GQ Milton Keynes - Tournament Report!


A. INTRODUCTION

Written by CLAUS STAAL

As I already wrote in my "5 Things That Are Hot and Not About Destiny" released prior to the Galactic Qualifier in Milton Keynes on Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, I felt underwhelmingly prepared for the event as I had managed to get very few games in with the new cards. Not testing adequately is a pretty poor starting point, yet I was extremely psyched about the event! I was looking forward to so many things and it helped me recover from the fact that Star Wars Celebration was taking place at the same time - and I wasn't there.

Then again ... If I had to choose between playing LOADS of games of Star Wars Destiny and walking around looking at Star Wars related stuff a full day, I'd probably still choose playing loads of games. Even though those Maul promos that were handed out at Celebration looked EXTREMELY DOPE! Just look how happy Zach Bunn from Team Covenant looks (btw. the actual card is NOT oversized!)maul promojpg
(Photo credit: Team Covenant)

ALL the 6-0 decks lists from each of the four events are listed at the end of this article, so if you'd rather not listen to all my ranting that's where you want to go!

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who helped me collect the data! Most notably Az Johnston, who always go that extra mile to ensure that I have reliable data from big events around Europe!

1. THE VENUE ...
I LOVED THE VENUE. The Galactic Qualifier was played in an event space next to (or inside of) the MK Stadium, which I'm told is home to the football club MK Dons FC. I tried looking up the standings in the Premier League, and can't seem to find the MK Dons FC anywhere ... so.GQ event spacejpg
(Photo credit: FFG OP, and it only shows 2/3 of the venue)

The venue hosted some 700 players in total including the worlds largest X-Wing event ever (Systems Open with some 560 players), and had plenty of space for all of us. Nice space around the tables, enough for you to walk around and have a look at some of the games played as well as a well assorted bar with the possibility of soft drinks and beer, a bit of food and of course coffee which came in handy in the mornings of the event! And prices were quite decent.

There was even a small space for a few stores selling various FFG related products including sale of Star Wars Destiny singles, which I actually found to be really nice, and it could have come in handy during those 5 shaky minutes where I couldn't find my Palpatine's Lightsaber dice for my Infinite deck .... urggh ... Well done FFG Organized Play!

2. THE PEOPLE ...

The people were AWESOME!!! Can't speak highly enough of the crowd at the event! Those people man. I'm a bit of a weird Destiny player, because I rarely speak of my games in between the different rounds. Win or lose, and at this event I took some serious beatings, I usually go and spend some minutes alone processing the game(s), thinking through what went well and what I did wrong, and afterwards I'm done with the game. I don't need to talk about it. Others feel differently, but what I liked about the people at the event was all the chitter-chatter before, during and after the event. I got into loads of crazy conversations and felt I got a real sense of people there.

Sure, that's not necessarily for everyone, and some people like to just talk business (Destiny), while others feel differently. I kinda enjoy listening to random conversations. It somehow turns Destiny players into "real people", which it is easy to sometimes forget they are. Are Destiny players real people?GQ Bedfordjpg
I stayed in a small village (?) outside of Milton Keynes and shared an Air B'n'B with 10 players from the UK. I'm pretty sure the place was called Bedford. Everyone were supremely hospitable, from the jovial mortgage advisor Darran Stokes who picked me up in the airport to the raging Paul Hardman, organiser of the Charity event THE CANTINA ROYALE, who just cracked me up on the Saturday night when one of our compatriots was rumoured to have messed up our pizza order! We almost lost a young Destiny player on that account when Paul in a fit of rage were disturbingly close to force choking the life out of him.

ALSO, I got to meet Jonny Wright, who's the proud owner of Rebel Base Gaming, and does great work for the community. Anyone who has the balls to open a local gaming store deserves credit!

3. BREAKING RECORDS ...
GQ LARGEjpgThe Galactic Qualifier in Milton Keynes was the LARGEST GQ event so far in Europe, I'm still not entirely sure of the number of attendees at other GQ's around the world, but with 125 players registered for the two events Saturday and 129 players registered for Sunday, it comfortably broke the margin for the largest GQ on European soil, even if held on a remote island ... and I'm not saying a word about BREXIT. Really ... I'm not.

