Note – Despite this being our first day, James didn’t take any pictures because he was so hungover that the paint started peeling off of his Star Destroyers when he breathed too heavily near them. I’ve included pictures that James expertly took from games we played a few weeks ago – please join me in pretending that they were taken today.
Today, James, Sam and I drove through gales and torrents of freezing rain to attend the Winter Tournament hosted by Shadow Games, in Rugby. This was a great venue – clean and tidy, loads of space, friendly and helpful staff – overall, I was very impressed.
There were three other participants – Paul and Stephen, both with Rebels, and Craig with Imperials. Six players, three tournament rounds, nine games in total.
We had our fleets ready, and our opponents assembled theirs. We were facing off against the following:
Paul – Rebels, led by Admiral Ackbar.
- MC80 Mon Calamari Cruiser Defiance
- Two Mk. II Assault Frigates, with Gunnery Teams
Stephen – Rebels, led my Mon Mothma
- MC80 Mon Calamari Cruiser
- Two MC30C Torpedo Frigates, with Assault Concussion Missiles
Craig – Imperials, led by Admiral Motti
- Two Victory-Class Star Destroyers with a myriad of upgrades
- Gladiator-Class Star Destroyer Demolisher
Neil, the tournament organiser, wisely opted to split us three apart, so we each played someone new for the first round. Sam took on Paul, James took on Stephen and I faced off against Craig.
We started playing at 11 a.m. sharp.
Sam had a rough start to a tough day. Up against Paul in the first round, the long-range turbolasers of the Mon Calamari fleet made light work of Sam’s poorly-shielded Raiders and didn’t waste any time before steadily dismantling the remainder of the Imperial fleet. Despite the speed of the Imperial ships, they struggled to approach the Rebels quickly enough to bring their torpedoes and missiles into effective range, and Paul walked away with a 400-point margin of victory, and ten tournament points overall.
Sam’s second game, against Craig, was less one-sided. Sam’s Demolisher was held in reserve, ready to arrive via hyperspace at the appropriate time. The two fleets approached, Sam at full speed, Craig more cautiously, although Craig did send his own Demolisher in on a fast attack to disable an isolated Raider on Sam’s flank. Sam’s flagship, Relentless, took a pounding as the gap between the two fleets narrowed. Worse, issues with Sam’s Demolisher‘s navicomputer led to it dropping out of lightspeed directly in front of Craig’s flagship – the Demolisher was soon smouldering ashes and, with the Relentless now out of action, so too was Sam’s hope of victory. The match finished with nine tournament points in Craig’s pocket.
Sam’s final game was against James. They had not played before, but it was a much more balanced match. Early successes from opening salvoes saw James’ own Relentless suffer the full brunt of the forward guns aboard Sam’s Relentless – the older Imperial-I class of vessel possessed a more potent short-range armament. However, Sam’s flagship finished the exchange of fire almost entirely unshielded and with an 82% loss in structural integrity. Sam’s Gladiators had already been ruined and abandoned, and a perfect shot from one of James’ Gladiators saw Sam’s flag set ablaze, the once-triumphant Relentless now on her way to the breaker’s yard. With a 50-point margin of victory James took six Tournament points, leaving Sam with four. This put Sam at five tournament points in total.
James had a similarly bleak start to the day as Sam. His first battle, against Stephen, saw a series of tactical blunders on James’ behalf that cost him the game – as his bleary-eyed attempts to seize an advantage failed, his fleet was quite comprehensively dismantled over a few turns by Stephens’ powerful formation of broad-sided vessels. I have to be honest, James was visibly struggling at this point, and I did feel badly for him – just not quite badly enough to resist making fun of him. Stephen achieved eight tournament points from this match, with two to James.
James’ second fight was against me. And fortunately, despite the fact we have played each other many times before, we managed to maintain a mature attitude throughout the game – until James revealed his true colours as a backstabbing traitor by capitalising on all of my mistakes and punishing me for my poor decisions. Both our fleets had entered into dangerous territory to reclaim… something… from each of the scattered obstacles. On the first turn my flagship risked a collision with an asteroid to seize an objective, suffering critical damage which dropped its front shield, right in sight of James’ approaching gun line. This put me on the back foot for the rest of the match, and James promptly picked my Relentless to pieces and polished off my Raider with casual contempt. The final result was close, though – James claimed six tournament points, which meant four for me.
