So Long 2023…

The intro…

Hello and welcome tot this week’s blog!

There’s just a couple of things to cover off before what will be a rather short one today.

First of all – Isoplane!

I’ve covered it before but in case you don’t know, the incredible Isophane (aka Daniel Lim) is again organising to provide funding for people who would love to attends Worlds but haven’t got the funds to do so. The window for applying for funds has now closed BUT the option to buy raffle tickets to support it is still open!

Check out The Isoplane Initiative (xwing.life) for more details on how to enter and what you could win!

Secondly, it’s been really interesting to see some of the leaks for the new cards from the Battle of (or over?!) Endor pack that, let’s face it, should have been out by now. I’ve seen the cards and heard some analysis of them and they do sound very interesting, especially the pilot ability on Lando!

Endor cards image?

Anyway, I will most certainly be getting this pack when it comes out. Aside from owning both factions I’m looking forward to the little (or big?) meta shake-up that it’ll cause. If XTC showed me anything it’s that there’s pretty much a ‘correct choice’ list for each faction at the moment and while it’s good that the factions are reasonably balanced against each other (well, except Scum and CIS…), we could definitely do with a bit of something new.

Alright, I think that’s it for now. Let’s get to the meat of it!

The main bit…

So, this week’s blog has been a bit of a challenge. Work has been crazy, XTC has been happening, Patreon Q1 for 2024 is creeping up on me and of course, Christmas is just days away now.

I was originally planning to talk about a game I played last week against Steve Boulton but (sorry Steve!), time has gone an, let’s be honest, are you still interested in games I’m playing with my Resistance squad? Maybe you are. What I will mention is that I lose the game (congrats Steve!) and that actually, off teh back of my 12+ game win streak leading in to the Newport Store Champs that I won, I’ve lost every single game since. Every. One.

Weird.

Still, at time of writing I’ve got my bag in the house and I’m planning on repacking it for tomorrow’s last casual night of 2023 at Firestorm Games in Newport. What it’ll be is anyone’s guess. Maybe Empire. Maybe Republic. Maybe even Scum? I’ll see how I feel when I get the boxes of stuff open.

So what am I going to talk about then?

Well, it’s been a pretty eventful year for me both personally and in terms of X-Wing.

My job took a pretty significant change at the start of March which has meant that overall I’ve got less time in my life to do non-work stuff. Clearly my job in the way that it used to work was pretty bonkers and just like with anything, you acclimatise and just get used to it. You take it for granted. I knew at the time it would be a significant change but I think I failed to understand the scope of how far reaching it would be, I realised just how much of things like ‘normal life administration’ (food shopping, paying bills, getting insurance quotes, etc) I had been doing during the normal 9-5 work day which now got shunted into my evenings.

Don’t get me wrong, my job is still pretty flexible in terms of what hours I’m in the office but when working from home isn’t an option at all (and for me, because of my role, it isn’t) then quite quickly the ‘not at work’ time fills up pretty quick.

Now, before anyone starts reading into anything here, I’m not gearing up to say that I’m closing the blog. That is NOT what I’m getting at. I guess I’m just taking my opportunity to vent a little.

Look, it’s not THIS bad, ok?

Then of course there’s been the house move. I’m STILL dealing with the after effects of that and I realised just earlier today that it’s been taking up both physical and mental space in my life for over a year now. That’s crazy. It should never have been this long or far-reaching but hey, this is where it’s at. Hopefully soon things will settle back to just the normal amount of ‘house stuff to do’. I can’t wait.

And then there’s the X-Wing. Yes, I finally got there!

I can probably (eh, no, definitely) say that this has been my busiest year in X-Wing yet. When taking all the other stuff into consideration that’s pretty bonkers.

In X-Wing terms I think I can split the year into 5 main areas.

1 – Tournaments

I’ve never kept a properly official count of how many I’ve attended but I’m quite confident that this year I’ve been to more (or at least just as many!) as in other years.

We’ve had three (I think?!) events in Newport this year which have all been really good. I’ve been knocking on the door of doing pretty well across a few events now with a very close 2nd place decided in the last game of the June tournament before doing it where it really mattered in the official Store Champs one in October to win my invite to Worlds 2024.

I’ve also been to one tournament in Cardiff as well as going to the 2023 Sith Taker Open which was as epic as it’s ever been.

Tournaments are ALWAYS great. Doing well helps but even if not doing well it’s so good to get a chunk of games in one day and to see other people. Do I wish I could go to more? Absolutely. It’s tricky finding time though and while there have been SOOOOOO many Store Champs this year, getting the right opportunities has been tricky to do. Will next year be any better? Who knows?!

2 – TO’ing. Ish

So those Newport tournaments I mentioned have been generally organised by myself and fellow Exile Mark Hall. We took on the role of organising jointly when Paul, our previous organiser stepped down following a change of job. We’re almost 2 years in now and I think we’re doing alright? Generally speaking Mark will do the official stuff on the day (run Longshanks, make judge calls, that sort of thing) while I will do the prep work. Look at dates, publicise the tickets, arrange prizes.

