Natural Cover

Mark Gliesen hadn’t had a chance to draw his A281 before he dove into the bushes, but at least he had a line of sight on the troopers descending into the riverbed. As he watched them, his mind flashed to the corpse of the trooper he’d been trying to hide before and thanked the Rebellion for outfitting them with camouflage ponchos. At least here in the bushes, he should be relatively hard to spot. And the troopers would have to split up to take them all on… maybe this would still work.

The stormtoopers splashed into the river, fanning out as they moved to where the group had just been. They didn’t seem to know where any of the rebels had hidden, but they were unlikely to stay hidden forever. Mark reached for his rifle.

“There’s one!” Three of the troopers spun away from Mark and raised their rifles, firing blindly into the undergrowth. That might’ve been Dale?

“He’s getting away!” The three troopers hurried up the hill after him, while the others kept their eyes on the forest. In the commotion, Mark managed to get his rifle up to bear without getting fired upon. Edging out of the ferns, he put his eye to the scope and sighted the nearest trooper.

“This is for wiping out our heritage,” he muttered as the trooper turned unwittingly to face him. “Naboo remembers.”

Two shots rang out as Mark and Eryn fired from cover at the same time. Mark’s target fell immediately, his visor burned through. But the heavy armor managed to absorb the worst of Eryn’s initial shot, and the troopers turned to engage their new targets. Only one of the troopers fired on his position, but he dove into the underbrush regardless. As he squirmed his way through the ferns, the trooper’s gunfire followed him, never quite getting it right. Mark lost track of the troopers in the river as he took cover until suddenly the gunfire directed his way ceased.

As he emerged from the undergrowth to see what was going on, he heard another trooper cry out and go down. The last trooper stopped firing for a moment and Mark’s camouflaged helmet emerged from cover just in time to see Corporal Clavin standing, soaking wet, amid the corpses of the troopers. He held a bloody combat knife in one hand and his DL-18 blaster pistol in the other.

“Hey, buddy!” Corporal Clavin fired his pistol into the faceplate of the final—very surprised—trooper and he went down. Glancing around into the undergrowth, Clavin waved the knife up in Mark’s direction. “I got the map!”

“That’s great,” Mark muttered under his breath, “now just don’t get us killed.” He emerged from the undergrowth, along with a wounded but alive Eryn Rachmi.

“Nice shooting, Corporal,” she grinned painfully down to the Corporal.

He shrugged and dipped the knife into the water. “Eh, it’s all just in a day’s work, really.”

Strike Team Specialist

“What are you talking about?” Mark hissed. If Dale Barnes had heard him setting his own trap, there was no way the troopers had missed the Corporal’s high-pitched, nasal voice in otherwise quiet woods. Yet here he was, following the Corporal through the underbrush. “We’ve been monitoring this area for the past thirty minutes, and they knew they had a scout stationed here.”

“Well, as it happens, Command issued me this handy new gadget. Very experimental, very secret. Downloads orbital images and generates a map of the region and follows your movements so you have an updated route to the enemy bunker.”

“Corporal Clavin, sir, we have GPS technology already… on civilized worlds. There’s no way you can map this area remotely.” The tension in Mark’s gut was starting to crawl up his back. He respected the chain of command, but he’d been in the middle of setting their trap! How could Aisling cover them out here?

The Corporal withdrew a small handheld device that looked like it’d been built into the casing of a communicator as they splashed into a slow-moving river. He’d taken them down the hill, perpendicular to the trooper patrol, and seemed to be making for an embankment on the opposite hillside where three trees grew into each other like a giant tilted teepee. But now that he seemed to have Mark’s attention, the short man stopped in the middle of the hip-deep water and turned to show off his gadget.

“How do you think we knew where the bunker was?” He seemed to be permanently squinting up at Mark from underneath his helmet and over the great moustache that shrunk his face. “You know, it’s a little-known fact that the, uh, Rebellion actually sent out probes to a number of backwater planets like this at the start of the war to identify planets where a base might have been established. So we, uh, actually have a surprising amount of data on planets such as this one. It’s why General Solo and Major Derlin have been able to get us towards the bunker in this otherwise monotonous forest. The entire shuttle crew was given one. Observe.” He reached out to show the device to Mark.

The woman who had arrived with Corporal Clavin—Eryn Rachmi—was grinning quietly to herself and rolling her eyes, but Dale Barnes suddenly snapped his arm out to stop the Corporal. His eyes were bright with concern. “Scatter!”

At once, Mark registered the ping on his communicator, Dale’s outstretched arm knocked the mapping device from Clavin’s hand, and Eryn shouldered her rifle. Aisling had just sent them the distress signal that meant only one thing: the troopers were onto them. Without any kind of decor or finesse, the entire group bolted up the two hillsides in different directions, each taking cover where they could find it. All except Corporal Clavin, who looked around rather foolishly and said, “Aw man, you dropped it!”

Much to everyone’s surprise, he took a big gulp of air and disappeared into the water after his device as seven scout troopers marched into the clearing, their rifles shouldered and ready to fire.

Major Bren Derlin

In the moment before Major Bren Derlin’s voice came softly over his communicator, Mark heard the rustle again from the forest. “Repeat, Gliesen, it sounded like you said company.”

Aisling was already halfway up the nearest tree, and Mark watched her hand signals as she indicated the approaching patrol. “Roger Major, seven scout troopers on foot. On… patrol? They… they haven’t seen us.”

“Affirmative, I’m sending reinforcements. Hold tight and set up an ambush if you can.”

“Understood.” Aisling tilted her head and Mark moved to the base of her tree. She slid down until they were within whispering range.

“They’re still a couple minutes away, but they’re not being terribly subtle. If they’re planning on meeting up with our local sentry, we might want to mine the bike.”

“Agreed. You think you can get to a sniper perch?”

Even from here, Mark could see the young woman’s indignant expression. “Please. You wish you were this good.” And with that, she was gone, using the grooves in the bark as if it were a ladder.

Mark drew his pistol and reached into his pack for the remote detonator they each carried. He’d only have a moment to place the mine before help arrived. He hurried across the field and slung the explosive into the bike’s undercarriage, priming the device and pulling the stationary hovering vehicle closer to the center of the clearing. He hoped that maybe they wouldn’t spot the dead trooper if he put distance between it and the bike… but there was no way to be sure.

He’d barely moved it more than a couple feet when he heard something emerging from the brush immediately behind him—the direction of the troopers. They were closer than Aisling expected? He glanced up into her tree but she had hidden herself too well. Blast it. Mark spun around, leveling his pistol, and it was sheer good luck that he didn’t pull the trigger.

“Don’t you dare shoot us, Gliesen,” growled a white-haired, scowling commando with a rifle tucked under his arm. “You’re obvious enough without resorting to blaster fire.”

“What’re you talkin’ about?” the Corporal turned to his companion. His short stature was almost comical. “He’s clearly makin’ sure we aren’t followed.” The third commando, a placid-faced woman with a long braid, glanced behind them just to be sure.

“We’re not followed,” the white-haired Dale Barnes eyed the clearing. “This is a terrible place for an ambush.”

Before Mark could respond, the Corporal butted in. “Fortunately I know the layout of the area. Follow me, and we’ll have ‘em!”