Actually, the precise numbers were (some players, myself included, had to leave early Sunday to catch planes, trains and whatnot home):
Standard Event 1: 123 players
Infinite Event: 125 players
Standard Event 2: 129 players
Trilogy Event: 110 players

Also, I'm 99% sure that this is the first Galactic Qualifier EVER that has seen a player take back-to-back 6-0 wins during a single Galactic Qualifier. That record was broken by SCOTTish SENSATION aka Scott "Braveheart" MacDonald (actually, I literally just gave him the name "Braveheart" ... and even if the movie is a historical mess, it's still awesome and so was his feat at the event).Scott Macdonaldjpg
Going undefeated on the first day is quite an achievement in a field consisting of a good portion of Europe's elite Destiny players, and while some people might claim that it's an untested meta still settling, which is true, there's nothing that can or should diminish the fact that Scott went 12 games undefeated sitting at the top table from morning till late evening on Saturday, that's 7 hours of Destiny without losing stride a single time (earning him 40 prize tickets in the process)! He actually extended his streak to 13-0, before suffering his first defeat in the second round of the third GQ event (Standard) and finishing at 3-3.

I'll go through his deck lists later in this tournament report, but one thing is for sure this was an event where records were broken a plenty ... including a particularly annoying record: This is the event I've ever played where I've lost the most games!

4. PRIZES AT GQ'S ...

I didn't talk to a single person who didn't LOVE the new revised format of the Galactic Qualifiers. Literally everyone were full of praise for the new approach to this particular event format by Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play. We often give FFG quite a lot of flak, but where credit is deserved it should be given! WELL DONE GUYS!!

We already described the changes to the GQ Scheme in a lengthy article, but it can be summarised by saying that not single ESCAPE POD was fired during the entire weekend! That is NOBODY DROPPED FROM THE TOURNAMENTS! Not a single player opted to drop out of the event, and it is 200% due to the way that prize ticket distribution is organised.GQ Prize walljpg
For anyone, who has not been to a Galactic Qualifier, I'll briefly recap:
  • Players earn prize tickets for every game played (1 ticket for a loss, 2 tickets for a win).
  • You earn additional prize tickets for winning 4, 5 or 6 games in a single event (2, 5 and 8 tickets respectively).
  • Win or lose, you walk away with something.
  • You can use prize tickets to purchase various prizes from a prize wall.
  • The prize wall consist of spotgloss characters (transparent acetate with colour printing), spotgloss battlefields and plots (acrylic), alt art cards specific to the GQ's (Field Medic, It Binds All Things, Well-Connected and Nature's Charm) as well as a selection of previously released alt art cards (i.e. from Q-kits and Seasonal kits). Cards are differently costed according to their kind and release date, i.e. spotgloss cards from the Awakenings Block were 6 prize tickets while Across the Galaxy cards were 10 prize tickets.
  • A player, partaking in 4 events, with a record of 4-2, 2-4, 3-3 and 4-2, would earn a total of (10+2+8+9+10+2 = 41 prize tickets). That's pretty decent for midtable results and could be enough to buy the following 5 spotgloss cards: Darth Vader, Snoke, Yoda, Bitter Rivalry and a Double Down.
IF (and only IF) people were to find something to complain about, which very few did, it was the lack of Convergence spotgloss cards. I honestly didn't expect to see them, so wasn't disappointed, and few people in fact were. At least they were not vocal about it. ANOTHER positive thing about the more generous prize policy, is that it now seems to cap the secondhand market prices for cards obtained at GQ's, and while it's not the duty of FFG to regulate the market prices, I embrace this development. People will still try to sell at "indecent" prices - but will fail more often. Now, we just need some Galactic Qualifiers in Latin America and Oceania!

