Wholesome Sithy Goodness

Previously titled – This is a Placeholder

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

Now, I’m going to be totally up front and honest here. As you may have guessed by the title, this won’t be one of the usual blogs this week, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

In the meantime there are a couple of things I just want to quickly hit.

It seems that one part of the newest wave, the Pride of Mandalore pack, has been seen out in the wild. How exciting! Or so I thought. My pre-order hasn’t arrived yet (I mean, not as far as I’ve been told at least!) but I’m really looking forward to flying some Rebel Fang Fighters in the future and looking into what some of the new upgrades can do.

Having said that, I know this ‘early’ release has been a rather touchy subject around the online community over the last few days. Mainly that we have a product but can’t use it because points haven’t been released. From what I can tell this is a shipping mistake from Asmodee/distributors/whatever rather than AMG messing things up but given the already strained relationship between AMG and the player base it looks to me like they’re taking the flack for a rather unfortunate but honest mistake further up the line.

For all the outrage, frustration and confusion we might feel, I think it’s vital now, more than ever, to stick together and look to the positives where we can find them. It could be that the future of the game depends on it.

I don’t want to dwell on that right now so let’s move on…

For any Patreon supporters that I didn’t see in person over the weekend (which was freaking awesome, by the way, meeting some of you in person!), I now have your acrylic to complete the rewards and will be posting them out ASAP.

Ok, I think that covers everything for now.

I did have something that I started writing about but it got a little negative and while I think I may still post it up at some point, I’m sort of hoping that over the next couple of weeks the issue will just go away and I can just delete it (despite spending a good hour or two writing it!). Anyway, that’s a problem for future me to figure out. Let’s get on with what you’re really here for…

The main bit…

Yes, the reason this week’s blog is different it because last weekend I attended the Sith Taker Open 2022!

From when it was announced I wanted to go but it wasn’t until Christmas that it was confirmed that I’d be available. Then, literally the day after booking tickets and hotels, I broke my ankle.

Thankfully my community is awesome and a mere handful of days later I had a lift sort out.

And I’m so, so, so glad I did.

Just to warn you, I’m NOT going to write up any of games here today (not even short summaries!) because TEN games in 2 days is far too much to have written up by a Tuesday morning. Far too much. Even when someone else is doing the 3 hour drive home.

No, today I’m going to go full wholesome mode and talk about everything except the games.

In 2019 and 2020 Cai and I attended the UK System Open events and I have missed them A LOT. Local tournaments are brilliant, going to slightly bigger places (like Firestorm Games in Cardiff) is amazing (especially in the new venue!) but the System Opens were something else entirely.

They were like a mass celebration of everything X-Wing. Yes you play games and try to win as many as you can but honestly, that’s not why I’m there. I know that I’ve no chance in a room of 500 with some of the top players in the world and I’m totally fine with that.

No, it’s the collective experience that I enjoy. The camaraderie between squadron members, the modded and painted ships, the alt arts and custom acrylics you see. The evidence of time and effort (and money!) poured into someone’s passion. It’s inspiring.

So when I heard on the Sith Takers Podcast that they were holding another big tournament (following last summer’s 2021 Open), I knew I wanted to be there.

Why? Well, I’m glad you asked.

For one, it would be a chance to meet up with ‘old’ friends. Ok, maybe we don’t go back decades but there are many people who I’ve met or played before since I got into playing X-Wing, mostly locals to my area but the System Opens really broadened my horizons in this area and I got to meet people from much further afield. It was amazing to see people like Barrie Robertson (who made the cut!), David Bryan, Ben Saunders and Jonathan Hall again. It also meant that I got to see the ever incredible Jon and Michaela Scott from Cog ‘O’ Two again finally!

It was also a chance to meet some people in person for the first time. Since the pandemic came and smashed in-person play out of bounds I’ve played many games against lots of different people from all over the world. Through writing this blog I’ve also had many conversations and interactions with people I’ve never actually physically met face to face. Most have been UK or Europe based though, and it seemed like rather of a lot of them were in the room! I got to properly introduce myself to (and have a chat with, to varying degrees!) Jon Vicary, Louis Leong, David Sutcliffe, Matt Jennings, Tom Robertson, Sean Saville, Dale Cromwell, the Firecast Focus guys (Nic Harris, Phil Pond and Dom Flannigan), Julian Hood and Oli Pocknell.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I then got the chance to meet some brand new people! Through the whole event, despite all the names I’ve already listed above, I never once got paired into someone I already knew (which is unusual these days!). I won’t go into detail on my opponents just yet (I’ll save that for the batreps next week!) but on top of the 10 new people I played, I also got to put some faces to names for some of the podcasts I listen to, meeting Sean Oakley, Tim King, Rich Polley, Liam Baker and Ben Hibbert.

