Now, I have mentioned before that I am generally not a tournament player and I didn't play this weekend but I was very excited to watch the Las Vegas Open as it was the first big in-person tournament in the US in almost a year. I kept the very professional Gold Squadron Podcast stream on all weekend and either actively watched or let it play in the background like it was a weekend of baseball. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to watch live X-Wing; extra happy feels because a member of my local group made the cut and I'll definitely be buying him a beverage or two at our next league night. Many congrats to all players involved and to the Fly Better Podcast and Frontline Gaming for hosting a safe and successful event.
This was a fascinating matchup and a really good game even though, personally, I would rank Separatists pretty low in terms of factions I'm interested in.
Daniel's list is absolutely filthy. An intimidating front line of calculating droids that almost make you forget that there are some sneaky token passing and damage dealing tricks hidden in there with Discord Missiles, DFS-311, and Captain Sear with K2-B4. Duncan came at this from a different angle with his two chunky ships capable of dealing massive damage and punishing mistakes. Both of them needed to effectively cripple the other early, with Duncan needing to initiative kill as many droids as possible to deprive Daniel of shots while Daniel needed to envelop one of the big threats and reduce Duncan's offensive power before his Drones started to get wiped out. I felt while watching that these lists were uniquely well-matched for each other despite looking very different and it came down to how well each player recognized their win condition and executed their strategy. Both flew their squads beautifully with Duncan's Darth Maul blasting apart two Vultures in the first engagement, hoping to set a pace and stay ahead, but Maul unfortunately didn't survive quite as long as he needed to. Duncan was able to stage a tense running gun battle with Jango and avoided getting hit with buzz droids long enough to keep the game interesting up until the end, where he had a very real chance to tie the game with a lucky shot. In the end, though, "Isophane" and his droids were too much to handle and he walked away with the well-deserved win. Big time congrats!
All Factions Represented in the Cut
The faction breakdown for the top cut was as follows:
- Separatist - 6
- Rebels - 5
- Empire - 4
- Resistance - 4
- Republic - 3
- Scum and Villainy - 3
- First Order - 3
I had heard that Rebels were a clear favorite coming into the tournament but the spread in the cut was a nice variety of lists with no clear favorite until the top 4 became two cases of Separatists vs. Empire. Ship counts varied from 2 to 8. Just goes to show that good players are good players and they'll find ways to do well with the tools that are available. A couple of cool things I noticed in the cut: Vader Defender in the top 4, a VCX-100 Rebel list, a LAAT (not on ListFortress at the moment but I heard from other sources), double Decimators on stream, and no Kylo Ren despite many Kylo+FOmbers lists present at the event. Check out the lists on ListFortress.
Imperial Ace Play Was On Point
Several of the Imperial players in the cut brought triple ace lists, variations of Darth Vader in the X1 plus Soontir Fel and either Ciena Ree or Duchess. This kind of squad can be unforgiving to fly but fascinating to watch when used well. These players really knew their stuff and I especially enjoyed watching Jesse Van Wick multiple times showing us the art of range control and the bait and switch with Vader, Soontir, and Duchess. When he faced off against a neat Rebel 4-HWK list with bombs he seemed to always be able to stay in as few arcs as possible at an advantageous range to deal damage and feinted at aggressive moves to provoke ineffectual bomb drops.
Tournament Used ROAD and New Obstacle Rules
This was just one event and we don't yet have an official rulebook but it's worth noting that this was the first big in-person US tournament to use some of the upcoming changes to the X-Wing 2.0 rules, currently colloquially referred to as 2.5. Player order was decided every turn by a dice roll after setting dials, deficit scoring was in effect, and consequences for overlapping obstacles were generally more severe. Due to pretty tight play on the streamed games I watched, I didn't see much of consequence from the obstacles as the players didn't really run into them, though there was an interesting interaction when Tel Trevura, who already had one ion token from a Disabled Power Regulator, was possibly intentionally flown through a gas cloud and gained more to become ionized more quickly and then be able to flip the critical hit card earlier. The random player order after dials created a couple of tense decision-making situations that were called out very attentively by the GSP streamers. It also seemed like being incentivized to use all 200 points was helpful for the higher initiative aces, as not needing to worry about saving points for a bid means that Soontir Fel can take a nice shield upgrade, etc.
All in all, it was a pleasant weekend of X-Wing to watch from home and I hope that everyone who was there had a great time. Judging by the cheers from the side event during the stream of the finals, it sounds like you were all very happy to be playing in person again.