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