03 June 2013

Regionals 2013- Why Did I Lose?

Those of y'all who are longtime readers may recall an article I wrote on here alll the way back on 11 February called, "Why Do You Lose?" Predictably, I meander around the point a bunch in there, but the long and the short of it is, it's very important if you want to be good at this game, to be able to go back and analyze why exactly you lost. 

If you recall, I mentioned last week I was going to be hitting a Regionals, the only Regionals I'd be able to attend this year, this past weekend. If you follow me on G+, you know how it turned out already, but for those of you who don't, I went 0-3. 

Now, let me say a couple of things right off the bat so we're on the same page. 

I don't think of myself as a great tournament X-Wing player. I don't think I'm a great X-Wing player, period to be honest. I think I have some insightful ideas about the game and stuff, sure, but to put it another way, I'm a lot better writing about X-Wing than I am playing it, because I just don't play it nearly enough to be as good as some of y'all. 

That said, I didn't think I'd go 0 and friggin' 3 at Regionals, either. Sheesh. I mean look- I didn't think I'd go in there and win the whole thing by any means, but I did think I'd at least win a couple of games. 

Speaking of which, my first game was against a guy named Russel who at least works at, if not manages or owns (I kinda got the vibe he's important there), Heroic Adventures in Edwardsville, Illinois. I'm not 100% sure. In any case, he had decided to participate at the last minute as some major storms and even tornadoes had gone through the St. Louis Metro-East on Friday evening and power was out in about half of Edwardsville- including of course, the store and the turnout was much lower than expected. Luckily for us, their gaming tables were right at the front of the store near the big windows, and it being a sunny day, was bright enough for us to play, no problem. 

Russell said he was just trying to bump up the player amount and to get the free stuff from the FFG Regionals kit, he didn't actually have enough ships to play. Originally, 10-12 people (besides Sean and I) had told the store they'd play in the Regionals, but the power being off had reduced this number to three- Sean, myself, and a guy named John. In between working the phone trying to get more people to show up, Russell was asking if anyone had a Falcon he could borrow, I let him have mine as I brought it but wasn't planning on using it. Nobody slow-clapped, not even Sean, and I was disappointed, but that's beside the point. 

My list- 
Wedge Antilles w/ Determination
Luke Skywalker
Rookie Pilot
Rookie Pilot 

Russel's list- 
Han Solo (can't remember all the upgrades, to be honest)
Luke Skywalker
Arvel Crynyd

My first game didn't go particularly badly, but I ended with an L. Russell had managed to shoot two of my X-Wings down (Luke and one of the Rooks), while I managed to kill only Arvel. Wedge had been eating up the Falcon, which very nearly drove off the map, but time was called and Russell won on points. 

Second, I played another guy who worked at the store named Alex. 

Alex's List- 

Kath Scarlet w/ Veteran Instincts
Howlrunner w/ Elusiveness and Stealth Device
Academy Pilot
Academy Pilot
Academy Pilot

On our third or fourth turn, Alex moved all three of his in-formation TIEs into a 1 Turn, hesitated, then gave them Actions. As the writer of the Maneuvering as a Formation articles 1-3, this immediately went red in my head, but I didn't call him on it. I still can't really tell you why I didn't call him on it, but I didn't. I guess I'm one of those people that feels like if you're going to cheat at games like this, well... whatever, y'know? I thought maybe I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and not come off like a total rules-guy, but as it turned out, he'd actually done the same exact thing to Sean in the first game, so after hearing that, I sorta felt like I should have called him out. 

In any case, I managed to shoot down Kath Scarlet, he got a couple of my X-Wings, but I forget which ones. Wedge and a Rookie I think it was, and like in my game with Russell, time expired with me behind on points for another L. 

The final game of the day, I squared off against Sean for what was the third time in two days since we'd played a couple of practice games the night before at the hotel. 

Sean's list (again- might be leaving something out here, but this is pretty close)- 
Boba Fett w/ Veteran Instincts
Kath Scarlett w/ Veteran Instincts
Mauler Mithel w/ Stealth Device

Same deal as the other two- I lost a couple of X-Wings, downed Fett, but then ran out of time, behind on points. 

