Master and Commander


I’ve played in a handful of game tournaments in the past, with decidedly poor results.  My first attempts date back to the early days of Magic: The Gathering, where I fared poorly enough to convince myself the game was probably not for me.  Last year, I played in tournaments for X-Wing Miniatures and Star Wars: The Card Game, and again, I was kind enough to help other people on their way to victory.  That didn’t sour me on those games though (although the scarcity of local players eventually led me to stop playing the card game), and I like to think I’ve gotten more of a hang for X-Wing as I’ve kept playing.  So I entered today’s store championship tournament with a bit more optimism than my last attempt.

The squadron I built was at the very least durable.  It consisted of what amounted to four flying bricks:  two Y-Wings and two B-Wings, both loaded with sufficient shields and hull that it would take eight hits on each to blow them all up.  Each also possessed an ion weapon; simply put, it’s a game mechanic that can force an opponent’s ship to move a short distance straight forward.  This has the benefit of letting you know where they’ll be next turn, and, if used properly, can guide a ship into obstacles, off the board to be destroyed, or into the waiting sights of your guns.  One of these is bad enough.  Four can be downright maddening.  That meant I had survivability and annoyability going for me at least.

My first match was possibly the worst opponent I could have drawn:  an Imperial shuttle and two Firesprays, each of which require two shots from an ion weapon for the effect to take place.  Essentially, my effectiveness was cut in half.  And those ships were every bit as durable as mine, so this was a tall order.  We went back and forth for nearly the entire 75-minute time limit, but thanks to the ion hits I did land, I managed to put his ships in poor enough position that one flew off the board and the other kept getting stuck on asteroids.  That allowed me to get the win with two of my ships left standing.  Good, but way too close.

Next I drew the other opponent I wanted no part of:  two Millennium Falcons and two Y-Wings.  Falcons can shoot in a 360 degree arc, as can the Y-Wings, so no matter where I went, I was going to get shot at.  And again, the Falcon has some beef to it, so neither of them were going to be easy kills.  But I again managed to work my ion weapons in conjunction with the asteroids, and I did some smart flying that got all my guns in the right place at the right time.  This time, we did reach the time limit, but since I destroyed more of his ships, I won once again.

My last match felt like a cakewalk after two tough outings, even though I faced two other B-Wings and a HWK-290, an awkward-looking ship that serves as an excellent support craft.  My opponent had some good synergy, able to share abilities between his ships, but with the odds being 4 to 3, and with the dice gods seemingly abandoning him utterly, I kind of wiped the table with him.  I took out all four of his ships and only lost one of my own, all in about thirty minutes.

And that was it.  Three games, three wins.  Which meant I walked out with this:

IMAG0317_2[1]Yep, I won the whole damn thing!  Color me stunned.  And thanks to this, I get a bye in the first round of the regional championships coming up in June.  On top of everything else, it was a ton of fun; 14 great gamers being competitive but not petty, joking, laughing, even while we were trying to blow each other away.  In that sense, we all won.

Except me.  I won in the really important sense.

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