Atlantic City Open (ACO) – Better Call Maul

Atlantic City Open (ACO) - Better Call Maul 1

This article will cover my experience at Atlantic City Open (ACO) and the Maul/B2 list I ran.

I know, it’s been like, a month. ACO is old news! I did, however, promise a more in depth recap article detailing my experience and matches, so here it is.

I will briefly talk about the list I ran (again) and then walk through each of my six matches. I’ll also hit some general themes from my experience and talk about the tournament as a whole.

The List

Better Call Maul

Atlantic City Open (ACO) - Better Call Maul 2

After an excessive amount of the usual waffling, this is a near carbon copy of my Invader list from Season 6. All I did was add Defensive/Offensive Stance to Maul.

At the end of the day, I went with what I had reps with and was comfortable with. This is a list that leans heavily into the defensive style of a Maul/B2 list, and it takes objectives that facilitate that approach, alongside a slew of deployments and conditions that are specifically good for it and a strong bid (enough to get me blue in every match except the final). For the deployments, I like to run this same set in every CIS list; droids need to move together in a group where it is difficult to flank them, and going short edge to short edge (or, at worst, diagonally) facilitates that best. Hemmed In is kind of a crap shoot, but it starts Blue nearly on top of most objectives, so it makes the cut purely on those grounds. The conditions are all designed for B2s; Limited Vis (it’s a short range list) Fortified Positions (droids are squishy, and half my units have Blast anyway) Rapid Reinforcements (and here’s a B2 in your face) and Supply Drop (field scanner Maul, anyone?).

The list also has a lot of Impact, between the three HAs and Maul’s Saber Throw. I anticipated a lot of armor and vehicles; although I actually dodged them most of the tournament, all that Impact came up huge in the Final when I finally ran into into the double heavy grindstone.

Heat 1 (Qualifier Day)

Round 1 – Kevin Fiore

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Kevin was running a 12 activation Maul/Triple STAP list with a bunch of naked B1s and some BX snipers. STAPs can be really nasty on the tail end of a turn when you can’t respond to them, which is precisely what a high activation list is designed for. It also has Maul, because he’s great.

We ended up on Recover the Supplies, Major Offensive, and Supply Drop. I declined to infiltrate Maul; STAPs have a ton of range and likely would have been able to hunt him down wherever I dropped him, so I played it safe. Kevin was able to drop his Maul very close to the center, within Range 2 of the middle box, which became sort of a problem pretty quickly. A B2/Maul list is beefy up close, but it doesn’t have a ton of mobility or long range threat projection, so if Kevin was able to grab that box and run with it I would be in real trouble.

That’s precisely what Kevin did; on the tail end of turn 1, he used his activation advantage to move Maul up within range of the box. On the first activation of turn 2, he activated Juyo with At Last, grabbed the box, and ran.

Luckily for me, it was not quite far enough. I had positioned my own Maul on the previous turn to be within a double move + force push range of wherever he could run to with the box, so I moved my own Maul up and yanked his Maul with the box back towards my lines into the open. Kevin was able to cause some disruption with the STAPs, but ultimately I spent the turn blasting his Maul with B2s and B1s and he fell with the box near the center. On the following turn I was able to clean up the STAPs and grab the box. Well played by Kevin, but scratch one out for Maul/B2s. My own Maul actually didn’t attack once this game; that happens on Recover, sometimes.

Round 2 – Evan Bulriss

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In Round 2 I got to face my pal Evan, who was running a 12 activation LAAT, triple bike list (more speeders!). We ended up on Recover the Supplies again, and this one actually played out very similarly to how my game against Kevin did. Evan charged forward with the LAAT and speeders and did some damage; but then he was at close range of my B2s, who did the thing they do where they shoot you in the face with rockets and arm cannons. After the speeder bikes were dead it was just a matter of Maul running forward and snatching the box. Another one for Maul/B2s. Maul never attacked in this game, either.

Round 3 – Michael Stasyzyn

Atlantic City Open (ACO) - Better Call Maul 5

Michael was running a nasty Jedi Luke/Wookiee/Vigilance list, which was sort of an interesting Rebel mirror to mine. Both lists feature a mobile saber wielder accompanied by short range firepower in Wookiees and B2s, except obviously the Wookiees are better once it actually gets to fisticuffs. I was pretty determined to try and avoid my precious B2s getting sliced up by Ryyk Blades, if possible.

