Board Game Gumbo: GEN CON 50: Star Wars North American Championship Recap
GEN CON 50 was amazing, and we’ll have more about it in future posts. But, Board Game Gumbo is proud to say that one of its own had an amazing run through the big Destiny North American Championships.
Bradly is one of the best gamers in the group, experienced in both tabletop and role playing games as a player and a GM. In addition, he loves play testing games for designers and can give keen insights to publishers about mechanics, strategy and presentation.
Here’s Bradly with a recapitulation of his tourney adventures. You can find out more at his Twitter page: @BradlyBillingsl.
This year was my fourth trip to Gencon. The first year I went (2014) was almost exclusively for the launch of D&D 5th Edition. 2015 and 2016 were mostly just for board games, but no one thing in particular. This year I was again attending for almost a single purpose; the first Star Wars: Destiny North American championship.
I’ve been playing Destiny since it was released earlier this year. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to be able to find stock late last year when it was ‘officially’ released, but a short time after that I was able to scrape enough together to start playing. Since then I’ve been able to attend two Store Championships (finishing 3rd at the first and winning the second) along with a couple smaller tournaments. My local meta started with a fairly healthy (at least for my area) six players but has dwindled to the current 3 players we still have interested in the game at a competitive level. Unfortunately I have to travel at least three hours for most tournaments, so my experience is far below what I knew other players would have going into Nationals.
So to say that I was apprehensive about my chances at Nationals would be an understatement. I do well in my local games, but again I’m mostly playing the same two guys. They’ve been great and absolutely helped me prepare for this tournament. I routinely build the popular meta decks and I both play them and play against them to prepare to face them. Unfortunately I play very little on Tabletop Simulator; I have it but I just really dislike playing on it. Maybe it’s the old Magic: The Gathering player in me, but playing the game digitally just feels off to me.
Luckily I knew what deck I was bringing early; Poe/Maz. I’ve been a fan of this deck ever since they spoiled Maz. I actually had a decklist prepared for the minute I got my hands on Spirit of Rebellion. More than anything the deck is consistent, which is something I find myself enjoying. I played it in both Store Championships I went to and then set it aside for a while to try out other decks that were becoming popular in the meta. I went back to Poe/Maz to make some alterations as other decks got popular, and I was far more comfortable with the deck than anything else going into Nationals.
So with Poe/Maz in hand I showed up to the tournament on Saturday. I was hoping to do well enough to take home a set of damage tokens, but ended up actually making the Top 16 cut and getting to come back for more games on Sunday. Below is a list of some of my games, but not all of them. Honestly the day was a bit of a blur for me, so I’m forgetting some of my matches. Fantasy Flight Games was running a tight ship (which was understandable after the fiasco that was the Thursday Legend of the Five Rings tournament) and we had little time to worry about anything but finding our seats and playing.
Game one was what I thought was going to be the start of a very long and painful day. I played a Kylo/FN/Trooper deck that I had very little experience against. That, along with some first round jitters, led to some serious misplays. I started well with a Thermal in turn 1, and focused down FN fast. I then had a chance to finish off the Trooper that I foolishly didn’t take, only to see it get Price of Failured to ready a three upgrade Kylo. My opponent was still a bit behind, but he took the risk to focus Kylo into two specials and ended up pulling a Falcon and a Retreat for seven damage. He then resolved a three off of Force Lightning for a total of 10 damage and I felt absolutely gutted. Again, it was my fault for not ditching the Falcon on a reroll just to get it out of my hand, but my opponent played hard and came back from a bad spot; he absolutely deserved that win. My opponent actually ended up finishing 18th and just missing the Top 16 cut. After the beating he handed me I would’ve been hesitant to face him again, but considering the eventual winner of the tournament made it into Top 16 at 6-2, there were some obviously good players who missed that cut.
