It has now been two weeks since the inaugural Milton Keynes Grand Tournament (MK:GT) for Star Wars Legion and I’ve had time to look back and reflect on the whole weekend. In hindsight, the fact I went in six months from having the initial conversation with my wife to see if she thought I could pull something like this off, to standing in the room watching it come to life; the whole thing seems like a crazy whirlwind!
The entire event began in February. I was listening to The Fifth Trooper podcast funnily enough and they were talking about several large events taking place in the USA and ELO rankings. As great as the UK scene is, it did make me reflect on the fact that we have very little opportunity to attend events of that size this side of the pond. That’s not to say we don’t have any, of course. The London Grand Tournament, which takes place every Autumn, has been running a two-day Legion event since 2019 and OPE have also run the same at UK Games Expo every May as well. Aside from that, most other events are held in Friendly Local Game Stores (FLGS) and are usually capped at around 20-30 players due to store size. So as the old saying goes, “If you want something done, do it yourself” and I realised if I wanted more events, perhaps I could be the one to run one!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m fortunate to run monthly events in tandem with my local store, Wargames Workshop, but the maximum they can host is 12 tables / 24 players if we take over the entire store. I managed to negotiate a good rate with a local hotel for hire of their biggest meeting space and worked out that I could fit 32 tables comfortably with room to spare. 32 tables = 64 players. Easy enough, right? Except now I needed to find enough terrain – oh and some prize support!
At the time I had two tables of my own terrain so I started planning and designing table themes that I could produce with my 3D printer at home. I then got to work printing as much as I could. As many owners of 3D printers will know, they’re fantastic until they eventually break! Sometimes it’s a quick re-level of the bed. Other times it’s a ‘take it all apart to find the cause and order a replacement’ kind of job. But I managed to print and paint four tables worth of Star Wars terrain and lots of area filler pieces. Fortunately for me (and my electricity bill), I also had managed to find a company that did hire of generic sci-fi themed terrain to help cover the gap between my existing six tables and the 32 we would need.
With a venue and terrain sorted I now needed some good prize support. Having run and attended multiple events in the past, you get a good idea of what attracts people. Some players come just for the games and fun, some for the promo cards, whilst a decent top prize entices others to show up to have a go at walking away with some nice giveaways. The catch-22 when you’re starting from scratch like I did, was in order to offer prize support you need to have sold tickets. Fortunately for me, I already had some good friends in the community who had faith in me and the event. A close friend of mine was running his own FLGS at the start of the year and was kind enough to donate £300 worth of units which got me off to a flying start and a jumping off point to begin selling the event.
The first and best place to sell was to my local Legion community, evident by the fact the first five tickets sold all came from locals and friends. I think it was selling my first ticket to someone I didn’t know that I realised it was beginning to get real and people other than my friends might want to attend! As well as getting some fantastic sponsorship and prize support (over £1500 worth in the end from nine sponsors), social media was my number one form of advertising, largely on Facebook but also via the Legion Discord and good old-fashioned word of mouth. My (very) patient wife and I came to an agreement that I was to try to attend as many Legion events around the country (as cost and time would allow) to spread the word to people in other communities. I even managed to get invited onto on the Legion 99 Podcast which led to a few more tickets sold!
Despite all the time and effort I was putting into the above and the backing of some great people behind me, by far the most nerve wracking thing of the whole event was the ticket sales. As with most venues, I’d signed a contract with a non-refundable deposit and had worked out my break even point in order to make the whole thing financially viable. It’s easy enough to say, “Oh sure we should sell that many!” but when you’re two to three months in and are still in single digit tickets sold, it was a bit tense! However, I had faith in the community that this was something people wanted and once the weekend rolled around with 56 tickets sold – out selling the recent Worlds Qualifier at the UK Games Expo – they’d proved me right.
The event itself was a straight six games of swiss. There was a possibility that with not having reached the maximum 64 players that there would be a player undefeated after five games. However, my thinking was, well if you can win five straight games, then you can play for your sixth to really prove you are the champion! Each game was two hours and 30 minutes for playtime with 15 minutes before hard dice down. There was an hour lunchbreak each day as well as a 15 minute admin break between the two afternoon games to give us chance to generate matches and ensure people had time to breathe. I used Margin of Victory for the tie breaker for the whole weekend.
The biggest surprise success of the weekend was the Bounty Prize Bingo. One of our sponsors was The Legion Tournament Circuit who had kindly worked with Cami Brown to produce an astonishing and incredible array of promo cards to give away. As much as I loved them all, I spent some time trying to come up with some imaginative ways to give them over the weekend and the bingo was what we settled on. The idea was aimed at putting a positive spin on something bad happening in your game. For instance, having a hero one-shotted due to bad dice or being tabled. Normally that is not guaranteed to make anyone feel good, but now your bad luck has won you a promo card! It really gained some traction and walking around the whole weekend, I could see and hear people helping each other have fun in the game. For instance, if they tried to do a clamber and the single man unit died – they would win a promo card. It provided some great light relief being able to take something positive from a potentially losing situation and I can’t wait to use the idea again!
I’d also chosen to stream some of the top games of the weekend on my Twitch stream as well. I’d done some dry runs at my monthly tournament in July and I was pleased to see it got a fair amount of views and commentary, particulary on the second day. It didn’t cost me much to buy a decent small webcam and tripod but was great at generating some additional interest from people who hadn’t been able to make it.
As ever, one of the best parts of these events is the social aspect. On the Saturday night, we had organised to go for a meal which ended up with 30 people (players and some partners included) descending on a restaurant for some good food and later moving on for some drinks late into the night. A small bar crawl later and some of us found our way back to the hotel rooms at 3am to get a good early night – just in time for day two!
