This was another local tournament, like the Bristol Blitz last year. It would be nice to bring every different team to a tournament at some point, to get proper use out of all of them, and given that I’ve been using Zees a lot this year (especially in the Cardiff League) it would be a good chance to get those out for a bit.
The tournament has a slightly different format to the traditional tournaments we’ve been to, and instead of just being four plain identical exhibition matches this was more of a surrogate league – each game is an exhibition match with more credits, and the team you use each game is based on the team you had in the previous game. Unlike a league, any rank increases are rolled at the beginning of each game, and deaths are ignored (instant, free resurrection between games).
In addition, it’s a five-game tournament and the final game was an Ultimate multiplayer game.
Game 1 – Andy’s S2 Corporation (4pt win)
Andy was great fun to play against – I got a good six-point lead early on but he refused to let me get the landslide. We made it through to the end of the game, where I got a final point to put me on four and with the three-point strike hex blocked up with two on the bonus lane, it was going to be impossible for the Corporation to score a win. This is one of the games that I expected to be the hardest, since the Zees had the fewest upgrades. The Monkey Business dice didn’t favour me much, but the Offensive coach was very useful.
He did kill a monkey though.
Game 2 – Rob’s Asterians (7pt landslide loss)
The Asterian Dirty Tricks and Dive-Taking failed to do too much to the monkeys, as expected. Rob played well and blocked the three-point strike hex from me, and with their 3+ Speed there was nothing I could do to open it up. Like the last times I played Asterians (at the Charity Open Day and 2013 Nationals), I was permanently on the back foot trying to slow down what seemed like an inevitable loss. I managed to hold off until turn 12, which is pretty good for a Skill 5+ Jack team against one with Skill 3+ Strikers.
The best moment of this loss was pointing out that he hadn’t called any fouls all game, and I’d had ten models on the pitch uncontested for almost the entire game. It clearly didn’t help me, but it was rewarding nonetheless. On the flipside, I didn’t notice that he’d had 7 players on the pitch for at least half of the game himself.
Game 3 – Cai’s Teratons (3pt win)
Cai was a sharp player, he knew how to use the Teratons to best effect and made it difficult for me to pick up the ball by applying threat hexes to it. At one point, I played the Ball Shatters card to my own player because he wouldn’t be able to safely Evade out of two threat hexes. When relaunched, the ball landed in the only spot with two threat hexes on it, so it didn’t really help me at all. He called foul almost every one of my actions, but found it difficult to kill off the monkeys quickly enough to stop them scoring.
Game 4 – Josh’s Robots (7pt landslide win)
I wasn’t too sure how I would end up doing against the Robots, and Josh didn’t know about the Zees. I managed to kill a Robot Guard by slamming them in the back (with plenty of threat hex support, obviously) and in my final turn, took a one-dice 4+ chance at a 4pt Strike to get the landslide… and got it.
I don’t think Josh is used to someone fouling against him, and I feel a little bad about fouling, but the Zees require the foul to be able to do anything. Still, he called more fouls than Rob did and got a few monkeys sent off – just not enough.
Josh had a great, simple paint scheme for his robots – white undercoat with a coloured wash for position. One of the big problems with robots is determining player role, since they are all so similar, but this made it so easy for me to tell what was a Jack, a Striker or a Guard.
Game 5 – ULTIMATE!
The Ultimate game involved Andy, Rob and Josh from my previous games, as well as a Nameless team and an S1 Corporation team (Tom, who I’ve played in previous tournaments) to make a full six players.
I called Defensive plays for the first couple of turns, but didn’t need the dice and didn’t get much done in those turns. I’m not sure whether it was subsequently calling Offensive plays or just having more Zees on the pitch closer to the action that did the trick but I started scoring again. At one point, I was tied for first place with Tom’s Corporation and Rob’s Asterians but Tom scored an extra couple of points on me to pull himself ahead and push me down to third place when the time ran out and we ended the game.
I think I liked this game more than the others in the day – I even managed to pull a couple of nasty surprises on people (Running Interference cards!) and took a Nameless Hard Guard off for three turns thanks to many threat hexes and a slam in the back (with a few unused Monkey Business dice).
Overall, Jen and I did pretty well – she won her Ultimate game by a landslide, and we were both tied on tournament points with Tom (who won our Ultimate game). Taking into account strike difference, Tom came in second, I was third and Jen was fourth. I think that’s a brilliant turnout for the Zees. I think it was even better for Jen, who had misunderstood the format and was reducing her tournament bonus each game, instead of adding it on, and effectively was being outranked by her opponents in games two and three. I think – although I’d need the complete results to be sure – that if the Ultimate game hadn’t happened I would have been in second place.
The overall winner was Rob Taylor with his Asterians – I’m definitely going to have to arrange some practice games against them, since they are the team I do the worst against.
The aim of the ‘league-ish’ format was to encourage other teams to come who are perceived as needing a bit more development to be competitive – teams like the Zees, the Robots and Z’zor. I think it definitely helped the Zees to be able to spend more than 20mc since they need an Offensive coach to really push for the big scores but 5+ Skill (and unpredictable coaching dice) is even more crippling for them than it is for the Veer-myn. On the other hand, every other team had the same number of upgrades as I did so it was still a set of four balanced matches.
I like the different format, it kept things interesting and I was really pleased to have done so well with the Zees. I hope that other people will take them in the future, since I have not yet played against them – I think they’d be an interesting challenge. It was also very good to have two full Ultimate games – no dead Strike zones – with all the chaos that entails. I’d like to play another tournament in this format one day, but it’s quite tiring – four hour games and a two-hour Ultimate game to cap it off is a gruelling schedule.
The giveaway for this tournament was a set of custom acrylic tokens with a Bristol Vanguard logo on them (a Banksy bear throwing a dice) – Jen and I picked blue and red to supplement the green Kickstarter ones we already have.