Sunday, April 16, 2023

James AKA Malador AKA Did John Get the Winner

Why YES I did get the man who won it all to write one of these up! I'm most grateful that he hasn't sent me a "dude, where's my article" e-mail having sent me this write-up a solid week ago.  To THE write-up!

Did I find the lamest Google image search possible? Listen he was in A STAR WAR!

Although I’ve been playing the game for 5 years this was the first World Championship I have attended, and even the first non-UK tournament, so to win this was such an amazing feeling – as such here is the story of my journey there.

I got my invite through winning the London Grand Tournament event in October 2022, which included accommodation and flights to Chicago. I had won a ‘prime’ event previously (securing the ticket) and came second at the other large UK event (UKGE), but to win and thus secure flights and accommodation was amazing.

The list I decided to bring was one I had been using for around two years on and off, and the same one I won the London GT with:

Assault: Ion Storm
Defense: Abandoned Mining Facility
Navigation: Doomed Station

Onager Testbed (96)
• General Romodi (20)
• Admiral Titus (2)
• Veteran Gunners (5)
• Gunnery Chief Varnillian (6)
• Medical Team (1)
• Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannons (5)
= 135 Points

Interdictor Suppression Refit (90)
• Captain Needa (2)
• Auxiliary Shields Team (3)
• Disposable Capacitors (3)
• G7-X Grav Well Projector (2)
• Grav Shift Reroute (2)
• Point Defense Ion Cannons (4)
= 106 Points

Gozanti Cruisers (23)
• Darth Vader (1)
• Parts Resupply (3)
= 27 Points

Gozanti Cruisers (23)
= 23 Points

• Maarek Stele (21)
• Colonel Jendon (20)
• Tempest Squadron (13)
• Ciena Ree (17)
• Valen Rudor (13)
• TIE Interceptor Squadron (11)
= 95 Points

Total Points: 386

The aim of my list is to fit my preferred play style and also be competitive at the same time. I much prefer to go second and so with a 14 point bid I can guarantee that in most of my games, only losing out to a potential 20 point bid farm-hawk. This meant that I generally knew what objective I’d play, and so was able to use the Interdictor’s upgrades to further manipulate that, generally moving the obstacles towards me while forcing my opponent the slow ray round to engage.

Using an Interdictor and two Gozantis meant at times I would lack damage, and so Maarek and Jendon come into play here to boost the damage output the list can bring. My other squadrons are there to help fight off the likes of a Sloane ball, or Rebel rogue squadrons, allowing me to tie the opponent down long enough so that the Onager can target the carrier.

Looking at the upgrades on the Onager, I decided not to use Sensor Teams, as in my experience it reduced the damage output, instead relying on the Veteran Gunners re-roll (as well as Darth Vader strangling Titus and Romodi) to find those accuracy’s, as well as Varnillian. This combination of upgrades I found game the most consistency, and, after testing the dice rolls, allowed me to one-shot a CR90 at extreme range when it is within my black die range around 80-90% of the time.

Where my list struggled was facing against ships with multiple defence tokens, such as Agate Starhawks or SSD’s, as I didn’t have the Intel Officers to burn through the defence tokens.

Why did I choose this fleet? I think for one I was extremely comfortable with it, it fits my play style of being second player, and I have experience flying it so understand the match ups and scenarios. I always believe that being comfortable with a fleet is much more important that the fleet being competitive or meta.

I know that a lot will say that Onagers are overpowered, and I will agree to that, however only two Interdictors made to the day 2 of the main event, and I was also only one of two people to bring Tempest Squadron out of 31 Imperial players on day 1 – so not everything about my list is standard.

My games:

Day 1

Game 1 vs Marc Hein: 5-6

My first match up was against an Agate Starhawk with raid and speed manipulation capability, I had the bid and so we played my Ion Storm. From turn 3 I decided that the Starhawk was not going to be taken down, and so instead went for the squads and GR75’s instead. This was a tough first game and I lost the Onager and some squads, while Marc lost both transports and a collection of his squads.

