With the store championship season well underway and with the first store championship I attended starting and ended with me crashing and burning in the first round, I needed to really up my game if I wanted to be in with a chance of gaining my invite for 2024. And so it was that I found myself at a 16-man tournament being run at Alpha Games in the middle of a picturesque market town in rural Suffolk the first weekend of July.
At this point, with the decision to TO three of (the so far announced) three UK World Open Qualifiers, my chances to qualify are slimmer than most. Therefore I’ve really had to put more consideration into my list than perhaps I may have done. I didn’t want to take my Worlds double dark trooper list after the points changes even though I still really rate it despite dropping the scout troopers. The problem was that I’ve played it to death and with just over 60 games I was honestly getting a little bored so I wanted to try something else.
With the recent point changes the first thing I wanted to try was Mr Mutton Chops himself – Agent Kallus. Knowing he works well with a gunline and I wanted add some double bounty hunters. I wanted to take Boba to help support the gunline on turn one with his three pip card but I find his two pips being the weakest. So I wanted to take IG-88 who comes with two two-pips.
Now you might ask what does Kallus bring to this normal double bounty? Well, having both his one and two pip as contingency allows you swap to a card with cunning if you end up with a tie and you can also guarantee going first for three turns if you play ISB investigation to prevent your opponent playing one pips, allowing you to play your non-Kallus one pip uncontested. The following turn you can then play Kallus one pip and win the roll off with cunning.
Now all of this sounds like a good basis for a list so I took it to my local tournament the weekend before the store championship to test it out. I was on course to come top before I got greedy in the final and threw away a game where I had a bounty and the middle box. But pride comes before the fall and I wanted that second bounty and in overreaching, I lost my first bounty, then the middle box, then got my arse handed to me losing on kill points. Lesson learned!
Now I’ve given the list a trial run. I’ve got an idea how it works. I think it could win 3-4 games undefeated. So I’m set to go, right?
Well, what I’ve not explained is that I’d been eyeing up a list that a local player, Chris Smith, put together. A rather defensive Palp and IG-88 list. Everything about this list is how I like to play the game and at the same time makes your opponent’s enjoyment of the game slowly sink away as he fails to kill anything!
Chris has gone 2-1 a few times at my monthly tournaments and went 3-3 at UKGE, so I asked him about what he thinks the issues with the list and the causes of his losses. He put a lot of it down to player mistakes and just the learning curves of the list. He also happened to be the TO of the Store Championship so I knew he wouldn’t be playing it on this occasion.
So for the tournament I had a choice between taking a list that was tried and tested (Kallus and double bounty) and is a known quantity in the current meta or a list that I like the look of with no experience and an average win-loss record.
So what did I do? I went with Palpatine and IG-88. Of course.
Jack Prowting with Ahsoka and Jyn
Sabotage The Moisuture Vaporators, Supply Drop, Long March
I play Jack most weeks at my local gaming store. He’s a great opponent and was kind enough to be put the time in with me when I was practicing in the lead up to Worlds. Despite qualifying twice himself, he had to forfeit his opportunity this year to go so we had been tweaking his list recently to get him a chance for 2024.
We both deployed with our snipers getting chances to shoot each other and I used a building to prevent getting shot by the FD. I moved my shores up to start tapping my vaporator while Jack focused more on getting shots on one of my mortars. He managed to do a wound to him and my IRG via guardian.
Jack continued with his plan while I was struggling to get any extra shots at range 4 but had done all my Vaporators. I had noticed one of his Vaporators was further away from his troops and if I could kill or suppress a unit as it approached this could get me the early lead on kill points. The downside was this vaporator was protected by his FD cannon. I held back activation IG and Palp to enable to me to try kill the unit that touched that vaporator. In the meantime, Jack managed to get an open shot and two crits into my mortar while protector and barrier was down. This killed my mortar giving jack the lead on Kill points.
I was now behind on kill points and Jack had managed to double tap the “Exposed” Vaporator and managed to keep his units alive. All he had to do was back off and let me come to him and Tap his middle Vaporator. It was at this point I noticed where the vaporator was placed Jack had also put a supply drop box infront of the vaporator. Unfortunately, what this also meant there was no way to fit a base to actually do the objective until the supply box had been picked up. I confirmed this with Jack and he also agreed this was the current game state and the game without anything dying had shifted again.
Jack started to try and get units to clear the box to allow units to then be able to complete the objective. This allowed me to just start picking off units giving me points.
