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Justin Geering

X-Wing Miniatures

A Worlds of Fun at X-Wing Championship

A Worlds of Fun

This year I had the pleasure of attending the X-Wing 2019 World Championship in St. Paul, MN for the first time. I’ve always watched it from afar on stream, but this year I got to be part of it and I wanted to share my experience.

Little Fish, Big Pond

Thursday, I showed up to play side events. The arena felt huge, the tables stretched forever as the day 1A players gathered. I felt very small as I went to get my badge, where I got to fist bump Ryan Farmer of Fly Better podcast.

Then as I walked around, I ran into Deon of Gold Squadron Podcast setting for the stream (he was sick so give the man props for putting on a heck of stream when not at 100%). I even met and got to talk to Max Brookes, one of the current developers of X-wing.

Pods Farming, We Will Go

After I got my brush with X-Wing celebrities, I headed over to the side events area. This is where FFG runs various formats to earn prize wall tickets for all the cool and interesting Worlds-only items or just rare collectable like alt arts to templates. I settled on Hanger Bay because I wanted to warm up with my list for the Day 1B of Swiss on Friday.

I brought my Ric, Plo and Obie. First Hanger Bay pod was loaded with the several players from the around the world including Brazil, France, and the EU System Open’s Champion from Poland. Turns out every one else had the same idea – warm up for Friday. I knew the competition would be fierce, but I was feeling outclassed. I began to think it was going to be a long weekend of losses as I only won one game in that pod.

The next pod of players was led by Mr. District Foundry himself, Ken Cho. As it turns out, Ken’s dad graduated from K-State and he even visited recently on his move to Colorado and knew about Varsity Donuts. What are the odds?

This turned out to be the most fun I had all weekend. We farmed for 3 sets of pods, playing short games, where we mostly just joust. I had switched to my Republic Ion Beef list for most of these pods where I went head long at everyone.

This pod included a super nice lady from Norway (who made Day 2 cut with Rebel Beef). It was fun, relaxing and I had great conversations. At any rate, I finished out the day with a bunch of new friends, 17 prize wall tickets, and a smile on my face. I really didn’t care what was going to happen Friday.

Swiss Friday

I knew no matter what I was going to play 7 rounds today. I might go down in flames against a field of proven winners, but I was going to have fun, learn and mine some more prize wall tickets! I’m not going to full battle report each game as I wanted to touch on who and what I played against.

Round 1 – Louis Leong’s 4 CLT Jedi (0 Win – 1 Loss)

Louie is the UK maker of the metal cards I have seen on Reddit. And he gave me a double sided Plo / Obie! Man, I didn’t care if I lost this game, I was already a winner! He beat me at time on the last round of shooting. He is a super nice gentleman and turns out he even wrote an article I read in prep of Worlds along with Olie, the ultimate winner of Worlds. Small world.

Round 2 – Mitchel Hurst’s 5 Forward of Legend (1 Win – 1 Loss)

I’m horrible with some names but when Mitchel Hurst handed me a 5 Straight template and said “you might know me from” …it clicked. He was the guy who 5 forwarded over a rock with Quickdraw to kill Wedge in Denver System Open this year (and finished runner-up). So much for an easy bounce back game! He played QD, Kylo, Scorch and an Academy. Fortunately, I took all QD’s shields in one Round then ganged up on Kylo to finish out the game: 200-59. Mitch is a super nice guy and I had him sign my damage deck ­- how cool!

Round 3 – James Andrew Finlayson’s Ani in a Y-Wing (2 Wins – 1 Loss)

Another fellow from the UK, but this guy brought a fat Ani…in a Y-Wing. The mad man! He flew it well but I took Ani down but still just scraped out a 7-point win at time with a final set of shots that gave me ½ points on his CLT Mace. It was tense at some points, but least I had my 2nd win.

Round 4 – Kevin Brimage’s 4 U-Wings (2 Wins – 2 Losses)

Yikes. I knew this would be a thing, but I expected a Euro player, not Kevin from Texas! I got up on him by killing a U-Wing but then toward to the end I got greedy. Instead of running away with Obie, I 5K’ed and end up losing him at time in a 2-pt. loss. It was tough but he correctly punished me for my greedy mistake. Still it was a fun time and pleasure to play him. But now my back is completely against the wall, one more loss as I was out of the running for day 2.

