This last Saturday I played in my first ever organized competitive card game event by participating in the local FFG sanctioned 2013 Regionals tournament for the Star Wars LCG.
I went into the tournament with a full playset of all available cards and several sessions of deck testing against my brother, who also came to the tournament with me. I brought a Light Side deck that exactly matched the “Smuggler’s Caverns” deck made popular on the Smuggler’s Den podcast: 2x Renegade Squadron Mobilization, 2x Questionable Contacts, 2x In You Must Go, 2x Hero’s Journey, and 2x Secrets of Yavin IV. It’s a strong deck with a lot of flexibility and durability, it’s only real weakness being a lack of blast icons. My Dark Side deck was a Hoth Navy deck with 2x Dark Time, 2x Deploy the Fleet, 2x Death and Despayre, 2x Imperial Command, and rounding out with 1x Reconnaissance Mission and 1x Shadows on the Ice. Evan and I had played for the last several Wednesday night game sessions, trying to improve our speed and decks and I felt pretty good about my Light Side deck at least.
Tournament was held at Uncles Games at the Bellevue Crossroads mall. Despite being the only tournament in a pretty large region, only 9 players showed up total. The tournament opened with a bang… literally; just as we were sitting down to begin the first round an entire shelf of games collapsed, with the shelf and multiple heavy boardgames hitting both my opponent and my brother who was standing behind me (somehow I was spared).
My first opponent was fairly new to the game and made a lot of mistakes, I defeated him in both games fairly easily but he was a good sport. My second match was a close tie where I narrowly lost the tiebreaker, both good games. My third match was also a pair of very close games but unfortunately I lost both. I think I ended up placing 6th or 7th but thoroughly enjoyed myself. My brother unfortunately got the bye first round and then played the same new player I did in the second round, but since he had all winds he got to play the championship round which he narrowly lost. So he got to play fewer good games but at least he had a shot at the trophy (which, sidenote, the trophy was pretty high quality I thought considering).
The environment I found to be great. The Magic Modern Masters launch tournament was going on at the same time and that event had probably 40 people or so, which meant we Star Wars folks were crammed into a corner but we still had enough room and everyone who came was incredibly friendly. Some folks were more talkative than others but nobody I interacted with was rude or a jerk about the rules. Several times minor takebacks were allowed (in situations where it would have no serious effect on the game) I felt like there was a good camraderie from the start and it was great to have so many conversations with enthusiasts about the game.
So long story short, I enjoyed myself despite not competing particularly well and would definitely attend next year.
Star Wars is still a very new game and at this point I don’t feel like the distance between the “best decks” (of which there are a few) and the middle of the road decks is that large. As the card pool grows I think the gap between expert and casual players will surely grow but at the moment I think it’s not overwhelming. I felt like the competitive environment was enjoyable and it was nice to see a variety of decks; though there was less variety on the Light Side as I think only a couple players brought Rebels, I never played a Rebel deck all night. I can’t even imagine the kind of variety we’ll see next year.
One note, the Tournament Organizer had originally planned 60 minute rounds but ended up not being able to show up so there was a stand-in. We agreed unanimously as players to move to 70 minute rounds, especially since we knew the tournament wouldn’t require a final cut, and that turned out to be absolutely necessary. We still had several games go to time and I really don’t like how the player losing in the second game always has more to gain by going to time. If there is anything wrong with the FFG tournament system it is the allowance for 60 minute rounds, I absolutely believe that is too short a timeframe for this game.
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