This fortnight, I thought I would give you a brief tournament report from the Maryland Mini-Open, held September 17 at The Game Haven of Maryland. This tournament served as a “tune-up” for a few players who will be traveling to the European Championships this week, and was a great opportunity (as always) to get together and play SWCCG.
I’ll be discussing my games in as much detail as I can. At the end, I’ll discuss some of the things I learned from my games; as I’ve said before (and will probably say again), you should always try to learn something from every game and keep improving. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two from my experience, although it’s no substitute for playing your own games!
We had ten players who made the trip from five states and the District of Columbia: Tom Kelly (CT), Greg Shaw (NJ), Chris Gogolen (NJ), Steve Skilton (PA), Matt Schmaltz (MD), Bill Kafer (MD), Tom Haid (VA), Grady Hutchins (VA), Vince Hutchins (VA), and me (DC). It was great to catch up with some of the guys whom I usually only see at major tournaments.
For Dark Side, I made a couple of minor changes to the Court Of The Vile Gangster deck I’ve been playing since Worlds (based on a design by Ryan Jellison). For Light, I decided to give Reid Smith’s Diplomatic Mission To Alderaan deck a try. Here’s how my games went:
Game 1: Diplo vs. Tom Kelly’s Imperial Entanglements
Tom starts with Admiral Piett to the Executor Docking Bay, pulling We’re In Attack Position Now, and Admiral Ozzel and Admiral Motti (V) on the Devastator. He battles, R2-D2 & C-3PO go down to the Dune Sea, and I lose a few Force to battle damage. In my starting hand, I don’t have any Spaceport Speeders or How Did We Get Into This Mess, which is a bummer. But I do have a Eopie, Lando, and I Must Be Allowed To Speak (V). When I pull my Tatooine site, I only count 4 Spaceport Speeders in my Reserve Deck (out of 5 total), so I know there’s one in my Force Pile. I deploy Speak, the Eopie, and Lando, and get the Spaceport Speeders out of my Used Pile, using it to activate 10 Force. I think I might also have gotten one other pilot to the Tantive, but I don’t have any other way to get cards out of my Used Pile or find a Mess. So Lando and the droids shuttle back up and I pass the turn. Not a great start.
He sets up on the ground, deploys Imperial Justice (V) (So much for Lando…), and battles again on his turn. Lando dies and the droids go back to the Dune Sea. It continues that way for another turn or so, but once the Executor comes to play, I have to lose the Tantive to cover the battle damage. By this point, I have some characters set up on the ground, doing the “Cantina shuffle” to and from Mos Eisley, but I have to pay 3 for all of my drains. I manage to flip him back to the 0 side, (to stop the drain of 2 at the system as well as ~3 Occupation Damage), but that only buys me a turn. I completely forget the game text of Leia, Rebel Princess and let him drain me at two sites…
It doesn’t matter much though. This matchup will usually go to whoever wins the system, and Tom ran away with it.
Game 2: Court vs. Vince Hutchins’ WHAP
Vince is a newer player, as well as a hilarious teenager. He also knows a lot about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. (Grady, you get an A+ in parenting for that!) He is starting Sai’torr Kal Fas (V), not Squadron Assignments, so I’m not too worried about space. I start by deploying my usual stuff: Nal Hutta, a docking bay, Jabba The Hutt (V), and Scum And Villainy. He deploys Amidala, Panaka, and Cody to the Courtyard and moves into the Hallway. I just draw a huge hand. He backs them up with Mace Windu (V) with his lightsaber, and I take take the opportunity to get a ship to Nal Hutta so I can drain for free. He moves them into the Throne Room to flip, and I deploy Boba Fett, 4-LOM, and some other character to battle. I Hidden Weapons Mace but draw a 4 so he’s only hit (not captured…bummer). So I cancel his game text with 4-LOM so I can still draw 3 battle destinies. He cancels 2 of them and I’m left with a 2. He forfeits Mace, while I lose Fett and 4-LOM, leaving the random scrub character there to bock his ping damage.
