System Open Sydney with Sinker

A System Open finally near me. A mere 2207 km (1371 miles) away, compared to next closest distance of 10909 km (6778 miles) to Phoenix, Arizona. Though as near as one might reasonably expect.

This was easily going to be the biggest event I’d attended, with the initial 250 seats selling out in about 24 hours. (Final number on the day was 255 players.) The previous biggest events I’d been to were 2015 NZ Nationals with 50-odd players and 2018 ANZTC with 48 players (8 teams of 6). Though the number of players shouldn’t matter too much, the way to win is the same: don’t lose.

Squad Selection

I wasn’t especially well prepared, was more focused on OTC (as those squad lists were due first) and there weren’t really any squads around jumping out at me to play. I also wasn’t especially happy with the state of the game where going to time is very commonplace, whether that be a result of game design making everything take longer, less offense/hyper defense or players being super slow to make decisions and generally do things. (I play swarms/higher ship count lists and am usually the faster player, so no, its not a direct result of ship count) A slower game is probably fine, just isn’t the same game I really want to play and fell in love with.

Not being faction loyalist, willing fly any faction, does make choosing a list quite difficult. I really like the humble Gold Squadron Trooper. A played a little bit of 2 Jedis 2 Torrents, loved the troopers, a little bit of Anakin, ARC and 3 Torrents, loved the troopers, a little bit of Obi, Mace, Ric and 2 Torrents, loved the troopers. The natural progression was clearly more troopers.

Death, Taxes, and Going to Time

Gold Squadron Trooper V-19 Torrent (25)
Total: 25
Gold Squadron Trooper V-19 Torrent (25)
Total: 25
Gold Squadron Trooper V-19 Torrent (25)
Total: 25
Gold Squadron Trooper V-19 Torrent (25)
Total: 25
104th Battalion Pilot ARC-170 Starfighter (42)
Total: 42
“Sinker” ARC-170 Starfighter (54)
Hull Upgrade (3) – Total: 57
Total: 199

With 3 debris clouds. Because screw gas clouds.

There are 3 things that are inevitable: Death, Taxes and Going to Time. This squad delivers all 3.

  • Death: Lots of double modified attacks, land in front of the swarm, or get caught in a box, or get blocked means death.
  • Taxes: Gold Squadron Trooper, initializes down to GST, which is also the name for sales tax (or VAT equivalent for foreigners) in New Zealand.
  • Going to Time: I decided to just embrace the going to time nonsense by playing a squad that’s very difficult to actually throw enough damage at in 75 minutes to wipe it out. Even harder if people play slowly. And it’s own damage output isn’t always the greatest if people play cagey and defensive.

Whopping 33 hull and 6 shields. Now this is a squad! With that much hull and potential for overkilling ships, it’s not unreasonable in a game going badly for me to run out of damage deck (33 cards). Worth knowing the rules for if that happens:

Easy. Good to know. Good chance it never happens, either win, or don’t lose too slowly.

I’d got maybe 10-15 practice games with variations of the squad, most of them with Ric as the 6th ship (after Sinker and 4 GSTs). I really liked him in the early game as super defensive bait (fast, focus, evade, regen), but couldn’t get him to do much for the rest of the game. The other variant I looked at was Sinker, a 104th, 2 GSTs and Sense CLT Mace (Sense is good, huh), and while it had a few more tricks, didn’t feel quite as solid.

Yeah, it’s a fairly bland squad with only a slight twist on the most popular Ric version. Could think of or find any sufficient spice I liked, which is what I’d normally prefer to fly, so the clones will do.

Day 0

After getting into Sydney on Friday morning our group headed to the venue for some Hangar Bay side events. I was pretty knackered from being up early to travel, so was there to jam a couple friendly games, no hardcore practice or grinding for tickets desired. I brought out a fun 5 ship republic squad. I played a couple of cool guys down from Newcastle (Adam and Jordan) going 1-1, before final salvo-ing the final round as most of the pod wanted to squeeze another pod+tickets in that evening. And I could hardly go to Australia without having a Final Salvo.

Hmmmmm…..

Day 1

Didn’t get the best sleep, long day on Friday getting there, and then waking up 4:30-5ish local time from body clock not adjusted. Decided I should do a little last minute prep, had traveled all that way, might as well try put in a good effort. Fired up vassal and practiced/figured out some openings, which given the nature of flying Sinker, is something I probably should’ve done earlier.