Leaked Message: Maarek Stele’s Future

Intercepted: Private message to Darth Vader from Emperor Palpatine
Regarding: Maarek Stele’s Future

I’m surprised it took you this long to sense it, Lord Vader. He has been rising in the ranks of my Secret Order ever since after the Battle of Hoth, when my prophets discovered him on the insignificant Outpost D-34. How else did you think that he could have piloted such a distinctive craft with skill nearly rivaling your own?

No, our newest hero is quite strong with the Force. Today’s ceremony will make sure the Navy knows what I expect of my pilots, and will reward the Colonel for rescuing me from the former Admiral Zaarin. But for Maarek Stele I have great plans. He is not just a talent, you know. Before we brought him into the fold he was one of those scum, wasting their time and effort on swoop races. Yet I have no doubt his Force ability is what made him so successful, and those racing skills have helped make him the pilot he is now. We will need every Force User we can get among our navy, if the so-called Rebel Alliance keeps finding recruits like the whelp that destroyed the Death Star.

That is why I have leveled my attention towards him, Lord Vader. Such powerful Force Users are rare finds among our Empire, and while Lumiya and Mara Jade are effective I find myself thinking that this ace pilot will make an excellent Hand of the Emperor. The Emperor’s Sword will be a potent weapon in the coming years, especially if the Colonel has been taught to hone his abilities with the Force and can serve me as my other Hands cannot. When our second Death Star is complete I will station him there, for I will need someone there to make sure the son of Skywalker and his accomplices cannot repeat their actions at Yavin. You are the Dark Lord of the Sith, but Maarek Stele shall be my Hand and the edge of my Sword.

Further messages blocked. Rerouting…

Playing as Maarek Stele

So what do you think? Now that you know who Maarek Stele is (with a trip down memory lane for those who played TIE Fighter back in the early ’90s), the question becomes: what can you do with him? First, on the off-chance that you missed them, let’s review what comes in the pod:

(Yes, I didn’t include the Heat of Battle in my fiction because it was a reprint and fitting in the title felt forced.)

The first thing to note is that this is not a Black Squadron set. Maarek Stele may be an ace pilot, but he’s not one of Vader’s ace pilots, so it doesn’t have that synergy with Vader’s TIE Advanced or Mauler Mithel. However, he does have plenty of other things in common with Mithel and Fel, which is that he’s a fantastic pilot to get on one of your Fighters. Dealing double damage to exhausted units and objectives is VERY significant, especially once you start finding units with extra blast damage (TIE Bomber, for example, or an unblocked TIE Advanced). Heck, an unblocked Bomber flown by Stele can one-shot an objective, unless they’re desperate enough that they just don’t use its resource, in which case you’re already winning. The best case, though, is to put him on a TIE Attack Squadron for maximum pain. Targeted strike means you can always hit for maximum damage on whoever you strike, plus the one-two blast damage (also doubled). I wouldn’t recommend running him out as a unit unless you’re desperate, but then he can also be three icons for the edge to get back with Stay on Target. And if you put him on something that likes to be piloted, like one of Soontir Fel’s 181st TIE Interceptors, then you’re getting some serious value.

I can see a lot of good things coming from putting Maarek Stele in the cockpit. So what about his ship? After all, he had a direct hand in its creation and then in its popularity when he rescued the Emperor from renegade Admiral Zaarin. The first thing I notice when I see Delta One is that it’s a four-cost unit with three health, three black combat icons, and a keyword ability. That’s pretty standard fare for a non-Yoda Main these days, since it doesn’t care about edge battles (and having Shielding means it really doesn’t care about edge battles). Two unit damage is average, though if you could “somehow” get more then you could make this a very strong defender (dohoho) if your opponent is cheeky enough to attack into this thing. But if you’re playing against vehicles, then this can cause some serious harm. Just this past weekend I was one of three people that were bringing the Rebel Swarm reckoning to our Store Championship, and man if Delta One was a lone blocker against a swarm of six X-Wings going after Trench Run it wouldn’t even be close. In that regard, you could consider that it has a bunch of Trait-dependent black tactics icons, because whether they’ve struck already or not this ship is going to focus them. And because it happens before the combat icons actually resolve, it can ensure that whoever you want to deal four (or more!) damage to is focused when a Maarek Stele-piloted Defender hits.

I said it would be sweet if you could get more unit damage onto Delta One, and Advanced Concussion Missiles is one way to do it. In a way it discourages your opponent for attacking or defending in swarms, since it can make you one-shot anything you strike, but a proper swarm actually doesn’t care much about losing a single unit to six unit damage. More likely it’ll discourage your opponent from attacking with multiple Mains, since even two Mains against Delta One + Concussion Missiles means one of them will most likely die. I think that’s a good thing.

That said, Concussion Missiles don’t have to go on Delta One. I can see them just as likely going on some chuddy TIE Scout to make them a scarier unit to block, or on a TIE Bomber to give them some unit damage, or even just on a unit you don’t want to die to Desperation. Or you could be me and put it on TIE Attack Squadron to really discourage your opponent from blocking. Or put it on Black Two for greater combat relevance. At the end of the day it’s a one-edge-icon, sometimes-relevant enhancement though, so it’s never going to be that good. But it does have a role, and I’m curious to see how it turns out.

Hand of the Emperor, I suspect, is what’s going to draw a lot of people to this objective set. It’s basically a 1-2 cost Seeds of Decay, without the “must be committed” restriction, and your opponent can’t use Twist as an answer (though they can use C-3PO, Counter-stroke, or Ferus Olin). If your opponent isn’t in a position to deal with it, you can quite easily blow them out by focusing their Main and then just going to town with unit damage. It also features my favorite kind of mechanic: a comeback mechanic! If you’re doing really poorly (ie, the LS has kept the Force and the Dial is low), it gets a discount. Granted it’s not hard for the Dial to get to 5, but if you can use this in the first couple turns to blow out a Main then you can get very far ahead.

A lot of this pod is dedicated to killing things, so it makes perfect sense for Heat of Battle to appear here. Use Heat when you’re defending with Delta One to kill an unprotected Main that foolishly attacked alone (thanks Hand of the Emperor!). Use it to pick off one defender while your attacker nukes another. I think the biggest weakness for this pod is going to be a lack of resources, which is why I don’t think it can be run without either Soontir Fel or Mauler Mithel (or both!), especially since both feature Stay on Target to help you get that Pilot back in his seat. The edge count for the set is actually pretty good, coming out at 9 total icons (that’s the same as Palpatine, for those at home), and if you’re running 2-4 Stay on Target then you can pretty safely use Maarek in an edge battle without fear of losing him forever.

If this were a release review, I’d point out that there are one-to-two units with a single blast, one-to-two units with two unit damage each (plus an enhancement and a fate card), no resource, and no tactics. Then I’d grade it and give it a B-. I don’t know that it’ll have more than one or two homes, but it should do a great job in those homes.

And now, a decklist that I’m going to try once this expansion drops:

Wipe Them Out

  • 2x The Emperor’s Sword
  • 2x The Empire’s Elite
  • 2x Black Squadron Formation
  • 2x Defense Protocol
  • 2x Agent of the Emperor

The goal of this deck should be clear: Use Delta One and Black Two to cause trouble and get in your opponent’s way while Mara Jade and TIE Attack Squadron get in there with targeted strike. The plan is very proactive and should do a decently good job killing your opponent’s units while you also kill their objectives. Maarek Stele does a good job at both tasks, Black Two helps keep your important vehicles alive, and Soontir Fel just gets in the way. I’m looking forward to having two TIE Interceptors in play, one with Soontir Fel and one with Maarek Stele, giving me six free icons to the Force struggle.