James’ final match against Sam has already been covered. Suffice to say, James was by this point sobering up, and Sam had already nearly doubled his experience with the game in the two preceding matches. The improvement in both players’ abilities was clear, but by this point we were all tired and growing lethargic. James finished his final fight on a six-point victory, giving him fourteen tournament points in total.
My day started off mostly positively. Craig claimed to be an inexperienced player, but he had a cool confidence with the game, and made me work hard for a narrow victory. I elected to assault a contested outpost held by Craig’s Victory-class Star Destroyers. Why I made this decision is beyond me – I was likely having a moment. It seemed like a good idea at the time, although I quickly learnt my lesson as I threw my attack force against his sturdy vessels, suffering heavy damage. Both of my Gladiators fell to combined attacks from his capital ships and his fighters – a key strike by Soontir Fel and three TIE Fighter squadrons put my Demolisher down for good. By the time the last laser blast had cleared, I had managed to control the outpost for four turns and burned a Victory and the enemy Demolisher. I was grateful for the seven Tournament points, but aware of how much effort I had to exert to account for my initial mistakes.
My fight with James was, as described above, painful. The loss of front shields due to a misaligned projector on my flagship absolutely sent me reeling, and a damaged fire control aboard my Relentless, similarly gained due to asteroid collisions, pretty much did for me on the first turn. The misaligned projector was arguably the worst result I could have gotten at that point – I had hoped to repair any damage suffered from the asteroids in the subsequent turns, but the loss of my flagship’s forward shields turned me from a cautious attacker into a quivering defender, and James wasted no time in seizing the initiative and applying the pressure straight away.
My last battle was against Stephen, and I was glad for the chance to face some Rebels. Here, the dice were on my side, my gun crews ceaseless in the brutality they inflicted on the enemy vessels. Stephen’s flagship MC80 met its fate inside the front arcs of my Relentless and the two Gladiators at short range. My Raider proved its real worth here, racing ahead to block the advance of Stephen’s MC30Cs – the Raider perished in doing so, but the resultant collisions put the Mon Calamari torpedo boats in a bad state, and they were soon finished off by my Gladiators. Stephen maintained air superiority with his potent A-Wing force led by Han Solo – his eradication of my TIE Fighters and Han’s mortal strike against my Raider prevented me from achieving a full margin of victory – but I was still very pleased to be awarded nine tournament points – taking me up to twenty in total.
Paul won the day – finishing on twenty-seven tournament points, he was well ahead of anyone else. He tabled Stephen in the second round, but came a bit unstuck in round three versus Craig, whose valiant Demolisher slotted an Assault Frigate – however, he still won with a solid seven tournament points.
Craig came third overall, just topping James by a single tournament point. He was using a tough list – two Victory-class vessels leaves you with a very slow fleet, but his use of the Demolisher saw him do very well for someone as relatively new to the game as he was.
Stephen placed fifth overall, and I feel he was let down by some poor dice and the limited range of his torpedo frigates – with only his MC80 in poessession of a long-range armament, I found that, at least against my own fleet, he struggled to apply enough pressure early on in the game, and consequently I was left brash in my attitude.
I have given James grief for not taking photos, but in truth I too failed in my duties, abjectly negligent of any note-taking or record-keeping. However, suffice it to say that it was an excellent day, and I am very glad we started our tournament run at Shadow Games.
Sam placed sixth overall, but his last game was several weeks ago, and he had only played a couple of times before that. He will be adding his own thoughts in a later article, but he has certainly claimed to have learned a lot and enjoyed himself whilst doing so – with a few modifications to his fleet, he will be back with a vengeance very soon.
James came fourth, but would have been third but for a single Tournament point. He has promised not to be so hungover tomorrow, which will hopefully see him crush a few more heads and take a few more names.
I came second, but was still seven points behind Paul, the lead player. I did learn a lot today, enough to work on over the next few matches. James and I only usually fight against each other, and it had been a few weeks since we had done even that – and I felt rusty. Tomorrow, I shall aim to be sharper and less dull-witted – I would dearly like to win one of these tournaments, if only so I can one day claim to have ever achieved anything in my life.
Tomorrow, we’re in Lichfield. Watch this space…