We ended up on Long March/Vaporators; I think Mike’s option was basically either Hostage or Vaps based on how the vetoes played out, and he chose the latter, not wanting to deal with a B2 Hostage unit backed up by Maul.

This game played out how a lot of my Vaps games do when I’m blue, which is to say it was unfortunately not very interactive for Michael. There was a lot of dodges and standbys and defensive positioning. Chalk up one more for Maul, and a trip to elims on Sunday.

Sunday – Elimination matches

I’ve already outlined the top 8, which you can find here. Needless to say, while I avoided the Rexstar menace on Day 1, it was going to be nearly impossible to dodge that bullet in elims, with literally half the field represented by Rex.

Round 1 – Al Paz

Atlantic City Open (ACO) - Better Call Maul 6

Al is a regular at Legion tournaments and a frequent resident of top cuts, so it was sort of a fluke that I’ve dodged Al for this long. Anyway, this was my first game with him. Al is a very competent player and he was running the boogeyman of the tournament in Rexstar.

I got lucky in setup with a third slot Payload drop. There are a few ways to beat clones; one of them is to force them to move. I double vetoed to Payload and let Al pick the other cards. We ended up with Major Offensive and Fortified Positions.

I don’t usually do this, but… I divulged Phantom Menace and dropped Maul first. Right next to Al’s deployment zone. There was this nifty line of sight blocker right on the edge of the Major Offensive zone (you can see it in the pic above right next to Al’s tray of dudes). Basically, Al could send clones around the corner to shoot Maul with Scouting Party, but he would have to put them right up next to him to do it; and if they didn’t kill him in one shot, he would be buried in Al’s lines for the rest of the game. This also was right next to where Al’s Payload was, so he was essentially forced to interact with Maul there.

That’s almost exactly what happened; in a polar opposite of my day 1 Maul action, Maul was swinging that double bladed red saber right from the word go.

Atlantic City Open (ACO) - Better Call Maul 7
Yes, that’s Maul, in the middle of a bunch of clones.

Al did a good job (eventually) stalling my own payload by splitting his force, but it watered down the impact of token sharing and I was able to push it just far enough with my B1s and B2s to score a VP while preventing Al’s payload from moving close enough to score. Maul/B2s advances to final four.

Round 2 (Final Four) – Ryan Sliwoski

Atlantic City Open (ACO) - Better Call Maul 8

Ryan is another frequent resident of top cuts and another veteran that I’ve avoided in the first two years of the game, somehow. I was thrilled to finally get to play Ryan, who as many know is from the STABcast podcast. Which podcast would prevail?

I’d like to say there was a fanny pack at stake, but Ryan was a super nice guy and actually gave me one before the game.

Anyway, Ryan was running his token Jedi Luke/Cassian/K2/Bistan Rebel smorgasbord. Jedi Luke prevents Maul from getting aggressive, and Bistan is a real pain for droids in general (the Ion is real). Cassian and K2 are further good at poking and chipping wounds at a reliable pace.

While Ryan’s list had a lot of reliable, long range pierce, what it didn’t have was a lot of raw close range firepower; I knew I needed to get as close as possible with my B2s, as quickly as possible. If I could force an early scrum I had a shot at front loading the fight and preventing Cassian and Bistan from bleeding me to death.

I got lucky with another third slot card (a deployment this time) with Hemmed In in the third deployment slot. I vetoed to it; Hemmed In forces an early fight. Ryan went with the lesser of various evils and we ended up on Vaps for the objective (easily the least good objective for Blue on Hemmed In). I wanted an early scrum, and that’s exactly what we got.

The droids and Rebels traded some early shots, with the Pathfinders and Rebel Troopers taking some heavy losses early in exchange for a B2 unit that got shot so much it panicked (and then promptly died). Meanwhile, Maul and Luke had an epic, but brief, lightsaber duel. Luke came out on top, defeating Maul at the open of turn 3 with a Son of Skywalker; but between a B2 standby and Maul’s lightsaber, Luke had himself been cut down to one wound. The droid line finished off Luke; after that, it was a matter of a (mostly intact) droid gunline facing down a severely depleted Rebel one. The remaining B2s finished off K2 and the droids took it. On to the final!