Round 1 against Michael from Sydney

List
Cartel Marauder Kihraxz Fighter (38)
Total: 38
Cartel Marauder Kihraxz Fighter (38)
Total: 38
Cartel Marauder Kihraxz Fighter (38)
Total: 38
Torkil Mux HWK-290 Light Freighter (37)
Moldy Crow (18) – Total: 55
Captain Seevor Modified TIE/ln Fighter (30)
Crack Shot (1) – Total: 31
Total: 200

I felt like this game was closer than it should have been. I had good range control on the engage, good blocks (1 point bid FTW!), but in very rare circumstances, my Torrents decided this round was a good day to die. Lost a Torrent to 2x range 3 shots, and then another one a few turns later in similar circumstances, 2 shots to take out the 5 hull. He also wasn’t the briskest player in the world, which made those small variance swings more impactful.

And when he wasn’t popping Torrents for fun, chip, chip, chip into Sinker, who eventually escaped with 1 hull remaining and fixing a pesky Console Fire. Hull Upgrade coming up huge in Round 1.

Meanwhile, I was also plinking damage into him, and keeping ahead as long as Sinker didn’t die. I took down Seevor and 2 of Kihraxzs, and with Sinker safe running away the game was mine. Torkil was also 1 away from half, so I feel confident in deserving the win. Wobbly start to the day, but got the W. (if Sinker died, it would’ve been FINAL SALVO)

Win: 107-79 (1-0)

Round 2 against Sam from Brisbane

List
“Odd Ball” ARC-170 Starfighter (52)
Clone Commander Cody (3) – Total: 55
104th Battalion Pilot ARC-170 Starfighter (42)
Total: 42
Obi-Wan Kenobi Delta-7 Aethersprite (47)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (4), R4 Astromech (2) – Total: 53
Ric Olie Naboo Royal N-1 Starfighter (42)
R4 Astromech (2), Fire Control System (2) – Total: 46
Total: 196

Pretty easy and straightforward game here to be honest. And I definitely wanted some of those with a long day of games. Nice to see Odd Ball on the table, clearly something FFG is trying to make happen.

Very minor complaint about the venue, the nature of the lighting wasn’t my favorite. But I’m definitely being picky, it was amazing overall

For the initial engage, he left his 1BP isolated and I pounced on it. 6 ships to 1 wasn’t a fair fight. I was then able to turn around and into the rest of his squad without getting heavily flanked. Blocked stuff, traded shots, wore down the last three ships in 3-4ish turns, only losing a single Torrent. 20 minutes left on the clock was nice too.

Win: 200-25 (2-0)

Round 3 against Dennis from Singapore

List
Temmin Wexley T-70 X-Wing (54)
Composure (1), Integrated S-Foils (0) – Total: 55
Jessika Pava T-70 X-Wing (51)
BB Astromech (3), Integrated S-Foils (0) – Total: 54
Lieutenant Bastian T-70 X-Wing (48)
Integrated S-Foils (0) – Total: 48
Finn Resistance Transport Pod (29)
Heroic (1), Perceptive Copilot (8), Pattern Analyser (5) – Total: 43
Total: 200

1 point bid doing work again.

I nailed this engagement 100% perfectly. I don’t think I could have gotten anything better if I got to set both players dials.

Do you believe me now if I say there is an art to jousting?

From this positioning the game was over barring an insane dice miracle. Both Bastian and a Torrent went down, then the Resistance didn’t get another action, or get to escape for several turns. Welcome to blocking hell.

All his ships got blocked, I had some actions, plus my boy Sinker sitting perfectly on the flank. Finn went down (Finn with no focus is a sad Finn), more damage into the T-70s. Next round, the back Torrents block k-turns, my front ships turn around. Just destroyed.

1 of the other Torrents got a Weapons Failure (and gave up half points), but keep rolling the hit on its 1 die while the 5 remaining ships were chasing down Jess (red maneuvers, barrel rolls and self-blocks prevented me fixing it). 2 games in a row finished with ~20 minutes to go!

Win: 200-38 (3-0)

Round 4 against Mark “Rogue Leader” from Sydney

By far the coolest way to present a squad list I’ve seen. And still has all the relevant information (half points). YASB Link

This was an interesting list to see. I imagine when it works, it really works, and will just delete something, but I don’t think a swarm is especially what he wanted to face.

Again, the engagement joust worked out well for me. I traded a Torrent for 5 damage into Luke. I wanted to get Luke quickly, because his ability is really quite good against lots of low dice attacks. And then I was also in a dank position to ruin his next turn.

Welcome to blocking hell, the sequel.