Good times!

Worlds 2015 Day Two Recap

If you thought yesterday was intense… so was today!

It technically started with the deck-check, but it really started with the first round, when I was put up against Zach Bunn, a pillar of the community and a very good player when he does his preparation, which he definitely did for this tournament. Not only did I not want to be up against such a difficult opponent (though basically everyone at this point would be a difficult opponent), but I have a ton of respect for Zach, and having to knock him into the loser’s bracket in the first round of the cut wasn’t something that I was looking forward to. Obviously he could just as likely knock me down too… but my plan was to win. As the higher seed, he got to choose his side, and given how much he worked on his dark side deck, he naturally chose dark side. Fortunately for me, I had worked just as hard on my Jedi deck (specifically to beat Navy), and as I would have chosen light side given the choice, we began the matchup. He got a few shielding ships early on, as his deck does, but I had a turn-zero Yoda, You Seek Yoda (before he deployed his turn-one Customs Blockade) so I was able to defend, hold the Force, and quite effectively not die thanks to a double The Survivors on the flop. Then Luke came down, and with a turn-one discarded lightsaber, he was able to nuke objectives even through the Tarkin Doctrines that of course Zach had gotten. With a pretty even matchup, both of us got to two dead objectives, the dial at 8, and then time got called. I wasn’t super surprised—both of us were playing very deliberately because it was the top cut and a difficult matchup for both of us. But when I took my last turn, I already had the Force so I only needed to pass to the end of my turn and win off of the 0.25 point tiebreaker for controlling the Force at the end of my turn. That said, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything so I put a good 3-4 damage on his objectives just to get the extra tiebreaker points. I could have easily won properly if I hadn’t had a brainfart and attacked into a fully-equipped Stormtrooper Assault Team after I’d already used both of my Survivors triggers, which immediately killed Luke. But Yoda sat on the Force the whole game, killed star destroyers and tactics’ed other ones, and managed to win me the game with tiebreakers.

It felt bad, given the tiebreakers favor the light side and I was knocking Zach into the loser’s bracket, but that put me one step towards the finals. My next game started with a turn-one double-Decimator with Imperial Entanglements and when Todd (my opponent) played Rahn, didn’t attack and committed him to the Force (despite having May the Force Be With You and The Survivors to make the attack basically free), I let him build up some damage, reflected it with Colonel Yularen and The Imperial Fist, and crushed him with an Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer.

The third round was the sad one, though it should have been exciting because I was paired up against one of my main teammates, Tom Melucci, and we were on-camera! I enjoy playing on camera, though apparently my record of streamed matches is pretty miserable. As I’d played both sides, I was put on Light Side for this matchup. I should have been able to cream him, given I knew the matchup against Black Sun Sith was strong, but he got a turn-one Zekka Thyne and all my resources (Owen Lars and R2-D2) were both units. I still played Yoda with Shien Training, deploying most of my hand, and against the advice of basically everyone online I attacked into the Zekka, got a couple random damages, and nuked the board. It was awkward, of course, but necessary because with the only sources of damage-free tactics in the deck being on Twi’lek Loyalist and Speeder Bike, there was almost no way I could maneuver him into a position where Zekka was locked out forever. If I’d been on a slower, Yoda-and-Kyle deck like I’d played last year, maybe it would have been viable but if I waited and tried to play around Zekka, he would have only killed more units. Of course, in retrospect I absolutely should have waited until the next turn because my next hand was completely blank, but all things being equal I needed to detonate Zekka as early as possible so that I didn’t have to worry about him for the rest of the game. I knew there was only one in the deck, after all, and once he was dead then that was it.

Then I drew a hand with Owen and a bunch of enhancements and events. I did the only thing you can do—attack with Owen, cycle your hand, and hope for something better next time. Basically starting the game with the Dial at five is pretty scary, but my next hand had Owen, Luke, and his lightsaber, so I could easily have gotten back into the game. Unfortunately I’ve played as Guri a lot but basically never played against her, so I didn’t think about Threat Removal. With The Survivors on the board, two lightsabers in hand, and a fairly weak board across the table, I could easily have gotten into the game. If only I’d actually done what I was considering and put the lightsaber down during deployment, but ignoring that Threat Removal exists, there was actually nothing in his deck that could have punished me for being greedy with edging the lightsabers. Of course, the one card that could have wrecked me at that point was the one in his hand, and once I lost Luke to the Threat Removal the game was basically over.

Losing that quickly, on camera, against a friend, with decently bad luck was rough, but I bounced back and found myself once again paired against Zach Bunn in the loser’s bracket. Now that we were both in the top 8, I no longer cared about knocking him out of the tournament to attempt to win it, because dammit I got second place last year and the only way to improve was to get first. As it happens, the RNG gods were not with me. I started out a little slow, but otherwise fine for my Jedi deck. Yoda was in play, the Dial was at 5, and he had to either attack into me and get destroyed or let me set up my big turn with Luke, Red Five, or Luke’s Landspeeder. Unfortunately with a Death Squadron Star Destroyer already on the board, he got the god-draw. Ion Cannon on the star destroyer meant I needed to win the edge battle for Yoda to do anything, something I couldn’t do with what was in my hand, and even if I had been able to do so, he had two Forward Command Posts and two Tractor Beams to detonate all three of my objectives with a five-blast unit. The Empire Strikes Back ended the game, and my presence in the tournament.

It was sad to not make it to the finals, but I at least got Top 8 and was able to trade the clear acrylic commitment cards for the 2014 Nationals commitment tokens that I love so much, and I got to hang out with JP and Andy Hornby while we watched Tom Melucci, my friend and teammate, win his way into the finals, where he would go up against fellow Sith player and all-around great guy David Tietze and expertly play his great draws to a clean victory.

Then began the long process of hunting down all the Top 16 contestants to interview them (I got all but 3), and the many celebrations for the new World Champion, Tom!

~Dav Flamerock

Worlds 2015 Day One Recap

Day One Recap

What a day! After a few stressful incidents involving lost important items (I left my laptop at the Chipotle where we got lunch @_@), I managed to pull out a solid ninth-place finish, with the only record I could have managed and still made top sixteen. It was a blast and very interesting to see how the metagame shook out, as I was expecting to see lots of Thrawn but most of my opponents were basically on the same mono-Navy dark side list I was running, involving Grand Moff Tarkin, Colonel Yularen, and the Chimaera. I even went into the event thinking that Deploy the Fleet was super cool secret tech, and I’ve seen so many giant star destroyers that I’m thinking everybody decided to go the “race the Jedi” route that’s been doing so well for me. Both my decks won five of the seven rounds, and while much of it was thanks to some lucky draws, there were definitely a few rounds where the games became a slog and I had to play to specific outs, or hope that my opponent attacked into Yoda so he could kill someone and tactics someone else to eliminate defenders. Obviously it turned out well for me!

