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I will preface this whole post by stating that I am a generally positive person and want this blog to be also generally positive.
Now this week I had already started writing up a new post when something major happened. I thought about saving this first part (imaginatively titled – Part 1) for next week but I think it would have felt rather out of date by then. I also considered bumping the original post (surprisingly titled – Part 2) to the following week but, since it now seems I’ll definitely have something else to write about by then, I thought I’d just combine the two things into one post. So consider this your warning, this is a big one. Go get your cup of tea and biscuit or settle down to ‘drop the kids off at the pool’ (don’t judge, we all go on our phone while we do it, right? Right?!) and get your read on.
Part 1 – ‘That’ Announcement
So, unless you’ve been on a desert island or some deep dark cave, you might have noticed a small ripple of internet reaction last week with FFG’s announcement of points and format changes. If you HAVE been on a desert island or somewhere equally remote then basically FFG have turned Hyperspace into a ‘curated’ format where a selection of ships/pilots/upgrades are made available/unavailable and will be periodically rotated in/out. This was widely expected and welcomed, however nobody expected FFG to remove quite so much stuff nor really the exact stuff that they took.
The Rebels lost Wedge, Biggs and the U-Wing. Imperials lost Soontir and Howlrunner. They kept Vader but lost Afterburners. The Republic lost Anakin, Delta 7B configuration and R2 astromech went up in points.
It was drastic.
Facebook groups were awash with posts about ‘Hyperspace is _____’ or ‘FFG are ____’ (insert your own words as appropriate) and responses of ‘I ❤️ the changes’ and ‘suck it up buttercup’.
I had an immediate opinion and tried very hard to not respond to Facebook posts or at least to be well thought out, reasonable and positive if I did. I *think* I managed it.
After a couple of days have passed and I’ve been able to process it all, here is what I think:
Overall, the changes made to the Hyperspace format are good, potentially really good (once the format has had a chance to play out a bit and probably have another points adjustment for balance). Having a very clearly separate format with ships/pilots/upgrades going in and out of rotation from a selection of ships that have been released for Second Edition (i.e. new players can buy them without scouring the web for them at crazy prices) is a really great concept and, as I’ve read someone say, will create two clear metas (JARGON ALERT!!) which keeps the game interesting and fresh and gives people options in what and how they want to play.
My issue is more with timing and, rather selfishly, how it affects me personally. I am aware though that I’m not the only person feeling this way and so I feel somewhat justified in saying this.
My X-Wing highlight of 2019 was without doubt the UK System Open. To see and experience the level of play and passion for the game along with meeting awesome new people was incredible. My blog journey over the last few months of developing a list which turned into Dash & Jake was with the intention of taking it to the 2020 UK SOS and seeing how I could do with it.
Then November comes along and FFG announce changes to OP (organised play), that Hyperspace Trials/Qualifiers will change format to extended (now being called World Championship Qualifiers) and that only System Opens and some store championships will be using the Hyperspace format. I have to admit, I was a bit gutted. The list that I’m excited about, enjoy playing and have spent weeks tweaking and honing is now unusable in the flagship tournament of the year (and probably the only one I’ll attend outside of my own store). I know I can fly Dash on day 2 when I very clearly won’t have made cut from day 1 but it doesn’t feel great having prepared with that goal in mind.
Ok then, fine. I’ll try and think of something else I can fly at the system open. I mean, I’ve got until April next year, right? Actually nope. FFG then announce that this year the UK system open is over 2 months earlier. Oh. Umm, ok? A quick check of my calendar shows the dates to be clear. Phew! Not everyone is so lucky though. I’m aware of several people who want to attend but the notice has been too short either for other commitments (like work rotas) or for time to pull finances together. It also hasn’t helped that there seems to be something else happening in Milton Keynes that weekend and the hotel on site was sold out already on the day the date was announced. More travel complications potentially means more people deciding not to attend.