5. THE MOOD AT GQ'S ...
I love the intensity of premier events. Fighting with your back against the wall to make the top cut or racking up win after win looking to go undefeated is for me one of the most supreme thrills of the game. BUT ... the mood at a Galactic Qualifier is a very special feeling indeed. Players are laughing, having fun and in generally very good spirit whether they win or lose. There's not the "grumpy feelings" after a loss or that total exhilaration after another win. It's something else entirely.top match GQjpg
Maybe it's actually a bit difficult to explain ... Go and check it out yourself! You really should. Do the dishes for a month to convince the missus to let you out and play!

I guess people are just really excited to spend two full days playing Destiny, momentarily freed from the burdens of everyday life. Spending time with new and old friends, drinking beer, eating fairly unhealthy food and talking about all kinds of stuff! top tables GQjpgFor me, personally, it was nice to have time to go around and talk to all the European players who support us by reading our articles, listening to our podcasts and also generously supporting us on Patreon. The European Destiny scene feels extremely solid, and I'm very proud to be a small part of it! You guys ROCK HARD!!!

If you take a look at some of the posts on Facebook following the Galactic Qualifier, you'll notice how the number of wins/losses is usually a footnote in a long post writing jubilant about the community surrounding this game (and their prize haul) ... really says it all!

6. YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG ...

Alright, let's talk business (primarily Standard Format)!

If you're not playing Snoke, you're probably doing something wrong. Snoke remains the black heart and impure soul of competitive decks!Snoke GQjpg
Sure, other decks are competing for top spots, but no other character, maybe apart from Yoda, can carry a deck on his back the way Snoke can.

... And if you are playing villains and not at least strongly considering adding the UNHOLY TRINITY of Vader's Fist, Megablaster Troopers and Entourage, you're probably also doing something wrong.GQ eventjpg
This in turn of course also means that if you're not playing rainbow ... yep ... you've got: Then you're probably doing something wrong!

Using Scott "Braveheart" MacDonald's list that went 6-0 in the first Standard event as a template, you kinda see my point(s).Scott MacDonald list1jpg
It is basically a list that includes all the best cards in the game, maybe apart from the exclusion of The Best Defense... for In The Crosshairs, and while the ceiling on the latter is ridiculous, the usability of the former in particular with Riot Shield just makes it an outstanding card, which I'd include any day. But there isn't a single card in the deck which isn't great! Even the sole Slave-1 can be absolutely bonkers with Watto: Free removal with its Power Action and another chance to hit a Resource side that can be Snoke'd!gq event2jpg
Imperial Officer offers two focus sides on the die saving your Snoke Focuses for the unholy trinity, while the autofocus when you activate it enables either your First Order Storm Trooper or your extra dice from the Megablaster Troopers ... ouch! This is essentially a 1 cost support if you focus your FO die into a Resource side!

If you haven't realised by now, then mark my words WATTO - STUBBORN GAMBLER is a beast. NOT being able to remove his character dice is just nuts. Suppressive Fire helps, while blanking his die is merely a short term solution courtesy of his Power Action and Salt Flats.

The deck also includes one of the best new mitigation cards: FORSAKEN, which is almost always available to play! For villains it's superior to Flank as it's not dependent on you having more ready characters, as long as EITHER you or your opponent just has one die in the pool, you're good to go. It's incredibly difficult to play around this mitigation card.gq event3jpg
Some of you might remember how surprised I was at seeing PROBE reprinted, and I'm certain it will be as oppressive as ever in the Convergence meta. One of the absolute best tech cards for villains. Being able to snatch two events from your opponent's hand can be absolutely back breaking! I had a game against rainbow villains where a Probe two rounds in a row caught me dead with only events left and cleaned the table courtesy of it! If you have access to it, but you're not playing Probe, well ... yep ... you're probably doing something wrong!

