The BIG Tournament


The Beginning

Having been playing X-Wing for a relatively short amount of time (or so I tell myself to feel better about my win/loss ratio!) and pretty much exclusively at our FLGS (JARGON ALERT!)I thought it would be fun for Cai and I to try playing at a big event. The date for the 2019 UK System Open had been announced and I knew we had nothing planned for that weekend. Christmas was coming and a pair of tickets plus a hotel would make very convenient gifts for both him and me so on the evening of the tickets going on sale I quickly bought a pair of tickets.

Come Christmas morning Cai opens his envelope and pulls out our customised voucher detailing the plans for that weekend. He was excited to go and play a lot of X-Wing and I was excited both for going but also to have some one to one time with him (which actually was amazing and you can read more about it in this post)

The New Year flies by and January brings the previously announced points change. Now we can start planning properly.

But do we know what we’re doing?!?

The Preparation

We both begin to compose lists that we like and get as many reps as we can in. Following on from the success of our FLGS’s short 4/5 game pre-Christmas league, another is held as we have picked up some more local players who are keen to participate. The timing really helped us as we were able to get reps in with our lists in a less casual environment, playing to a time limit (the standard 75 mins) and with pride and prizes at stake. I won’t go too heavily into lists and prep here as I’ve already talked about my list a bit and the process I went though. Haven’t I? (spoiler, I haven’t but I will! Link will go here when I post that one!)

Before I go any further let me set the scene a little. We have been playing the game around 18 months and the largest single day event we have attended was 12 people.

So after months of waiting, a points change that worked in our favour and as much practice as we could muster, it was nearly time for the system open.
We pack ALL of our gear into the car (you know, just in case!) we have lists printed, notebook prepared and, most importantly, Star Wars t-shirts packed.
So exciting!!!

The Arrival

Friday eventually rolls around. I manage to finish work early, pick Cai up from school and we immediately headed off towards Milton Keynes. Our plan was simple to head to the venue and book in early (so we can sleep in a little bit in the morning and avoid unnecessary stress) then go to Pizza Hut and gorge ourselves on pizza before getting to bed.

Things went mostly to plan although due to traffic we were a little bit later arriving than I had hoped. We still managed to get to the venue before registration had closed (phew!) I have to say it was less hectic than I had expected, especially since it was close to the 8pm cut off and lots of people were milling around. We queued up and presented our lists. It was at this point we discovered that we weren’t quite as prepared as we thought, neither of us knew that we had to declare our obstacles by drawing around them on our list! Thankfully this worked out ok since all of our stuff was in the car anyway. A quick trip to rummage through the boot and it’s all sorted. We’re officially in!

We said hi to a few people and then asked about a fixed table. Having spoken to a couple of people and made enquiries online about my concern over potentially being separated from my 12 year old son in a room of 600 strangers, we had already been told a fixed table would possible, to ensure that we sat together for the whole day. The person I spoke to said he’d take us to see the guys in charge so they took us through the hall to meet them and our minds were slightly blown.

This place was BIG and there were a LOT of tables laid out.


I’l be honest, it was a little intimidating.

We were introduced to the guys who were running the tournament – Alex, Kris and Vince. They were super friendly and even though they were really busy making sure everything was set up ready they took the time to reassure me that everything would be sorted out for fixed tables and showed us which area we’d be sat in.

Feeling good about the day to come we set the sat nav for the nearest Pizza Hut and filled ourselves with doughey goodness before heading back to the hotel to check-in. Since we were later than expected we didn’t get time to practice openings or setups as we had hoped but I knew it was important to get to sleep as early as possible with a long day of X-Wing coming up.

Obligatory junk food consumption

The Day

We woke excited, inhaled some breakfast and headed over to the arena.

I had arranged to purchase a couple of bits and bobs from people who were attending so my first surprise for Cai was a beautiful dice tray from the amazing Kei Taniguchi. He also gave us some pin badges which was super kind. He also puts lights into ships which look far more awesome than you can imagine (or than photos can adequately show). It’s one of my life goals to get one some day!

Next up, we had seen on the Facebook page that there was an ARC-170 meet up happening at (of course) table 170. We tentatively approached this new group of total strangers and were invited to add our pair (from Cai’s hyperspace list for Sunday) to the impressive collection. I believe at this point Cai was given some swag. This generosity continued throughout the weekend!

Image stolen from Omer Ibrahim’s blog –

We spoke to Kris who said we would be shown to our fixed tables at first pairing and introduced us to the judge whose actual name I didn’t get (and would love to know!) but who I’m sure many who were there would know as Lando (cape included). He was totally awesome all day helping us find opponents and generally being cheerful and friendly.

Once everyone had finished registration there was a short briefing and then the first pairings were released and we were off!

Now, at time of writing the System Open was over 4 months ago so please forgive my lack of in depth, turn by turn run through or analysis. I have names, lists and results but on the whole I am remembering the highlights (or low points!) of each game.

The List

For reference, here’s the list I ran. Yes, this list now comes in at 216 points since July 2019. Boooooooo! At time of playing it was 200 points exactly.

Gray Squadron Bomber (31)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Proton Bombs (5)
Veteran Turret Gunner (8)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 4

Gray Squadron Bomber (31)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Proton Bombs (5)
Veteran Turret Gunner (8)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 4

Warden Squadron Pilot (39)
Barrage Rockets (8)
Leia Organa (6)
Proton Bombs (5)

Ship total: 58 Half Points: 29 Threshold: 5

Warden Squadron Pilot (39)
Barrage Rockets (8)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Proton Bombs (5)

Ship total: 60 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 5

Total: 216

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

The Matches

Something that struck me with every opponent I faced over the whole weekend was just how great they were. I didn’t have a single negative experience across the 2 days and got to know some amazing and interesting people.