On his turn, he battles, I Ghhhk, and he sends Panaka to the Hallway with another character to threaten 4 damage. I activate and check my deck with Nal Hutta: a 4, a 5, and the rest are 3’s. So I deploy Probot to the Hallway with Program Trap, drop a bunch of other guys to the Throne Room, battle at the Throne Room, fire a weapon or something, and draw a 3 to explode the trap and clear the Hallway. We go back and forth on Naboo for a turn or two, but I have drains of 1 and 1 every turn, plus Court damage, while he isn’t getting much damage in at all, and I’m also retrieving every time I fight.
Eventually, he gets Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight (with lightsaber and Journal), along with Cody and some other guys to the Throne Room. I have Jodo Kast, IG-88 With Riot Gun, Ponda Baba (V), another smuggler, and maybe somebody else, I don’t recall. I Hidden Weapons Obi-Wan and capture him to get rid of the Journal. Then IG-88 captures Cody, I clear the Throne Room, and that’s game.
Game 3: Diplo vs. Chris Gogolen’s Hunt Down
In this game, Chris gets off to a very fast start, with both the Bridge and the Security Tower in his starting hand for huge activation. He then deploys Blizzard 4, pulls Vader, and gets Vader’s Lightsaber with Blaster Rack (V), flipping his objective. I’m pretty sure I only need a token pilot on the Tantive for this match (not too likely to see much space other than a cloaked Sith Infiltrator), so I do that and start using Spaceport Speeders and How Did We Get Into This Mess to find characters for the ground. But he’s got such a huge activation jump that he’s able to kill my guys as often as I can deploy them. I eventually completely clear him off Tatooine, but not without taking some pretty massive battle damage, and he’s able to finish me off with Visage with plenty of Life Force to spare.
Game 4: Court vs. Bill Kafer’s Old Allies Speeders
Unlike Diplo vs. Hunt Down, this is a matchup I understand very well. OA Speeders has to use non-battleground interior sites for activation (Jakku: Rey’s Encampment, Naboo: Boss Nass’ Chambers, and Coruscant: Jedi Council Chamber), but can’t defend those sites well. (Those speeders can only go to exterior sites after all.) Court just needs to occupy a system and the Audience Chamber, and it can take over those “twixes” to do more damage than OA can handle. (I’ve been on the receiving end of this before!) So that’s my game plan. After I set up Jabba and Scum, he leaves the Falcon unpiloted on the ground, which is exactly what I want to see. I go with Elis In Hinthra, Poda Baba (V), and Wooof (V) to Jakku, while Mara goes to my Coruscant docking bay and walks over to the Jedi Council. Now I’m threatening a drains for 7 unless he takes the risk of moving the Falcon up, has his Home One put together already, or can fight me off an interior site.
Unfortunately, he does have Home One ready to go, so my two smugglers die while the Hinthra survives to preserve my free drains. I run away to Nal Hutta and reinforce, and he chases me back and forth for the whole game. Meanwhile, I get Probot to Boss Nass’ chambers and he gets his objective flipped. He finds Lando to clear out the Audience Chamber, but I just put another character there. Once the dust settles, drains are about even, but Court damage and Scum retrieval give me the edge, and he eventually runs out of characters.
Game 5: Court vs. Grady Hutchins’ Watch Your Step
I know that WYS will frequently drop a turn 1 Jedi Luke at the Audience Chamber to fight Jabba, and I don’t have a Barrier in my starting hand, so I go with Jabba, Ponda Baba (V), and Yade M’rak to the Chamber on turn 1, and he puts Luke at the Cantina instead. I respond with 4-LOM and Cad Bane there, and he Dodges away from the battle. Then he sets up in space and deploys I’ll Take The Leader to get a drain of 3 there. I stack all my space at Tatooine and he fights me there for most of the game while we both satisfy Battle Order. I have drains of 1 and 2 at the Audience Chamber and Cantina to his drain of 2 at the Docking Bay 94 (limited by Resistance). But he will eventually clear me out of space; not having Ponda and Yade there really limits how powerful my space can be, because he has +2 to his immunity from the Admiral’s Order. So I have to try to clear him off the docking bay and get some Scum retrieval going.