Of the 56 tickets sold we had 50 players turn up on the first day, with the six who were unable to make it all pulling out last minute due to illness. The final faction breakdown was 18 Imperials, 14 Republic, 11 Rebels, six Separatists and four Shadow Collective. Not a single hero was missing from the civil war era and only Darth Maul, Kraken and the generic Super Tactical Droid were missing from the clone war era.
Compared to the lists we are seeing being played in the US tournaments, it seems that the top faction is often Shadow Collective. Considering we do not have a compulsory painting requirement at UK tournaments, you’d think we’d see more players trying this faction, but it seems they’ve not taken off as much over here yet. However, there were a lot of bounty hunters in the lists reflecting the recent rules changes. Overall, a very red save meta at MK:GT, and despite all of the above, it was interesting to see that the top 10 consisted of two of each faction!
8th Place – Dave Foxall – Separatist – 4W-2L
In quite possibly one of the most overt displays of the weekend, Dave transported his list in a very impressive converted Multi-Troop Transport (MTT) which held his entire army! Dave ran three Magnaguard, all with whips and Tenacity backed up by Dooku with Force Push and Burst of Speed. This is a very melee aggressive list. He has still managed to find some points to give the B1’s some heavies as well. Unfortunately for Dave he lost his first game and his third but came back on day two undefeated.
7th Place – David Fraser – Imperial – 4W-2L
This Vader gun line backed up with lots of snipers would probably do a lot better across the pond. The fact we only had one Pyke focused Shadow Collective list and only one Rebel Dodge DLT list was unfortunate, but David managed to show Vader does not always need a lift to win games.
6th Place – Thomas Curtis – Shadow Collective – 4W-2L
This full Black Sun list with a bus and Maul is a lot of red saves and packs a big punch if it gets to range two. Thomas made an early mistake in game one leading to Maul getting shot early and leading to his first lost. He then spent the rest of the weekend infiltrating Maul into deployment zones. I had a laugh with him when he did this at the start of game two, but as Thomas then went on to win three games by doing this, he absolutely proved me wrong!
5th Place – Mike Rees – Republic – 5W-1L
I like Mike’s list using the normal idea of Anakin and Padme token sharing. The twist with his list being it is a clone gunline instead of a tank. The Barcs also give him some good fire support options. Mike’s only loss was his second game, showing that Clones token sharing is still viable if you have the married couple with them.
4th Place – Sam Pigden – Republic – 5W-1L
Anakin in both the top two Republic lists must mean that flaw card can’t be that bad, can it? Sam’s take on the list is to drop Padme and take more Clones, giving him more firepower and the clone commander with Fives combo to make sure he always has fire support options. Sam unfortunately lost his first game but then managed to submarine his way back to the top just missing out on the top three.
3rd Place – Richard Colledge – Imperial 5W-1L
This Blizzard force list is really fast and packs a quick punch. Four speeder bikes is now a thing and Richard proving it works really well with his only loss for the weekend being to the champion! I think the scariest part of this is that it is 12 activations with nearly every unit having a heavy weapon to fire every turn as they slowly walk towards you.
2nd Place – Olly Dier – Rebels – 5W-1L
Olly has now been playing this list for quite some time with a respectable 51 games under his belt and a 45-6 win record. Unfortunately for Olly, he just fell short of the title by losing his only game to our mutual frenemy Dave Grant. Each time Olly brings this list to a tournament he has always made a small list change somewhere so perhaps luck will be on his side at the next event and he nails it for the win.
1st Place – Tom Sefton – Separatists – 6W – 0L
As a fan of Dooku and Cad this list is something I would to love run myself. The B1’s being naked gives him the extra points to squeeze Cad Bane into a normal Dooku Double Magnaguard. This gives extra flexibility to the list and the threat of scoring that potential bounty victory point. The medical droid in the list also helps keep both heroes alive while the repair droid keeps the Magnaguard fighting. All in all, a very strong list and apparently in the hands of a very young player with a bright playing future ahead of him!
List Highlight – Chris Rees – Separatists – 3W-3L
I was secretly rooting for this Invasion force for the weekend. Mainly since the sight of a Double AAT with Magnaguard to counter anything that manages to get close is exactly the kind of list I would have liked to have played myself. The amount of high velocity potential against Pykes, Rebels and Force users seems like such a good thing on paper. With two of the loses Chris suffered coming from the top eight players, it looks like he had some tough opponents.
Overall, I can safely say that despite some apprehension in the planning stages, I can honestly say the entire weekend went off exactly as I planned it. As mentioned before, it isn’t easy – we (my wife and I) had some particularly late nights and long days trying to finish prepping everything in the week leading up to it. The only advice I can give to anyone who is thinking or has thought about running a big two-day event is to just do it! Make sure you have some key support people around to help bounce ideas off and who will help you pull all the details together on the days. For me, I’d like to recognise Antony Gale and Olly Dier who really helped me from the beginning and throughout the weekend, and at the end of it all I felt like I had just as much fun as all my players. I loved every minute of the weekend and I’ve already begun planning MK:GT 2023!
Sponsors: Wargames Workshop MK, Olly Dier, The Army Painter, Blackgate Games, Legion Discord, Legion Tournament Circuit / Cami’s Custom Cards, Big Fat Chef’s Big Fat Customs, K9 Cleaners Pet Grooming, Geeky Jerseys and Jack Prowting
Best Painted Entries
Winner: Rob Gilmour (Rebels)