Duel of the States – 2013 Chicago Regional Report!

Finally, after a 7 year hiatus, I have an opportunity to return to the world of competitive Star Wars-themed gaming. My last taste of regional/worlds card game play was at the 2006 Star Wars CCG World Championships in Chicago (this was the post-Decipher, virtual set era). Since then, I’ve been quietly awaiting the right game to catch my interest, and Star Wars LCG and X-Wing Minis won me over the moment they were announced. I’ve had both games since their respective releases but X-Wing has been my primary focus up until the week preceding the Chicago Regional – this is due mostly to the much larger X-Wing community in Chicago.

May 11th rolls around, and outside of a couple Vassal games, I cut myself off from X-Wing to play catch-up on the LCG. I’ve been following the latest decks/meta etc, but am severely lacking in games played, only having played 10 or so in pickup games at the Dice Dojo. The Chicago SWLCG community has been pretty light, so I hop on OCTGN to get my practice in. I play a bunch of games throughout the week, make thousands of errors, and clumsily work my way around the OCTGN interface, but practice is practice. As far as deck choices, I initially opted to go with one of the more common Sith/Navy decks floating around and Smuggler’s Caverns – as far as the game is concerned right now, it’s all about playing unoriginal decks as creatively and skillfully as possible. For whatever reason though, last minute I decide to switch on account of wanting to mix things up a bit. this would prove to be equal parts good and bad.

My Dark choice was one that I had played a lot during the week and had very good luck with. Still a mix of Sith/Navy but a variation that, for whatever reason, I’m more comfortable playing.

Dark Deck: Chickens and Eyeballs

Sith (Core)

Total Objective Sets: (10)

1x Counsel of the Sith (Core)
Advisor to the Emperor (Core)
Kuati Security Team (Core)
Sith Library (Core)
Dark Precognition (Core)
Twist of Fate (Core)

2x The Emperor’s Web (Core)
Emperor Palpatine (Core)
Emperor’s Royal Guard (Core)
Sith Library (Core)
Force Lightning (Core)
Force Choke (Core)

2x Death and Despayre (Core)
Devastator (Core)
Imperial Officer (Core)
Control Room (Core)
Defense Upgrade (Core)
Heat of Battle (Core)

2x Defense Protocol (Core)
TIE Attack Squadron (Core)
TIE Fighter (Core)
Tallon Roll (Core)
Death from Above (Core)
Twist of Fate (Core)

2x The Endor Gambit (Core)
AT-ST Commander (Core)
AT-ST (Core)
AT-ST (Core)
Aft Armor Plating (Core)
Target of Opportunity (Core)

1x Deploy the Fleet (The Search For Skywalker)
Death Squadron Star Destroyer (The Search For Skywalker)
Death Squadron Star Destroyer (The Search For Skywalker)
Fleet Navigator (The Search For Skywalker)
Death Squadron Command (The Search For Skywalker)
Admiral’s Orders (The Search For Skywalker)

I really love playing this deck. It’s been consistent and versatile for me. Palp, Devastator, and DSSDs for big-guy board presence, a number of ways to draw cards (AT-STs, Counsel, Dark Precog), plenty of resources, shielding, tactics, 3 Twists, and targeted strike with the Eyeball Attack Squadron is often a big nuisance. 

So that was the half-good portion of my last-minute deck choices. The Light Side switch happened at 2am the morning before, and it was a deck I’d never tested before. Regional Play 101: Don’t do that.

Light Side: Untitled… and will remain so.

Affiliation: Jedi (Core)

Total Objective Sets: (10)

2x A Hero’s Journey (Core)
Luke Skywalker (Core)
Twi’lek Loyalist (Core)
Jedi Lightsaber (Core)
Trust Your Feelings (Core)
Dagobah Training Grounds (Core)

1x In You Must Go (Core)
Yoda (Core)
Believer in the Old Ways (Core)
Shii-Cho-Training (Core)
Dagobah Training Grounds (Core)
Counter-stroke (Core)

2x A Journey to Dagobah (Core)
Red Five (Core)
R2-D2 (Core)
Twi’lek Loyalist (Core)
Double Strike (Core)
Target of Opportunity (Core)

2x The Secret of Yavin 4 (Core)
C-3PO (Core)
Guardian of Peace (Core)
Guardian of Peace (Core)
Lightsaber Deflection (Core)
Twist of Fate (Core)

1x Last Minute Rescue (Core)
Redemption (Core)
Corellian Engineer (Core)
Return of the Jedi (Core)
Emergency Repair (Core)
Force Rejuvenation (Core)