At this point I’m also aware that changes to Hyperspace are coming but I doubt they’ll be that huge and so I’ll take a punt at a list based on an archetype I’m comfortable with and just adjust it when the points and format changes are announced. I then throw together my version of Han & Jake and test it a little to see how it goes. With some limited testing it goes quite well. Ok, should be fine I think!
January 9th – Wham
The Hyperspace format change is WAY more drastic than I (and many others) could have imagined. The pilots from my list are still Hyperspace legal (which certainly isn’t the case for lots of people) but 6 of the upgrades across the 2 ships are gone, meaning the list is now unable to function in anywhere near the same way. Sure I’ve got 57 extra points to play with but from here it isn’t just tinkering, it’s a total redesign.
As I’ve said, I actually really like the concept of how Hyperspace will work moving forward. The thing is, list building is really not my strong point. Coming up with a list I enjoy playing in such a short time frame (exactly a month from the announcement date) will be tricky at best.
I also need real life reps with a list to fine tune how to play it. As of today I have 3 game nights before the system open. I know it just isn’t enough.
When Cai and I arrived at Milton Keynes last year our goals were to have fun, play as much X-Wing as possible and try not to leave with an 0-6 record. We achieved all those things.
In my mind, this year I wanted to replicate the first two and maybe try and go 1 better on my record than last year (3-3 in the main tournament). I have now reset that 3rd goal to the same as last year. Try to get a win. Anything else is a bonus. Effectively day 1 is now a bit of a write off for me. This may turn out to be a blessing, I could have out pressure on myself to do so well and then be gutted if things went poorly. Who knows?
I have tried to not be negative but in my mind the way that events have occurred seems to favour the elite players who are great at list building and can just pick up a list and smash people with it. I have nothing against these guys at all, it’s inspiring to see just how good some of these players are and how hard work, time and effort can result in regular and consistent tournament results.
I am not one of those guys. I am just your average guy who enjoys playing plastic spaceships with friends. Having said that, the feeling that you’ve already lost when someone really good turns up as an opponent is never good, no matter what arena you’re in.
You see, in sport (often football in particular, and for those reading in the US I mean the football you play with your feet ? or soccer as you call it) sometimes upsets can happen. In a David Vs Goliath match up the underdog can win. Sure, sometimes it can be luck or a mistake by the opponent but I believe that a significant part of what can cause that upset is excellent preparation and that without that preparation the better team would be even more likely to win out. Like if the better team has a 90% chance of winning when the underdog has been able to prepare well, that number would likely increase to 99% if both teams just turned up unprepared.
I guess what I’m saying is that, as an underdog, my best chance (being prepared and well practised with a list I know very well) of beating a ‘Goliath’ has been taken away or at least significantly reduced.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still looking forward to it immensely. It’ll be amazing to see and experience, meet some people we met last year, meet some new people and (hopefully) meet in person some of the lovely people I’ve got to know (as well as you can through Facebook!) since I started writing this blog. In terms of the tournament itself though I’m just going to adjust my expectations a bit. It’s almost secondary.
Thanks for bearing with me, there’s no way that all of these thoughts and feeling fit in a reasonably sized Facebook post.
I think the other thing is that, with all the furore and reactions (positive and negative) of the Hyperspace changes, a LOT of points changes have gone relatively unnoticed. I won’t go into what has or hasn’t changed or how it will affect the meta (JARGON ALERT!!) because:
- other people have already done blogs/podcasts/spreadsheets of this sort of thing
- these other people know a lot more than I do and have done a much better job of it than I could.
What I will say though is that Dash went down by 7 points! Yay! Is it enough to change anything in my list? Well, that’s a WHOLE other blog just waiting to happen.
I really don’t like to be negative and I’m aware that this post feels like that in some places. I guess it’s just my disappointment temporarily affecting my writing. I also don’t want to just blindly say ‘yeah, everything’s fine’ and move on. I have an opinion (and that is always allowed) and it’s ok for that opinion to be the same or different from other people. I know it won’t change anything but it helps me to just get it out.
Ok, time to put away the soap box. I’ve got an actual blog to get on with!
Part 2 – Actual Content
This week I went to game night. There are a couple of significant things to mention about this.