I don’t remember the games well enough to go into them in-depth, but I was a little surprised to see that Jedi, which was omnipresent, was actually a bit favored in the Jedi/Navy matchup. Certainly if either player drew poorly they would lose, but because the Jedi decks had tricks and could put away objectives fast when they eventually drew their Mains, I was able to weasel my way out of more than one difficult matchup. The Navy decks, on the other hand, really either needed an excellent objective flop or the ability to end the game before the Jedi decks got their feet under them (unless they drew all their gas right away). The first few rounds I found myself up against mono-Jedi decks that I could put away with Death Squadron Star Destroyers or against mono-Sith decks that, while sometimes effective, weren’t prepared with how fast I could put a game away. I saw more than one game end with The Empire Strikes Back.

In the second round, I was sad to find myself matched up against friend and occasional teammate Scott Egan, with whom I was rooming and who I had just helped convince to run the same decks as me, meaning we were in exactly the 20-pod mirror-match. It was something I’d obviously tested but had never expected to see, partially because I didn’t want to get paired up against a friend and partially because I didn’t think Deploy the Fleet would have such a strong showing. As the Jedi decks we were both running were tuned to beat Navy, it came as no surprise that we split Jedi victories.

In the third round, just before lunch, I was paired against Javier Perez piloting a Mono-Sith Arden Lyn deck and a traditional mono-Jedi deck. These were by far the best games of the tournament for me, starting with a slow start in which Yularen reflected SEVEN points of damage and softened up his objectives so that my Star Destroyers could blast through his only defender in a Moment of Triumph and win the game. Then, after I’d blitzed to two dead objectives and four damage on the last one, meaning I needed only one more point of blast damage to win, he was able to nuke every Main I put out with Give In To Your Anger and awesome pulls off the top. Ultimately it was R2-D2 who defended the final attack that would have won him the game so I could drop Seeds of Decay on his Darth Vader and turn off the final two points of blast damage… and he had only one card left in his deck!

First thing after lunch, I found myself paired against Mick, and while I was excited because we’re friends, I quickly learned that the horrors were only beginning. I don’t think I necessarily made many play mistakes, despite my high levels of stress (at this point I thought I’d lost my laptop and my keys!), but an otherwise ordinary matchup against mono-Jedi went downhill fast when, in one turn, he slammed down Asteroid Base, Asteroid Base, Native Support, and I realized he was on exactly the same list he had piloted last year, albeit with Luke Skywalker instead of the infamous Trench Run. Despite the errata that neutered the Asteroid Bases, the game didn’t last long after that. Then, when we switched sides, I found myself once again up against a turn-one Mara Jade… and once again I countered with Shadows Luke. Needless to say, the people spectating our match were entertained. Even though Luke came down alongside a turn-one Yoda (thanks, Owen Lars!), I wasn’t able to punch through Mara Jade and he eventually ran me over. Splashing  Yularen into Sith makes a lot of sense, and I expect to go down that road myself in the future, but what surprised me was splashing Tarkin into the deck. When he had two copies of turn-one Enforced Loyalty, though, it meant that not only was I on a clock, his two Stormtrooper Assault Teams were free to run over my units alongside Mara Jade. Mick was the only person who swept me, thankfully, but it was pretty insane to almost exactly relive my finals defeats from last year.

In the fifth round I went up against Matt Kohls, and considering how well he and his team has historically done in this game, I was rightfully worried. As it turned out, we ended up splitting with almost identical games: First-turn Needa powered out a fleet of giant Capital Ships and neither Jedi deck could quite get past Tarkin/Imperial Blockade and they both ended up getting run over. In my sixth and seventh rounds, my dark side games were pretty laughable, as poor LS draws were unable to turn off my Enforced Loyalty, and two copies of A Hero’s Journey died nearly just by being on the table against Yularen’s objective. Round Six opponent Kyle Roach drew poorly as Navy, though my Jedi deck didn’t give him the chance to draw out of his mire, and while the final game against Nate Ferraro was tight, I turned my turn-two dead hand of double I Am A Jedi (on an unkillable Yoda) into a solid resource that enabled me to pay for 12 resources worth of cards to get exactly the blast I needed to win the turn before he finished me off.

In looking back at the Top 16 results, I had pretty poor strength of schedule, so if I had lost either of the games against Nate Ferraro (a very tight match, as both of us are more than good enough at this game to make the cut) I wouldn’t have made it. I always hate being in the win-and-in seat, as invariably I end up getting paired against someone who’s at least as good as me and equally deserves to make the cut, but unless both players are at the top of the Swiss standings, even a split usually won’t get one or even both of the players through. What that means is that I really do need to win every game, both this year and last year, even if that means that I need to knock out an equally-skilled and qualified player as myself. But then I suppose that’s what you get for going to the World Championships, yeah? Next year I clearly need to win every game in the Swiss so the last round doesn’t affect my chances at all 😛

See you in the top cut!
~Dav Flamerock

Worlds 2015 Player Profiles

Johnny Shen

Online Identity: No, I’m actually not online on any of the forums.

Location: Houston, Texas

Occupation: I’m in IT

Playtest Team: I played on OCTGN a few times before this thing, but that’s about it. I get off too late to play at any of the game stores, so… I just moved there about six months ago.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: This is it!

Your Light Side Deck: What everybody else is playing, so Jedi.

How it did in the Swiss: It did okay… People playing Navy right now like to play really aggressive, but they need to be really careful because most people play two pods that have [content_tooltip id=”4765″ title=”SWLCG – Fate – Protection (Light)”], so you need to take that into account when you go in for the final blow and make sure they can’t swing back and win.

Your Dark Side Deck: Kinda what everybody else is playing, except I wanted to play Vader since I was getting a promo for it. It has Tarkin and Yularen like everybody else, which you can use to deal with a lot of cards that you otherwise can’t deal with.

How it did in the Swiss: It did okay, I think I had two losses? I think my light side deck didn’t lose, but it had a tie.

Other Games You Play: Game of Thrones 2.0 looks pretty good, I think they did a good job. I played 1.0 okay.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: Probably Luke. He’s the underdog, the hero you root for, and he’s a really good card in the LCG.

Matt Wehner

(Could not be reached for interview)

Mick Cipra

Online Identity: Mac Rauri (but not on CardGameDB)

Location: Western Suburbs of the Twin Cities, Minnesota

Occupation: High School Math Teacher

Playtest Team: Shad and Nick, but when we play against each other we never get any practice with the high-calibre decks; whenever Shad and I play each other it’s always, like, Rancors vs Capital Ships, and they’re really intense and high level games that aren’t at all what the meta is going to be like, period. But that flexibility in thinking about weird situations is useful.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: 2014 World Champion, Runner-Up at the very first Regional (May the Force Be With You), Worlds Top 16 for three years, several Regional victories over the last three years.

Your Light Side Deck: Trench Run. It was last year’s Trench Run deck but with Luke.

How it did in the Swiss: It went 5-2, but it petered out in the later games against the giant capital ships with lots of blast, shields, and five health. Also, Asteroid Base is evidently limit once per turn?

Your Dark Side Deck: The power Navy cards (Tarkin and Yularen), with double Emperor and then a toolbox of Vader, Mara, Counsel, and Sate. Putting Tarkin in a Sith shell is really wonky at times, but sometimes you flip into a second Navy objective and Mara and double Stormtrooper Assault Teams go nuts. It was interesting seeing what version of the deck showed up in each match.