2x Preparation for Battle (The Search For Skywalker)
Hoth Scout (The Search For Skywalker)
AAC-1 Speeder Tank (The Search For Skywalker)
AAC-1 Speeder Tank (The Search For Skywalker)
Tauntaun (The Search For Skywalker)
Shelter from the Storm (The Search For Skywalker)

My thought process with this deck was: swap out Han for Redemption and Red 5 to put some more blast pressure on the Dark Side, Prep for Battle with plenty of shields to keep Luke, Yoda, Red 5 alive, Redemption can keep characters cycling back into play (assuming I can get the big ship out). The deck wasn’t playtested at all before the tournament… combine that with the misplays I made and quality of opponents and it was destined to turn out badly. Ultimately I can’t really speak for the viability of the deck as I never really found the right rhythm with it, but it did have some obvious weaknesses. Namely it was missing Han.

Onto the games!

I show up about a half-an-hour before the scheduled start time and get settled. The Dice Dojo is pretty packed due to a Star Wars Minis/Netrunner Regional events also taking place. Talk to Chip, the T.O. for the event and one of the few local SWLCG players. The expected turnout was 8 players or so. We end up pushing back the scheduled start time of the event to wait for the Indiana guys from Top Tier Gaming to make it in. A sunny Saturday in the city makes for terrible traffic, and since the Top Tier crew is expected to account for just about half of the turnout, we make the “tough” call to wait it out. We end up with 9 participating so there’s a 4-point bye floating around throughout. Everyone’s set and the games begin: 5 from Illinois, 4 from Indiana.  The Duel of the States begins (spoiler: Illinois gets Maul-style cut in half and thrown down an endless tube).

The details will be sketchy, I wanted to take notes but switching from OCTGN automation to real-life had made me painfully slow in the real world.

Round 1 against Steve Gossett from Top Tier

Chickens and Eyeballs vs. Steve’s Rebels

I had a solid objective draw and hand to start. Counsel, Endor’s Gambit, and Deploy the Fleet to lead off. I’m foggy on his objective start but I want to say it’s Rebel Fleet, Hoth Ops and Fleeing the Empire. I drop a resource, TIE Attack Squad first turn and commit. He drops some guys (Rogue Three maybe?). Over the next few turns he does some objective damage and the TIE Attack Squad makes use of targeted strike to keep his board somewhat clear. He’s having some early draw trouble and can’t find any additional resources to back him up. I spread out with a couple of AT-STs, Devastator and eventually Palpy makes an appearance. He knocks out a couple objectives but with the dial at 9 I’m able to kill two objectives to end the game. Next turn he would have knocked me out, close game.

My Jedi vs. Steve’s Sith/Navy

I don’t remember much from this one. I’m never able to establish a really strong offensive foothold. I dropped Luke too early in an attempt to make some sort of move, but he doesn’t stick around very long. Steve gets board control and I knock out enough objectives to win the tie breaker.

Result: Modified Win (Match Total: 3)

Round 2 against Guy Sodin

Chickens and Eyeballs vs Guy’s Smuggler’s Den

I draw Endor’s Gambit, Deploy the Fleet, and Death and Despayre. I don’t remember his objective start but it’s two Jedi objectives and a Questionable Contacts. AT-STs hit the board early and I spread out and stay conservative. I keep the Force for the game and sit back. He had a rough draw for resources and couldn’t get Han or Luke out in time. My mistake this game was holding back for too long – I only knocked out 1 objective to tick the dial to 12. I could have drawn the game out longer to knock out another but opted to end it. 

My Jedi vs. Guy’s Sith/Navy

This game was a reversal of fortune from the last game. He gets pretty dominant board control early as I’m having trouble getting my offensive weapons out. He plays the control aspect of his deck perfectly and by the time I can mount an attack, he’s ready for it and keeps my guys at bay. I end my final turn with 30 seconds left in the round and with the dial at 10 (Force was with DS). He knocked out 2 objectives I believe to win the tie breaker.

Result: Modified Loss (Match Total: 5)

Round 3 against Garritt Pruim (a.k.a. TGO)

My DS vs Garritt’s Rebels

The part of my brain that’s responsible for remembering this game shot itself in the face and didn’t leave a note. 

