Our first of the X-Wing Australian System Open reports written by Erin Fong from Perth, we hope you enjoy the read, if you want to share your experiences from the System Open or any other content please reach out firstname.lastname@example.org
The vans came to a crunching stop as fifteen JAWAs piled out and headed for the entrance of Sydney’s Bankstown Sports Club for the inaugural Start Wars: X-Wing Australian System Open.
This was it! 256 squadron leaders hailing from New Zealand to Singapore were out to pit their wits against each other and see who would be invited to the World Championships. Six matches of Swiss pairings (with each successive game pitting you against harder opponents if you were winning, or easier ones if you were losing). Those who won at least five out of their six games would go on to make the Day 2 knockout rounds for the title of Australian System Open Champion.
I’d brought a scum and villainy squad of Ketsu, Old Teroch and Kavil – all initiative 5 pilots with devastating abilities at Range 1. Ketsu could tractor friendly and enemy ships and relocate them, Teroch could remove green tokens (focus/evade/reinforce/calculate) and Kavil could fire twice if his Dorsal Turret was lined up in the front arc, for a total of seven red dice at close range. The latter was a late replacement for Talonbane Cobra, an I5 Khiraxz ace who also excelled at range 1 engagements, but struggled to keep up with Teroch and Ketsu due to the lack of a boost action; Kavil’s Dorsal Turret still worked at range 2, so his double-tap ability still worked even if he was lagging slightly behind the others.
Game 1 was against Tim H from Wellington flying Fenn Rau and 3 Zealous Recruits. He’d even given them names (Steve #7, Edgar #8 and Ned #9)! This was going to be an interesting matchup – every ship on the board wanted to be at range one to make full use of all their abilities. Tim’s three recruits set up in the northwest corner, I put all my ships in the southeast and dove straight in for Fenn in the northeast corner, hoping to put some damage into him before the three Recruits caught up to the action.
A first salvo put Fenn at half point, forcing Tim to play his ace much more conservatively for the rest of the game, allowing me to focus more on taking down the 3 recruits. Ketsu’s tractoring abilities carried the game, slamming Tim’s Recruits into asteroids before they could fire.
End result: Fenn and one Recruit remaining against Old Teroch and Ketsu.
In Game 2 ACT’s Ben Lorking brought three missile-carrying Inquisitors supported by Darth Vader onboard Col. Jendon’s shuttle. Ben had excellent range control, repeatedly 1-hard turning his Inquisitors on the northern edge of the board to deny me the ability to rush my ships in for a range one engagement, and allowing missile shots for the three inquisitors onto Kavil.
Closing in the range in the next round went much more in my favour, with one Inquisitor tractored onto a rock and another one reduced to space-dust before I charged past them at the shuttle. Darth Vader forced me to choose between taking a damage on Old Teroch or surrendering his focus token; I took the damage and hammered down the now-tractored shuttle with all three of my ships. By this time, Ben had turned his two remaining ships around and Kavil and Old Teroch swiftly fell to the might of the Inquisition.
With five minutes to go, Ben disengaged the Inquisitors and ran for the board edge (both of us believing he was ahead on points), while Ketsu trailed behind, unable to put any more damage through. When the game ended however, we discovered the mistake and the true score was tallied up, putting me in front by just three points!
Ben was gracious despite the shock, and I was glad to see later on that he had clawed his way back up the ladder to make the Day 2 cut.
A quick lunch break allowed me to catch up on the exploits of the other JAWAs – Aaron, Alex, Gregg and Liam were undefeated, so things were looking up for our motley crew of scavengers!
Back on the tables, Suresh from Sydney brought another Jendon shuttle to Game 3, this time supporting Darth Vader in his own TIE Advanced X1 and the very, very scary “Hatchet Man” (Major Vynder with both Proton Torpedoes and Advanced Proton Torpedoes – guaranteeing at least four modified dice and at least one crit on whoever he had a Target Lock on). I lined up my three ships in a tight formation across the board from Jendon and Vynder, and ran straight at them as fast as I could, allowing Vader to flank in from the side, and Vynder to lock onto Teroch.
An error on my side – forgetting to set a dial on Kavil penalised him into executing a white two straight – put him point-blank in front of Jendon’s primary arc. Fortunately, Ketsu and Teroch got their K-turns in behind both Jendon and Vynder, allowing initiative removal of the shuttle before it could shoot Kavil, and half damage onto Vynder. With both his remaining ships in my arcs, Suresh now had to choose between disengaging for a better position or finishing Kavil off.