Now, I was just kind of laughing it off, me- the guy with the popular, grass-roots, X-Wing site just went 0-3 at Regionals, yeah, I'm not only going to quit the game- I'm going to immediately quit writing too- ha, ha. The staff and everyone was cool, remarked a bunch of times about how awesome it was we came in from out of town and braved the storms, etc. etc. I did have a good time, it was fun to meet some new cats and talk about the game and stuff. And by stuff I mean mainly Sean and I making fun of Young Guns and Young Guns II on TV at the hotel Friday night, and a completely tangential, two-day long session making fun of Stephen Dorff's Blu E-Cigarette commerical in increasingly hilarious ways that eventually involved Jack Nicholson, the Lakeshow, the Los Angeles Clippers, Christian Slater, and skateboarders, as well as also leading us to Noah Wyle's own hilarious Dorff commerical parody. I was also super excited to hear that Matt, the guy who won, was actually planning on going to Worlds as well. Seems like every time I read about some dude that won Regionals isn't going, which frankly, I just dont' get that. 

After my three defeats, I was even more dejected to find out the "loser coin" I'd read some folks getting at other X-Wing Regionals for coming in dead-ass last was apparently nowhere to be found at the store, and in fact, they didn't even know about it, which kind of left me feeling like Chris Rock on Bigger and Blacker thinking "Damn, maybe I did steal this car" and the coin doesn't actually exist. Am I nuts or did they not give that away at some Regionals? 

So later, while Sean and I were eating dinner, I started trying to figure out where I'd lost the plot so badly. Like I mentioned in the "Why Do You Lose" article, I can usually see exactly where and why I come up short in games, but that's what was such a trip about these matches- I really didn't think I'd played that badly! 

I remarked on this fact to Sean, and I started going back through what I could remember of the matches. "The match against Russell, if it would have gone on another two or three rounds, I'd have gotten the Falcon off the board." I said, and accurately too- I may be a lot of things, but you can't say I'm a liar or a fibber when it comes to my own game, y'all. "Against Alex, kinda the same thing- I'd already destroyed Kath, the Academies were out of formation, it would have probably just been a matter of time- I mean, he only beat me by 10 anyway. Another turn or two, and I could have easily made up the difference." 

That's kind of when it hit me. 

The night before, at the hotel, in the practice game, Sean and I played a timed match. It took about 70 minutes. We observed that 70 minutes was well within the Tournament Rules, but that it was kinda trending towards the long end of things. We also noticed that neither of us ever really play within time limits because when we play over the net, we don't really worry about it and just play until the bitter end or until one of our kids wakes up- same thing really. 

This tournament used 50 minute time limits. 

I'd played too slowly. That's why I'd lost. Both those matches, had they gone on for another turn or two, would have ended differently, because that's how long it takes my particular play style to get going. I play conservatively. I break away from the action and do some turns rather than a K-Turn a lot of times. I take my time. I hedge bets flying one ship in front of the other, so that even if you do pull some crazy maneuver, I'm still going to get shots on you. 

That's where I screwed myself in this thing. I played too slowly. That's why even though I felt like everything in my game was working fine, even though I didn't make any just massively glaring mistakes (I did make a few- just nothing that had extraordinarily bad consequences), I still lost every time. 

50 minute time limit. 

Damn, man. 

I knew going in that 50 minutes was in effect- it said so on the sign they had in front of the store that morning. 

It just hadn't occured to me that I'd need to change the way that I not only approached, but the way I played the game- my tactics, my list, everything really, to support those tighter time limits. 

So there ya go. I'd brought the list I was most comfortable playing, but not a list geared to win with my playstyle of "Play to not lose" rather than "Play to win" in a 50-minute time limit setting. Dumb as it sounds, I'm almost considering for my next tournament/ Regionals/ whatever bringing several lists with me- one that will score points quickly to use in tight time limit matches, then one more like I'm used to playing for the longer time limits and just picking whichever one is more appropriate when I find out what's up at that particular location. 

This whole thing lead to a couple of other revelations about X-Wing, but as this article is already super long, I'll save those for another day. Yes, probably tomorrow. :) 

I hope this article doesn't come off as "The sun was in my eyes", with me trying to rationalize some horseshit reason why I lost. The truth is, I don't think most folks really look at why they lose games- they say stuff like "The other guy had hot dice" or "I rolled terrible" or "He guessed my every move." Now, sure, that stuff can happen, but it usually doesn't. The guy with hot dice probably rolled pretty average throughout the game, he just put himself in positions where the dice didn't matter as much. You probably rolled pretty normal too- you just left yourself relying on the dice too much to save you. As for the guessing, well, sometimes that does happen, yeah, but more often than not, if you pulled a K-Turn, you're probably doing a green for your next maneuver. I don't have to be a mind reader to know that if you're on the board edge, you're probably either going straight or turning inboard, y'know? 

So thanks again Heroic Adventures and congrats to Matt. Hope you tear 'em up at Worlds, man! 

Can somebody with a Facebook message those guys a link to this article, please? I don't have The Facebooks and don't really want to set one up just to give them a heads up. I'd really appreciate it! 

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