How to (almost) Win the North American Championship

Arch Alliance’s Matt Cary recounts his weekend at Gencon.

This past weekend saw myself and three other Arch Alliance members head to GenCon 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana for the North American Championship. Originally, I had not planned on attending GenCon as I had already gone to Adepticon and would also be making the trip to Worlds late this year, but fellow Arch Alliance member Blake Mcafee won two tickets at the most recent Campaign Against Cancer and sold me a cheap ticket. Special shout out to Blake as he has only played about 8 games in the last few months, and yet he still went 5 and 2, narrowly missing the cut.

I had a few weeks off from X-Wing as well. Medical complications from a kidney stone and an infection that followed laid me up in the hospital for a week. Every day since I got out has had me doing IV infusions of antibiotics twice a day for a couple of hours, which typically happened when the St. Louis scene was playing their games.

iv
My day to day, twice a day. Don’t get kidney stones and UTI’s, kids.

So with a lack of practice, and almost zero time playing with Wave 4, I picked a list largely built by St. Louis local Mark Sandford, who is a great list architect. Mark had been running three I3 Inquisitors with FCS and Concussion Missiles and Colonel Jendon with Palpatine backseat driving. I like my ace-play so I upgraded one of the junior Inquisitors to the Grand Inquisitor (who I will refer to as GQ in the future) and gave him Sense to help against I5 and I6 aces. I also removed Palp, as he increases the Lambda’s cost making it far more painful to lose. Thanks, Mark, for letting me steal/modify your list and for letting me borrow the third TIE/v1 model.

spanish

My first match on Saturday was against Brad Stryczek flying Kylo, Tavson, and Starkiller Base pilot, all naked. I’ve seen Brad making the rounds at a couple of tournaments and he continues to rock this FO list incredibly well. I think he went 5-1 at the Adepticon Hyperspace Qualifier nearly securing a Worlds invite. I was only able to KO the Starkiller and clip half of Kylo while losing Jendon and GQ, giving me a 10 point loss. Not a great start. Brad goes on to get top 4, so kudos to that man.

starkiller_base_pilot_xwm
As dodgy as TIE/v1’s are, 4-5 modified dice scare the bejeezus out of them.

Second match pitted me against, Ted (last name?) flying Wedge, Biggs, a Selfless Red Squadron T-65, and a U-Wing with Leia (who is still solid after her points increase). I locked everyone on Wedge to put pressure on him. First engagement took 5 damage off his list spread about by Selfless and Biggs (2 on Wedge, 2 on Biggs, one on Red) in exchange for 3 damage on one of the junior Inquisitors. Next engagement put Biggs and the Selfless T-65 too far away from Wedge to draw damage, and we traded Wedge for the damaged Inquisitor. After that Biggs was traded for Jendon. GQ and the junior cleaned up the rest. 1-1, not a bad start, but not a great start.

My third match was against a buddy of mine from Illinois, Joshua Stechschulte, who I almost always get matched up against which is kind of bittersweet, but that’s how I got to know him, so I can’t complain. Flying 4 Resistance T-70’s pretty well, his dice were rolling a little under par the entire match, which was enough to swing things my way. If you can’t roll/modify to get 3 hits on offense, my TIE/v1’s are not going to take damage with force and evade nearly every turn. 2-1, losing only half on Jendon.

hit me

My fourth match was against Piotr Biegaj out of Illinois. I believe he was running Plo, Obi-Wan, and Ric, but my memory is little fuzzy on this match. Plo blanked against a Concussion Missile letting me play defensive while he had to engage. I managed the win with little MOV lost. 3-1, giving me hope.

My fifth match was against Richard Tsu on the Gold Squadron Podcast stream. (I’ll link that when Dion gets it uploaded). I think Richard is somehow at every US tournament even if they occur at the same time judging by how much I’ve seen him around at tournaments, but I’ve never actually played him until this point. He was running Wedge, Biggs, and 2 Selfless Red Squadron T65’s, very similar to my second match. Learning from that earlier match, I locked Biggs instead. This scared Biggs away, putting him out of position to be effective. I was able to bait with a junior Inquisitor that got damaged early, and picked at his list while he chased that ship. I pulled out a win, putting me at 4-1.