How it did in the Swiss: I went 5-1-1 with it, and the game that went to time was mine to be had.

Other Games You Play: I’m dabbling in Thrones 2.0, but the pacing of it is really different from Star Wars, so I need to re-learn a bunch of things. It’s exciting to see something so different.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: My mother will not let this go: when I was really young, like four years old, she got Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope from the library, put it in the VHS, and it was going to babysit me. Five minutes later, she comes back and I’m bawling. She comes in, like “Mr. Michael, Mr. Michael, what’s wrong?” and C-3PO and R2-D2 have had a fight, and they’re walking separate directions, and they’re never going to see each other again. That was just traumatic to me.

John Heath-Clark

Online Identity: JackOfHearts

Location: New York City

Occupation: I work at a board game store in NYC, The Uncommons. I act, I write, I’m an itinerant artist. I just finished a seven-episode radio play, writing the first draft. It’s been seven months, and we’re finally getting into producing it. It’s really exciting.

Playtest Team: There’s six of us here from New York. Two of us placed, and a third person was seventeenth seed. Everybody performed really well, above 35th place.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: I won the Maryland Regional this year. I also got second place in two 2013 Regionals, to Scotty and to Chris (tierdial).

Your Light Side Deck: It’s a Luke-less Jedi deck about forcing you to attack into me via Leia and punishing you for it as hard as possible. Between Qu Rahn, Shadows Obi-Wan, Yoda, and T’ra Saa. I was figuring we were going to see a lot of large threat removal out in the field, so I wanted to put in as many blast damages that weren’t on Lukes and Yodas as possible. So I ran all four Lost Masters, Sulon Sympathizers… I think the only units in the deck that didn’t have objective damage were Nudjs and Ewoks.

How it did in the Swiss: I lost one game with it in the Swiss.

Your Dark Side Deck: My Dark Side deck was a hyper-aggressive Star Destroyer deck that used our “secret tech” Sabotage on the Snow, using the [content_tooltip id=”3719″ title=”SWLCG – Enhancement – Forward Command Post”]s to make our Death Squadron Star Destroyers blow objectives up if unopposed, or with two FCPs even if it’s opposed. It could often win on turn three, usually by turn four. And Tarkin’s pod and Needa’s objective could brutally slow down the opponent in such a way that they couldn’t compete with the rush of Star Destroyers.

How it did in the Swiss: I lost three games with it in the Swiss. My teammates who are running the same deck actually did better with it in the Swiss than I did. I also had the highest strength of schedule of everyone in the Swiss. I played many of the people in the Top 16 in the Swiss.

Other Games You Play: I was a competitive Thrones 1 player, but I’ve decided to focus my competitive LCG time on Star Wars. I’m also a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game; it’s like a religious experience to me.

Other Game Accomplishments: I won Red Saturday 2013, which at the time was the largest tournament New York had hosted. It had about 40 players.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: My favorite Star Wars character is Grand Admiral Thrawn. And my favorite scene is from Heir to the Empire, when Captain Pellaeon is asking him about the art that he’s reviewing, and Thrawn says, “Of all the art I’ve ever reviewed, of all the civilizations, this is the one that I never got an insight into. And I think I finally got it.” And Pellaeon says, “Well that’ll prove useful someday.” And Thrawn says, “No, I exterminated them a long time ago.”

Quentin de Vaucresson

Online Identity: Elwe

Location: North-West France, in Brittany

Occupation: I’m an accountant

Playtest Team: No, I just came with friends playing Game of Thrones.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: French National Champion, 2015

Your Light Side Deck: I was playing Jedi, like most of the people, because it’s the strongest and can beat every deck. It’s the most stable of the light side decks at the moment.

How it did in the Swiss: It was 5-2.

Your Dark Side Deck: I played Navy, with Tarkin, Yularen, and lots of Capital Ships.

How it did in the Swiss: Also 5-2, like my light side deck.

Other Games You Play: Other than playing card games, I play board games and roleplaying games. But Game of Thrones is my main game. I play more Game of Thrones than Star Wars, even if I win more in Star Wars than I do in Thrones.

Other Game Accomplishments: I was French National Champion in Game of Thrones in 2011, and European Champion of Lord of the Rings TCG in 2004. I also helped playtest Game of Thrones Second Edition.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: Yoda

Nathanael Tripp

Online Identity: Ketricel

Location: North Carolina

Occupation: I run a small business called GamerPlastic, 3D printing making Imperial Assault tokens, Death Star Dials, things like that. And I work part-time in IT engineering at a furniture company.

Playtest Team: I tested a lot with Tom Melucci and Matt Brown. I’m kinda on an island out in North Carolina, there’s not that many people out there, so the online community is kinda my playtest group.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: I got 8th last year at Worlds, 19th at GenCon, and scrubbed out of a bunch of other ones. But usually I’m TOing and Judging, so I often don’t get to play.

Your Light Side Deck: Jedi Aggro-control. Leia has been an all-star, and Moldy Crow is awesome with Unfinished Business.

How it did in the Swiss: 6-1?

Your Dark Side Deck: It’s all about Heat of Battles, and killing everything. Vader, Zekka, Guri… the whole crew.

How it did in the Swiss: 4-3, but the three losses were all really close.

Other Games You Play: I play Imperial Assault, I’m getting into Game of Thrones Second Edition. That’s pretty much it… money is tight even if I’d like to play more.

Other Game Accomplishments: I made Top 16 in Imperial Assault at GenCon.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: My favorite scene is in a book, actually, in one of the Rogue Squadron books. Wedge is flying around in a black suit, holding an Ewok toy and pretending to be an Ewok pilot to try to throw people off. It’s great!

Dante DeMille

Online Identity: Utinni

Location: DC Area (Virginia)

Playtest Team: Rick and Mike. I play with Jason Lloyd also, but he couldn’t make it.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: I made Top 16 at Nationals the past two years, and the top cut in every Regional I’ve played in.

Your Light Side Deck: Jedi/Smuggler: Falcon with Rahn, Leia, Core Luke and Yoda.

How it did in the Swiss: 6-1

Your Dark Side Deck: Navy. It’s basically Tarkin, Thrawn, Chimaera, Yularen, Repair & Refurbish, and Death & Despayre.

How it did in the Swiss: 4-3, but two of the games I lost were really close.

Other Games You Play: I play StarRealms a lot, but sometimes I hate it. They have an app on the phone, so it’s really easy to play. I want to quit all the time, but then I keep on playing. Competitively, nothing else; I play board games a lot.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: I like Mara, of course. She’s fantastic. Maybe my favorite is Wedge, though. I like Wedge Antilles.

Zach Bunn

Online Identity: ZachBunn

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Occupation: CEO of Team Covenant

Playtest Team: The main people I playtest with are Jessie Aiken, Kendall Bright, and Dennis Harley. That’s the core of the people at the store. There’s other people too, I don’t want to leave names out, but I in particular playtested against Jessie and Kendall. Kendall never makes it out to these big events, but he should because he’s one of the best Star Wars players ever. I highly regard him, and he really helped me hone my decks, and practice, and see everything.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: Top 16 at the first Nationals, though I haven’t played Nationals since then. I got Top 16 at the first Worlds, Top 8 at the second Worlds, and I got third this year.

