GenCon 2018 Wrap-Up

GenCon truly is the best four days in gaming! 

The GenCon 2018 Maximum Firepowers were the first possible invitations available for the High Command tournament, which is the only place invitations to the World Championship are available. Normally my goal when going to a tournament is to have fun, since there can only be one winner and statistically it won't be you, however with 3 possibilities to get the invitation I felt confident I could get at least one. With that being said my goal was to win an invite as early as possible in the weekend and then play less serious lists from there on. 


My List and Prep

you can find a version of my winning list here and a basic rundown of how to play it. 

To prepare for this tournament I decided on a final list about two months in advance and committed to it. Im a strong believer in the philosophy that the list you are familiar with is better than the list that is "good". After deciding on a list I played it exclusively and consistently during my normal game spots (one game on thursday and one game on saturday), however these games are on what I like to call hard mode. Hard mode is giving yourself a strong handicap and then figuring how to make it work out. Some examples of these are playing my competitive 800 point list against an opponent with 1,000 points and getting either a win or a draw; playing a game where the only command card I have available is standing orders; and games where I intentionally get myself into bad tactical scenarios and then find a way to correct and overcome them. 

Part of the reason I designed this list this way is because of a meta call. I knew that the top two lists in the meta at the moment are Rebel Wonder Twins and Imperial Triple Bikes - both lists favor large amounts of troops and neither bring strong answers for heavy armor. Thus this list was born - it is a well balanced all comers list with no particular strengths or weaknesses. When building a competitive list I prefer a list with no major weakness over a list that has a major strength. 

Terrain and Scenario and Tournament System

I have to say I was a little disappointed in the forum reactions to the terrain setup at GenCon. There were some photos shared to the groups of tables before the terrain had been fully set by the judge that made it look like almost no terrain was used, and they weren't a good representation of the entirety of the tables. I have to say that the mix of terrain could have been better, but it was good; some tables were rather dense, some were rather sparse, but the majority were pretty close to where they should be. As a competitive player at a premiere event you have to be ready for anything that can comes your way - and having played in high level competitions myself for nearly 20 years, I can say that these tables were rather good from a system agnostic standpoint - the amount and quality of terrain that FFG provided was great. What I would like to see in the future, especially at premiere events is some urban boards added to the mix, not necessarily for the denser cover, but for the authentic Star Wars flavor. 

Over the course of my competitive games I had 2 realizations. The first one is that there should be a condition card that allows players to bring a set number of barricades that they can place within range one of their deployment zone and beyond range one of any mission objectives - this would be an interesting setup I believe, and would also go a long way towards helping players mitigate sparse terrain tables. My second realization is that Key Positions needs to be changed so that there is a minimum distance between objectives. Without a minimum distance I found that key positions is essentially unwinnable by the red player if both player are of equal skill. My suggestion is that the objectives must be at least range 2 from each other. 

Another note I would add is that the current system of the invitation only going to the undefeated player disincentives strong players who are already qualified from playing at their best. I think that a much better system would be that the invitation goes to the player with the highest standings who isn't already qualified as long as they haven't lost more than one game for the day. That way strong players can play their best without the worry of setting an invitation on fire. Part of the reason I played progressively worse lists throughout the weekend is because after getting my invitation I didn't want to win and risk one less player getting invited. I want all of the strongest players to be invited to High Command and have a chance at getting into worlds. 

Meta and Opponents

After the first day of games I realized that I did call the meta correctly - a majority of the lists were Wonder Twins or Speeder Bike heavy. Being able to call the meta and craft something that both answered it as well as not being within it gave me a strong advantage of knowing what to expect from my opponent while they weren't totally sure what to expect from my list. There were some variations on the imperial side, some lists brought vader with bikes or veers with an ATST but for the most part Imperial lists were Veers and Bikes and most of the Rebel lists were Wonder Twins. 

Every single one of my opponents and in fact everyone I met at the convention was a pleasure. I have to say that this young community is developing in the right direction and is very welcoming, accepting, and patient with others who are still getting acquainted. I am very proud of what we have going right now and excited to see how it develops. 

My Experience and Standings

My standings for GenCon 2018 were 10:2 for the weekend - 4:0 day 1, 3:1 day 2, and 3:1 day 3  

I also let the Facebook group chose my day 2 and day 3 list via poll (although I played them in reverse order). Day 2 I played the second place poll list of Veers and 2 ATST, which is a mediocre list. I feel like I could have gone 4:0 with this list, but I am glad I made a mistake in one of my rounds allowing the opponent to steal a scenario point for the win in turn 6. Day 3 I played Vader with 6 units of Snowtroopers and was 55 points under - this was a very hard list to play and definitely wore me out, but I did well going 3:1 with it and possibly could have gone 4:0 if it wasn't for getting stuck on long march with such a slow list in my last game. 
It was a great experience and I took home many lessons, the most valuable of which is probably that despite troop positioning being faster and looser in this system than in warmachine, it isn't any less critical. 