Game 2 vs Jakub Charmo: 9-2

Jakub was running double Venator with squads (4 ARCs, DAnni, and a Y-wing with RLB Ven2), and this was more my happier match up. We played Doomed Station, with the Venators deployed facing down the station. I decided that a straight up fight would not work for me, and so deployed on the other side of the rift. I then used the grav shift to move the station and rift closer together, meaning the station was lost on T1 so that Jakub could not score any points from it. The slowing ability of the rift left the Venators open to Onager shots, and they were both brought down (see dice on the Ven1 below)

RIP Ven1

with me losing two squadrons total.

Game 3 vs Piotr Swielicki: 10-1

Piotr was running a Sloane list on an ISD 2 with a quasar to back it up. Ion Storm was the objective, and the ISD deployed facing down the Onager, ready for a 1v1. At the end of this tussle, with Maarek lending a hand, the ISD was downed and the Onager was limping away on a few hull remaining. With Sloane dead the remaining squads could not finish off my flagship, and I was able to bring down the Quasar, tabling Piotr.

Game 4 vs Daniel Unzeitig: 5-6

At the top table in the last game, neither myself or Daniel really wanted to commit to a fight as we both had an idea we’d be though to day 2 with a 6-5. Thus, at the start of turn 1 Daniels started to run away with his CR90 swarm commanded by Riekkan, with his rogue squadrons providing a buffer. I tried to chase to farm a point or two from Ion storm, and this lead to one of my Gozantis almost falling to Lando, while I did lose Maarek and he lost Wedge. A reasonably boring game but this is what happens in game 4, and I do apologise to the stream for having to sit through that.

I ended Day 1 in 6th place on 29 tournament points.

Day 2

Game 1 vs Damon Jordan: 7-4 (Look for Xantos's writeup later this week!)

Damon was running a Dooku list with a Recusant, Munificent Star Frigate (flag) and two Hardcells, choosing Abandoned Mining Facility to play. His raid tokens meant I struggled to farm much from the objective, and the Recusant came in fast targeting the Interdictor. The Recusant brought the Interdictor low but paid with it’s life, meaning that the remaining ships had to take up the damage, and they did drop the Interdictor. Damon’s flagship was blocked in by my Onager and did eventually drop, leaving the Hardcells to flee. This was a tough game as my non-engineering token generation is lacking.

Game 2 vs Louis-André st-Laurent: 9-2

Louis-AndrĂ© was running an IDS2 carrier with Moff Jerjjerod and a bunch of squads, and a Raider with Instigator to boot. Playing Doomed Station I was able to farm a lot of points from the objective, while our flag ships tackled each other, with my Disposable Capacitors lending a hand. The ISD dropped at the end of turn 3/4 when Maarek pulled a structural damage critical card, dealing just enough damage. The raider came in on turn 5 to kill the Gozanti’s and farm some objective points.

Game 3 vs Adam Newton: 7-4

Adam was running his standard Ackbar on an Assault Frigate II, with two CR90’s and a collection of squads. This was the closest game for the bid wars, where Adam has a 10 point bid, but my 14 point bed managed to keep second player. We played Ion Storm, with his fleet coming fast down the middle looking to out flank me. His flagship and CR90’s dealt solid damage to my Interdictor, while I shot back with my ships and Maarek killing one CR90. As we were both thinking tactically about the game, we hit the time limit during turn 5, which was rough for Adam as on turn 6 he would have killed my Interdictor swinging likely to him, but we were told to stop.
Did John just copy the above picture? Prove I didn't!

Game 4 vs Daniel Unzeitig: 6-5

This game was almost a carbon copy of the previous game 4 match. However, this time I had learnt from my mistakes, knowing to hold my Gozanti’s and squads back from his rogues. In the whole game I rolled two dice and Daniel rolled 1, ending the game on a 6-5.

I ended day 2 in 2nd place with 29 tournament points (again), just losing out on 1st to Jason Hughley by MoV.