What does it take for rainbow villain supports to completely annihilate FAT Vehicle decks, which at the moment looks somewhat weakened? VANDALIZE!! Normally Vandalize is not a difficult card to play around - especially if your opponent has a 4dice start, which effectively means you just need to control 1 die every round, which isn't too difficult, and makes it impossible for your opponent to discard most FAT Vehicles (apart from the Umbaran Hover Tank). UNLESS your opponent plays Megablaster Troopers!GQ event5jpg
Because of the absolutely shameless amount of character dice that can be flooded into the pool, no vehicle can ever again feel safe from Vandalize. Even a Millennium Falcon which was all but immune can now be discarded from play. It now also seems, with the amount of INSANE supports around, that Vandalize is not a reactive card, but rather an offensive card, which was exactly why I always felt bad including it before in my decks. I guess, if you're NOT playing Vandalize, you're probably also doing something wrong.GQ event7jpg
SALT FLATS is the new hot Battlefield - and it's everywhere! Sure, it doesn't reach the dizzy heights of Theed Royal Palace, but that was also just broken, but with Leaders everywhere, it's just so incredibly powerful to be able to turn one of their dice to any side, especially with all the focuses floating around (or blanking an opponent's). If you play with a Leader and you're not using Salt Flats, then you're probably doing something wrong.

7. UNLESS YOU PLAY ...
... the spiciest resolute Senator in any part of the Galaxy and new hotness: PADMÉ AMIDALA! Obviously don't do like me! I took eLeia3/ePadmé as one of my two Standard decks and got absolutely battered. It was a massacre all day and put some serious dents in my ego and self-esteem. Do like George Barnes, who took the same character pairing and went 6-0 in the Standard event (Day 2) after his friend, and one of the YOUR Destiny patrons, Mark Lockett had piloted the exact same deck to a 5-1 score the previous day!GQ MK Standard 2 6-0jpg
I'm happy to see, although it's still painful, that the problem is NOT the character pairing and the deck ... the problem was ME!

George Barnes' deck list is VERY similar to the one Luke Magnuson did a deck analysis of just a few days prior to the Galactic Qualifier and differs just a few cards from the list I brought to the event and got absolutely trounched using. Most of the core mechanics are the same, in particular the strategy of utilising MEAN STREETS as a catalyst for playing expensive, but game altering events, i.e. Snuff Out, Flee the Scene, Mend and Aggressive Negotiations, while many of the changes are purely cosmetic.gq event9jpg
I do think the inclusion of cards like Sonic Detonators and Skilled Tracker is really clever, with the latter allowing you to spot a villain card as well as have constant pseudo mitigation in the pool! The Sonic Detonators in fact look extremely strong in conjunction with Underhanded Tactics and probably is the superior choice to the Handheld L-S1 Cannon that I included.

Obviously George Barnes had the right take on the deck and who am I to argue with the changes ... the results clearly speak their own language!

For a more comprehensive deck analysis of the core mechanics and underpinning ideas of the deck, I urge you to check out Luke Magnuson's article - it's good!

8. NOW IS THE TIME FOR ...
IF monocoloured decks are to ever thrive in Destiny, and that's a BIG if, now is probably the most opportune moment. With rotation affecting the meta in a big way, rainbow decks will be at their presumed weakest (and it already looks incredibly strong). At the Galactic Qualifier in Milton Keynes several interesting monocoloured decks were spotted including some spicy super fast aggro eKes/eRex decks, and even a monoblue heroes deck. I'd just like to remind everyone, that when I previously proclaimed the demise of blue heroes, I was referring to midrange melee decks, but I thought nonetheless - for good measure - that I'd give you Jonny Wright's blue heroes that went 5-1 in the Standard event on day 2.

NOTE: It's a Circle of Shelter and a Deflecting Slash stored under the Lightsaber Mastery! GQ MK Standard 5-1jpg
It could then indicate that the way to go for blue heroes is all in on defensive measures, which also according to Jonny Wright led to him going to time in most of his games. I'll still allow myself the benefit of the doubt as to whether there's a space in the top of the meta for these kinds of decks.

Yoda and Luke is probably still the best monoblue pairing as they work so effortlessly together and can benefit the most from the few remaining power cards in blue.