Firstly, since Wednesday is our night and last Wednesday was New Year’s day and the one before was Christmas day everyone must have really missed coming as we had 14 of us turn up. Attendance numbers are subjective of course so I’ll clarify. That’s a lot for us. Our space outside the store (since Firestorm Games in Newport is inside a massive Tesco and too small for us to play inside) will fit 6 boards (so 12 players at a time). We *could* fit more but we are not the only play group to come down on a Wednesday and other groups take up space on the other side. There were also some notable absentees and so it made me realise just how many people we are at now as a local community. We regularly get 12 people and for store tournaments usually sell out the 16 tickets we have space for. Again, it’s all relative so let me just add this – just over a year ago we’d maybe get 4 players. In fact we once turned up and there was 1 other person. Cai played against them while I watched and then we went home.
This really underlines to me that the game is in a great place and that the update to Second Edition was really the right call by FFG no matter how sceptical I was when it was announced.
The second point is a bit more convoluted and links in to two topics that I’ve spoken about before.
Following last week’s blog about playing against Mark and then linking to this article about ‘Flying Casual‘ and what it means to be competitive and how that affects the local community, I made a decision to follow through on something I’d thought about but not yet done – I was going to carry another list.
At the moment in my case I have all the components I need to run Dash & Jake and Han & Jake. My intention in the weeks leading up to the UK System Open was to primarily run Han & Jake for reps but in the event of getting two games in on one evening I’d keep Dash there just in case and give him a run out. Having played those lists several times combined and by the nature of having 2 ships in a list loaded to the gills with upgrades and tricks I know that it’s entirely possible that I could win a game against a newer player just by virtue of them not understanding my list. It’s happened to me before and it doesn’t feel great. You just stand there going ‘wait, what just happened?’ or ‘hang on, you can do that and then this and THEN this?!’.
I had a moment playing against Mark last week where Han rolled 4 dice with Trick Shot, then rerolled them all with Han’s ability, then spent a lock to reroll 2 more and then used 2 Force charges to turn eyeballs to hits. I could, theoretically and under the right circumstances, have also had a focus AND evade token available. When playing this move I remember how I felt. I felt the same as when you score a goal against your kid. The immediate and instinctive feeling of success is immediately dampened by the realisation that your kid was just shown how much worse they are than you and probably wants to just quit and do something else. I have found as a parent that there’s a difference between letting your kid win and not going all in on trying as hard as you can. But, I digress…
Before I go any further I have to very clearly state here, Mark didn’t complain (well, he did but only about the betrayal of his green dice) and took it all with a great attitude. He even messaged last week after reading my blog to tell me I shouldn’t feel bad for winning. I know what I’m feeling at this point is just me and how I process. The very thought that I may have negatively affected someone’s evening/day/whatever by bringing a very powerful/unknown/unpredictable list doesn’t sit right with me in this circumstance.
Woe is me, right? Feeling bad for winning.
Let’s be clear, in a tournament setting, I want to win. I don’t put pressure on myself to win but winning using the tools I have prepared is the goal. But in a casual setting? Do I really want to put one of the new people that has just picked up the game through playing against Dash with Bistan gunner with his double taps and obstacle ignoring. No, I don’t. Newbie me certainly wouldn’t have liked to face it, and I think that after around two and a half years of playing this game I’ve long ago reached the point where the people in the community are significantly more important to me than the intricacies of the game. I’d rather lose a fun game than win an unfair/unjust/unbalanced one.
So in practical terms, what do I do about that? I stopped regularly bringing ALL of my stuff to game night quite a while ago. It was possible for longer than it should have been due to the availability of trolleys in Tesco but it is something we used to do. No, now Cai and I just bring our specifically prepared lists (like normal people) and play those. So after some feedback from one of my older blogs, ‘Leaning to Teach’ and how and what to play against newer players I decided to finally organise something and get it in my case.
