List Up Front

Not that you needed it thanks to our friends at YourDestiny, but here ya go. (I kid I kid) SWDB LINK

Deck Theory

Going into GenCon, we had a few conditions that whatever our deck was had to meet.

1.) Be able to convincingly and reliably defeat droids, even when starting with zero resources. Nearly any two-wide list (Maul/Vader being the major exceptions) failed to meet this mark to our satisfaction. Losing under the condition that you don’t have any resources round 1 due to a droid action cheat was a total no-fly zone for us.

2.) Little to no variance. We didn’t want to lose from a bad shuffle, and we wanted plenty of ways to focus dice to meet the situation at hand. If you can do the same things in every game, and what you are doing is pretty good, then you’ll automatically pick up a win or two against someone who for whatever reason isn’t getting to do what they want.

3.) Competitive against Aphra/Ewoks, with Aphra as our major target. We incorrectly figured that a couple early wins would get us away from the Ewok lists, but we could have the possibility of seeing Aphra in any round including past cut. So things that did respectably against Aphra but struggled against Ewoks made it through here.

4.) Not droids. None of us here at Artificery particularly like mirror matches under any conditions, but the droids mirror in particular is a shitshow. Generally speaking, whoever gets Chewie’s Blaster and action cheats before the other person is going to win barring egregious errors allowing for a comeback. In a mirror where rolls don’t matter much because of R2 Focus, the games all felt like they were decided once the battlefield was selected. Our testing here was a failure on our part that I will go over later.

5.) Beat the Vow and Admiral combo decks. I absolutely refused to run the risk of getting blown out by something I consider bullshit. This pretty much locked us out of anything that wasn’t capable of balls-to-the-wall aggression or Separatist Embargo.

Aphra: Finds it to be difficult (though not impossible) to operate without money Round 1, even with six resource cards to lean on (Respite, Well-Connected, Reprogram). Alternatively, Droids can kill Aphra in round 2 pretty reliably which is even worse because that shuts off the vast majority of the card draw required to win games. Wat dying early was an inconvenience, Aphra dying was a game-killer.

Maul: While he was capable of operating with no cash and had basically zero variance with either Watto or Talzin as partners, the Aphra matchup was abysmal. Games tended to start feeling great for Maul against her by being able to kill one or even two characters pretty, but even a 9HP meat shield was unable to give the time necessary to finish the job, and he had no ways of interacting with her gameplan aside from running DM, which forced us into yellow and unacceptably decreased the top end damage.

Droids: Whoo boy we fucked up. If we were able to find a droid list of any flavor that would have won the mirror often enough, this may have been the direction we went. Our mistake was in not giving Chopper the credit he was due in two separate ways. Firstly, we didn’t really make use of Chopper’s disrupt sides as effectively as was demonstrated to us in person at GenCon. Minor whiff there. The level of blindness that we had for the Riot Shield overwrite (getting back a mod for free), with Field Medic as backup later in the round can only be rivalled by Stevie Wonder or Matt Murdock. Major props to the Destiny Council for running into the Top 4 with that. It single-handedly wins games against opposing droids.

Admiral: Variance was a killer here. When there are only two or four cards in the deck that REALLY matter, and there are many times where they are sitting vulnerable in hand while you amass the resources required to make the game-winning moves, there were just too many ways that our best-laid plans would go awry.

Jango/Daka: Was a coinflip at best against droids who disrupted off an action cheat in round 1. Getting one Jango side locked out of generating cash really hurts, especially when both your combo and means of survival are locked behind a paid power-action gate.

Vader/Greedo: I held on to this deck all the way up until the day before I flew out. Utilizing bounties, and leveraging auxiliary cash generation and a huge amount of health was carrying me very far against the field… Except against Admiral or Vow decks, and Aphra. Losing to those I could probably live with, but I also hit a bumpy patch in dealing with Entourage specials, which when they hit for 3+ tended to send the game spiraling out of control.

Jabba: Met all of these conditions with flying colors.

With all of our mitigation being zero-cost, the droids matchup was solid from top to bottom. In situations where they let us keep money in Round 1, we are able to slam a lot of damage against whichever droid had the least total HP (Favoring R2 to turn off focus capability) and ramp out further to overwhelm them once they have to start deciding whether to do damage or get mitigation money.

Seperatist Embargo kept Vow/Admiral combo decks under control, and with the combination of Desperate Measure, got our Aphra win-rate firmly under control. Saying 0-0-0, then DMing anything else that hit the field allowed us to keep HP totals at parity while simultaneously clearing the way for our own Supports. They had to either DM our Embargo, or lose a ton of damage potential by keeping 0-0-0 blank. Bonus points granted when we are able to Counter-Intel their DM prior to playing or Delving Fist.

We were in a position on Jabba where we were an auto-loss to Mill and Ewoks, but ended up batting .500 when we figured that encountering either of those decks was unlikely once we had a few wins under our belt.

The Reylo matchup was what we considered to be the wildcard. The team was pretty split on success/failure vs the deck, made more confounding by the wide array of options Reylo has in deck-building. Personally, I was very comfortable in the matchup, but as you can see below this was very much not reflected team-wide.