The Zealot did an aggressive T-roll, presumably hoping to get an APT on Sinker, but I didn’t move that way. Blocked Luke’s k-turn, probably his whole dial, and same for Wedge. We threw dice at each other, but I more dice and I had Sinker, so I kept trading up. He did get the APTs from both the Zealot and Luke off into Sinker, but it didn’t matter. Half Sinker, 1.5 Torrents down, another game with time to spare.

Win: 200-67 (4-0)

4-0 is pretty good, but meaningless with 6 rounds. I’ve been here before and then tripped at the last hurdle. Trying not to get ahead of myself and go for that 1 more win.

Round 5 against Hugo from Sydney(?)

List
Rexlar Brath TIE/D Defender (81)
Juke (7), Jamming Beam (0), Fire Control System (2) – Total: 90
“Whisper” TIE/ph Phantom (57)
Juke (7) – Total: 64
“Duchess” TIE/sk Striker (42)
Crack Shot (1) – Total: 43
Total: 197

Okay. Aces. Bit of a different test than less efficient/tool-boxy jousters I’d seen so far.

He did the right thing, engaging from 3 different angles, but it ended up effectively as Whisper and Duchess jousting my block with Rexlar flanking. I don’t recall exactly how it all went down, but Duchess didn’t escape there alive, shooting stripped Whisper’s evades, making blocking easy, and blocking a Defender generally isn’t too hard…

Welcome to blocking hell, part 3: the blockening.

I think the last turn of the big scrum before he got away a little, I blocked both Whisper and Rexlar’s moves with the same Torrent. Beautiful.

I eventually finished chasing down everything with a couple minutes to spare. I don’t remember exactly what died for me, but with 96 points lost, 1BP, Torrent and half Sinker.

And no photos, so good, hard game, with no silly downtime!

Win: 200-96 (5-0)

Expectations exceeded. The little pressure I put on myself last round was gone. While winning or losing this game didn’t matter too much, there was something on the line, with a probable 1st round bye in the cut the next day. Something to play for, with minimal pressure, I was pumped!

Round 6 against Morgan Reid (currently hailing from NSW, technically)

Well it was going to happen sooner or later if I kept winning, play against a ‘big name’ that you hear of (No disrespect to my other opponents, but Morgan’s name carries a bit more weight). Former Australian National Champ and Worlds Finalist, and has been killing it this year in Hyperspace Trials.
I was excited to play him, didn’t matter if I lost, and should be a good game!

List
Colonel Jendon Lambda-class T-4a Shuttle (46)
Director Krennic (4), Jamming Beam (0) – Total: 50
Inquisitor TIE Advanced v1 (35)
Concussion Missiles (6), Fire Control System (2) – Total: 43
Inquisitor TIE Advanced v1 (35)
Concussion Missiles (6), Fire Control System (2) – Total: 43
Soontir Fel TIE Interceptor (53)
Predator (2), Shield Upgrade (8) – Total: 63
Total: 199

This was the first repeat faction I faced. Pretty good variety getting to see 5 different factions in 6 rounds.

I set up in one corner, Morgan set up his shuttle and Inquisitors diagonally opposite, and Soontir ‘directly opposite’ (Soontir was never going to joust me). Jendon and 1 Quiz come all the way up the side and around, 1 Quiz comes through the middle, and Soontir hangs back waiting. I flew my block up the side and turned into the middle of the board to engage the 1 Quiz. The flanking Quiz did get a free missile shot the turn before, and unfortunately whiffed doing maybe 1 shield. I got shields of the middle Quiz shooting through a debris cloud (this is why I don’t bring gas clouds), while only taking a little damage in return.

Next round, I hard turn my blob around to face Jendon and the other Quiz, but the injured Quiz 5 forwards into the kill-box. That Quiz goes down, I get a bit of damage into the other Quiz and Jendon, while still only being chipped at.

My red dice seemed to be running hot at this point of the game, I had Sinker rerolls not required, but always active, and I was setting up good shots.

At some point at this mid stage of the game, I pumped a couple damage into Soontir as well. Don’t recall the exact situation, but those half points were big. Having lots of ships, always shooting, with modded attacks is good.

Late game I still had 5 ships on the board, though both ARCs were bleeding against half health Soontir and a Quiz. Given enough time (another hour or so), Morgan could well have pulled it off, but time, and the amount of damage already inflicted was on my side. I got the Quiz, and Sinker did some neat arc dodging of Soontir to stay alive for several turns too long (complete with 5 faceup damage cards, hull upgrade doing work again).

For the first time in the tournament, Sinker died. The game ended with 2.5 Torrents left against a 1 hull Soontir.