Ahsoka dived my lines with her one pip vs IG and he made a godlike roll taking only 2 from pierce. I withdrew from combat then shot Ashoka and with pull the string on Palp scored the bounty to secure the win ever further.
It was a really good game against a good friend and if it was any other type of game and not a tournament we both probably would have been, “Oh yeah just nudge that to fit a base!” So always check you can touch your objective when placing supply drops!
Olly Dier With Blizzard Force
Hostage Exchange, Clear Conditions, Hemmed In
As is tradition at any competitive event me and Olly get to face off. I was hoping to face him at the final or a bit further into the tournament once I had a few more games under my belt.
Olly got a few bike units quite early on and just tripled moved them to keep them safe. I had managed to shoot one of the bike units which was left with a single bike now and was now hiding at the other side of the board. I had moved Palp up a little to be in range of my Hostage unit to be pull the string to get them as far from Vader as possible.
I played Give Into Your Anger while Olly played Vader’s Might as I expected him to. I chose him to go with Vader first. This gave him two choices to either Vader’s Might my hostage carrier and expose Vader in the middle of the board after I disengaged or for to him to just play it safe with his hostage. He chose to play it safe. I was happy with both scenarios since I had spent more points so I was now on the defensive and Olly had to try and trade up. The HRU started trying to focus a mortar down along with the bikes but the Guardian and Barrier was withstanding the barrage.
Olly played Overwhelming Barrage to try and hit the Imperial Royal Guard who had two health left then followed onto the sniper team. With an Aim he manged a total of one hit on the IRG then scored. He then rolled a full 4 on the sniper team. This put him in the lead for a short period of time as I then managed to remove a bike unit. At this point both our Hostages where safe and Vader was moving slowly forward but hiding on the approach.
I had priority this turn and went with a shore squad to try and delete a second unit of bikes before they could activate since there was only a single bike left. With two aims only managed do a single wound with Olly rolling 3 out of 4 blocks. He then activated the bike and scored two hits into the IRG who at this point had a single health but I then rolled two blocks. With a double move from the bike still left it within range of IG and the snipers to finish off at this point increasing my lead of two bikes killed in exchange for a sniper strike team and a mortar squad.
I played And Now You Will Die vs Master of Evil. I tried to remove a bike before it activated to give me activation advantage so I could zap Vader after he activated. Unfortunately, I failed remove the bike till after it activated. So I went with IG first and did a few wounds to Vader. Then I used Burst Of Speed to then start zapping Vader. There were some good rolls on the attack and defence from us both since my plan was to move attack four times, kill Vader then move back. But the way the dice went meant I had to do 4 attacks and Vader was left on one health and still to activate so I used Pull The String on IG. He managed to force 5 saves, only needing to do a single wound…and of course Vader saved all 5! This left Palp exposed for a return shot next turn since all Vader could do was remove all the immobilize tokens.
Ollie went first with Vader on implacable turn and chose to Burst of Speed behind a building to Keep Vader from dying. I went to the bag and got a corps to to heal Palp up to 2 health.
There was a shot from a HRU squad into palp in heavy cover with the hopes of getting them two wounds but managing to save both and then take a dodge action and the other HRU unit was suppressed from snipers to stop them from being able to move and shoot.
Another very stressful great game against Olly where a few dice rolls either way on saves and the game would have been massively different.
Nav with Anakin 501st
Key Positions, Clear Conditions, Major Offensive
Nav had deployed very spread out and with a lot of units not within range of much mine. He had left a unit of Arcs exposed to a few sniper and a single mortar shooting which was whittled down to a single man who eventually activated to hide. The rest of the turn between the two of us was some very cautious positioning.
I managed to again push some shots into a phase 2 unit but once they started returning fire and I used barrier. Nav then remembered he also had Barrier on Anakin. This was a big change since on his side with the dodge generation with surges from Anakin along with Barrier his list suddenly started becoming quite tanky like mine.
The lone single Barc had been flanking around the side of the map and unfortunately was pulled fairly early and he came over a building a one shot a strike team. In return Del Meeko shore unit also managed to one shot the Barc with Nav not making a single save on five dice!
I had moved up in my last turn to get some shots but with Anakin now using Barrier I ended up not doing a lot of damage. In return I start losing a lot of the IRG and some shores as well while I didn’t want to with Palp to early to recover barrier. At this point in the game I was losing models quite quickly in comparison to the 501st. I was starting to worry I would not have many units left at the end of the game to help score the middle.