The Lists that did not win with 

Veers Double AT-ST:  3:1

Veers with esteemed leader

2x AT-ST with Grenades and Mortar Launcher

4x Stormtroopers with DLT-19

Winter is Coming:  3:1

Vader with Reflexes, Push, Saber Throw

6x Snowtroopers with Flamethrower, Snowtrooper, Impact Grenades

55 points under bid

Convention Record after Gencon 14:2 

You can also listen to an audio interview with me about GenCon 2018 with the Legion Outriders here 

GenCon 2018, 17 Minutes Left

Gencon 2018 from a Judges perspective

Gencon has come and gone, as fun as ever, only made more special this year as Star Wars Legion released this year, a game I had thought would never happen but wished for since I first played Warhammer 40k. I always hoped we could have a scale game in the Star Wars Universe, FFG made it happen and so far, the response has been fantastic. This Gencon hosted the first Maximum Firepower Tournaments, going undefeated would give the players an Invitation to High Command at Adepticon next year. I had every plan to play, but I ended up being invited to Judge the event and jumped at the chance. While playing the game is glorious, I know that Judges and Organizers of large event also have a large Impact on the success and direction Competitive play goes for games, Years of Press Ganging had taught me that. So, I accepted the opportunity with relish, I would still meet and get to know fellow gamers and get to interact with them just from a different perspective.

The smell of competition was there day 1, as people filed in I knew the tables were set up and the terrain was not what the players expected, I did what I could to adjust but we had the terrain we had and I had left mine back in Louisiana. I did what the Organized Play TO Josh would allow me to do and watched and chatted with players as they expressed some dismay over the lack of terrain on many tables. The Marshall Luke Eddy and I adjusted the tables once we knew we would not be using them all but we were still limited with what we could do. Mental plans were made to arrive earlier day 2 and try to set the terrain and adjust it to make the tables a little more acceptable to the second day players.

As the players arrived I waited for the sound of disdain or haughtiness from players with fully painted armies towards those who were not, I was pleasantly surprised, No one cared, they just wanted to play. A few players realized they had forgotten items needed to play, there was no shortage in the people offering everything they could to make sure everyone played. The crap attitudes were nonexistent, it was a serene image. 2 Dozen gamers all gathered for the love of the same game. We went into Round 1, people were laughing, having fun, giving me hell… Just the most enjoyable experience as a judge. If I ruled against someone, they didn’t argue, they didn’t give dirty looks, they just played the game. The day wore on, miles were walked, questions asked, answered and gameplay continued. Everyone was happy, ready to come back for day 2. The first few rounds had gone to time and then finished the round, by the end only one table was going to overrun time. We finished around 10:00 PM.

We had maybe 5 minutes after the final game ended until pairings. The time constraints were real but as people get into how the Setup works I feel that will ease up some. A lunch break for players is really needed at this level though. If you cannot readily get food it can be a long day, if you are going to NOVA I recommend you pack food.

As a side note, most of the questions I had come up were Cover, Suppression and some timing of effect questions. It is obvious that some areas are still working on figuring out all the intricacies of the game, but as I answered these questions the players asking were encouraged as now they could go home and correct their local meta in the way things worked. Many surprised looks, but no angry ones. It was a relief, I learned a long time ago to prepare for the worst, hope for the best. And my hopes were answered.

Day 2 was much the same, although the TO had me set the terrain up and I managed to make most of the tables playable, the players seemed to like the changes and we had a lot less issues with the Terrain. We had more people show up, new people and others who had played the day before. We had people who had barely played, everyone helped the newer players. Their opponents, Luke and I would stay nearby, Questions flowed, Explanations occurred, and people learned. The entire group was less like strangers gathered from all over North America and more like a local gaming group that knew each other well. The laughing and joking were a welcome change over other Tournaments I have had the displeasure of overseeing, griping, complaining, people were genuinely having fun. Which is at the heart of matters what we do this for, to enjoy playing with our plastic army men. Day 2 Wore on and I managed to get some shopping done, as why else would I want to go to Gencon. The Rounds sped up a bit and we finished before 930 on day 2. Exhausted I retired to my hotel room, where I realized I had doubled my Facebook Friends list… 

Day 3 was much the same, the community with lack of sleep and exhaustion never turned on one another, more loaning of models and cards and tokens, Painting advice running rampant. Everyone was ready to play and more of the same, teaching newer players, having close matches with other experienced players, and the laughter and enjoyment. I did have a Bozo moment day 3 when I went to get food and had my watch set on Walk Timer, as I returned one of our players asked how much time remained and I glanced at my watch and called 17 Minutes, it was 35 minutes. Luckily it had no real impact this time, but as weariness sets in I must take a moment to make sure those calls are correct, it could ruin someone’s tournament and that is the last thing I want. So, for those who see 17 Minutes left comments running around, there is your context for it.

Day 4 was a Team tourney and much of the same, we had a few players play solo so no one had a buy as it was only 1 Round, these players were very selfless in that regard and helped make sure everyone was able to play.

My biggest takeaway from this Gencon is that Legion is not an overnight game, it has and will have lasting power, the players who play it love it, and want it to succeed and thus it will. The rules are easy to learn and with just a few questions most players barely had to call me over again except for Cover or LOS calls. I had only 1 Disagreement between players all week, and it was short lived, I gave my ruling and it stopped. Loaning of stuff, helping new players, it was a sight to see. I also realized I need to go buy some very expensive orthotic inserts for my shoes. 43 Miles in 4 days on Concrete and rarely leaving a 200-foot area of tables.

Oh and 17 Minutes left, Always 17 Minutes.