This past week my team and I headed out to Minneapolis to participate in the World Championship Weekend Event at the Fantasy Flight Games Center. This was the first World Championship for Star Wars LCG as well as my first World Championship for any FFG product (SWLCG is the first FFG product I’ve played). The weekend had its ups and its downs, and now that things have finally settled down back home I’d like to share my experience.
We landed early Thursday morning and checked in immediately to our hotel downtown. We took the light rail system from the airport out to the downtown area, which was pretty nifty. The best part was the price, which only cost us about $2 per person as opposed to what would have been a $40 cab ride.
We had planned to hunker down in our hotel room for the night to make sure we were 100% prepared for Thursday. We had both locked down our Dark Side deck about four weeks ago. We knew we wanted to play The Emperor’s Web, Fall of the Jedi, Counsel of the Sith, and The Executor Arrives x2. The remaining two objective sets had been in debate since we first started testing for Worlds. Originally we had tried the ‘Core4’ (our nickname for the previous four objective sets combined together) with Tarkin and Devastator, but found it a little slow to Sleuth. Our next choice was to add Trandoshan Terror x2 to the mix. While it certainly increased our odds against Sleuth decks, we noticed a strong lack in consistency. We assumed this was due to fewer resources, which meant fewer games would see Emperor or Executor be playable. We tried switching over to Death and Despayre x2, but adding an additional 6drop that didn’t combo with Sith Holocron was not where we wanted to be. It also made us weaker in the Sleuth matchup as well. We could have gone with Imperial Command x2, but we knew that Devastator gave us a speedy endgame in ‘Mains’ matchups, of which we thought there would be plenty. We decided to split the difference and had been on Death and Despayre and Imperial Command x1 each for several weeks now. We had been mostly happy with the results.
Our Light Side was another story. The (now) infamous Wookie Sanctuary deck, filled with those fun and complicated Wilderness Fighters, had been in testing for several weeks. It had been undefeated in OCTGN testing. In our own personal testing, the deck was destroying most Navy or Scum builds. It appeared to be a coinflip when going up against other Core4 variants. It all came down to who saw what cards. As with many Mains builds, an early Emperor or Devastator was essentially game-winning.
Personally, on Wednesday I had narrowed my choice for Light Side down to three options. Mains, Wookie Sanctuary, or a variation on the famous Kohls’ vehicle list. I knew how to pilot all three and felt comfortable with each. By the end of testing that day, I made the decision to go with the Wilderness Fighters. I tweaked the original build to include the Falcon with the intent of seeing a few more aggressive turns throughout the course of the day. In our testing, I had actually wanted my Sith opponents to use Force Chokes on my Tauntauns. The trick is to not play a Tauntaun unless you plan on following it up with a Wilderness Fighter or Chewie. Most Sith opponents will opt to Choke the Tauntaun if you ask if they ‘have any actions?’ after you deploy the Tauntaun. If I can bait my opponent into using that Force Choke on the lonely resource creature, it allows me to slam a unit I actually don’t want Choked. Most Sith opponents will take the bait, because in most cases it is the correct thing to do. But that’s what I loved about the Wilderness Fighters; they created more scenarios for me to bob and sway during the matches. If I could actually land a Falcon; bonus. If not, the tactic tricks the set provides (not to mention the Twist of Fate) were typically huge.
On Thursday, the plan was to have a nice breakfast and lunch before heading out to the Games Center. I know several people were planning on arriving to FFG early, but our goal was to make the day into a lighter and enjoyable one. We wanted to be mentally prepared for an incredibly long day rather than tire early.
Arriving to FFG by taxi was okay, but what awaited us inside we couldn’t have foreseen. First up, I realized after talking with Jaffer that I completely (and stupidly) left my Regional ticket at home. That was a bit jarring, but thankfully Ian was able to get things squared away for me. Next up was discovering that friends we hadn’t seen in over five years had decided to make the journey, and unknown to us, play SWLCG! It was great catching up with very good, old friends. After another hour or so later, we discovered another batch of friends had made the trip to MN, who we hadn’t seen in about eight years or so. By 3pm Thursday, the World Championship Weekend had become Old Friend Reunion Weekend!