Team Performance

Tacster (6-2)AoZ (5-3)Yeti (5-3)Dass (4-4)GrokDisco (5-3)
Mirror (W)Iden/Beckett (W) Hask/IG88 (W)Handroids (W)Satine Droids (W)
Satine Droids (W)Beckett/Talzin (W) Iden/Beckett (W)Ewoks (L)Handroids (W)
Reylo (L)Satine Droids (W) Satine Droids (W)Handroids (W)Reylo (W)
Satine Droids (W)Aphra/Wat/Sent (L) Ewoks (L)Vader/Greedo (L)Ewoks (W)
Ewoks (W)Aphra/Wat/Sent (W) Reylo (L)Iden/Beckett (W)Ewoks (L)
Ewoks (L)Chopper (L) Padme/Leia (L)Handroids (L)Satine Droids (L)
Vader/FOST (W)Satine Droids (L-Time) Satine Droids (W)IG-88/Dengar (L)Chopper (L)
Satine Droids (W)Chopper (W) Phasma/Sent (W)?? (W)Maul Talzin (W)

I think our performance at the tournament reflects the general accuracy of our assumptions, with a 10-6 record against droids in Swiss. It may just be wishful thinking on my part but I believe that my round 7 would have been a win for me had it not gone to time, but hey. Them’s the breaks.

We certainly did well against the “random” lists like Beckett, IG-88, Vader, and the like where we knew a certain number of people would be on them but couldn’t assume they would be present in the amount necessary to actually consider them in deckbuilding.

On the whole, I think our team performance was good, and had I not punted my round 4 in a spectacular fit of stupidity I am pretty confident I would have made cut. Assumptions were mostly good (main exception being about Ewoks). Gameplay was ranging from decent to spectacular across the board, with no team-member falling below a 50% winrate, and I am assessing our deckbuild to be extremely good, with zero wasted slots and great efficiency for the full 30.

If I were attending NoVa, I’d be very comfortable taking this list even as a known quantity. With a couple of minor changes to reflect what we now know about Chopper I am very okay with having an auto-loss to Ewoks even if they are more prevalent, given our ability to counter the decks that I perceive to be in the best position to defeat the Fuzzy Menace at this time (Admiral, Reylo, Chopper).

Tips on How to Play

Your mulligan is pretty forgiving, since Jabba draws you a sixth card and Sentinal lets you see a seventh. Throw back all your yellow events with a couple of exceptions. Keep Delve if you have Fist. Keep well-connected if the only threat you have is Entourage. Keep NGTMD if you have two threats, one of which is Fickle Mercenaries.

Keep Fist/Mega in general, even between rounds because it is Delveable/Playable from nearly any position, but don’t actually play it into Yellow Villain until you either Embargo DM or know for a fact they don’t have it in hand. If opponent wants to take four/five and discard a card on their action to get rid of Mega/Fist once you’ve already fully resolved them at least once, that’s perfectly fine. If you can threaten enough with Entourage/Fickle to bait the DM out, even better.

Sequencing is very important. In a vacuum, general order of operations is Counterintel, Jabba, Embargo, Sentinel, everything else. Insert Wat PA whenever he is under threat, shoot for char-death with what you have if it’s possible, and roll out Mega ASAP if they might have DM. Also modify the order if you know you need to Forsaken to live.

In general, be smart about Fickle. Don’t hand your opponent a free damage source if you can help it, but also don’t be afraid to fight over Fickles. You win the resource game in most cases, even against droids. Their mitigation is paid, ours is free.

Against droids, Separatist Embargo their likely mitigation if you don’t have hand info. Automated Defense, Flee the Scene are always good calls, but keep Easy Pickings in mind if you have a Megablaster you are going to want to play. Kill priority against Chopper is Chopper-R2-3PO unless both shields went to Chopper in which case it is R2-Chopper-3PO. Against the other droid decks, Kill the droid with the least HP, favoring R2 if equal. If you have a guaranteed kill on Han or Satine and they have weapons, lean in that way to turn off EP/Entangle and get their weapon dice off the field. This is all pretty fluid, but you have no end to the actions you can take before you actually need to make the decisions. Once they blow their load on the top of the round they’re locked in with you.

Separatist Embargo Admiral, Acceptable Losses, Vow of Vengeance, 0-0-0, BT-1, etc. Very versatile card. Feel free to hit whatever mitigation they have left in hand after a Counterintel. You really only need one open round to put a solid hurt on someone.

Jabba card pull is entirely situational, but pretty obvious. Favor Well Connected in round where you have Counterintel since you can dictate their draw, and NGTMD when you already have threats on board or a Fickle in hand.

Unless you have a compelling need to save a reroll, or slam damage in a window of opportunity, use NGTMD to turn extra damage back into money.

Against any deck that can threaten disrupt, have something to play for two or fewer resources available. Embargo, 0-0-0, Senate Chamber, and Fickle all fit the bill.