Round 5 – Ethan Van Sant’s Chewie Pods (3 Wins – 2 Losses)

Ethan Santiago Rivera-Van Sant (Top 14 from 2019 North American Championship at GenCon) brought hands down the coolest & beautiful list of the entire weekend. Resistance Chewie with cute little pods and a transport. As the owner of the Wookiee Cup, how could I not be impressed? (Although, apparently, someone warned him to watch out for a guy with said cup). Sadly, he wasn’t too keen on facing my list but he gave it his best. I took off a couple of his pods in a single round and then he decided he had enough. He even tried to drop but later came back and asked if I would help him un-drop. I was more than happy to help him keep going as faction prizes were a big thing still. We had a good chat afterwards.

Round 6 – Kyle Juopperi’s 3 Scum Aces (4 Wins – 2 Losses)

Kyle is from North Carolina and was a 2018 NOVA US Nationals Top 32 finisher. For those that know me, I flew something similar in 1.0 and I wasn’t exactly happy to see he had a 11-point bid to go with it: Old T, Talonbane, and Fenn. Sense only works against one aces…not 3! Fortunately, he got really aggressive with Fenn & put him out of the fight while I picked off Old T and Talonbane. Obie put Fenn into Sense Hell with blocks, while regening shields for the next couple of rounds. It ended pretty quickly and left me with one last game for a chance at day 2.

Round 7 – Jake & the Fat Man (5 Win – 2 Losses)

I was stoked after round 6, until I read the name across from mine for table 16…Rasta Maice. Not only is he one of the most amazing miniature painters and modelers in the World, he is also the 2017 EU Champion (one of the biggest X-Wing events that rivals Worlds in number of players). This was like meeting your hero and doom at the same time. But you know what, we both still had to play the game.

On top of that, he laid down a badass looking Han and Jake, which I’ve only studied on film. It was a major positioning game. We traded ranged shots but Jake 5 forwarded swinging around my rear to get Outmaneuver shots. But Plo hung back and turned away from Han for a range 1 into Jake with TL and Focus. Jake was no more. After that it was my 3 aces versus Han. It still wasn’t but I traded Plo for permanent ½ on Han. When time was called 126 to 69, I couldn’t believe it was nearly 11:30 and I had made day 2 by beating Rasta. I didn’t think it could get any better than this.

Rasta congratulated me (he is such a class act) and gave me plenty of swag. He commented I rolled a total of 7 blanks the entire game. I’ll take his word for it as I try not to track that as it can drive one insane when variance goes against you.

On the day, I manged to make Top 64 and #2 Republic player which got me additional swag for both of those, just a another pleasant surprise to an already amazing day.

Cut to Saturday

I got some sleep and headed back to the arena for day 2 – the elimination bracket. Loss and you are done. I really didn’t plan for this so just decided to take it one game at time. Also I was reminded of a conversation with my dad when I played baseball – “don’t be satisfied with just making the playoffs”.

Top 98 – A Plo for your Echo

I arrived with time to setup early and talk to Kelly Adams who was flying Sia, Vader, Echo. He was Top 4 at the 2016 GenCon Nationals and this year top 25 in Adapticon System Open. We traded Echo for Plo but the problem for him is Plo was 69 pts and Echo 70 pts. We jockeyed for position the rest of the time but neither of us could get all guns on each other for meaningful shots. It ended with 1-point win for me, tough loss for him.

Top 64 – Same 4 U-Wings, different story

Rune Printzlau (Top 8 of Copenhagen System Open) from Denmark puts down 4 U-Wings, but a different load out, and pilot selection than Kevin did in Swiss. I can say he was one of the nicest players all day. Pleasure to talk to and play against. This time, I didn’t get greedy – and as Rune put it – I bait and switched him pretty hard. I took his entire list off the table before time.

Top 32 – Four the Resistance!

Dominick DiCarlo (Top 4 at Glendale AZ System Open) was up next with Jess, Fat Finn, Greer, and Cova. Fortunately, I have time with Resistance and know very much how this all flies even if I haven’t flown this particular variant. Unfortunately for Dominick he pretty much gave me Greer on a platter. After that, I just hunted Finn, then Cova, and all that was left was Jess when it was all over. He certainly flew Cova better than I have but alas it wasn’t enough. You’ll note I’m listing cut numbers here but at the time I had NO idea where I was. I just wanted to keep playing games. It wasn’t until Walker with Echo Base shared with me the Challonge bracket I had even a clue what I had done.