We all anxiously sat around waiting for 3pm, enjoying the cool art of the promotional Force Choke card and chatting about whether or not FFG would be slipping us all free copies of Balance of the Force (newsflash; that didn’t happen). A rumor started to travel around the center that if we stayed and played throughout the entire event, rather than dropping, FFG would be giving everyone another Force Choke during the final round. Awesome.
We had talked to FFG weeks before Worlds and had established FFG’s ‘Rounds based on Attendance’ policy. Straight from FFG, it states:
# Players Minimum # of Rounds With a Top Cut
2 1 No cut N/A
3-4 2 No cut N/A
5-8 3 No cut N/A
9-16 4 No cut N/A
17-32 5 No cut 3 Cut to top 4
33-64 6 No cut 4 Cut to top 8
65-128 7 No cut 5 Cut to top 16
129-256 8 No cut 6 Cut to top 32
When we heard that there were 130~ entries, we were stoked because we knew it meant 6rounds, cut to Top 32. The event had a strong delay, due to some errors with their system registering Regional byes correctly. They made an announcement at 4pm that they’d be starting in about 10mins.
Once the pairings were posted for Round 1, it was clear there were some pretty big errors. Several players, who had reported Regional wins and byes for Round 1, were paired with actual opponents. It took another 10mins or so to get straightened out, but eventually things were off to a solid start.
I’ve already written a quasi tournament report, so I’ll spare you that here. If you’re interested in hearing how my decks performed, click here to read all about them!
We’re still not quite sure why the event was 6 rounds and cut to Top 16. We were later told that the event only had 111 players, but if that’s the case why was it a 6 round event? In either case, Fantasy Flight Games should be embarrassed by their constant ‘flip flop’ nature and lack of actual tournament guidelines. The email conversation I had with FFG was to specifically address the topic of ‘sporadic’ tournament decisions when it came to the total number of rounds. I was assured that this was not the case and that the above chart was used to determine how long the event should be run.
In FFG’s article, they specifically spelled out that the event would host 70min rounds. This is a fantastic number, due to the nature of the matches having to play two sides. 70min rounds for the World Championship should have been a no-brainer. Give players the time they need to decide the Top 16. You can imagine our surprise when we learned it would be 60min rounds instead. Shaving ten minutes off of each round, and then adding a sixth round, is just plain silly.
The real issue here is the consistency problem. This is the World Championship Weekend for your product and consistently changing how the event was announced to run is very unprofessional. SWLCG is still in its infancy, just hitting the one-year mark, so hopefully these are just simple growing pains. If there’s one thing we hope FFG learns from this year’s SWLCG Worlds Event, it is to fix their consistency issues.
The event finally wrapped a little after 12am and about thirty minutes or so later the FFG staff announced the Top 16. Again, we were told different than the online article had stated. Those of us returning for the Top 16 the following morning were told that though the website said to show up at 8:30am for registration, the store wouldn’t actually open until 9am. How does a company post on their own website the set schedule of events and somehow not know what time its own facility opens? It’s minor things like this that make the company look bad.
Once the Top 16 arrived, I was a bit disappointed to see that FFG was bypassing deckchecks. There were only 16 of us, and though it would have taken some time, this is the World Championship. While I’d like to assume that no one out there is a cheater, how hard would it have been to have four employees quickly check our decks? It’s a World Championship; some people are bound to want to win at any cost.
Our Top 16 playmats weren’t given to us until about midway through Game 1, so many of us who hadn’t brought our playmats (wanting to use our nice new ones) were out of luck. The entire Top 16 run seemed understaffed and a bit underwhelming, until the Final Four were decided. I’m sure I just expected a bit more of a presentation when it came to the Top 16 of a World Championship; thankfully this was rectified when it came to the Finals.
The Finals event was streamed and recorded by FFG (and Team Covenant) and was quite well done. It was here that an entire FFG staff (one judge, one Twitch commentator, and one or two announcers) did a fantastic job of making it (finally) feel like a World Championship. Watching the headsup match between Matt Kohls and Dennis was absolutely fantastic. A large crowd of (mostly) players had gathered to watch the first showdown of the weekend. It was the first time that the event had a fantastic level of prestige to it.