Your Light Side Deck: The basic premise is that I was running Smugglers into Jedi, and I was really testing the theory that I wrote a blog post about a few years ago about running a lot of one-ofs. So I’m running two May the Force Be With You and eight one-ofs. Han, Falcon, Gamor, Luke, Rahn, Secret of Yavin 4, Obi-Wan (wolfmen), and Owen.

How it did in the Swiss: I lost twice with it in the Swiss, but in the Top 16 I played my first game as Dark against Tyler, and I lost. So I had to play Light in the second game… I won that game. I had to play Light in the third game… I won that game. I had to play Light in the fourth game, because we were both 2-1… and I won that game. So I knocked three people out with my light side deck in the top cut.

Your Dark Side Deck: So Imperial Entanglements came out, and Tarkin’s super good, so it was very obvious early on. I was trying Tarkin with Sith, Tarkin and Thrawn with Sith, did that whole thing, trying Sith, and I just couldn’t get it. And actually the deck I was most scared of was Rebels, which I ended up seeing in the Top 4. Rebels are really good. Until Tarkin came out, I think Rebels were the bomb. I couldn’t beat them with Sith, I couldn’t beat them with Scum… Kendall was running this Rebel Vehicle deck against me and I couldn’t beat it. Literally, like twenty games in a row, it wasn’t even close, and I knew what it did. Then Tarkin came out, and Rebel Vehicles were still really good, but his two-cost event is a problem for them, he’s a problem because he can blank Defense of Yavin 4, and you have Rule by Fear and Blockade. So I knew Tarkin was the right call because I thought Rebel Vehicles were scary unless you were running Tarkin. I was on some weird deck, and then Kendall brought a Star Destroyer deck to test, and he rolled me. He rolled me hard. The reality is that Jedi struggle against Star Destroyers, because they have a lot of health and they have shields. Jedi don’t do more than one damage in a normal attack: Luke’s really the only guy and his Speeder. They struggle, especially early on, to do more than one damage at a time, so with a shield on an objective they can’t really do anything. But then we played it against the Rebel deck and the Rebel deck could still outrace it sometimes. It was about 50-50, and he was running pure Star Destroyers. After a late playtesting session I was like, “What if we put Tarkin in?” Because I was literally looking through all the cards looking for an answer. Like, we just need a couple answers to Rebels, and I’m good. Between Tarkin and his two-cost event, the answers are there. So yeah, that’s where we ended up landing: Star Destroyers with Tarkin in it. I think Imperial Entanglements, the objective, is highly underrated. The extra unit damage is on every single engagement, and only for you. It doesn’t seem like that big of a big deal, but it is so much extra damage over the course of the game. That and Forward Command Post, the 2-1 resource that gives your shielded guys objective damage, are the two MVPs (the non-obvious MVPs). I’m a big fan of those.

How it did in the Swiss: Really good, I lost one game. It’s the kind of thing where if you can get Tarkin’s objective and Imperial Blockade, and anything with shielding on the first turn (which is like all of your deck), it’s a problem. And if you get that with Rule By Fear on turn one, it’s really bad. The deck has that option where you almost get an auto-win. On the flip side, you’re never out of the game. Jedi are slow, so if you get some shields out, it’s going to take Jedi so long to win that I don’t really need that much more control.

Other Games You Play: I play a lot of games. The game I play next most is Imperial Assault, and X-Wing is somewhere in there. It’s kind of a mood I get in. Those are the top three, and they rotate out. But yeah, when new stuff comes out for Imperial Assault I’m on that for a while.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: The obvious answer is Darth Vader. He’s been my favorite since I was a kid. But if you exclude Darth Vader, because I don’t think that’s fair, then Ahsoka. I’m a really big Ahsoka fan, the last couple seasons of Clone Wars are incredible, and her showing back up in Rebels was the greatest thing. I’m super pumped to see her and Vader’s story arcs collide, because it’s going to happen and I’m excited. If we ever get Ahsoka in this game, I will be the happiest person. If I ever win a World Championship, I’m going to push so hard for an Ahsoka card. Hopefully next year I can actually get the job done.

Tyler Parrott

Online Identity: DavFlamerock

Location: Central Massachusetts

Occupation: Veterinary Lab Technician

Playtest Team: My main playtest partners were the New England team, so Tom Melucci, Nick Harrison, Jaime Jillett, Giacomo… but while I was testing with Nick and Jaime, Tom was testing over Skype with the guys in the UK so they contributed to the preparation too.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: Second place at Worlds 2014. I’d have done better at Regionals if I hadn’t insisted on playing janky dark side decks that were less powerful and more fun.

Your Light Side Deck: Mono-Jedi Aggro started pretty straightforward and didn’t actually change much. The explosive potential that Owen provides allows blast-heavy Jedi decks the capability to really punish a Dark Side player that focuses more on setting up future turns rather than putting out effective defenders on the first turn. Yoda gives the deck some defensive strength so that it doesn’t get outraced by Star Destroyers, but really it wants to do as much blast as possible thanks to Luke’s multi-striking ability, Red Five and Luke’s Landspeeder just having lots of blast, and Force Rejuvenation and Unfinished Business getting extra strikes on turns when your opponent’s run out of blockers.

How it did in the Swiss: 5-2, losing to Sith with Yularen and a strong mono-Navy Star Destroyer opening.

Your Dark Side Deck: Yularen is stupid. Being able to simultaneously heal your objectives while damaging your opponent’s objectives sets your opponent back so much while setting yourself so far forward is almost impossible to get around without crazy amounts of blast damage (like what Tom, Scotty, and I were bringing). Tarkin’s objective can almost win games on its own, though the whole set comes with some exceptional versatility. Otherwise, the deck mostly just wants to have enough blast to end the game before Jedi decks can get back in the game if they stumble early or overextend. I didn’t want to include the Decimators, but having Ion Cannon and Customs Blockade seem too important to lose.

How it did in the Swiss: Also 5-2, losing to Jedi Shields and the Jedi deck my team designed to beat this Navy deck.

Other Games You Play: I dabble in lots of games, though I’d say my primary games are Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Thrones 2.0, and Halo: Fleet Battles. Star Wars is the only one I play competitively, though I competed in the last Call of Cthulhu World Championships (even if I’m a casual player at heart).

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: Kyle Katarn, of course! Ironically Kanan Jarrus is the next choice, and I realize he’s basically the reincarnation of Kyle as the new generation of Scoundrel Jedi. I grew up on Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight so basically all of those characters (Jan, Rahn, the Moldy Crow, Jerec, Sariss, Boc, Gorc, Pic, Maw, and Yun) hold a special place in my heart.

David Tietze

Online Identity: GreedoShotFirst

Location: Dallas, Texas

Occupation: I’m a sports medicine doctor.

Playtest Team: Most of my team couldn’t make it. But Matt Kreideweis is in it, and he’s here. My main playtest partner Steven unfortunately couldn’t make it, but maybe it is fortunately since he’s on his honeymoon. And Jason, Ryan, all those guys have been sending text updates to me, because they’re happy for me. Of course I wouldn’t be anywhere near this table if I didn’t have them pushing me, encouraging me, and beating the crap out of me every time. It makes you better, you know?