Day 3

Game 1 vs Adam Newton: 7-4

A rematch against Adam was good to have after how the previous game ended. We still played Ion Storm and Adam send the Flagship and Jainas Light down the middle, while the other CR90 went around my flank. On turn 2 I managed to put both the flagship and Jainas Light into the black dice range of the Onager’s ignition token, Jason moved the Assault Frigate first so I took a shot at Jainas Light one-shotted it. At this point Jason was on damage control, pulling the flagship, squads and GR75’s to the other board edge. The outflanking CR90 came in on the final turn to ram a Gozanti to death, however this left it in the rear arc of both my capital ships, and in range of Maarek and Jendon, which caused it to go down too.

Game 2 vs Daniel Unzeitig: 7-4

Finally, after the two previous games, Daniel and I had to actually fight each other. This was by far the technically hardest game I have played, as Daniels skill with the CR90’s meant that every move I made was incredibly important. Through the use of proximity mines, squadrons and two CR90’s, Daniel brough my flagship down at the end of turn 3, while losing one CR90’s in the process. Looking to table me he turned the other CR90’s towards the Interdictor, however one more CR90 dropped soon after, and with his squads tied up with my squads the damage was not there. He ended up ramming on of my Gozantis to death before fleeing with only his flagship and a few squads remaining.

And for all the marbles....

Game 3 vs Jason Hughley: 6-5

Jason was running his double Onager fleet with Romodi. I have faced a fleet like this before with mine, and know that I would struggle to close the ignition gap with my Interdictor limited to speed 2, however I would try my hardest. We played Ion storm, and through Grav Shift I was able to move the obstacles out of the way to deny him his Romodi advantage. His Cataclysm deployed facing my fleet while his flagship was outflanking me. 

On turn 2 Cataclysm shot my flagship, dealing the critical card, ‘Depowered Armament’, which meant I lost the ignition shot from my flagship at his Onager. This was probably the worst card I could have drawn, as I lost around 8 damage onto his ship. I had to take a step away from the game to regain my composure, and reassess my objectives in the game. Through disposable capacitors, and my flagship getting into close range I did deal some good damage to Cataclysm, but not before I lost my Onager.

I used Maarek and the Interdictor to finish off cataclysm while Jason’s flagship moved in. On turn 4 Jason’s flagship landed on an asteroid, drawing the card ‘Projector Misaligned’, causing him to lose all 5 shields on the front arc. My Interdictor was then able to block the Onager from leaving, gaining a double arc so it continued to overlap the rock. At the top of turn 5 his flagship had 1 hull remaining, so he shot my Interdictor dealing all but 1 damage to it. This meant that he then rammed my ship killing us both – leading to a mutual tabling. After some research a mutual tabling causes a 6-5 win to the second player no matter the objective.

I ended day 3 in 1st place with 20 tournament points – winning the 2023 World Championships.

Overall it is hard to me to be nothing but pleased with my performance and play over the three days, I enjoyed every game I played and every opponent was lovely to play against. I don’t believe I made many mistakes with my strategy or play style, with being second player knowing that I’d generally be the one dictating the kind of game that gets played. And am of course absolutely ecstatic to have won the World Championship.

Going into the tournament my aim was always to have fun and get into the top 50% of what ever day I was playing and win one game, even on day 3 my aim remained get top 4 – having no clue that I might win the whole thing. It was only when I was told by a judge that all games had finished and I’d won, did I allow myself to finally get excited and acknowledge the win.

The entire tournament was an absolute pleasure to attend, especially as there aren’t too many players in my local area, to see so many players competing and enjoying the game was amazing. Also, getting to talk to so many players, sometimes finally putting a face to a discord handle was great, and just generally having a great time.

Being able to travel to the USA, so far from home, to play at the premiere of tabletop gaming was such an honour and privilege. And I do thank all of the UK players I’ve played against in the past for helping me become a better player myself, could not have done it without you.

And so finally I will say thank you to our whole community for being amazing, and I look forward to coming back next year to defend the title!

Thanks James! We've got a few more of these reports lined up and some already written! Any interest in getting your own out there? Email me at!

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