I played Give Into Your Anger and made Nav activate Anakin. He was not sure what to do and ended up double moving towards the centre but trying to hide behind the building my army had been using all game. This did generate him 5 suppression tokens since he didn’t make an attack and then his permanent card for not attacking gave him a 5th. I then followed up with IG shooting and Palp pulling the strings on IG to attack, stacking even more suppression on him. At the end of the round with a few more move and shoots Anakin had 8 suppression on him.
We both played one pips along with Anakin’s flaw card. I won the roll off and went with palp and burst onto the centre point allowing me to zap 3 units of clones along with Anakin to immobilize him once to stop him scoring on the centre. I also pulled the strings on IG to score the bounty to help score a victory point. We played out the rest of the turn and Palp was hidden enough that him and another squad was enough to secure the middle point while Nav tried to kill IG but with the fire power he had left along with heavy cover and Armour 1 not much went through. Giving me the victory of 3-1
Lyla Claire with Echo Base One Box Challenge
Sabotage The Moisture Vaporators, Clear Conditions, Major Offensive
At the end of the day, after three wins out of three, I finished top on strength of schedule. However, we now needed a fourth shadow round between the top two undefeated players to determine who won the ticket – and the other player who just happened to be another member of Team UK – Lyla. A rematch from the semi-final at Worlds and for me at least, felt like just as much on the line.
This time we decided we would reschedule the final rather than play it on the day. It would also allow us to stream the event for more people be able to watch the game, which you can find here: https://twitch.tv/thatsnomoonpodcast
With both Lyla and I being 800 and having very similar battle decks, with only two minor differences, I won the roll off and chose red to pick my preferred table side and control the chosen mission.
Lyla’s orbital bombardment opening volley failed to hit the strike team even with an Aim token but scored a single crit against the mortar despite being barriered and then dealt a single wound to the IRG. The rest of the turn consisted of positioning to shoot some veterans without triggering a mine and also to tap my Vaporators early. Lyla had to reposition her Tauntauns to change their path of attack.
One of Lyla’s veterans was suppressed from a mortar shot on the previous turn. They failed their rally roll and Lyla chose to try and shoot the mortar. This then lead to the unit sitting being left available to shoot for the rest of the turn. This gave me an early advantage on points destroyed. I also finished both of my Vaporators whilst Lyla still had one of her completely untouched Vaporators and one she had finished.
Lyla and I continued to exchange range 4 shots with my red saves, Barrier, and Guardian giving me the advantage and also able to spread the damage around. Lyla meanwhile was losing models across most her squads. IG-88, with help of Palp’s Pull The Strings ability, was able to kill a squad by rolling four crits so Chewie couldn’t Guardian. Unfortunately, I had decided to put my bounty on Leia and Lyla had kept her safely out of Ig’s range for the time being. Lyla still had the activation advantage and went last with her unit of Tauntauns, double moving them but falling short of being able to shoot IG but setting up for the next turn.
Lyla was able to charge her Tauntauns in but they were unable to kill IG which would have swung the game in her favour. Eventually I was able to withdraw IG from combat and using Palp’s Pull The Strings again and a Machine Made For Killing command card I was able to shoot the Tauntauns killing a model and putting them on five suppression. Meanwhile the range 4 fight continued with the FD unfortunately not getting many hits and keeping me ahead on the attrition.
Lyla started to position in order to interact with her untapped Vaporator. IG-88 was able to finish off the Tauntaun unit along with help from a Shoretrooper squad. One of the mortars finally triggered the mine that had prevented my army from moving closer to Lyla’s. Unfortunately, it double detonated killing the mortar Lyla had unsuccessfully managed to kill so far and doing two damage to himself. Chewbacca moved out from hiding to finish off the mortar but Lyla’s bad luck continued and she failed to inflict a single wound.
With winning priority and playing And Now You Will Die, Palpatine used Burst of Speed to double move behind a building. I zapped the only unit that could touch Lyla’s objective, securing me the victory along with killing the second unit of Tauntauns and leaving Palpatine on one health. Chewie charged into Palpatine to try and kill him for the moral victory scoring four hits but even the moral victory was denied – with Palp blocking all four.
Even though we went the full six turns, I never felt like I was in any danger of losing. Even Lyla agreed with me it wasn’t her best match up but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Now I have my ticket so I can relax and run my own events with the pressure taken off and no worries about FOMO for World’s 2024!