Last Place Finisher Interview: Dagobah Regionals

Clone1: Dagobah Regionals were on Saturday, September 26th, and Georgia States were on Sunday, September 27th.  Today we’re catching up with the organizer of the events.  Not only did he organize the tournament…he also finished in last place!  Brandon – welcome to the blog!

Brandon: I guess…thanks for that introduction.  Yes, I helped organize the Dagobah Regionals and Georgia State tournament this year, with help from Phillip Gladney and Jonathon Murray.  And yes, I finished in last place in Regionals – thanks for reminding me.

Clone1: Both the Dagobah Regionals and Georgia State tournaments consisted of 8 players. So how competitive are these tournaments?

Brandon: The tournament was competitive yet laid back at the same time.  Everyone wanted to win, but all players were patient and helped explain rules or consequences of actions (or non-actions) that weren’t optimal.

Clone1: That’s great to hear.  In general, how do people sign up for these tournaments?  Now that I know I don’t have to be super competitive this sounds more interesting.

Brandon: We have a regional Star Wars CCG Facebook Group that messages each other about upcoming events and tournaments.  I would urge any new or ex-player considering jumping into the game again to search for a regional Star Wars CCG group as there are a lot of them out there.

In fact, our regional Facebook group is the reason why I actually got back into the game 6 months ago after being out of it for 15+ years.  Big shout out to Phillip Gladney, he’s the key organizer for our group, and if it wasn’t for his work, and the encouragement of some folks in our group, I wouldn’t be playing Star Wars CCG right now and would be missing out on some amazing people and events.

Clone1: That’s great to hear.  I’ve seen the general SWCCG Facebook group but didn’t know about all the regional sub-groups.  Back to the tournament, what do the prizes consist of for a Regional/State level tournament?

Brandon: For Dagobah Regionals, 1st and 2nd place received tournament foils as well as travel vouchers to Worlds.  We all also each opened one pack of Dagobah Limited packs and received a few random rares and foils!  For States, 1st place received a travel voucher to World’s and we each opened up a pack of Jabba’s Palace.

Clone1: Anybody pull a good rare from the packs?

Brandon: Haha, unfortunately not.  Still, it feels great opening packs of Star Wars cards again!

Clone1: Okay, and last thing about the tournament – what’s the scoring system?  Is it just whoever has the most game wins that wins the tournament?

Brandon: These two tournaments were set up were based on differentials between you and your opponent’s life force at the end of the game or end of the time limit. So not only do you need to win, you want to win big.  Jonathon Murray and Mike Kessling took the 1st and 2nd spot in the Regionals, Brad Kippel won Georgia States (for the 6th year in a row!!!).  Congrats to them!

Clone1:  Six years in a row, what a streak!  So what deck did you bring when you lost every game at Regionals?

Brandon: I’m a sucker for main characters and lightsabers, so I tried to customize Hunt Down and Throne Room decks but learned how difficult it is for a new player to build a deck that stands up to a wide range of tournament decks.

Clone 1: What sort of customizing did you do?  Was this a complete rework of the decks or were you just tweaking cards here and there?

Brandon: I started with a pretty standard decklist for both, and playtested (or playfailed?) them on GEMP over the past few weeks.  It started with a few minor tweaks here or there, but before long those minor tweaks ended up changing a good portion of the deck strategy… which in retrospect wasn’t a great idea.  When you make big changes to decks you need a lot of time to test them to see if you’ve thrown off some of the balance accidentally.  This caught up with me on Saturday at Regionals.

Clone1: Even though you didn’t fare well it’s still fun to know that you can still get creative on deck construction, even at these tournaments.  Give us an example from Regionals about a game that didn’t go so well – you have all of them to choose from.

Brandon: Yeah, lots to choose from, that’s for sure.  I didn’t have any particularly large loss, but I was constantly wishing that I hadn’t made so many customizations.  For example, while Maul with Stick is customary in a Hunt Down deck, my deck design ended up being almost an equal split of cards dedicated to empowering Maul versus cards dedicated to beefing up Vader.  This was a great learning lesson

Clone1: Well, lessons, since you lost 4 straight…

Brandon: Haha.  For me, I came away with a new appreciation for sticking with a single goal or focus for the deck and working to truly dominate that goal.  Playing against competitive decks combined with great players (which there are many of in Georgia and the surrounding area) made me come away with a newfound appreciation of the current meta, and made me realize how arrogant (or ignorant) I was to think that I could build my own decks after being away from the game for the past 15 years.

Clone1: It’s probably a great exercise to change the decks up and then see how they perform – you now have better insight into the original deck construction.  In terms of the current meta, what decks did you see the most of at the tournament?  Any that stand out as good tournament decks to start analyzing for a beginner? Any advice for beginners in general?

Brandon:  I saw a lot of YBO (Yavin 4 Base Operations) which seemed to be quite effective.  The Dark side decks were a little bit of everything.  After getting crushed at Regionals I changed away from my custom decks to a standard AOBS (Agents of the Black Sun) and YBO deck for States on Day 2.  I ended up performing much better on the second day.  My advice to beginners would be to utilize standard meta decks first, get an understanding of the strategy as well as what to look out for from your opponent, and make small tweaks that match your play style.

Clone1: Was there a pivotal moment in any of the games that stands out to you?

Brandon: Yeah.  So, on Sunday at States I had a particularly devastating battle.  I had Green Leader in Green 1 on his own at a system.  I knew this was a risk but thought I had myself protected.  I was holding both Hyper Escape and Houjix, so I was double covered, and I had one force in my force pile at the end of my turn.

My opponent dropped the Finalizer with essentially every character that adds a destiny on board.  Again, I thought I was okay…until my opponent played First Strike and initiated battle. First Strike makes you pay 1 force to play an interrupt during battle – so Hyper Escape cost me my force, but I had planned for this.  Then, he Sensed my Hyper Escape.  I still had my Houjix though, but it turns out Houjix is also an interrupt and my opponent politely reminded me that I didn’t have any force to pay for it.

Clone1: Brutal.  These are the types of plays I would expect at a tournament level – you thought you were twice protected, but you opponent still managed to negotiate around your Hyper Escape and Houjix to destroy you.  Out of curiosity, what was the damage differential?

Brandon: 27….

Clone1: Wow.  Half of your life force in one battle.  That is a tough game.  So how did you end up on Sunday even with that devastating loss?

Brandon: I finished 4th out of 8 on the second day.  I was much happier with my results!

Clone1: Happy with 4th place? I guess compared to Regionals this was a much better finish for you.  If you hadn’t lost 27 life force on a single battle you may have even done better!

Brandon: Thanks…I’ve noted that.

Clone1: Excellent.  Well, if you can, try to put us in touch with one of the winners.  You gave us plenty of stories on losses, so maybe we can get the other side next time!

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