I really felt bad during the game. She was flying the list correctly but her dice were just god awful. She finished the day out 3-2 and just missed the cut to the Top 8. Result 100-0 Win
Top 8 Playoff
So, after 5 rounds of swiss I was 4-1 and the second seed overall, falling only behind Ryan Fleming from the Pittsburgh group who went 5-0. I was fairly pleased with my performance so far, but now the real tournament was about to began. I was also very pleased to hear that Chad had gone 4-1 as well and took the 4th seed and Logan broke into the top 8 with a 3-2 record. Overall, of the five of us who drove up to Ohio, 3 of us made the top 8. Not too shabby!
And then the matchups were announced and I pulled my second round opponent Louis once again, the guy who blanked me out in round two. Ugh! This was not exactly what I was hoping for as I knew going in he had a hard counter to my entire list. As I sat down at the table I contemplated what it would be like to make it to the top 8 only to be knocked out. I was not hopeful with this match up at all. I decided to attack this list the same way I did before, try to trade Echo for Whisper and left it as a Chirpy vs Boba slap fight.
This time the plan worked, however, and I made some key evade rolls. When the dust settled, Echo and Whisper were both dead. I used the patented Evade + Boost move several times to get within Boba’s blind spots and in the end I managed to kill Boba and move on to Top 4. Louis played well, and only made one mistake where he landed Whisper on a rock, which in hindsight, probably cost him the game.
Top 4 Playoff
Ok, so I have to admit, going into my top 4 match up I was feeling pretty good overall. Logan and Chad were in the other Top 4 game and I already had visions of a Logan/Chad v Ed final matchup. Three of my guys made it to the Top 4 so odds were one of us was going to win this thing! I looked at the mirror match I had to deal with in my Top 4 game with a Whisper plus Chirpy build and really liked it. I figured I would do the same thing I did last round and trade Echo for Whisper and my Chirpy would out last his as I had PTL and could Focus Target Lock every round and out damage him. Unfortunately, Mike Jones had other plans for the day!
Mike had played in the final game of the Century Three Phantom of the Attic Championship the weekend before, losing out to Ryan Fleming. So he was thirsty for blood! I really feel like I played his list the way I should have, however his Whisper did not fall down like it should have. As before, when it is just Chirpy versus Whisper and his Chirpy, the game was pretty much over. No matter how many dice I threw at Whisper, Mike would always come up with evades on the dice. He ground me to dust and moved on to the final game. Not to mention one roll where he rolled 2 crits and a focus and rolled the focus over to a crit with Chirpy’s ability. That really hurt!
In the end, he pulled out a close victory over Chad on the final table to win the whole thing. So losing to the guy who won it is not too bad. I did end up with the great swag and I am really looking forward to my next Store Championship to hopefully get over the hump!
Overall Thoughts: What would I change?
Well, I can tell you that I built this list specifically to combat the Super Dash meta, which was non-existent in this Store Championship. So without Dash out there, the Decimators + Whisper reined supreme! They were everywhere! Echo’s rival Whisper is a really good hard counter to her and my tactic of ‘trade Echo for Whisper’ is an extreme gamble that only worked one out of three games. So I am going to have to switch Echo out for Whisper as I was really tired of sweating games where another Whisper was on the board. That matchup was basically an auto lose for me. Also, Mara Jade only ever fired off like three times during the day and she felt like wasted points to me. So I am going to drop Mara off and upgrade Echo to Whisper and run the list at 99 points.
That is my first report! I have another three on the horizon and I will be reporting back after each. Have you played in a store championship? How did you do? Let me know in the comments below!
If you are a new player looking to get into the more tactical end of the X-Wing Miniatures Game, or an old pro looking to up your game, why not check out our podcast, NOVA Squadron Radio! Every two weeks we review what’s new in the world of X-Wing Miniatures. We break down those top lists from the big tournament, interview X-Wing personalities from around the world, and review all of the new ships, cards, and combos that are all the rage in the meta today!