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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Star Wars X-Wing - Tatooine Tuesdays at the Curio Cavern

 By Mitch Reed

Much like the rest of the WWPD crew, I too have been bitten by the Star Wars X-Wing bug. Two weeks ago my wing-man Throck told me about a gaming store in my town, Springfield Virginia,  called the Curio Cavern.  I was surprised that a LGS slipped my attention, especially for the fact that it has been open for 5 years.  On a cold MLK day Throck and I checked out the store and got in a few games of X-Wing. The Curio Cavern also hosts an X-Wing tournament every Tuesday at 6:30PM so I decided to try my luck!

During my first visit I ran into Steve Dodd, one of the regulars at the Cavern who has been playing X-Wing since it has first been released.  Steve has some of the most in-depth knowledge of the game and if you ever get him to give you advice, I would recommend taking it. Much like myself, Steve is a dedicated Imperial player and recommend the core of the list I brought to the first two Tuesday events.

Soontir Fel and Carnor Jax are now mainstays for my weekly list thanks to his advice and I have played around with the third ship in my list a few times. Steve recommend the Lambda Shuttle with Emperor Palpatine (ed: Known in competitive circles as "The Palp Mobile"), however not owning a shuttle I tried a Tie Punisher for my first go, which did not go very well.  The second week I decided to switch to that Sith Lord we all know and love, Darth Vader.

First a little about the Cavern; it is small yet can host about 24 players each Tuesday, and even more if they kick out the folks playing Magic, (A game which I have no idea about).  The reason this group meets each Tuesday is in no small part due to the support from Tom Haid, the owner of the Curio Cavern who I hear loves the game.  What started out to a few players meeting up to play has turned into a steady group of at least 20 players who are like many of us, really hooked on playing X-Wing. Besides the gaming tables, the Cavern also has a limited amount of games for sale, with an ample amount of space saved for both Star Wars X-Wing and Armada (another game I am addicted too).
So after being snowed in during #snowmageddon16 I was eager to get out of my house to play!

While the body language of my first opponent looks indifferent I do want to tell you about the folks who are regulars at the Curio Cavern.  Once again I am cursed by geography; much like having so many great Flames of War players in the NOVA area, the crowd for X-Wing is also top notch and they have eight of the top thirty players who frequent the store. While this may be intimidating to some I found the folks from the NOVA Squadron  laid back and the playing environment is focused on having fun and not on national rankings.

So despite the hardware displayed above I, as a new player, have learned a lot from the "Curio Flight Crew" and I would recommend any one who wants to start playing X-Wing should attend one of the Tuesday night tournaments.

 Rocks and my ships

 First game ever vs. Scum! (Note: This is the faction of my opponent played and by no means is a refection on him)

 Here we go!

 I made up for my bad tactics by rolling poorly! Bye Soontir!

 Down Darth and Soontir, Jax is running!

But not for long and my rolling of blanks continued.  

In case I did not mention how I did during my first Tuesday I will tell you now, I had a perfect record, losing all three games and my first game during my second week continued that streak.

While X-Wing is not a hard game, it does have a learning curve that may frustrate many players. While I play for fun and not the wins I would recommend that new players watch what squads the more experienced players put on the table.

Equally important as selecting you ships is to also pay attention to how players select upgrades and pilots.  I feel that how you outfit your ships is more crucial that what you choose to fly.  I have noticed in my short playing time is that you create a list which fits your playing style and to use the unique capabilities of your list to give you an advantage when playing.  Looking at my list, I went for agility and took ships that can move around the table at speed, however I also took the "Push the Limit" upgrade which enables me to position my Tie Interceptors out of the arcs of my opponents when possible (I hate 360 degree turrets!).  I did feel I did a better job during my second week in utilizing the talents of the list I crafted, but I have a long way to go to feel comfortable with it.

So as for my second game, I drew a repeat from my first week and played John Miche, whose list gave me fits the week before.  As you can see below, John's force consists of two ships, Dash Rendar in a YT-2400 and Jake Farrel in an A-Wing.  John runs both of his ships with a lot of deadly upgrades and I was hoping to give him a better game this time around,

 Once more into the Fray!

By the second turn Darth scored some hits and drew John's ire so after some deadly missile fire from both of his ships, and the Sith Lord was turned into cosmic dust.   However I was able to get on the "Six" of the A-Wing and took care of him.

It was now 2v1 and time was running out.  I got a lucky break and scored a critical hit which took out Dash's secondary weapons, so he could only fire straight ahead.

I was able to get behind the now near defenseless freighter and took him out as time expired.  I had to be honest with John and I told him I thought about his list a lot over the past week and spent some time trying to figure out how to beat it.  This homework did cause me to ruin my perfect record. 

So being 1-1, I went into my last game feeling a bit better about my squadron against Mike McAvoy the player who won the tournament the previous week.

 Mike has some cool toys, I have to get me some of that! 

A bit about Mike, he is a VMI grad who studied history and must have taken a bunch of classes on ancient battles.  His force had five low skill level pilots and he moved them around like a Roman Legion.  Behind this phalanx he had a "stress monster" Y-Wing which acted like the English Bowmen of Agincourt; dealing out pain from a distance.

As you can see I went head on against it with the hope I would strike it as I crossed its path on my way to the rear of Mike's formation.  As you can see I didn't make it and poor Carnor got blasted.

I decided that this game would end quickly and I decided to focus on taking out the Y-Wing which I was able to do shortly after Mike drew first blood.

 Double thumbs up with a smile means your guys do not have long left to live!

With the "Thin Red Line of Balaclava" broken the game turned into a swirling dogfight.  While I damaged his small ships, I was unable to take any down, and Soontir did once again "Fel".

At this point of the game I really saw how taking the Tie Advanced with Vader improved my list I was able to stay alive longer than I thought, but I had 4 snub fighters taking shots at me.

A note about Mike, besides being a great opponent he is also a master organizer and is running some of the X-Wing events at the next NOVA Open in September.  Mike told me how the X-Wing events are growing in popularity and size at the Nova Open with over 80 seats available for the grand tournament and about 50 slots for the narrative campaign.  While I took last year off from the NOVA Open, I am now very tempted to play in this local event.

 The top two tables in round three

 Yet another night ends; I have to score one of those cool shirts! 

 Stephanie calls out the final rankings for the night; ..... also huge hockey fan albeit for the Vancouver Canucks 

 Some of the past prize support painted by Tom Haid

I dig the "cosmic bases"

After the games ended, we did what hardcore gamers do; talk about playing games.  I spoke with a few guys and asked them what they were excited or worried about in the next wave from Fantasy Flight.  Both immediately said "Tractor Beams" and not knowing what they meant let me know that these guys know the game so much better than me.

So both my Tuesdays at the Cavern were very positive.  I found that the average player who regularly shows up at the Cavern really knows their stuff and are willing to help out a noob like me.

My only wish is that Curio Cavern was bigger, with 20 plus players moving around the place gets tight, or I just need to lose weight

I hope to see you one Tatooine Tuesday at the Curio Cavern! 

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