Interview with Ian Courtney from Zombiesquadron About Yavin

Expectations for yavin Player pov



Is this your first tournament?

Well, Yavin will only be my second… of 2017. Currently it is dry January in terms of X wing tournaments so I will be a little cold in terms of tournament gaming going in, but I don’t feel that should be much of an issue.

How many tournaments have you played ?

As long as the wife does not read this by my count it stands at twenty of which I’ve won three (including a store championship), runner up twice and a third place. Of course that is sandwiched by a variety of middle of the road to abysmal performances which makes the better ones that much more enjoyable. The thing I love most about X-wing tournaments in general is that by and large they are one day events, (except the big ones), which makes getting the wife points to go and play in them so much easier.

Not forgetting to mention the fantastic playing community you encounter. For me although I like to try to win, it is also about playing X amount of games of your favourite hobby in one sitting and seeing where you come in a group of your fellow gamers.

When did you start play?

Approximately it was about July 1st 2014 two weeks after the birth of my daughter, child number two. My friend Simon had also just had his second one and had been contemplating trying X wing and suggested giving it a go as compared to our regular staple of Warhammer 40K it required no painting and less time and as it turned out, was more strategic with clear cut rules. We met up at a gaming club with a core set each, swapped a couple bags of children’s clothes, (both our second ones were the opposite sex to our first, “welcome to a world of pink” he said upon handing me a bag of girls clothes), and sat down and played a few games.

The following week I had acquired an interceptor, B-wing and Tie defender. And that was basically that. Two games of seventh edition 40K in the next two weeks put the writing on the wall and it has been X-wing all the way since. What I really enjoyed was learning a new system and trying to get better at the game. Simon had a much better grasp of it at the beginning which was a reverse of our 40K games and he regularly and consistently battered me at X-wing.

Why Did you wanna go to Yavin Open series ?

I really enjoyed the last one at the UK Games Expo. Initially I had penciled in the Expo weekend last year as it had been where they had run the UK Nationals previously. When Yavin was announced last year I just decided to still go as I had no idea when Nationals would be. As it transpired Nationals ended up being when I was on Holiday in August. What I liked about the format was that if you were eliminated on the Saturday there would still be some organized games to play in on the Sunday with the Hanger bay event which was fun.

Vince Kingston and his team did a very good job at running the event which still is the largest X-wing tournament attended in the World so far. Yavin this time around will only be 370 people compared to the 414 last time so it should be a bit easier for them.

The kudos in playing in the world’s largest X wing tournament really gripped me, even if it is in a strange foreign meta.

What are your expectations ?

My biggest mistake last time was not travelling up the day before. You can read all about it here, ( ) in full but the short version is not much sleep combined with a 5.30am drive time and copious amounts of coffee and cheap caffeine energy drinks is not a good combination for playing at one’s best.

As a player, especially one who likes high variance Imperial lists I often struggle to play my A game in every match at a tournament whether that is from outside influences like being kept up all night by small people or just taking my eye of the ball in a game.

My expectations from a competitive playing perspective after winning Yavin or making the top eight cut are realistically to either make the second day or narrowly miss out.

Above all to have a good time.

Any thought on your list at yavin yet?

I’m an Imperial player at heart and I am particularly fond of the Tie Phantom.  Seeing as Wave Ten looks like it is going to be legal for Yavin 2017 I have been trying Kylo Ren crew on Rear Admiral Chiraneau with Whisper with slightly mixed results. I’ve found its good against most things other than Paratanni where Vader crew would be more effective. Currently I am undecided on a wave ten list.

My fall back wave nine list is:

Spice World:

Whisper Tie Phantom: Veteran Instincts, Fire Control Systems, Agent kallus, Advanced Cloaking device

 3 X Black Squadron Tie Fighter: Crack Shot

Wampa Tie Fighter

100 points

It is not amazing against everything but also gives me a fighting chance against everything and I like flying it. Swarms made a bit of a comeback at the Polish regionals.

What Meta do you think will be at Yavin?

It is hard to say with wave ten dropping so close but it is likely that we will see familiar lists kitted out with new upgrade cards like Kylo Ren and Boshek. Regardless, if you want to compete at the sharp end then you need to be able to deal with Paratanni, Tie defenders, Palpatine builds, triple Imperial aces and Dengaroo as well as consider a plan for running into bomber builds, quad TLT, and large rebel ship lists like Ghosts and Rey in a Millennium Falcon. Due to the number of players, like last time expect to see a lot of variety of builds, some will be a little bit out of the box. Knowing how to play the list you are taking, even if it’s not what the internet or podcasts say is good, is key.

Jack Mooney’s run at worlds 2016 with Jake and Han Solo was a good example of flying what you know and flying it well.

What are your thoughts on the new Tournament structure from FFG (if played Long)

I’ve always liked the simplicity of the basic tournament structure and whilst the move to final salvo is slightly inelegant it is better than other options like partial points in terms of the game overall. I like that they have removed modified wins and draws.

In terms of the actual structure of tournaments with regards to round numbers and cuts, I feel that for the most part a cut is really only necessary for a major event like a store championship, Regional and so on. For small events like the quarterly kits standard Swiss round pairings would probably get more casual or new players taking part who might find the idea of a cut to be a bit elitist.

Having run tournaments in a number of game systems including X-Wing the repeat customer is the most important. Those players are not the few who compete at the top, it is those in the middle and lower ends of the rankings that make up the bulk of the player base. The majority of which would be far happier playing just five games of Swiss rounds at a casual smallish event rather than four rounds with a four player top cut which they will unlikely make.

Looking at the bigger tournaments, the graduated cut for large events like Yavin is quite sensible for the numbers although with Yavin the top cut is quite harsh if you want to make top eight. One player undefeated, three with one loss, (or a total of four on one loss) and seventeen with two defeats out of ten games.

Anyone making the cut or having only lost two games out of ten will have done very well.

Any players you look up to?

Having come from playing on the Warhamer 40K tournament scene for a long, long time it would be a rather easy question about 40K, as you would probably need but one hand to count it on, (that’s slightly unfair about 40K but you get my drift). Too answer this adequately about X-Wing would probably involve a long list of people for a whole plethora of reasons.

The X-wing tournament community in the UK and elsewhere is very welcoming and friendly. Part of it is down to, how the rules are clear cut, and how first World champion Doug Kinney’s Fly Casual ethos, was adopted worldwide but people playing the game still have to adopt those principals and live by it, which they do.

Living in the South East of the UK it would be amiss not to mention the 186th Squadron who play the game how I like games to be played, hard but fair. They have done a lot for the community and have recently set up a tournament listing site for the UK. A lot of my favourite games have been against players from the 186th. Having played against each other a few times in tournaments I have a lot of time for Jesper Hills our 2015 national champion who bore the mantle with such grace.

Of people I’ve not personally met or played I always find it’s worth listening to triple World Champion Paul Heaver on the Nova Squadron Podcast who has a great reading of the game and meta. I also have to take my hat off to Tom Reed who had a great run of form for winning both the Italian Open and Nationals last year and finishing top of Swiss at Worlds. Furthermore I find David Sutcliffe’s blog, Stay on the leader, (, very insightful and would recommend it to anyone of any playing level.

And good luck at Yavin.




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