Final – Luke Cook

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Luke and I had managed to dodge each other for the entire tournament. It felt strangely nostalgic to meet at the end, almost exactly two years after the worlds final.

Anyway, Luke was running his ruthless double AAT, 11 activation list. Luke ended up being the Rex killer of this tournament (thanks Luke) facing down three Rexstars in a row prior to my match with him. Luke plays his list very patiently, chipping a couple activations at long range with the AATs while staying back with the other 9 activations, and then swamping the objective with all 11 at the end of the game, hopefully after he’s eliminated a couple of yours.

Battle card selection played out in a very interesting way before this game; Luke was blue with a 26 point bid (yes, really) the only player to outbid me. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle, on a map where the AATs could see over basically all of the terrain pieces. We ended up in a situation where Luke could either veto to third slot Vaps and I would force Advanced Positions, or he could veto to third slot Long March and we would end up on Key Positions (yes, we checked before the game, one AAT could fully cover the center objective). He chose the latter; Maul can get very close very quickly on Advanced Positions with Infiltrate and a Scout move, and Luke wanted to keep Maul and that lightsaber at long range of the tanks.

Long March left me no place to safely infiltrate to, so I ended up not divulging and saving Phantom Menace for the lim vis effect in the midgame. Basically, I figured that I wouldn’t be able to hide from the AATs for very long, and was likely to just get chipped to death until I had nothing left to contest the center with. So I basically planned to just bum rush all my dudes forward as quickly as possible and push Luke’s B1s back, hopefully getting some shots on the tanks in the process. Sometimes you just need to say “screw it” and lean on the dice to deliver you (I don’t usually like to) and that’s just what they did.

The AATs deleted a B2 early and a second one by mid game, but by that time I was able to do some significant wounds to one of the tanks between Saber Throw, some HA shots, and some lucky B1 crits. The first tank dropped at the beginning of turn four, and we had ourselves a game.

Though the LOS blockers on this table were all pretty low, I was able to hide a single model (ahem, Maul) behind the crescent shaped thing near the center and do peekabo Saber Throws on the tanks. Maul did 9 wounds by himself to the tanks with just Saber Throw, including one extremely clutch throw on the last turn that did four wounds in one shot (two crits and two hits). I was able to finish off the second tank on the very last turn; even though the AATs had ravaged my corps (I was down to six activations) all of Luke’s B1s were pushed too far back to contest the center point and I was able to pull it out. Ultimately, the second tank kill proved sort of inconsequential; a BX droid had a shot at Maul on the first activation of the last turn where Maul rolled 3/3 saves (one surge) with one wound left. After surviving, Maul was able to force push the BX droids onto the center point and then engage them, preventing the (then alive) remaining AAT from covering it and displacing all my dudes. I’m not going to lie, that was definitely a “lucky at exactly the right time” kind of moment.

Anyway, extremely well played to Luke. Sometimes force users just put the game on their back, and that’s what Maul did.

It wasn’t just about the games, of course. Some other general themes:

Terrain

I’m not sure I gushed enough about the terrain on the podcast. Can we talk about how amazing this terrain was? Nick Bodnar (the TO) furnished 13 of the 16 tables entirely by himself. Not only did they look amazing, they played better than any tables I’ve played on outside the perfect sandbox of TTS (and even better than many of those). There were lots of blockers in all the right places, with plenty of both scatter and area terrain. Scatter and area terrain are relatively easy to make, but sadly one of the things that are missing from a lot of real Legion tables. Not these ones.

Camaraderie

This is going to sound like a Miss America line, but the best thing about tournaments is the people. After nearly two years of not having seen any of my Legion friends, I was ecstatic to get to hang out with them in person, and meet plenty of new folks as well. We got to eat (mostly) bad casino food, gripe about the prices, and have a great time over the course of the weekend. The sleep was scarce (who needs that anyway) but the fun was plentiful.

Summary

Good matches, good times, great tables. Atlantic City Open was a blast. Who’s ready for Lone Star Open?

2 thoughts on “Atlantic City Open (ACO) – Better Call Maul

  1. Cristian Casado Otazu says:

    With Maul (and perhaps oLuke) they clicked the buttom of the right saberweilder design. Hope they can put all the oldies next to these two with upgrades (burst of speed) and the points/errata update.

    Pd. When can we expect that update?

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