Now that I’ve provided my thoughts on my list and the event, it’s time to go into the actual games. I’ve always found battle reports to be a bit stale for one reason or another, primarily because they’re often difficult to follow. I’m going to do my best to remedy this problem in these upcoming articles. I’ll tell a story when there’s one to tell, and attempt to be brief when there isn't. Moreover, I’ll provide the map and some markings indicating where the action took place. Hopefully that will mitigate some of the problems I typically have with battle reports – however, I’d love to hear opinions on what makes a good/bad battle report from anyone that ends up reading this. Thus, without further delay, let’s get into the games.
NOTE: I’m not going to share the names of any opponents in my battle report.I admit it will be easy enough to determine the name of the player in most cases, but I don’t feel it’s my privilege to openly provide that information given that I haven’t obtained the consent of any of those players to do so.Instead, I’ll merely refer to them by a letter, which will have no relationship to their actual name.
GAME 1: 0 – 0
For those who aren’t familiar with the Worlds experience, Game 1 was preceded by a significant amount of down time. I registered about 45 minutes before the actual tournament started, so I had a significant amount of time to stew in my anxiety. In that time, I asked myself a lot of questions – is my list competitive (especially if you played an off meta list like I did), have I practiced enough, and how will I perform when playing against a stranger. After all, even though I practiced, I did so in a certain degree of comfort – playing against the people I know and against the lists that I know they play. These sorts of things breed complacency and it’s not entirely certain whether my opponents’ lists and play-styles will be unfamiliar at the tournament. The same goes for HOW my opponents will play. Maybe the people I practiced with were very relaxed on the time it takes to make decisions – and now I’ll have an opponent that asks me to hurry upon every delay. These sorts of things can really throw a player off his or her game. And, since this is my first big tournament, I wasn't sure how I would react.
To make things worse, the anxiety-build culminates in the first pairings of the day being posted on a small sheet of paper. Everyone rushes up to the sheet, squeezing through their potential opponents to find the information about their pairing from the fifty rows of data in size-ten font. Not only are we on the clock to get where we need to be and set up, but all the niceties that we received from our friends during the prior 45 minutes are more or less gone, as they are also filled with the same anxiety and excitement that mark the first game of the day. In what felt like an hour, I considered these questions as I moved from the list of pairings to my table: Would I lose terribly? Will my opponent be rude? Will I be rude?
The answer to all three were a resounding no.
My first game was against A on Anchorhead Cantina, playing the Gaining Favour mission. A ran a Rancor-focused list, with a smattering of hunters as support. A started with initiative and chose the red deployment zone on the bottom side of the map, and as such I deployed in the blue zone on the top of the map.
The best way to describe this game was that it was very cerebral. Both of us understood our strengths and weaknesses well, meaning that execution would be key. On my end, I knew that the Rancor was going to be enemy number one – in that if it was played well, it would prevent me removing some of A’s expensive, harder hitting figures. As for A, he clearly understood the threat that Captain Terro and Jet Troopers could pose to his forces if they were able to attack them, particularly if Terro was able to use Flamethrower on two or more of his figures.
Round one ended uneventfully, with both of us approaching the right side of the map with caution. A moved his Rancor into the center hallway, but not adjacent to my door, which remained closed at that time. This was a key maneuver by A, as I’ve won many games against Rancor players that move adjacent to my door – essentially by opening the door with Terro and using Flamethrower on the Rancor.
I thought I may be able to make this strategy work again, so I opened my door with a Heavy Trooper at the start of round two, hoping to threaten the 15-health creature. Unfortunately, two shots from my Heavies barely made a dent in the Rancor’s health (I’m pretty certain the Rancor was trained at this point). After that, A moved the Rancor aggressively into my units, dispersing the small fortress position I had set up near my deployment zone. I can’t recall if I lost a Jet at this point, but I would lose both a Jet Trooper and a Heavy Trooper over the course of the second round. A’s hunter support group remained back on the right side of the map, and I still held a conservative position on the top side of the map. As a result, I was able to interact with two mission tokens in round two for a total of 5 VPs to A’s 10 VPs.
Thus began round three, and unfortunately I was in a pretty bad position. Not only had the Rancor opened quite a few of my units up to attacks from Vinto and Bossk (displacing them by moving on top of them), but my ability to remove the Rancor or any other units was very low. Clearly, A understood the disruptive value of the Rancor in comparison to my relatively slow moving Heavy Troopers. Therefore, I decided to take a gamble on winning via mission points. Even though my list was weak against the Rancor, A knew that approaching the objectives on my side of the map would be suicide for his Weequays and Bossk. During this round, I was able to grab two more objectives for the full 20 VPs and remove a Weequay Pirate with a Jet Trooper. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough. A was able to use his Rancor (untrained now) to remove another Jet Trooper and my remaining Heavy Troopers. Ultimately, the game went to time and A ended with 28 VPs (he removed six figures and used Order Hit once) and I ended with 24 VPs. If I had positioned my Heavy Troopers a little better, I may have pulled this one out, but it was an entertaining and competitive game none the less.
In hindsight, I think should have either fully committed to removing the Rancor, or ignored it entirely. I tend to get discouraged too quickly after a few disappointing attacks against the Rancor, when I should probably just go for it and take stock of my situation after its gone. In this game, I straddled the line too much. I opened my door and invited the Rancor into my defensive position, but neglected to commit to its removal. I can’t say whether I would have won if I had taken that approach, but it seems like that would have been a stronger approach. Kudos to A, as he played this match very well. I started the tournament with a loss.