Interesting observation after the game, I did not manage to show Morgan blocking hell, he dodged or disengaged from every block, or set up in positions where I couldn’t really block him. Class.

Win: 168-137 (6-0)

6-0. Seems good.

The rest of the New Zealanders did pretty bloody good too, with 7 (8) kiwis in the top cut: Me and David at 6-0, Paul, Mike, Sean, Ryan, Mathew and Erin (from NZ via WA) at 5-1. And then a bunch at 4-2 as well: Jeremy, Jon, Blair, Jason, Tim, Hamish. Everyone killed it.
The matchup dodging was also on point with minimal friendly fire from what I could tell.

Blair snapped this great photo in round 5 with 4 of us in a row playing at the undefeated tables. Best part, none of us were playing each other. Ryan was also 4-0, playing on stream this round.

In the car back to the airbnb, when asked whether I was going to write about the tournament, I said I had already written a bunch of excuses to a roar of laughter.
I wasn’t expecting to do well, average, bit above average, probably an “oh so close 4-2”. I had very much exceeded my own expectations. But that doesn’t change my thoughts going into the event.

Day 2

Got an even worse sleep… Too much adrenaline, poor food to alcohol consumed ratio (I didn’t drink that much, but I ate even less), having to be at the venue early for the other guys playing in the 1st round of the cut. I’m good at making excuses.

Top 32

With the System Open style event, the top cut is everyone who goes 5-1 or better. Which generally leads to a bad number for a bracket, so the highest rank players get byes until an appropriate bracket is reached. In this case, with 29 players at 5-1 or better, there were 3 byes. But there were 4 players at 6-0 (Akhter, myself, XY and David), so do feel for fellow NZer David having to play in the 1st round of cut, missing out on a bye by MOV. (Turns out MOV still matters).

There wasn’t too much sitting back with my feet up to be honest, lots of pacing around being restless and eager to play. Got to chat to both Akhter and XY a little, we were all really happy to be there, getting a bye in a top cut is pretty unreal.

However, Day 2 in the top cut was not so kind to the kiwi contingent, with only Paul and Mathew winning their top 32 matches.

Top 16 Travis from Canberra’s Capital Cartel

List
Black Sun Assassin StarViper-class Attack Platform (48)
Crack Shot (1) – Total: 49
Black Sun Assassin StarViper-class Attack Platform (48)
Crack Shot (1) – Total: 49
Black Sun Assassin StarViper-class Attack Platform (48)
Crack Shot (1) – Total: 49
Black Sun Assassin StarViper-class Attack Platform (48)
Crack Shot (1) – Total: 49
Total: 196

I was less afraid of this list than I should have been. I knew which top 32 match I would be up against (Kylo+2Ups vs these Quad Vipers), and wasn’t too afraid of either. I think I was simply still feeling over the moon about the run so far, and not scared of anything.

It turns out FOUR aces is pretty hard for my swarm to deal with. As I was I2/3, and the StarVipers were I3 with a bid, they all got to move last, and reposition with their super barrel roll, and link into an offensive modifier.

I did have something of a ‘plan’, fan out my squad more than usual, have a wide spread of firing arcs, make it hard for them to escape. And I thought I executed it alright as well, but the outcome did not go my way. All my clones had shots, singly if not doubly modified and I did zero damage. They weren’t the greatest shots, with some R3, some obstruction, but the 2 evades being rolled every time was quite disheartening.

I was also a bit more aggressive, having seen the pace of his previous game, and thinking a long drawn out first engagement would be bad for me, with his ships being far more maneuverable, and my squad being a little clunky to fly, with different base sizes and Sinker’s ability.

So despite having spread out to try keep things in arc, he’d still managed to surround me, and it wasn’t looking pretty.

Now seems like a good time to shout out Tim and the judging crew. The turn following the photo above I 1-forwarded the topmost Torrents, then 2-turned the ARC in front of them. Reasonably tight maneuver, but I thought it would clear when I dialed it in. Unfortunately, as we executed the maneuver, the closest Torrent got knocked slightly, whether it was just up and down, or back a couple mm, I wasn’t sure, and the maneuver was tight enough to be called into question. So we gave the judges an impossible call to make, as they hadn’t seen it happen. And they handled it very impressively, clearly were organised and prepared for this type of situation. Tim and another judge (didn’t catch his name) took myself and Travis aside individually to talk about what we both thought happened, then they compared our stories, then came to decision. Very impressed with how the process happened. (To be clear, no strong disagreement between myself and Travis, just an unfortunate bump that was easier resolved by a 3rd party)

Back to the game, nothing went right for me, couldn’t capitalize on any blocks, dice didn’t seem to go my way (just enough evades) and the Viper’s moving last with the micro-thrusters barrel roll I couldn’t come back from it. My squad crumbled, complete with my damage deck running out and needing to shuffle up the cards from dead ships. Oh, and both ARCs drew Structural Damage, those greens weren’t helping me anyways. I killed half a Viper, and another shield or 2 before losing the last of my 6 ships and 39 hit points.

