Greetings all, and sorry that my first time writing for That's No Moon turns out to be the recounting of a minor disaster.
A little background before we get into that. First off, I've been playing the glorious game of X-Wing at my FLGS in Kingston, MA - Medieval Starship (@medievalstarshp) - for about eight months. Thanks to the help of my comrades there, I've learned to fly decently so far, but always put effort into learning more advanced maneuvering skills. I love that the game flexes my analytical muscles in a way which is both relaxing and stimulating.
Anyhow, I took part in a tournament recently with an intriguing theme. “Worst Build,” 98-100 points, your opponent flies the list you bring, so you never fly what you brought. Sounds like silly fun.
And it was just that, silly fun, for the first round.
I thought long and hard beforehand about which list to bring. I came up with a few different lists, worried that one of them, with a YT-2400/Outrider title/Tractor Beam, would be “too much.” I mean, that one didn't even let the Outrider shoot a realistic weapon, that's too nasty, right?
Three other people had that in their lists. I was assured by the FLGS employee and moderator that it was perfectly fine for me to fly it, too. So I ended up with:
Wild Space Fringer – YT-2400 – Tractor Beam, “Leebo,” Outrider title
Roark Garnet – HWK 290 – Ion Cannon Turret, Intelligence Agent, Moldy Crow, Engine Upgrade
Jake Farrell – A-Wing – Draw Their Fire, A-Wing Test Pilot, Outmaneuver
Pretty dreadful, but as I later learned, perhaps not dreadful enough.
So, in the first round, I get paired up with a competitor who brought three Y-Wings and a generic YT-1300 pilot (you know, the pilot with one less red attack die and decreased health). “Hah!” I thought, tickled to finally see one of those ridiculous things get fielded, and even more pleased that I'd be flying it.
You should know straight up that I'm not a hugely competitive person, and there's really no room for me to be at my current playgroup. Many in it are far more experienced pilots than I, so even if I do get to feeling cocky, I have plenty of reality checks just waiting to remind me of my place.
But I thought I had it with the build I was given, as per the tournament rules. I mean, come on, three Y's and a YT? I got this!
But next, tragedy struck.
As I closed in on the A with my Y's and YT, the darn HWK crept up behind me, and low and behold,
that Ion Cannon Turret sent one of my Y's too close to the side of the playmat to be salvageable in its move next turn.
And then the Outrider came in, landing multiple hits with his only weapon, the Tractor Beam, and, frustratingly, sending another Y off the board.
So we got to the point where there was only a Y and the YT-1300 versus his HWK and Outrider. Sadly, though, time ran out, and he won by a 20 point differential. “Oh well, that was interesting!” I thought.
On my second, and final, round, I was given not one, two, or even three Scum HWKs. I was given FIVE Scum HWKs! Somebody actually bought FIVE of these things!
It went just as poorly as you can imagine, given that I only had 1-die attacks almost every round since none of these blasted ships could keep up with the list I had given my opponent to fly.
We played through the allotted time, and I do have the distinction of having only lost two ships and taken some more-than-expected hull out of his.
But everything about this round was mind-numbing. I mean, look at all the HWKs on this table!
Now I'm sure you've read the title of this article and have thought to yourself, “ahh he just doesn't like this tournament style because he made so many mistakes.” Part of that assumption sure is true: I made my list too powerful for this type of tournament, a mistake I made with complete ignorance. Other builds I noticed featured a similar YT-2400 with no primary weapon and a Tractor Beam, but I woefully ignored how powerful and consistent the Tractor Beam ship plus another “control ship” (the Ion-spewing HWK I made) could be!
On top of that, it turns out that Outmaneuver is pretty decent on an A-Wing. Duh.
So there were issues in my build process, and, especially during my second round, plenty of problems with my flying. Granted, the HWK dial is garbage, but I should have been able to destroy his HWK and strip some major hull off of the Outrider before my opponent got the best of me.
But I don't think I'd likely attend another “Worst Builds” tournament for a few reasons:
- There's too much build repetition. As I mentioned, there were tons of Outrider/Tractor Beam combos, and plenty of HWKs. All this does is take a ship which is designed purely for support and make it the grossly underwhelming star of the show, so to speak. If you bring any list that isn't five HWKs, and your opponent takes it to use against you, the odds of them winning just seem insurmountably stacked against you. After all, 1 red die is only one 1 red die.
- There's no set guidelines on "legal builds" (and there probably should be just a couple). While my moderator was completely casual about the whole ordeal, an attitude which is appreciated, I think it would be useful to set up some sort of guidelines on list-building such that one build (read: ALL HWKS) don't just mean near-certain defeat. When I was researching these tournaments online, I saw the opinions of many who felt as though each “bad build” should not have any cards equipped to a ship which could not possibly activate them (i.e. Targeting Computer on a ship which already has the Target Lock action available). I'm not sure if this light-hearted tournament style would benefit from a strict rule like that, but I do know that I built my squad in such a way that, while many of the cards were not particularly useful, they COULD have been used if necessary (Leebo was actually used once!). As a result, I think I did even more poorly based on the fact that I gave my opponents some somewhat useful upgrades.
- It's really, really messy. If a few of my tokens get mixed up with somebody else's, that's nothing I'm going to lose sleep over. But the fact that one must keep handing off a list to another can make for a frankly dizzying night. If you're interested in taking part in an event like this, make sure you are highly energetic, and bring a cigar box with a dedicated set of tokens your build could use so that way, you remain mentally organized. Otherwise, you may find yourself too distracted during critical moves.
- There's limited dice rolling, depending on the build you're given. If you're playing ALL HWKs, you're likely only rolling one die for most of the match. While this is humorous at first and allows for some silly "HWK Walls" to be set up, it quickly becomes frustrating. Part of the fun of this game is rolling dice, and when you are so limited on your movement AND guns as you are in the 5-HWK squad, the fun is replaced with a mound of stress and frustration.
Overall, I'm glad I was able to learn, socialize, and play some X-Wing. But for the first time in quite a while, I actually felt burnt out when the proceedings came to a close. All I can say is, I'm very much looking forward to running a list again which isn't designed to perform horribly.
I definitely made plenty of errors, and I think with some delicate restrictions in place, a tournament like this could act like a model for experienced players to distill the game back to the basics of tactical flying, upgrades or shiny pilot skills be damned.
But I sure hope beginners don't try a tournament like this, lest they become far too frustrated.
And if you're seeking to get back to basics, why not just run a themed tournament like "TIEs vs. X-Wings Only?"
Anyway, have you ever taken part in a “Worst Builds” tournament, or put together a rubbish list just for the fun of it?
What would you have flown in this tournament instead?
Thank you so much to the kind folks at Medieval Starship for organizing this tournament!
Hope to contribute more soon, and thank you for reading!