Top 16 – The Ace Killer

My last match up was against Alex Farley (Top 4 Glendale System Open 2018) and the Torkil Mux Ace Killer list. Quite possibly the worse match up out of other possible 15 lists in the top 16 for me. Oh well, I figured at least I knew what it did. As turns out I didn’t know how it was flown and that was fatal bit of information. I also didn’t get my rock placements right which I use to break up such lists. I made a small misjudgment on a rock with Ric (which was recoverable), but it was a 2 bank in with Plo that really hurt me instead of doing a 1 bank. Obie got hurt more than I expected against un-modified dice but I still managed to get close enough to almost pull a Hail Mary that was 2 dice away from a win. Honestly, it wasn’t my best game of the day and Alex just flat out flew me. Congrats to him on going on to make top 4. This is a game that was on stream so you can go catch it on Gold Squadron Podcast if you want, I know I will as you can only learn from your mistakes!

A Dream Run

8 Wins & 3 losses and Top 16 out of 415 players. That is by far better than anything I had even dreamed of achieving. I got favorable match ups and had some luck. It was just an amazing time overall. I ended up with 50 prize wall tickets in the end so I got a ton cool stuff including Plo Templates (not pictured, they ran out & had to mail them), Top 16 Templates (only 15 others in the whole world) and ton of alt-art cards.

But really, I met a lot of great people, played against the best in the World in some amazing games, and had an absolute blast doing so. It truly is the people and the community that make this game great. I look forward to going back next year just to see everyone!

Thanks to everyone locally, however – Manhattan, McPherson, Hutchinson, Kansas City and Wichita as well as both the Village Geek locations. That includes my family who supports my hobby despite it taking time away from them. I’d also like to shout out to the trainers at Body First that also helped me physically last the 12+ hour days.

It wouldn’t be possible without every place I’ve played and everyone I’ve played against. I learned a lot over the years and it goes to show Kansas and small-town players can compete against the world’s best. Get out there, give it a shot and who knows you might just find yourself on steam fighting at the World Championship!

X-Wing Miniatures

Star Wars X-Wing – 3 Months, 3 Tournaments, & Parsecs of Fun

It has been three months and three tournaments since the release of X-Wing 2nd Edition. It is a perfect time to recap and share how things have been shaping up along with showcase some of lists being flown in our area.

Episode IV – A New Hope

The McPherson store’s release tournament was just a couple of days after the street date in September. It was extended format and all 12 players showed up to play with their new toys.

I had originally planned to fly Luke, Norra (Y-Wing), and Thane, but at the last minute I talked myself into using the new Lando’s Falcon. It is such a beautiful model, I had to get it on the board. I went with Supernatural Luke & Rebel Lando (using the Scum model). Luke is probably the best ship/pilot in the game. The flexibility to boost or barrel roll before you do anything is hard to beat. It is just his cost that makes him hard to pair with. Both ships being at Initiative 5 / i5 (hard not to say Pilot Skill), it allowed my favorite trick – pilot order flexibility!

Round 1 vs Ben’s “Mean Machines”

Ben brought a cool list of 3 TIE Advance X1s with Fire Control System and the revamped Lambda Shuttle with the new pilot Colonel Jendon. So round one, all his X1x could take a target lock, setting them up so they would have full modifications during the initial engagement. It didn’t end pretty as I lost Luke being way too aggressive and Lando just couldn’t take on Ben’s entire squad himself. The constant rain of crits into a large base with lots of hull is just horrible to experience.

Round 2 vs John’s Defender/Lambda/TIE

John decided also to bring the new & improved Lamda shuttle plus a beefy Defender, and a TIE (striker?). I found Luke liked more cautious approach better. And like all my games, I left Lando’s turrets to the sides and plinked from the edge. The rocks where my friend despite the new Collision Detector on the shuttle that allowed it to fly thru rocks. The Defender are stronger, but struggle just the same in rocks.

Round 3 vs Richard’s Triple i5 Imperial Aces

All i5s– Whisper, Duchess, and Rexler Brath. I got lucky with roll for the Initiative, so both my ships moved after his which was a big advantage with Luke. At one critical point, Luke used the true power of the Force by threading the needle between all 3 of Imperials to avoid a trap Richard had expertly set. Unfortunately time got the better of us and I just managed to squeeze out a win on points. Hopefully next time we get to finish it.

Round 4 vs Bryan’s XXBB-Wing Rebels

Lastly I faced what I think is the best Rebels’ architype right now– a 4 ship list. In this case, Bryan brought 2 B-Wings and 2 X-Wings all at Initiative 3 (i5). I over estimated how much HP I had to chew threw and my i5s couldn’t kill a ship fast enough to cut down the incoming shots.

I believe I could have won this except for an untimely crit that turned the game (often the case with the new damage deck). Panicked Pilot’s double stress ended Lando’s actions for 2 rounds which killed him. I also forgot about the new ½ rules for all ships & lost with a ½ pts Luke vs a single full Red Squadron Veteran.

