A couple weekends ago, two things happened that almost never do:

  1. I won a big-event tournament, of 40+ players.
  2. I felt good about my list going into the tournament.

People who know me can attest to the latter being as unlikely as the former, so I want to focus on that. Before I could feel good about my list, though, two things that are— unfortunately—all-too-common with me happened:

  1. I abandoned my original list after a Day 1 side event.
  2. I fielded a squad I had never flown before in a big-event tournament.

In the long ago days of first edition, I would always pack Ketsu/Asajj as my break-glass-in-case-of-emergency list. And—believe me—my pre-tournament routine was one giant self-inflicted emergency.

My only crime was being yet another X-Wing hipster addicted to Yet Another Squad Builder. I couldn’t bring myself to run the top meta list, so I fell into this frustrating mental loop:

The specific boogeyman changed, but there was always some broken meta list which I could never beat in the ever-scientific head-simulation. It made me second-guess my choices and tech too heavily for a match-up that often never happened.

It amounted to hours deciding on which sword to bring to this fight:

What changed this time were the reasons why I switched my list the night before the tournament. During the Day 1 side event, I flew Fenn Rau-Boba-Quadjumper. I was set on flying Boba Fett and this squad felt most efficient in terms of fitting good ships in the remaining points.

On the board, however, the synergy lacked. The Quadjumper was too slow to keep up with the heavies, and—when it finally showed up to the fight—more often laid down blocks than tractored. Fenn and Boba only helped each other in so far as they posed two serious threats which couldn’t be ignored. If my opponent could burst down one, however, it left the other nowhere to hide.

I felt that I needed ships that could set up Boba either through control or by blocking. In one game in particular, having a ship run ahead of Boba and block Darth Vader would have turned a disastrous joust for the green Mandalorian into a surefire heavenly reunion for Anakin and Padme.

My bud John “The Champ” DiMaggio had suggested at one point that I run Boba, Palob, and a Zealous Recruit. It pained me to use John’s list, as he already flies better than me, and I didn’t want to give him credit for list-building too. But his suggestion had exactly what I felt I needed: multiple ways to deny tokens and board space.

Here was my trio:

Boba Fett — Firespray-31 80
0-0-0 3
Marauder 3
Han Solo 4
Ship Total: 90
Palob Godalhi — HWK-290 38
Debris Gambit 2
Lando Calrissian 8
Engine Upgrade 3
Moldy Crow 12
Ship Total: 63
Zealous Recruit — Fang Fighter 44
Ship Total: 44

To make a long story short, the tournament began with me fielding an Initiative-1 Fang Fighter to block Vader and it finished on Day 2 when my Zealous Recruit narrowly missed blocking Vader, allowing me to kill him with a Range 1 shot.

That’s to say a decent amount of luck is necessary to go all the way. But my squad-building choices paid off in tangible ways every game. And they were driven by self-reflection and practice, not panic and desperation.

The process of preparing for the tournament feels different thanks to a more reasonable power curve. I’m finding tools that suit my lists and my play-style, not forming contingencies for potential dreadful experiences.

Now that the mornings before events are freed from build-related anxiety, I honestly don’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll start combing my hair:

 

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