He’s flipped with a couple smugglers backing up Luke at the docking bay, including Chewie With Bowcaster. I Elis Helrot my Audience Chamber gang over there, reinforce with Mara and Bossk, and battle. I swing at one of his characters and double Bossk’s power to 14 and look forward to causing some nice battle damage. But I failed to remember that he has a Sorry About The Mess & Blaster Proficiency in his Lost Pile, and he sends Bossk to the Lost Pile. Should’ve waited until I had a Cease Fire! Ugh. I am able to clear Luke Eventually, but he’s able to maintain a ground presence for long enough to make it close, and he gets the Kessel drain going late in the game.
I probably messed this up from the beginning (those smugglers really need to go in space against WYS), and when time is called, Grady’s ahead by a couple Force.
Game 6: Diplo vs. Vince Hutchins’ TTO
My opening hand contains: Ackbar, Home One, 3 Spaceport Speeders, 3 Eopies and at least one Mess. Wow! I play all the Eopies and Spaceport Speeders’ on my first turn, activating a whole bunch of Force. Then I deploy Ackbar in Home One to Tatooine and pass the turn. Where was that turn 1 versus Entanglements?
He gets a fast TTO on turn 2, and moves the Death Star to Tatooine, but hasn’t had much luck finding his space yet – just Elis In Hinthra and Zuckuss In Mist Hunter at Endor. He gives up a verification at one point and I see the Superlaser in there, so I know I have to be careful and avoid the Death Star. I find Chandrila and Bail Organa and get a few characters to the Cantina, then move Home One (with Ackbar and Luke) to Endor, while the Tantive (with Bail and a couple other pilots) goes to Chandrila. He moves the Death Star back to Endor, clearly wanting to Superlaser my Home One. I Mess and find Keep Your Eyes Open (V), so I deploy Anakin to Home One, battle, and play the interrupt to stop the Superlaser from firing. I play Rebel Leadership (V) to add a destiny so I draw three: 4-4-6, for a total of 17 (all +1 from Anakin). He draws low and I overflow him for somewhere in the mid-teens. I’m also draining for 2 at Chandrila and Cantina shuffling uncontested, so the game is basically over at that point.
I’m fine with a 3-3 finish, especially in a tournament with so many top players. Thanks to everyone who came out and played at Matt Schmaltz’s new store. Definitely check it out the next time you’re in Maryland!
Let’s take a look at what I learned:
First, I need to slow down and read my cards. Forgetting Leia’s game text was a bad mistake, even if it didn’t ultimately affect the game’s result.
Second, I need to get a LOT more games in with that Diplo deck before I consider bringing it to another tournament. It’s not a “throw it together and just play” kind of deck; it’s very difficult to play and requires a lot of strategic decision-making (when to play your interrupts, etc.). It also requires a fairly conservative play style that doesn’t mesh that well with my instincts. When I have a character in my hand, I really want to deploy it! I prefer a more aggressive style. And that’s not the kind of deck Diplo Mess is.
Third, I need to think a little bit more about matchups. Knowing that Court needed to back up the Audience Chamber against WYS was a good thought, but I chose the wrong characters to do it with; I should’ve realized I would need those smugglers in space.
Fourth, I think I need to add one more ship to Court. One more ship would really improve the deck’s staying power in space, and that’s important in a lot of matchups.
I hope that was helpful. I still learn a ton from every game I play; this is such a richly complex game that there’s just no replacement for playing real games.
Card of the Fortnight
These cards don’t actually cancel Nabrun and Elis, but they can do something much better: retarget the interrupts to a different location where the transported characters will be useless. This can be a game winner! They can also do a number of other things, like retargeting Force Lightning or Trample to a different character (like a Jedi Master that isn’t likely to get hit), or moving Projection Of A Skywalker to a different site where you don’t plan on draining.
Think of some other uses for these cards; they can be extremely powerful if you use them in the right situations.
That’s it for this fortnight! Until next time…
Peace, Love, and High Destinies,