Just kidding. I remember this beating with vivid detail. Garrit is running:

2 x Fleeing the Empire
2 x Hoth Operations
2 x Mission Briefing
2 x Renegade Squadron Mobilization
2 x The Defense of Yavin 4

My objective pull I’m very happy with as I get both Deploy the Fleets – incredibly handy against Rebels, especially if I can get a tough unit or two out early. I mulligan my first hand – it’s decent but no resources and I didn’t want to take the chance of too slow of a start. My next hand: 4 resources, a Twist, and Tallon Roll. Ouch. My first turn I drop a resource and hand it off to him (I believe his objectives were Feeling the Empire, Hoth Operations, and The Defense of Yavin IV). His first turn he drops Heavy Blaster Emplacement… x2… … … . Ouch. The game ends with the dial at 3. I can’t get any units out that he doesn’t destroy easily with his Emplacements. A Speeder and Y-Wing knock out 3 objectives. Had I been able to get something out turn 1, it would have been an interesting game. With 2 Emplacements and 2 Deploy the Fleet, it would have been a slugfest. Garritt is a pro player and when a pro player gets a good draw, they know how to take advantage. I get pwned and have a near zero chance of winning the tie breaker. The only thing that could have made this game worse is if I had to play it wearing a dress and talking in falsetto.

My Jedi vs. Garritt’s Sith/Navy

Garritt is running:

2 x Counsel of the Sith
2 x Death and Despayre
1 x Defense Protocol
1 x Deploy the Fleet
2 x Fall of the Jedi
2 x The Emperor’s Web

This game I just plain get outplayed. Too many mistakes and can’t mount much of an offensive. By the time I get some big-guys out I lose Luke, and make a pretty serious misplay attacking with Yoda and having to commit Redemption with the dial at 11. Wouldn’t have mattered anyway – he’s able to drop a DSSD and blow up an objective for the win.

Result: Full Loss (Match Total: 5)

After getting hosed by Garritt I have just enough time to step out and refuel. I slam a gyro from Hella’s Gyros and head back for the final round.

Garritt and Justin McBride are at the top table with the rest of the Top Tier crew filling out the top 4.

Round 4 against Eric Huffman

My Jedi vs. Eric’s Navy

Eric’s objective draws were 2 Ultimate Powers and a Death and Despayre. I get Prep for Battle, Yavin, and In You Must Go. This game my Light deck works as I imagined, as I drop plenty of protection early and follow up with Redemption and Red 5. He does a bit of objective damage but Defense Upgrade keeps it in check. He gets off a Superlaser blast to knock one out but Redemption and Red 5 are able to get the job done with the dial at 8.

Chickens and Eyeballs vs Eric’s Rebel Hoth

Eric gets a a tough objective draw with two Sensors Are Placed and a third that’s equally as unhelpful for him. I pull counsel, Endor’s Gambit and Deploy the Fleet again so I’m happy. After the game 3 aberration by DS gets back on track and plays as it should. AT-STs and Palpy control the board. Eric has a tough time getting tough blast units out for long stretches. I focus on keeping the Force and defending. He knocks out an objective but the dial eventually ticks to 12.

Result: Full Win (Match Total: 9)

The final standings were (apologies if these are slightly off):

1.) Garritt Pruim
2.) Justin McBride
3.) Steve Gossett
4.) Chip Dickerson
5.) Jarrett McBride
6.) Mike Rebman
7.) Guy Sodin
8.) Eric Huffman
9.) Trevor Wills

The Top Tier crew rolls into Chicago and essentially cleans house. Big congrats to Garritt – if I’m going to get completely destroyed, at the very least it was by the guy that won the event. Overall I’m happy with my performance, as this is my first Star Wars LCG tournament and I learned a ton from everyone I played. Now the next step is to get a league going in Chicago – third largest city by population in the country and only 5 locals is rough (though Netrunner has a lot to do with this trend locally me thinks). Hopefully we can get some regular meetups going and help each other get better.

In honor of the old SW:CCG tournament reports I’ll include the props/slops.

Chip, Nico, and the Dice Dojo for the event. It went smoothly and was an excellent time. No problems whatsoever.
Chip, Guy, Eric and Trevor for being loyal Chicago guys and hopefully being the core of our developing local scene.
The Top Tier guys for coming out, being extremely tough competition, and for being an all-around cool, helpful group.
Hella’s Gyros.

Me for last minute deck choices. When in doubt, play what you know.
The bye for being the bye. Just because. It didn’t really have an effect on this event but a bye still shouldn’t be worth 4 points.

I’ll see you guys on the 29th of June for the next Chicago regional event at Galactic Force!





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