My sixth match against Johannes Steber was a bit of a bummer. He flew Vader, two Sigma Phantoms, and a Barrage Rocket Bomber. I flew well, but his dice absolutely failed him giving neither of us a satisfying match. Vader and the bomber died after two engagements while only taking a shield on a junior Inquisitor in return. The rest was just cleanup, putting me at 5-1 within striking distance of the cut.

yuno

My seventh and final swiss match was against Brain Harper (I think? Long day, my apologies) flying Soontir, GQ, and two Barrage Rocket Nu StarWings. I locked Soontir and chased the Nu’s around with all four of my ships. After they were sufficiently pushed out, I turned on Soontir who had just missed bullseye by a hair, leaving him with just an evade. Two concussion missiles put him out of commission while the rest of his list did no damage. I put half damage into a Nu and knocked out his GQ next before he put any damage into my list, and he conceded. 6-1, and I made the cut! I made top in Swiss for Day 2 by a pretty decent margin.

swiss
2266 out of a possible 2800 ain’t too shabby.

So with the first day down, I went back to my AirBNB and started my IV. With that done, I got to sleep around 1 a.m. But fortunately, topping the chart on Day 2 got me a bye for round 1 of the cut, allowing me to frolic about and check out the competition instead of stressing my brain early. I mainly watched Birmingham Baron Andrew Nuckols’ Sinker swarm contend against Richard Hines’ Vulture/Hyena Swarm. I started watching because I was going to be pitted against the winner, so this was study time, but I kept watching because it was a great match. Nuckols got an early lead, but then 4 range 1 shots on a Vulture droid netted ZERO hits, keeping Hines in it. The game teetered back and forth, but in the end, the Baron pulled out the win.

Which brings us to my top 8 cut match. This was my first swarm match of the tourney which had me a bit a scared; well that, and the fact that Andrew won the Denver System Open not too far back, which I praised in our The Brilliance of the “Hatchet Man” article. Fortunately, he brought gas clouds that my Inquisitors could sit behind, and also fortunately, his dice were rolling cold. He could only get 2 or less hits rolled which are virtually guaranteed to not hit a 3 green die ship with force and evade. If dice had warmed up for him, it could have been a different game. On to Top 4, wooooooo!

yuno

Top 4 put Josh Benjamin across the table from me flying Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ric Olie. You can watch the match here on Gold Squadron Podcast. An early blank-out versus a junior Inquisitor’s Concussion Missile left Anakin shieldless and at half points, putting the onus to engage on Josh, which is exactly what I want from dodgy ships. Anakin had to run which allowed me to put the hurt into his wingmates. The win was cemented when Anakin blanked on a second Concussion Missile. On to the top 2…

… featuring Carson Wray of Radio TCX fame! Carson was flying another Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ric list, but his list had regen R2 droids. Watch the match here. After the last win against a very similar list, I was fairly confident going into this match. Starting the same way, I locked Anakin and hoped to drop him a little so I could concentrate on the others. I was never really able to put a good hurting on any of his ships even when I had more than one arc on a ship. I don’t think I ever did more than 2 damage in a turn. But Carson flew very well, almost denying all my points with regen. Congratulations Carson!

carson
Your North American 2019 X-Wing Champion!

I am mildly disappointed, but getting to the top table was awesome. Also, I got tons of swag for being the top Imperial player of Day 2 and for making my way to the top table. Carson also let me cradle the championship die for a moment before claiming it. I’ll try again when Worlds approaches and when the Grand Championship comes to Saint Louis later this year.

IMG_20190805_191703
SO MUCH SWAG!!!

Also, seeing this post from Tyler Tippett on Facebook gave my ego quite the boost after the loss:

tylerpraise

If you are in the St. Louis area or coming to visit, reach out to Arch Alliance X-Wing on Facebook to find out where we are playing on any given night.

For more Arch Alliance content check out:

Our YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Biophysical’s Starfighter Mafia blog.

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