9. PALPATINE - UNLIMITED POWAAAH!
In my original Set Review for Convergence, I also gave Palpatine - Unlimited Power a pretty lukewarm reception, but the hype around him has been pretty heavy and he showed up a plenty in Milton Keynes. Mostly partnering up with Watto for those annoying money making dice that cannot be removed! This is Rob Percival's version that went 5-1 in Standard on day 2. He did his own deck analysis on swdestinydb - check it out!GQ MK Standard 5-1 Robjpg
I'm still not too excited about Palpatine, but am definitely willing to change my mind - and boy ... those Force Storms are absolutely NUTS!
10. INFINITE MILL:
Both decks that made it a final record of 6-0 in Infinite were mill decks and both were eLeia2/eYoda decks. That character pairing dominated the latter part of the Across the Galaxy meta and did not look to slow down in Infinite. The deck has been helped by a few cards, which both can be potentially backbreaking.gq event12jpg
RESISTANCE RING mills one card from the deck when played and can potentially play Commando Raid, healing cards or NO ANSWER from your discard pile! No Answer lets you discard up to 4 cards (if your opponent's has just 1 card left in hand) and looks to be a full-blooded replacement for Commando Raid that rotated out of Standard.

This deck just looks NASTY in Infinite ...

11. FAT VEHICLES:
It's obviously way to early in the meta to write off FAT Vehicles as a possible dominant force in Convergence, but they've definitely not received the love that elevated them to the top of the charts during the previous meta, and although Alfredo Bueno piloted his FAT Shadow Caster/Falcon deck to 6-0 record in the Standard event (Day 1), there are definitely cracks in the armour that could be the downfall of the archetype. Even if they still have access to - and abuse - some of the most broken cards in the game!GQ MK Standard 6-0 standard4jpg
I definitely expect to see more FAT Vehicle players move towards a well-rounded classical vehicle-type deck rather than putting all their eggs in one basket! Alfredo Bueno's deck is in fact ever so slightly pushing the limitations of the FAT Vehicle archetype. Bring in a few more vehicles and the transformation is complete!

I'm assuming that the Rebel Engineer had been a standout character all day with the ability to sift through the deck and pick up the few mod upgrades there!GQ event16jpg
I'm surprised not to see Automated Defense make it in place of Flank due to the presence of L3-37 in the deck! The former should always be available to play (unless the vehicle she's attached to has been Vandalized), while Flank is conditional.gq event15jpg

12. MY GALACTIC QUALIFIER ...
GQ event8jpg
This is not one of these stories that starts with a tragedy and then has a happy ending. It starts with a tragedy, that turns into a massacre and then only marginally improves towards the end, but the main character still dies all alone. Yeah ... I know. BU-HU!

Well ... I'd be lying if I said that my level of preparation for this event was deserving of any better results than what I ended up with, but I'd also lie if I didn't admit that somewhere in the back of my head I had hoped for better. I wrote a column a couple of days prior to the event in which I predicted the exact storyline, but even as the house came crashing down on me, I refused to believe that my prophetic power was THAT good. Oh, but it was!

Alright ... dammit ... let's cut to the chase. I brought two different decks for the Standard events and one for the Infinite event, whilst I knew that I wouldn't be able to make the Trilogy event. I hadn't tested any of the decks very well, but at least one of them was very similar to a deck I had played plenty of games with. That deck was also, incidentally, the deck I did the best with.

We already have deck analyses for the eLeia3/ePadmé and FAT Firespray-31 deck available on our website, and I'll be doing an in-depth analysis of Palpatine soon!

Looking back at my many losses, I'll attribute most of it to my poor sequencing and very poor control of the boardstate. I made plenty of mistakes and most of my opponent's were able to fully take advantage of this. I'll definitely need to get more games in and start improving in those areas.

MY CHOICE OF DECKS:
Standard1jpg
Standard2jpg
INFINITE1jpg

B. TRILOGY 6-0 DECKS:
GQ MK Standard 6-0 trilogyjpg
GQ MK Standard 6-0 trilogy2jpg
C. STANDARD 6-0 DECKS:
GQ MK Standard 6-0 standard3jpg
GQ MK Standard 2 6-0jpg
Scott MacDonald list1jpg
GQ MK Standard 6-0 standard4jpg
D. INFINITE 6-0 DECKS:
GQ MK Infinite 6-0 infinite1jpg
GQ MK Infinite 6-0 infinite2jpg
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