Vynder SLAMmed away, closely hounded by Teroch while Vader shot Kavil down before being shooed away by Ketsu. The game ended with Old Teroch nailing his prey, Ketsu at full points intact and Vader trailing smoke.
Game 4 was against James and his CIS droid swarm – five drones with Energy Shell Charges and two missile bombers. This game fell down to who could control the range of engagement better, and James did superbly well, blocking Ketsu with one droid, whilst keeping all the others at range 2-3, allowing all of his Energy Shell Charges and missiles to launch.
Against all odds, Ketsu survived the initial volley but she and Kavil went down in flames soon after; I couldn’t trade them for enough damage on James’s ships, and ended with Teroch flying around in tight circles attempting to whittle down small chips off the droids and relying on Concordia Faceoff to keep him alive. When the round was up, James still had four out of his five ships still on the board! This pushed him up to a thoroughly deserved 4-0 and left me at 3-1 – I needed to take both of the next games if I wanted to make it to Day 2.
At this point, the JAWAs’ luck made a turn for the worse – Gregg McKenzie and I had to face off in Game 5; with both of us at 3-1, whoever lost would be out of the running to make the cut.
Gregg’s TIE swarm – Howlrunner and her Inferno Squad wingmen equipped with Crack Shot (or Marksmanship in the case of Seyn Marana) – deployed in the northwest corner, my Scum squad in the southeast and both of us made for the eastern board edge. Kavil took a shortcut through the middle of the board to flank the TIEs from the inside while Teroch sped up the eastern edge to get behind them.
The rest of the game passed in a blur; Ketsu and Kavil were both on fire by the end but somehow, I’d managed to take out two TIE fighters and put a couple more at half-health. It was a bittersweet win for me; I still had a chance of making the top cut, but at the expense of one of my WA teammates.
Victoria’s Jake Hamilton and I were about to set up for Game 6 when we were approached by Dion Morales of the Gold Squadron Podcast and asked if we wanted to play our match live on stream. Both of us jumped at the opportunity – “Let’s make this happen!” Dion cheered.
Buoyed by his enthusiasm, we set up our squads beneath the camera. One more to go – you can actually do this!
It was going to be a tough one though – Jake had brought a Rebel Beef list – Braylen Stramm’s B-wing, Cassian Andor’s U-wing, Wedge in a Crack Shot X-wing and AP-5’s Sheathipede shuttle ferrying her royal highness Leia Organa.
Jake’s first-turn decision to hug the northern board edge with Cassian and Braylen meant I was going to have to set up my approach much more slowly if I wanted to draw him into the centre.
Old Teroch tried to get around the northern flank but was successfully blocked by Cassian, with Braylen set up for a perfect range 2 shot. Meanwhile, AP-5 tried to make a break for the south but was intercepted by Kavil, who had banked right to discourage Wedge from flanking.
After getting tractored into range 1, AP-5 was shotgunned into oblivion with both barrels from Kavil, while Old Teroch was blown apart by a barrage of laser-fire from Wedge and Braylen. Jake and I were under pressure now; I had removed Leia from the game just when her ability was ready to use, with a good board position, while Jake was ten points ahead and had taken out what was usually my endgame fighter.
I swung my attention northward to removing Braylen next, but managed to catch Cassian in-arc at range one of both my ships instead, whilst also blocking Wedge from taking a shot. It turns out getting tractored while having your wings closed is quite the death sentence for a U-wing…
A K-turn for both Ketsu and Kavil set Braylen in their sights, but unmodified dice left their prey with shields intact while Wedge seared Kavil’s shields off. Jake and I brought all our remaining ships head-on for one last, big, head-on joust, where Ketsu’s tractor abilities saved the day again – Braylen was left pointing at empty space while Wedge, unable to hammer Kavil into submission, took six hits at point blank and became one with the void.
After that, the only task left was to hunt down the last wounded B-wing. Jake stuck with white hard turns to keep Braylen stressed, and his re-roll ability on defence kept him alive for a few more turns, but it was not meant to be; a head-on game of chicken with Kavil sent him off to the great beyond.
I was exhausted, dehydrated and in severe need of the closest seat I could find, but at the same time I was ecstatic – I had done it! An entry into the top cut of the competition!
The news filtered through that Liam and Alex had also made 6-0 and 5-1 respectively; WA had three out of the 29 spots in the top cut. It was time for the JAWAs to head back to camp, stock up on food, and – despite the temptation of ripping into a game of Good Cop Bad Cop – get some rest.
Tomorrow was going to be a big day.