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: I’ve only been playing the game for close to a year and a half, so… I actually started out playing this game drunk on Wednesday nights. Trust me, you don’t forget what cards do when you’re drunk. Now it’s ingrained in my subconscious.

Your Light Side Deck: Honestly, I can’t take credit for it. Jason, in my playtest group, is the one that came up with it. He noticed when the T’ra Saa pod came out, there would be a lot of synergy with things like Core Obi-Wan, where you’re increasing your card draw all the time. The only difference I made was he had BtS Luke and I wanted Core Luke for the extra resource. What’s great about May the Force Be With You is you have that event with T’ra Saa’s pod to move a Force card, with the Fate card, so when you can swing a couple times with the Crow you can do a ton of damage.

How it did in the Swiss: I think it was about half and half. I think I was 9-4-1… I lost pretty evenly on both sides, I either swept or got swept. So it was either 5-2 or 4-2-1.

Your Dark Side Deck: I’m a big fan of Sith. The Core Triumvirate was always Counsel, Vader, and Palpatine, but ever since Plan of the Prophetess came out I really love the pod. It’s something to be said when the worst card in the pod is the Main. And the main has a black tactics icon, which is great. Plus it’s got the Force Resource, which is great for Sith.

How it did in the Swiss: It did pretty well, same as my light side. Obviously my dark side has one more loss than my light side (in the finals), but you know.

Other Games You Play: I just picked up Game of Thrones Second Edition. Star Wars will always be my one, I think, but it’s a strong two.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: Honestly, probably Vader. It’s the easy answer, since the movies are all centered around him, but just the whole concept of him being the embodiment of the Force, and he ultimately redeems himself. It’s a cool story.

Nathan Nuhring

Online Identity: Nuhring

Location: Minneapolis, MN—now I reside in West Palm Beach, FL

Occupation: Account Manager

Playtest Team: Including Worlds, I have only played around 50 games.  I started playing May of 2015.  I playtested a few games with a friend prior to the event.  Also played with a few people at the FFG game center on Tues/Wed before Worlds.

Your Light Side Deck: I ran a standard Jedi list with MTFBWY, Core Luke, Rahn, Watchers, and A Hero’s Beginning. Played 2 Kyle Pods which underperformed both days.  I chose Kyle’s pod for Rahn’s Guidance and high Force Icons for edge battles. In both Swiss and top 16, games where I stared with MTFBWY in play I won and those I did not, I lost.

How it did in the Swiss: 3-4

Your Dark Side Deck: Started with the 6 Sith Control pods, along with one Mara, one Thrawn, and two Enforced Loyalty.  I decided to play this deck at 1am the night before Worlds without ever testing it.  I had played the Navy deck a few times and watched several games where Enforced Loyalty was getting free wins.  Outside of the objective, I believed the ability to ‘drain 2’ was too good to pass on.  Mithel has a tactics and 3 health for 2 and can shut down Luke’s Landspeeder.  While the pod is strong, the best card in it is Mouse Droid.  Why not run 4 Counsel of the Siths? Similar to my LS games where I drew 2+ Counsel of Sith/Mouse Droid/Fall of the Jedi, I won, games where I did not, I lost.

How it did in the Swiss: 6-0-1, and I would have won on the following turn when we went to time.

Other Games You Play: I have been playing MtG since 1997, although I don’t play it much any more. I started collecting Decipher SWCCG when it was released and have played many of the dead CCG games from 98-2006.

Matthew Davey

(Could not be reached for interview)

Thomas Melucci

Online Identity: Ozrix on CardgameDB

Location: Rhode Island

Occupation: Software Engineer

Playtest Team: Tyler (Dav) and Giacomo (Geki) from my local group.  Over Skype I tested with Nate (Ketricel), Matt Brown, and all the guys from the UK; Andy (fullyops), John-Paul, Anton (darthbs), and Neil.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: Finished #2 at US Nationals 2015, Finished Top 16 at US Nationals and Worlds 2014.

Your Light Side Deck: All aggro, all the time.  Every choice I made was about the potential damage the cards could do, expecting I would have to rush versus Navy.  I started with a base of 2x MTFBWY Yoda and 2x A Hero’s Beginning. I really wanted the landspeeder to get around Tarkin Doctrine and Owen gave me some burst economy that could set up first turns with two mains.  I knew I would play two Lukes but I usually choose which based on if I need the resources, and in this case I definitely wanted to be on BTS Luke.  I opted for 2x The Survivors over including a 1x Secret of Yavin VI.  I feel like these 2 pods share the same slot and I only want 2 total, and while Secret has a ton of good utility, The Survivors has a resource, blast, rejuv and Rahn’s Reaction.  We decided to play Mystics basically to shut down Thrawn, but also they just handle any 1 tactics unit so well.  And we finished off the deck with Red 5, which has an amazing resource, and a bunch of other very aggro cards.

How it did in the Swiss: My decks did just fine in the Swiss, but not amazing.  I didn’t write down the win/loss ratio for each but I think they were about equal.  I was 13th in the standings at the end of Swiss.  Both decks played really well in the finals.

Your Dark Side Deck: The morning of the tournament I settled on Black Sun Sith.  The core was obvious, 2x Palp, 2x Vader, 2x Guri with at least 1x Zekka.  I wanted to start Sith affiliation since the objectives I wanted to keep were Guri and Zekka’s but there wasn’t 5 Scum pods that I wanted.  I decided to start Scum. I really wanted 2x Zekka, but I’ve always preferred a 7/3 split over 6/4.  I wanted 2x Counsel of the Sith for the card draw and the Twists.  Most LS decks I had tested and tested against weren’t running Twists, which to me meant their value was even higher on the DS. This left one slot left, which I decided to use Mara.  In our testing we had actually been running a 6/4 version with no Counsel and 2x Zekka and 2x Mara.  I think both versions have their own strengths but the Counsels helped a lot.

How it did in the Swiss: Same as above, ok in Swiss but great in finals.

Other Games You Play: For other LCGs, I play Android: Netrunner, Game of Thrones 2.0 and Lord of the Rings (although obviously this isn’t competitive).  I also play a ton of different board games, I probably own over 200.  Some of my favorites include Eldritch Horror, Caverna, and Terra Mystica.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: Han and Chewie were definitely always my favorite characters.

Leopold Hess

Online Identity: I don’t think I’m registered on any of the English-speaking forums.

Location: I spent most of my adult life in Krakow, Poland. But I live in the Netherlands now, actually, I work at the University in Nijmegen.

Occupation: I’m a philosopher. Right now I do stuff that’s more like linguistics than philosophy, but it’s the philosophy of language. I did a little bit of teaching during my PhD program, but now it’s all research.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: I’ve placed in the Top 4 in a few major events in Poland, like Regionals. I wasn’t there for the Nationals this year, and I was like 10th or something in Nationals last year.