I’m still not 100% convinced its a terrible matchup, would want to try it a few more times. I don’t have the Vipers flight patterns ingrained and know how and where to block them easily. I know how to block jousters, or Imperial style aces, but haven’t had the experience with Vipers to simply know it. I also might have been better off not spreading out and using the more conventional opening with the Torrents in a square. Would need more practice, and play better. Well played Travis.

Loss: 25-200 (eliminated)

1 loss and out. The bubble was bound to burst sooner or later.

Hyperspace Qualifier

I ‘played’ in the HSQ, and by ‘played’ I mean a lot of aggressive jousting with the same fun 5 ship republic squad as Friday’s Hangar Bay. Something to do, rather than be pacing around the event and catching bits of the top cut games, and farm a few more tickets. Even though all I’d done so far in the day was lose 1 game, I got to start a 2-0.

I played Markus with his triple republic aces, also being overly aggressive, risky and not caring about the result. Won that one. Then got a pair down (due to a typo) and played Andrew from Adelaide who had Sinker, 2x 1BPs and Obi-Wan, sneaking out a tight win there.

Then wow, second time that day I was playing for a Worlds invite. I still didn’t care too much, having a ticket or not wasn’t going to be the deciding factor in any potential trip to Worlds for me, especially with an LCQ. I got paired against Mike from Christchurch, same guy who knocked me out of the Hyperspace Trial a few weeks ago, and first NZer I had to play of the weekend.

He had Kylo+2Ups, and the aggressive joust went unsurprisingly poorly. If my green dice had been above average I was in a with a chance, but that’s never a good plan, needing above average dice to win.

By this point in the weekend I had a lot of prize tickets. There wasn’t anything I was super desperate for, so I just kept putting them in my bag and they kept adding up. Went and cashed them in for a small pile of cards, to add to the awesome participation and top cut prizes.

Good results again from the New Zealanders in the Hyperspace Qualifier with Mike, Hamish, Erin and honorary kiwi John going undefeated and winning Worlds invites. And Mathew also won one making Top 8 in the main event.

Most of the NZ contingent gathered at the end of Sunday, missing only Nick and Jon I think

Winner

The main event was won by Xian Yong “XY” from Singapore with a Separatist squad over Akhter’s Rebels. Final can be watched here (complete with fire alarm in the middle). Both great guys who played well over the whole weekend. I’m sure there is/will be a lot more spoken/written about this elsewhere, so I won’t go any further. Congrats guys, you did better with the top 32 bye than I did.

Shout Outs

All my opponents were awesome, I started writing something after each game report, but it was a bit repetitive. Would be happy to play all of them again. Everyone was happy to sign a damage card too, participation damage deck became a much cooler souvenir (and a more epic damage deck than the new ones just announced).
Paul and Wellington’s Cerberus Squadron (mostly Paul) for organizing accommodation and a rental car for the weekend. All of the New Zealand contingent being awesome, I feel like almost everyone said well done and wished me luck between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Alex and Alec from FFG/Asmodee Europe for coming over, helping run it, making it happen. Everyone who was involved in running it and making it happen, people from FFG/Asmodee, Kieran with Let’s Play Games, Tim and the judging team. The whole thing ran unbelievably smoothly and efficiently. bUt CrYoDeX iS bAd AnD sLoW

With over 250 people in attendance, you’re never going to get to talk to everyone, so many awesome people. Always wish I could talk to more people, both familiar and unfamiliar faces.

And a plug for OTC next weekend. The tournament that I actually came for (didn’t buy a System Open ticket til after OTC was announced to be the weekend after, despite the rapidly selling System Open tickets). I’m flying a different swarm, because *surprise, surprise* all swarms are not identical.

Finally, a salute the many fallen. nameless clone troopers. Expendable, but their losses shall be remembered. And my boy Sinker, he did make it through the first 5 rounds without dying, but no further.
F.

F

-Nathan

Wow, 4000+ words. Thanks if you made it this far, I just keep writing until I’m finished with very little editing/proofreading.

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