The rest of Friday was a bit of a bust for Star Wars LCG, as the only real thing going on for the game was the Challenge Tables. Not too terribly excited to involve ourselves in that, we decided to head back to our hotel room and prepare for Saturday’s 2v2 Event. Looking back, this was most likely a big mistake as we’ve heard nothing but tremendous things for the way MasterJediAdam ran these challeneges. It had been weeks since we read the rules for the 2v2 format, so not only was a rereading needed but a better understanding of how the game would play was greatly needed.
We decided to use Flip the Force’s card search to dig up every instance of ‘enemy’, ‘opponent’, and ‘friendly’ we could find. The results were devastating, with Light Side having one great unit (Home One) and Dark Side having about a bajillion. The format really started to bother us, as little inconsistences appeared. Why does Tarkin become ‘Pay 3 – Do Six Damage’? Why does Aggressive Assault become ‘Pay 2 – Do Six Damage’? Why does Aqualish become ‘Pay 3 – Do Four Damage’? A Dark Time also becomes ‘Every Turn, Do 2 Free Damage’. The math changes greatly on the Dark Side for 2v2, with several cards (not just the ones mentioned above) acting as if they’re on steroids.
Our decks were not all that impressive. We had barely done anything with the 2v2 environment, choosing instead to focus on Worlds which we deemed more important. The FFG website stated that the event would be five rounds, each 90mins long. There would be no ‘Cut’ unless the top two teams were tied in points, in which case there would be a playoff. Upon arriving to the event, we were told it would be 90min, 4 round event with a cut to Top 2. Again, FFG had decided upon last minute changes. While most players are okay with this, I really want to stress that this is NOT how you run a Championship Weekend. In a non-competitive field, making last minute change decisions that include the number of rounds, cuts, and time limit are perfectly fine and most likely welcomed by other players. But when you’re dealing with players that have traveled great distances and spent lots of money on their travels, it’s really bizarre to make these types of changes.
After the event was ten minutes into the second round, the head judge came by and told everyone that we were changing the time length to 100min rounds. Again, another change. This one at least felt okay because many of us were having a very hard time finishing the games in 90mins. The tradeoff? FFG also announced that we’d now be doing 3 rounds instead of 5 or 4, and that there would be a cut to Top 4 instead of no cut, or instead of Top 2. At this point, we decided there was no real point in continuing the event. Thankfully we had other things around the Minneapolis area we could be doing. We left a bit flustered, not with 2v2 but with FFG in general. We really love SWLCG and we really love playing it, but FFG does not love competitive players. Much of their Organized Play, at this point, is too indecisive for competitive play. Whether it’s a lack of commitment to their own decisions, or just all-around confusion regarding their own policy, we certainly hope that things change in the future. Otherwise maybe they should just rename it to Unorganized Play.
By Sunday, we were very indifferent to the Second Chance tournament. We wanted to play because we had attended Worlds with intent to enjoy all-things-SWLCG, but the way things had been going we just weren’t having as much fun with the events as we would have liked. Thankfully, the Second Chance tournament was essentially run to perfection by FFG’s own Erik, who literally sat by the entire group of 30 and rarely left the area. It was great to see how passionate he is about the game and about watching others play it. He was there to make sure the event ran smoothly and operated without issue, which it did. As far as we could tell, it was the best run event of the entire weekend. Easily.
Although we were there for five days and there were several hiccups along the way, the time seemed to fly by. It was very cool and exciting to receive the Force Choke ‘bleed’ art card on Day 1. I think these could have been advertised via FFG to create a bit more hype for the event. It was especially cool of them to give out a second one and ‘right the wrong’ that was Jedi Mind Trick via Nationals. Though it was a bit odd to give the 2v2 Champions a plaque (seriously FFG, stop it with the plaques…), it was great to see FFG recognize the event as a big deal and want to reward those who did great at it.
The first World Championship for Star Wars LCG has come and gone. With it many odd and somewhat questionable decisions were made, but overall I find it easy to say that we certainly enjoyed our time at the FFG Game Center. It was truly great seeing old friends and making new ones; easily the highlight of our trip. It is great when major events like this can bring all of us together to enjoy playing games we love to play.
If you can’t tell, we have a lot to say about our experience at Worlds. Though this piece covered a lot of detail, it also left out many points we’re still planning on addressing. Keep an eye out for those articles in the next few days. Click here to discuss the article, and Worlds, in our forums!