I felt 2-2 was pretty good for a new version of the game and an untested list. I learned lots of information which I would carry forward. But I really enjoyed the way the force worked on Luke, flipping the S-Foils open & closed, and testing out the new barrel roll.

Episode V – Scum Strikes Back

Next up was the opening tournament for the Manhattan store in October with the new 2nd Edition format that limits list building to just the current Wave I ships, pilots & upgrades. This meant the Rebel Falcon was out but that was OK as I was dying to try the revamped Firespray.

In 1st edition, I tried to make this ship work, in particular Boba Fett. But his cost and ability was always one step behind. In 2nd edition, it moved to the smaller medium base, improved its dial (white hard 1 is amazing), and added a native white boost. For this tournament, I settled on Boba & two Fang Fighters at full 200 pts including my new favorite bomb – seismics!

Round 1 vs The Bye

We had 9 players so someone had to sit out. While I was bummed, I ran around taking some pictures and chatted with others since it isn’t something I always get to do a lot enough of.

Round 2 vs Mike’s Triple Rebel Aces

Right out of the gate I faced a fellow 1st Edition veteran, Mike from Lawrence whom I’ve enjoyed playing against in other area tournaments. He bought a list I had looked at: Luke, Norra (Y-Wing), Supernatural Luke, and Wedge – with Proton Torps. To my chagrin, I found Boba really doesn’t like Wedge with torpedoes. I lost Boba but in the end the 2 Fangs finished Norra for a win.

Round 3 vs Jason’s Double 6 Aces

Next up was another fellow Manhattan 1st Edition veteran & store champion. Jason brought Scum Han (with docked Lando in the Escape Pod) and Fearless Fenn. Two i6 aces meant Boba was playing from behind, allowing Jason to see where I moved plus could kill my ships before I even shot. I lost a Fang in round one of engagement but followed up with trading Fenn for a Seismic Bomb. Boba managed eventually finish it for a win.

Round 4 vs Ryan’s XXXY-Wings

Last game was against one of our new and rising players in Manhattan, Ryan. He brought another version of the Rebels’ best archetype (4 ships). His list included Dutch with Proton Bombs and 3 X-Wings with R3 astromech. Ultimately I eked out a 3 pt. win in a nail bitter as this time the ½ pts worked in my favor.

Overall, I LOVED playing flying the Firespray, it is a dream to fly now. It has more slots and title combos than any other ship in the game, making it extremely very versatile. I look forward to flying more of this more in the Extended format.

Episode 6 – Return of the Swarm

The November tournament was back to the McPherson store for the Battle of Yavin, a limited format with just ships & pilots that appeared in A New Hope (so no Scum). It was the excuse to try something completely new & different – a TIE Swarm!

I have avoided swarms because # of ships and how hard I heard it was. I figured I’d give it a shot with a 6 TIE Swarm using the new Inferno Squadron pilots since this format had no Trajectory Simulator or Boba Fett to worry about. Plus this allowed me to use all 6 of my colored dials & bases for a rainbow of flavors!

Round 1 vs Virgil’s Swarm + Shuttle

Out of the gate – another TIE Swarm type list flown by Virgil, the 2018 Manhattan Store Champion! The major differences were his list had 4 TIEs plus a Lamda Shuttle & my Inferno pilots had higher Initiatives. We jousted & it was a bump fest. I killed everything but the Shuttle before time was called.

Round 2 vs Alpha Strike Rebels

Russ, whom I’ve faced many times including in a store championship finals in 2017, brought three Rebel in Luke, Dutch, and Wedge – all with Proton Torpedoes. Wedge sank a fully modified torpedo into Howlrunner & should have killed her – but Iden soaked it up & said “nope”. When time was called, I lost one TIE with only Dutch left for the Rebels.

Round 3 vs Ryan’s XYYY-Wings

Ryan brought another version of 4 ship Rebels using Gavin & four Y-Wings – with Proton Bombs! This was a scary match up as TIE Swarm at some point needs to K-Turn behind the opposition. After baiting out a set of bombs and K-Turning off angle, I won – losing just one TIE and killing all but one of the Y-Wings.

I feel the TIE Swarm is pretty strong in 2nd Edition. It does remain one of the hardest, yet most rewarding list I’ve flown. It relies patience, dials, planning ahead, & execution – even rock placement is key. The Inferno pilots have some of the best synergy in the game & I hope we see more of that across all factions.

Onto the Next Trilogy…

After these first trilogy of tournaments, I flew three different types of lists, including one I would have never tried in 1st Edition. Just as exciting, I faced a wide variety of lists & players. I certainly feel 2nd Edition has opened up a wider range of list building and formats along with cleaner game play. I look forward to more experimenting and trying other ships & pilots as we head into December when First Order and Resistance will join the battle!