Your Light Side Deck: It’s a twist on the Rebel Swarm deck. The first idea was to have Rogue Squadron X-Wings with Breaking the Blockade to go nuts with removing focus tokens from them and having as many pilots as I can fit into the deck. Then I thought, “What I want with that is [content_tooltip id=”6272″ title=”SWLCG – Enhancement – Resupply Depot”].” Since I’m going to strike so many times with a single unit, each icon I can add makes a world of difference. And then I was just thinking about what else to add to that, so Defense of Yavin 4 is an obvious choice for the money, since you’re running really low on resources in this deck. And having the Command and Control objective, I thought it would be nice to include the Blockade Runner to try to destroy an objective on the first turn to have an increased reserve value. It actually did work for me in at least three games in this event. One of them I ultimately lost, but…

How it did in the Swiss: It did really good. I forget now if it was 5-2 or 4-3, and the only problem it had which was really common in this event was Tarkin. Tarkin himself is pretty annoying with blanking pilots and making them fall off, but the worst thing is the objective. If I see two of them on the table, that’s the end of the game for me.

Your Dark Side Deck: It was a TIE Fighter deck. I actually wasn’t going to play Fighters. I was thinking about having some new Navy with Tarkin and Thrawn and stuff like that, and I just played this to see how the Phantoms were working, to try out the new set. I just started with a basic TIE Swarm deck and replaced the objectives that weren’t working. I included Superior Numbers and thought that would be the first one to go to make place for Black Two or Boba Fett or something more sexy like that, but it turned out that with Superior Numbers I can very easily get an Interceptor with a three or four Force Icon pilot in the first turn, and then I can go to eight, ten, or I think at one point twelve Fighters on my third turn. With a couple of Precision Flyings and Baron Fel… in the last game I played with this one, in my final engagement, I had Edge 14 (with eight fighters and three Precision Flyings).

How it did in the Swiss: That was either 4-3 or 5-2, like the light side. The one consistent problem it had was Jedi decks with lots of edge. So T’ra Saa and Moldy Crow. And the Asteroid Base shield deck was also a problem.

Other Games You Play: I play X-Wing a little bit, but never took part in any competitive event. I recently bought Imperial Assault, and I’m liking it a lot. I might start playing it competitively.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: The scene part is easy: my favorite scene is at the very end of a New Hope, when Han Solo returns to save Luke. I remember watching this for the first time when I was 8, or something, and I was really terrified. I saw Luke’s X-Wing in Vader’s targeting device, and thought this was going to be the end. You know, being a small kid and not knowing how movies work, I never expected that Han Solo would return (because of course he must return and save the day). That was brilliant. And then I was really terrified to realize that Vader was still alive, when he comes back in the next episode. For the character, I guess I’m torn between Vader himself and Boba Fett.

Christopher Kowall

Online Identity: Tierdial

Location: New York City

Occupation: I’m a media buyer. I purchase advertisements on behalf of clients.

Playtest Team: The New York Meta had a really good showing. I think we had six here today, we had two qualify in the Top 16, we had one seventeenth… everyone did really well and I think everyone had a good time, which is the most important part.

Previous SWLCG Accomplishments: I was Top 8 at GenCon Nationals this year, and Top 16 this year. I won a Regional in 2013, but I don’t think I’ve won a Regional since then.

Your Light Side Deck: It’s the deck I kinda wanted to play at GenCon, before I out-thought myself. I was going to play Leia because I thought she would be strong, especially against TIEs which I thought we would see a lot more there. I didn’t, and then the guy who won ran exactly the deck I wanted to run. So I ran that this time, to get my jollies out with Leia. It’s what I’m most comfortable with, and I didn’t want to have to deal with the whole thing with Tarkin and pilots. It’s mostly a control deck, cripple their board and then burst through.

How it did in the Swiss: I think I only lost twice with it.

Your Dark Side Deck: So my dark side was interesting. It was thrown together at the last minute, and it was really good and tested really well, and we were kinda wondering why nobody thought of it, and it’s kinda because you can’t run Pic and Gorc and go Navy Affiliation. The deck was set up to have the best of both worlds with Yularen and one Thrawn, so you have that control element and the outlast element to get rid of damage. Then you’re basically Sith Control with Vader, Palpatine, Mara… but then it also had Pic and Gorc in it because that’s amazing board state control, very beefy characters, and there’s a lot of tricks you can do with them. So it was great, but then I had to switch out to the Sith Affiliation right before the tournament started, so I was running an 8-3 split. Luckily, I didn’t lose any games because I was resource screwed, which was nice, and once you got a Control Room out it was less of an issue. It was fun, and I don’t think people were expecting it. Yularen is a great thing to keep Sith alive so you can get to the point where you’re dominating the board with your Vader, and your Palpatine, and your Mara and Gorc and at that point it’s just pretty oppressive.

How it did in the Swiss: I think I only lost twice—I think I got swept twice and swept all my other opponents and there was one tie. But I can’t remember if we tied light side or dark side.

Other Games You Play: I dabble in Game of Thrones, I really like the IP so it’s nice, and I find it more relaxing than Star Wars. And then your typical board games.

Favorite Star Wars Character/Scene: Honestly my favorite character is Mace Windu, and not because of the shitty prequels, but because of what they did with his character in the extended universe. Exploring where he comes from, and how he skirts with the dark side, it’s just kind of a neat backstory. And they took all the stupid, cheesy, “let’s sell toys” elements and made them something interesting, even why his lightsaber’s purple. I like how they evolved that.

Todd Vandewalker

(Could not be reached for interview)

Strike Team Assemble

“Seriously, Mark, you can leave him there. He’s not going to do anything.”

Mark Gliesen grimaced up at the young woman perched on the speeder bike across the clearing. “As much as you might not care, I’d rather not leave dead Imperials around as evidence.”

The young rebel shrugged. “Whatever.”

She reached into her poncho and produced an apple. While Mark hauled the big white armor of a scout trooper towards the underbrush, she noisily took a bite out of it. “It’s not like they’re going to be out here anyway when their bunker goes…” She punctuated her statement by making a sound that resembled a poor imitation of an explosion.

“Heavens, Aisling, do you really want to bring the Imps down on us? We’re supposed to be scouts, not soldiers.”

Aisling raised an eyebrow, which disappeared into her uneven, low-cut bangs. “We’re special forces, dummy. And I thought you were the stickler for being right.”

“Yeah, and ‘special forces’ aren’t special when they’re dead.” Mark grunted as he shoved the stormtrooper’s corpse down into the bed of a particularly thick patch of ferns. It was still uncomfortably visible, but he figured it would have to do. They weren’t even supposed to be out this far, but scout troopers kept popping up out here at the perimeter. So they’d gone biker hunting while the General and the Major led the main force of pathfinders towards the shield generator. “Our objective should be to clean this place up, scuttle the bike, and get back to the Major.”

“Our objective, Marky, should be to wipe out as many of these bucketheads as we can. I want to see a different kind of Death Star in the sky tonight.” Aisling hurled the apple core with all her strength into the undergrowth and fidgeted with her pistol at her waist.

Mark grinned wryly at the nickname. It had used to irritate him, but he’d spent enough time with Aisling to recognize a sign of affection. “Their new Fear Station isn’t going to go down unless we do our job. Now get off that blasted bike and let’s get back to the company.”

Aisling jumped off the bike and drew her pistol, brandishing it in a sloppy salute. “Yes sir, Private Gliesen. I’m sure this forest isn’t—”

“Quiet!” Mark snapped, and she thankfully shut up. If he wasn’t careful, the girl would be the death of him. With dramatic emphasis, he raised his wrist communicator to his mouth and keyed the priority channel. Aisling holstered her pistol and drew her A281.

“Come in Major, this is Gliesen. We’ve got company.”

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