The worst mitigation option early is Sinister Peace. I prefer to utilize Hidden Motive or Doubt in round 1 and take the variance to keep a reroll unless it is against must-remove threats like Chewie’s Blaster or a Vader 4-side.

Sour Grapes

The meat and potatoes of the Article is done, stick around if you want to hear me complain about coulda woulda shoulda type things.

What in the hell was this tournament format?

If top 32 is the overarching goal with 144 registered players then record-cutting at 7 rounds for 5-2s make the most sense. Unless some weirdness happens, there are only two people who need to do a play-in game, which they can take care of at the tail end of day one.

If top 16 is the goal, going 9 rounds and doing the normal SoS cutoff to pull in the best performing 6-3s makes the most sense. Funnily enough, six rounds also makes a clean top 16.

If a strict eight-round day 1 is the goal, then the cut should just be based on the number of registered players, which would have pulled in the top half of the 6-2s this year and dumped the bottom based on the FFG resource documents.

What is mind-boggling, is the reasoning given for deviating from FFGs own tournament documents was that they wanted a strict number of rounds, but a variable top cut size. In this case they chopped it at top 16, which required a play-in round in Day 2 to winnow out half of the 6-2s.

If you are ALREADY going to do an extra round in day 2 to handle the play-ins, why not just up the cut to account for the extra round and make it a clean deal?

And that’s what makes this a sour grapes subheading. Under other options for cutting this year, most of the Artificery Team (plus Mrs. Yeti, who we all like better than Dass anyway), AND additional players from ABG/Loops (and I think Destiny Council and Entourage, but don’t quote me) would have slid in and gone on to a day two showdown. I feel kinda dicked down by the tournament format.

I think my words here would have more weight if I either made day 2 or did worse than 5-3 because then it wouldn’t be a personal gripe, but as evidence in my favor I did have this exact conversation with ABG, Entourage, and the Judges all before round 4.

Not helping my feelings towards FFG at the moment is the literal Elmo Shrug given from their staff when it came time to set up our streaming table, arranged and approved months previously, with the equipment brought in and carried at our expense and risk. Classy move there. And props to the Hyperloops who had far more patience than us in getting their rig set up.

And for the love of all things holy, could we get more time for a Lunch break? Or put the break at a time where the food trucks aren’t changing over and going through the busy lunch rush?

GenCon Thoughts In General

Congratulations to The Hyperloops for winning yet again, and continuing to not allow anyone to sit on their ass and expect free wins. Additional congrats to the Destiny Council for being a full 50% of the Top-4, and who haven’t received nearly the amount of accolades I feel they deserve for their performance this past weekend.

This was my second GenCon attendance ever, but I think I have things nailed down for next year in terms of finding the sweetspot on how to handle the con. Last year I scheduled nothing, this year I scheduled too much.

Hanging out with friends, seeing online acquaintances in person again, talking shit to the competition in person, and the whole social atmosphere is far and away the best thing about GenCon. I might not go just by myself, but knowing the people waiting for me? Sign me up every year for as long as I am able.

Huge Hits:

VIG Badge: Getting it rewarded the crew access to amazing housing, a grip of free board games to play, and early access to various things. If you are going to GenCon with a group, I highly recommend pitching in for a VIG badge.

Run For Your Life Candyman: If you want the experience of being a fully indoctrinated cult-member for a few hours, but don’t want the pesky “sign your life and possessions away” clause, sign up the Candyman tournament. Mere text cannot express how fun this was. Violence, chanting, cookies, necromancy, displaying the heads of your enemies, and making Hall D completely unusable for anyone else for four hours combined to make the tournament the best two dollars I’m likely to spend all year.

Pedal and Drink: The Crew boozed their way around downtown Indy, had some ad-hoc Karaoke, and held up traffic for no good reason other than an excuse to get sauced on the move. Great time.

Artist and Writer Corner: I’m a sucker for good art (and bad art with big tiddys), and physical copies of books signed by authors. So I loved meeting the people who bring all my favorite universes to life on the page. They are all criminally underpaid for their talents, so being able to support them in person was a real treat.

Battletech: It is hard to find places to play Battletech, or people to play with here in Southern California. Mech pods, the Battletech Grinder, and the huge multi-lance battles I got to see were once again a highlight.

St Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail: Knocked me on my ass. It’s a thing of beauty.

Misses:

Megagame: I signed up for one of the mega-games, but ended up disappointed. It may have been partially my fault for maybe not getting into the game as much as I could have, but it was a directionless four hours with minimal actual role-playing for forty bucks. Not likely to do that again unless given compelling reasons.

True Dungeon: While fun, I didn’t find it fun enough to be worth the expense. And I get that True Dungeon literally prints money for the people who run it, but cramming groups of ten through a series of rooms on the tightest schedule I’ve ever seen left most of us more confused than anything else much of the time, and several of our group had very few opportunities to contribute to the game. Groups of that size might be able to work, but I think they would need to put in a few more dungeon-masters to wrangle us all.

Planning Anything Before Noon: Bad idea, and I should know better. Hard to schlep my way to the convention center for a 9AM event when I stay up until 3AM playing new games.

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