X-Wing Miniatures

How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Dials (again)

So it ends…

I just got done playing my last game of X-Wing 1.0 flying a B-Wing, T-65 X-Wing & ARC-170. While it may sounds like a bad thing, I’m going to discuss why we should be celebrating like Ewoks after the 2nd Death Star popped like a red balloon.

A Star Wars Nerds’ Dream…

Whether you are huge lifelong Star Wars fan like myself, came of age to prequels (I’m sorry), or are just now jumping on the Disney run bandwagon now, some of the most memorable things are the spaceships & space battles in that galaxy far far away.

That was THE reason why 3 years ago this month, I picked up X-Wing Miniatures Game 1.0 by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). It had all the ships and big character names I knew & love, plus even the some of the ones from the old Legends period.Luke, Vader, Han, Chewie, Boba Fett, Millennium Falcon, TIE Fighters, Y-Wings, and of course X-Wings – all ready to go out of box with beautifully painted & sculpted models to start reenacting the famous dog fights scenes and to make new ones.

But the best part was how easy the game was to pick up:

  1. Select your ships/pilots,
  2. Throw down some asteroids to fly round,
  3. Set your maneuvers on a dial,
  4. Try to out pilot your opponent by catching them in your forward gun arcs, then
  5. Finally roll some dice to blow them out of the sky!

You really couldn’t ask for a more elegant game to collect & play if you were Star Wars fan.

What Makes X-Wing Great…

Now as fun and as popular as X-Wing 1.0 has been over that last 5+ years, it had some growing pains that has moved away from what made the X-Wing originally so great:

  1. Maneuvering your ships via dials – feeling like your piloting decisions matter.
  2. Lining up arcs for a kill or dogging all the enemy’s guns to slip away, and
  3. Simple game mechanics that are clean & easy to follow without a 40+ page FAQ/errata.

That is why I’m super excited to see FFG releasing X-Wing 2nd Edition being released Sept 13th, 2018. The designers took all the things they learned from 1st edition and have improved upon it all.

Return of the Dials

One of the more fun and more interesting aspects about X-Wing are the ship’s maneuvering dials. Deciding where your ship will go vs. where the enemy ships will be is what makes X-Wing so interesting to play. X-Wing 2.0 has re-done almost all the ship dials in the game.

The result is that all the ships have a more unique flying profile e.g. the lightweight TIE Interceptors fast & agile while B-Wings are slower with shorter & have harder maneuvers.

This dial changes will also allow many of the original ships to catch up on some of new maneuvers that came along later in X-Wing 1.0 like like sloops, reverse, and talon rolls. In addition, FFG changed the green maneuvers to blue which helps those with color blindness.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Arc

One of major changes in 2nd Edition is the removal of 360 degree turret. Instead of flying on an easy mode, pilots now have to think about where their guns are pointed at all times if they want to get a shot.

This again increases the importance of piloting & those dials in order to keep your gun arcs on target.

This small but important change helps keep the game more interesting and allows for more variety of ships on the board which we haven’t seen a lot at the end of 1st edition. A lot of us seasoned veterans are going to be flying like rookies as we have to unlearn what they have learned.

Simpler this Game Will Be

One of the key things about learning X-Wing is it has always been easy to grasp the basic principles of the game.

But at the end of 1st Edition, it wasn’t uncommon to have 8 upgrade cards on one ship. That was 8 different things each round to remember while playing over the course of a game. It made for some not-so-fun long conversations of how things interact and really dragged games out.

In 2nd edition, we get back to the simple roots with fewer upgrades and more reliance on inherent ship abilities.

What Will You Fly?

With the release of X-Wing 2nd edition, all the game mechanic changes it is now even easier to get into the game. You can focus easily on a single faction – Rebels, Imperials, or Scum with Resistance, First Order, Republic, & Separatist to come.

In X-wing 2nd Edition, there is no chasing cards in packs you don’t want. You don’t have to buy all the packages just to be able to field a viable squad. Simply buy a core set, pick your favorite faction ships, then you are good to go!

Good? Bad? My Ship has a Heavy Laser Cannon

On Sept. 13th, X-Wing 2nd Edition will be released and whether you are returning veteran or a rookie, we will all be on equal footing as we re-learn and experience the game again for first time.

Many of us will find out how bad we are at this game and will have to learn how things again – which is half the fun. So come on by on Tuesday Night in McPherson or Thursday Night in Manhattan, ask for a demo game, or check out some games & join the fun. May the Force be with you & hope to see you at the table!