So, here we go!

Game 1 vs Ben Kennedy – 3 x Lok Revenant (Scurrg H6 Bomber) & Drea (Y-Wing)

On the way home from the System Open is actually when I started listening to X-Wing podcasts and so it’s clearly far too late that I discovered just how brutal this squad is. In the recent points update (July 2019) that squad has gone up to 222 points. Ouch. I’d never faced off against this list (nor anything like it that I can think of) and wasn’t too sure how to go about it. My squad is quite jousty so we faced off.
Perhaps needless to say but it didn’t go well for me. Soundly beaten. Could be a long day!

Loss – 26 – 200

Game 2 vs Joaquin Mendez – 3 x Gray Squadron Bomber (Y-Wing) & Dutch Vander (Y-Wing)

Another game, another beefy list! I can’t really complain since it’s not too dissimilar to my own list but flown better 😀
Details are hazy (obviously) but I managed to put up a bit of a better fight than in the first game. Also I found I started to get into a bit of a groove with my game, how I wanted to set up and open. Bit of a slug-fest and still not a positive end result but progress was made and I was happy (well, happier than after the last game!)

Loss – 48 – 149

Game 3 vs Andy Postgae-Cronback – 5 x Baron of the Empire (TIE Advance Prototype v1)

I can’t remember the details of this list but I know they all had some sort of missile or torpedo to take them up to 40 points each. We jousted and then I started dropping Proton Bombs. I can’t remember how long the game lasted but we didn’t get to time and eventually my chunky (slow) ships outlasted the nippy (squishy) ones.

Win – 200 – 171
Too much writing and no pictures! Must break up the text with meme!
Game 4 vs Chris Baird – Dutch Vander (Y-Wing), Luke Skywalker & Wedge Antilles (both T-65 X-Wing)

This list presented an interesting challenge. I have flown this list (to poor effect) in the past. Wedge hits hard, particularly on low initiative, low agility ships like I’m flying. Luke is tricky with what feels like infinite Force charges when being shot by lower initiative ships. Dutch is the easier target but obviously takes longer to burn down with more health to chew through and until he’s gone is enabling the other two the opportunity of double modded shots.
All that said, when jousted my list hits like a truck and then turns turrets and drops bombs while being chased. The game goes to time and feels a lot closer than the eventual close score.
At this point I am VERY happy to be 2-2, surpassing my low hope of winning at least 1 game.

Win – 129 – 103

Game 5 vs Jon Bagshaw – Rexler Brath & Countess Ryad (both TIE Defenders)

I have to say that I really felt for Jon when he rocked up to the table. He looked at the list and was disappointed to be facing some sort of Rebel Beef type list AGAIN. Sadly for him this was a poor match up of lists and the sheer amount of health he needed to get through (34) compared to what I needed to get though (14) was just too much. Those TIE Defenders aren’t easy to take down with their 3 green dice but double tap shots with the Y-Wings and bombs sprinkled around eventually did the job.
At this point I’m actually pinching myself.

Win – 200 – 46

Games 6 vs Wolfgang Rudolf Schon – Hera Syndulla (Ghost), Norra Wexley (Y-Wing) & Wedge Antilles (T-65 X-Wing)

Wow. This list.
I will admit my approach to this list was all wrong. I don’t often play against the Ghost but as it’s a large points investment and 0 agility it’s a tempting target. I went for it and it got shoved into my face hurling out 5 dice Range 1 attacks. I’d definitely play differently against this list now (at least, using the list I did back then) and have experimented with using the Ghost myself since this match. Good fun but also a reality check at the end of a long day of X-Wing.

Loss – 57 – 200

So after a full day of X-Wing, playing more games in 1 day than I normally get in a month, I had gone 3-3 at a 550+ person event.
I had also spent the day playing next to my son who had managed a win in game 3 to put him 1-5 for the day (he was also hoping for at least 1 win!) but more importantly he had taken part in possibly the most hilarious game of X-Wing I have ever soon against the legendary Chris Puttock.

There was much hilarity. Sadly this picture captured none of it.

We left tired but excited and very very happy.

Day 2 was a little weird as my Hyperspace list performed very badly (or rather I performed very badly with it!). I technically went 2-3 over the 5 rounds but my 2 wins were byes as people dropped to watch the top cut matches. I did find some very lovely people to play against casually though as I wanted to wring every last drop of X-Wing out of the weekend.

As we headed home we talked again, this time about the amazing games, cool swag, lovely people and general experience that had just occurred.

So, in summary?

Cai had an amazing time and has already asked to go back next year (which I’m pretty sure we will). I had an amazing time with my son and a fantastic experience meeting new people and challenging myself to develop in this game I enjoy so much.

I already did a soppy thank-you Facebook post after getting home from the weekend but I do have to make special mention to Kris, Vince and Alex. The time and effort you and so many others put in to make the event run so smoothly was appreciated by everyone. In particular the time you took to make me feel at ease in a new and different environment with Cai really made our weekend. I don’t know if you’ll ever read this but if you do – thank you.

So let me say this – if you feel like you might want to try this tournament but are hesitant, don’t be. It’s a great friendly atmosphere (especially towards the end of day 2 when people are watching the top tables) it’s really well run and I can pretty much guarantee you will have a great time and meet fantastic and interesting new people. All being well, you might run into Cai and I too!

And next time I’m taking more pictures.