On top of all of that, I got to spend time with my squad mates. On Friday night I went out for a meal with fellow Exiles Mark B, Mark Hall and Josh Hall at an Indian restaurant ‘5 minutes walk’ (not on crutches it isn’t!) away from the hotel and actually ended up going to the same place again the following night with Exile/Womp Rat Dan Xuereb as well as Matt Jennings and Greg and Dave from Malta.

Deceptively far from Element Games when walking capacity is somewhat reduced.

Ours wasn’t the only table of X-Wingers in that night as we (spaceship nerds) basically took over the place. It was a great atmosphere.

So is that all there is to talk about? Heck no!

For all the talk (a little by me, a little more by other people), of the online community of X-Wing being a somewhat mixed bag of good, bad and downright ugly (especially over the last few months), one thing recently has highlighted the compassion, generosity and sheer brilliance of it.

Ex-FFG Global Director of OP and all around good guy Alex Watkins had an idea. He found some FFG stuff that had never seen the light of day due to the pandemic and decided to raffle it off to raise money for the poorly daughter of a friend of his and for a charity who have supported the family through the difficult journey they have faced – Kidney Care UK. The X-Wing community promptly went into overdrive.

Despite having to later remove the aforementioned stuff from the raffle after a little intervention from Asmodee (who then made their own prize donation to make up for it!), ticket sales far exceeded expectation and following last minute ticket sales and donations from sale of goods from Louis Leong and Cog ‘O’ Two AND the proceeds from a separate event being held in Australia by Geoff Sanders, Alex announced just today that the final total was over £10,000. TEN GRAND! YOU did that! The X-Wing community.

Custom Kidney design shield tokens by Cog ‘O’ Two! Huge and Beautiful.

For all the bad we might be seeing or feeling in various groups of late, let’s remember what it’s possible for a community to achieve when united and pulling in a single direction.

The conclusion…?

With the Fly Better Las Vegas Open having happened on the last weekend in January and the Sith Taker Open this last weekend, I think it’s safe to say that real life in person X-Wing is finally, properly back.

But what is it, exactly, that we were missing through the pandemic? I mean, there have been PLENTY of online tournaments over the last 2 years. TTS does manoeuvres easily and sorts bumps for you without finger gymnastics or accidental knocking of ships (and we won’t mention knocking a ship off someone else’s board, shall we Connor Holmes?). There are no judge calls for arc checks or obstructions. You can even play in just your underwear if you like (not that I ever did that. I promise).

What’s been missing, in my opinion though, is this:

On the cider already Mark?

And this:

Liam Baker, scene stealer

And this:

Exiles on tour!

This is what real X-Wing looks like. My only regret from the weekend is that I didn’t take more photos with an amazing bunch of people.

I also need to specifically shout out Mark Beor, Mark Hall and Josh Hall who helped me this weekend more than I could have asked for. Attending with a broken ankle was not easy but these guys literally did everything they could to make it as easy as possible for me. From holding doors to driving me the 5 minute walk to carrying my stuff (and almost carrying me when the fire alarm went off!). Without your help, this weekend would have been much harder. Thank you guys.

So, just like the tournament I’ve just attended, this post is simply a celebration of the game. Proof that it still lives, despite a pandemic, a change of stewardship and some controversial rules updates.

Like many others, I gave out various cards and tokens and things having been inspired to do so from previous System Opens. I don’t give in order to get but I am totally going to brag on what I came home with.

Yes that is a shot glass!

This community is just so freaking awesome!

Yes, I will of course talk about my games in detail (event the terrible ones, especially those) in the coming weeks once I’ve had time to get it all written down (I have started, I promise!) but I feel like at the moment all of that is secondary and I wanted to just focus on the main thing.

Big scale, in person X-Wing is back. It’s as incredible as I remembered it, maybe even more so, given what we’ve all been through over the last 2 years. Long may it continue.

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, Mark Packer-Hughes

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You are all amazing humans!