Game two was against a Palpatine deck, which I was happy to see. My deck is tuned towards a Palpatine meta, as I saw it a lot in my area. Knowing what I know now I would’ve been better off with a battlefield other than Frozen Wastes, but I honestly don’t know if I would have won that second game without it. My opponent was rolling extremely well and I saw multiple turns with three damage on both dice. He also got Rise Again off once along with two Rejuvenates and at least one 2-Shield die. All told I had to chew through 24+ health and it was close. Friendly Fire did some serious work and I was able to Sensor Placement a Force Throw special to throw a 2-shield side.
Game three was a mirror, with him playing Emperor’s Throne Room. I won the roll and went with his battlefield, which I think is one of the most important parts of the mirror. My opponent also went for Poe right from the start, which I generally think is a mistake. I targeted Maz and got her off the table early round two, which I followed with a New Orders to switch back to Frozen Wastes. From there I was in a much more comfortable position to control his Poe dice and was able to get the win.
Game five (this is where I get hazy on matches, and may have it in the wrong spot) was against Purple Baze (eBaze/eRey). I really hadn’t seen much of this deck other than its decklist on SWDestinydb, but I knew it was usually an It’s a Trap deck. My opponent was able to get off one It’s a Trap on round two with both Baze dice in the pool along with a DH-17, but this game really came down to the dice rolls. My opponent had, by far, the worst dice luck I saw in the tournament, including the games I played after this one. I’ve rarely seen rolls that bad, it was very painful to watch.
Game six was against a Rainbow 9s deck. I knew the deck was hot in the meta coming into the tournament and I was fairly comfortable playing against it. Still, it came down to the very last roll. With an early Thermal and fairly good rolls we were even going into round three. My opponent claimed round two and gave me the chance to put down a Planetary Uprising. I had Maz left with two health and he had FN left with two health. His first action was to overwrite into a Riot Baton; if he rolled any of the damage sides he would have won, but he ended up with a resource. From there he conceded; all I had to do was claim to win. Really this was the closest game I had all weekend, and for the game to come down to a coin flip had me sweating.
Game eight was against a Han/Rey deck that I’m fairly certain had two losses going into the match. Why he got paired with someone who was 6-1, I don’t know. Still, this was not anywhere near a blowout. I was actually pretty far behind going into Round Three, so much so that I thought I didn’t stand a chance of winning. My opponent only had two health left on Rey but had a Second Chance on Han with five health remaining. We were playing with my battlefield (Frozen Wastes) while my opponent had brought Cargo Hold. I was lucky to draw into the single copy of New Orders that I still play. With it I was able to move the Second Chance onto Rey and then roll into enough damage to kill Han that turn. With only a Rey left, it was still a tight game. He had two ascension guns on her but my Maz had two DL-44s. I was able to knock the Second Chance off and kill Rey in the next round. I was pretty proud of myself for winning this game since I felt so far behind early on.
Day Two started with a game against Rainbow 9s and a move into Best of Three. I lost game one and showed my complete lack of experience by starting to pack up afterwards. The look of confusion on my opponent’s face tipped me off and I very embarrassingly set back up. There isn’t a lot to say about the following two games. Thermal does an incredible amount of work against a three character deck and my opponent wasn’t able to pull off some of the crazier chains that Rainbow 9s can put together through Boundless Ambition.
My second game was another mirror match against a more traditional Poe/Maz deck running Emperor’s Throne Room. I, again, dropped the first game as my opponent threw two Thermals in round One. Game Two I was able to pick up and force it into a third. In the third game I was behind early and lost my Maz. I was playing very defensively and was just hoping for a really good roll to come up to get back into it, but it never happened. I bled out slowly and painfully until my opponent was able to finish me off.
With a Top 8 finish I was able to walk away with my damage tokens, a deck box and a Luke playmat; along with the Vader and coin for participating. I also won a medal, which apparently FFG had forgotten to bring to the tournament, which will come later.
Thanks for reading, and to everyone I met with and spoke to at the tournament. If I played against you I’d absolutely love to hear from you and about your experience in the tournament. Also a thank you to Bryan and Dave, fellow contributors to this blog who helped me prepare for Nationals and played there as well. And to Eric, Carlos, and BJ who attended Gencon with me and kept me grounded with constant insults when I was getting big headed.
— Bradly @BradlyBillingsl on Twitter