With a totally blank canvas and a slightly indecisive disposition this could be interesting. Then again, I’m not looking for a powerhouse super broken L33T list here, so what does it matter? Having got my hands on some of the lovely Red Squadron alt arts FFG have put out over the last year I thought about putting a list together using them. So here is what I packed:
Ship total: 61 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 3
Ship total: 53 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 3
Red Squadron Veteran (41)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)
Ship total: 41 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 3
Red Squadron Veteran (41)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)
Ship total: 41 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 3
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z5XW134WWW142Y6XW134WWW142Y2XWWWW142Y2XWWWW142&sn=New%20Squadron&obs=
Before the points change this came in at 200 points but the generics dropped just a little since last week. I thought that this list would be fairly iconic, not too intricate with fancy effects or actions but has ordnance in there for a little variety and the T-65 has a nice range of moves without having everything. It’s a mix of initiatives as well which could help get someone used to following the numbers up and down through moving and shooting.
So, back story up to date, I’ll get back on track. Cai and I turn up at game night and a couple of people are there already. There’s always this sort of awkward ‘who wants a game’ when more than one person is available to play and some people are ready and others aren’t quite there yet. Maybe it’s just me that feels awkward? Anyway, knowing that what I really want to do is practice Han & Jake for the System Open (insert LOL here, see Part 1 above if you don’t understand why) and looking at who is around some of the guys pair up I end up offering to play against Josh.
Josh is a young guy who has only been coming along with his dad Mark for around two or three months. He’s bought into the game very quickly and is learning just as fast. But he is still learning and relatively new to the game.
On the one hand I want to fly Han & Jake to get more practice. On the other I don’t want to (potentially) smash someone up who is quite new to the game with a list filled with lots of tricks and shenanigans.
In the end it’s a relatively easy decision. I fly the X-Wings. I decide that enjoying a fun casual game and making a new friend (since we’ve not yet played each other or interacted much before now) is more important than trying to get better with a new-ish (to me) list.
Referring again to Part 1 of this blog, it turns out that it would have been irrelevant anyway. Bonus.
Josh was flying a very wholesome Republic list (meaning there were no Jedi or Regen (JARGON ALERT!!)). I can’t remember the full list but there were 3 ARC-170’s (2 of the Squad Seven Veteran’s and Wolffe, all with Veteran Tail Gunner and some other stuff) and a V-19 Torrent (naked (JARGON ALERT!!)) as far as I can remember).
Now, in the spirit of being casual and fun I decided (yes, on purpose) to not take any pictures (I realise that makes it sound like I forgot and am making excuses but I really, honestly did purposely make this decision). I can recall a lot of the game but I won’t do a full batrep (JARGON ALERT!!) this week. I knew I’d want to write about it but that the write up would be more about fostering community and relationship than it would be about ‘how well ship X performs in list Y’ or something like that.
What was significant though is that I really did have fun. We both made some mistakes as we went (I managed to land a Talon roll on a debris for double stress and rolled a crit too. Fun times!) and there were some opportunities for us both to learn (be more careful with Talon rolls!). We LOL’d at Wedge as he took two rear arc 2 dice shots from 2 of the ARCs at range 3 and blanked out both times to lose 2 shields and 1 hull. It was probably the most purely enjoyable game I’ve played in a while, lacking the pressure of trying to refine a list, practice some tactics or generally gain anything from it.
My only regret is that I had the Advanced Proton Torpedoes in the list. It’s just not nice to throw 5 red dice at people. I may change those out for something a little more friendly.
Reading this all back through with the added context for Part 1 I think that it’s actually a bit ironic that in a week when my brain is all over the place from changes to the competitive scene that directly affect me in my preparation, I had a great game with a thrown together list and no pressure. Maybe that’s my learn for this week.
So I think I’ll leave it there for now. I feel like I’ve put you through enough! Again, thank you for reading this far. I’m painfully aware that this isn’t the normal happy positive post you might expect from me.
Once I’ve got my head around what to take to Milton Keynes I’m sure it’ll get better. Tune in next week to find out what options I’m considering!
If you’re looking to buy some gaming ‘stuff’ and don’t have a local gaming store, you can use my affiliate link for Firestorm games. They’re great!