We also arranged the Store Champs in Cardiff as Rebecca Westwood (the regular Cardiff TO) was unable to make the only date that the store could give. We think we did ok there too!

We also took things up a step this year, organising the Welsh Open. The Sith Taker Open has been so great the last few years and with it being quite far north (well, by UK distance standards!), we figured that we’d like to host something like it down in the south-ish.

It was certainly a different challenge with the scale of prizing and logistics taken up a big notch from the 20-ish maximum we can have at Newport but in the end we had almost 60 players for our first big event and the feedback that we had was encouraging enough that we’re planning to do it again next year (tickets are on sale now if you’re interested!).

Ideally we’d LOVE for the event to be a Worlds Open Qualifier for 2025 but AMG/Asmodee don’t seem to want to move away from the convention events for those so we might have to settle for having a Store Champs kit again, provided they’re available!

Do I enjoy doing this? Yes, actually, I do. I’ve always had a part of me that like hosting things and while it’s certainly had its stresses (I mean WHY do X-Wing players leave it so late to buy tickets??!?!?) the end result is ALWAYS worth it.

3 – XTC

I have to admit, at one point this year I questioned whether XTC would actually happen. Bearing in mind that in 2022 the group stage was in May/June and the finals in August, the summer crept up on us this year with very little in terms of news.

Lots of people are having the whole ‘life is getting busier’ things it seems.

Of course it did happen and I was again honoured to captain Wales and make the difficult decisions to organise a team as we got drawn in a tricky group.

Having just barely missed out on the finals last year it looked to be so again in 2023 as we came 1 game win away from making it when Ireland withdrew and we took their place.

The finals weekend was a whirlwind in itself but, as I think I mentioned when talking about it after the event, I think that we let ourselves down at the preparation stage. Yes the timing and fast turnaround didn’t help us but I think that some more practice and collaboration in looking at matchups for lists that we knew would be appearing would have helped us to do at least a little better than we did.

Still, regardless of where we finished I’m proud of the players who played and represented well.

4 – Blog

Yes, the fourth pillar and almost certainly the aspect of X-Wing that gets the largest percentage of time. Writing a blog isn’t for the faint of heart and while it’s now been well over 4 years since I started, this year has been the toughest in keeping it going.

Time has been my enemy. Well, that plus estate agents, solicitors, work and jobs to do around the house.

Bizarrely, had you asked me as I was starting out what my biggest challenge would be, I’d have said ‘things to talk about’ and yet that’s never really been an issue!

I’d like to think that I’ve provided some decent content for people to read and for my Patreon supporters (you beautiful people!) I’ve given out some pretty cool gifts and prizes. Will that continue in 2024? You betcha! I’ve got plastic cards and tokens and templates and all kinds of things planned.

SWAAAAAAG

I’ve also had a little help this year with Levi Schadt very kindly volunteering his time to revamp a couple of my pages and add in the Tips and Tricks page based on his very excellent PDF document.

As I mentioned earlier, while blogging this year has had it’s challenges I’m not going anywhere. I really enjoy doing it, especially when I’ve actually got the time to! My slight lack of time plus a conversation with someone has given me an idea that I’d like to possibly look into but more on that in the new year I think…

5 – Casual X-Wing

Well, I have to say, this was an unplanned addition to the list because on reflection, my X-Wing has been pretty generally quite competitive this year. Between preparing for and playing in tournaments I’ve been pretty focused on finding what’s good over what’s fun/funny/thematic. A conversation on the Off-Meta Podcast between Raithos and Jimbob (of Infinite Arenas) reminded me of when I first started to play X-Wing. I still remember turning up with not a single X-Wing component to my name, flicking through my friends card folder and literally making up a list on the spot to play.

This month we re due to do a tournament in Newport which Id’ initially wanted to do as the day 2 event at the Welsh Open of cross-faction, extended, no ban list. Bring whatever the heck you want and see how broken you can make it. I know some people would go for super efficiency but I know other people would go for some weird jank 9JARGON ALERT!!) which would be hilarious to use.

I think that maybe my 2024 should have some more casual play. After Worlds though, obviously.

The conclusion…

Well there you have it! 2023 has been a pretty bonkers year all round. A house move, a big tournament hosted, XTC finals made, a worlds invite won.

It has been a blast.

To everyone who I’ve played or interacted with through the year, thank you. This community is amazing and I can’t wait to see what 2024 will bring.

There won’t be a blog the next TWO Tuesdays since I’m off work over Christmas and probably not playing very much!

In closing I wish you the very happiest of Christmases and that your New Year is filled with love, joy, peace and fun.

The outro…

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you’ve enjoyed it! If you’d like to support me in continuing my X-Wing blogging adventure there are a few ways you can do that.

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A MASSIVE thank you to my wonderful Patrons for their ongoing support for the blog and enabling me to give away shiny things!

Exile Initiates:
Douglas Thomson

Exile Rookies:
Ben Kennedy

Exile Veterans:
Mark Beor, Daniel Barringer, Michael Bird, Steve Boulton, Jason Desmarais, Darin Schwarze, Alex Peters-Bean

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You are all amazing humans!

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