The Future of Organised Play

Earlier in the week, A Renewed Hope unveiled their vision for the future of Organised Play in Star Wars Destiny. We’re pretty excited about what they’ve released, so felt it deserved an article. If you want to check out the original article, it’s here:

(Or Organized Play if you prefer – ARH remained neutral on the topic by including both spellings in their article)

Let’s look at the various events and series which have been announced:

Galactic Open Events
GO’s are modelled on FFG‘s Galactic Qualifiers, but with a subtle rename to reflect the fact they are not intended to be a qualifier for anything (though going 6-0 does give you free entry to World’s 2022). Entry to these events is $15 per event of 6 rounds, and much like the old GQ’s, the prizes up for grabs are some pretty stunning spot glosses:

In addition to the 7 characters above, there will be 5 more characters, 4 plots and 3 battlefields on offer. I think it would be a fair guess to say that the unspoiled spot glosses will all be A Renewed Hope cards, meaning that we’re pretty much guaranteed to get at least 1 Hoth spot gloss battlefield (since there’s only 4 ARH battlefields and 2 of them are on Hoth). Good news.

The first of these events is to be held next month. We’ve got the start times below along with an estimated finish time, assuming rounds take about 50 minutes. Click the times to enter on
20 March 11am-4pm GMT (7am-noon US EST/10pm-3am Australian ET)
20 March 7pm-midnight GMT (3pm-8pm US EST/21 March 6am-11am Australian ET)
21 March 4pm-9pm GMT (noon-5pm US EST/3am-8am Australian ET)
Note, these times are subtly different from the original times posted by ARH, but have been confirmed by them. Daylight savings is late March in Europe and early March in the US, meaning that these events fall in the brief window when the time difference between the UK and the US is a mere 4 hours.

As in previous GQ’s, wins give you tickets, and tickets mean prizes. Here’s how the tickets work:

If we get 64 people at one of these events, ARH will be giving away 636 tickets, or between 53 and 106 spot glosses, depending on which card type is most popular.

Release Events and Mid-Cycle Events

So far we’ve had two release events: Faltering Allegiances and Redemption, and the plan is to continue these events going forward, with free entry and prizes for everyone. These events are always a bit crazy as players race to build decks with newly spoiled cards. I’m glad ARH haven’t followed FFG‘s lead in having a 2 week gap between release and event. It’s so much fun seeing what people turn up with on just a day’s notice.

However, ARH are adding mid-cycle events to their schedule. These are designed to be more competitive, and as the name suggests, will take place approximately midway between releases. Entry is $8 and the first one is on:
10 April 4pm-9pm BST (11am-4pm US EST/11 April 1am-6am Australian ET)
Top Cut: 11 April 5pm BST/noon US EST/12 April 2am Aus ET)

The Top16 and 5 other lucky competitors will win a rather nice looking Doctor Aphra spot gloss.

The big one. ARH are scheduling in a World Championship for January 2022. And, fingers crossed and pandemic willing, it’ll be in Real Life in Las Vegas. This is exciting news, especially as by then there are likely to be 2 (or maybe 3) more ARH sets released. I would add that as we have a very health Destiny scene in Europe, I would like to see the 2023 World’s in the UK or elsewhere in Europe.

Game Nights
In addition to all the above, ARH will be supporting casual game nights with OP kits. These events are the backbone of Star Wars Destiny, and it’s good to hear they haven’t been forgotten. More news on this soon from ARH. I would anticipate that these will run in a similar way to FFG event kits. I do hope though that if there are promos given away as part of these kits, some consideration could be made into the choice of cards, to make it easier for players.

Promos from store kits always seemed like a pretty random collection of cards, but there were some FFG promos that were spot on, like Niman Mastery, which really makes maintaining multiple decks much easier (as this card is basically an auto-include in every blue deck). It’s one of the reasons we went out of our way to do Desperate Measures and On Guard as promos in our own OP kit. I would like it if ARH made an effort to print at least some of their more popular cards for this reason.

I also might suggest that to alleviate the problems introduced for IRL play by cards like Ackbar and 501st, they could make X-Wing dice (and cards too perhaps, though X-Wing promos were already done by FFG) or E-Web cards and dice, as “ARH official” promos.

And one final suggestion would be to print cards which have been added to the post-publication errata list. Some cards were changed early enough that most people will have the correct version on their printed sets (such as ISB Agent, Selling Intel and Planned Operation, and the new Ultimate Heist and Pirate Loyalist). However I would imagine most people will not have gone to the effort of commissioning new copies of Extremist Campaign, Force Affinity, Taron Malicos and Unending Hate, so this seems like a good opportunity to do so. Of course the plot and character could also be re-done as a spot gloss for GO’s, but these are going to be much harder to get hold of. I was surprised FFG never did this for their cards. Back in the day Decipher reprinted cards with major changes or errors so that players could use the correct version in play.

Decipher printed errata/error corrections as physical cards. Will ARH do the same?

In the meantime, rest assured that we’re going to continue to run our regular echobase nights, and after the success of our first OP kit, we have plans for echobase OP2. Watch this space.

In summary, in order of increasing competitiveness, we have:
Game Nights < Release Events < Mid-Cycle Events << World’s with Galactic Opens on the side.

Thoughts on the Competitive Scene
It’s great news that ARH have grand plans for the competitive scene. However, there are a couple of lingering concerns I have about managing these events when more is on the line than personal pride. ARH have upped the ante with the addition of spot gloss prizes, and it is likely that these will be sought after by players (I know I want some), meaning they are likely to carry significant (if not enormous) value. We therefore require some clarity from ARH on a few issues.

Rules of Engagement
As we begin in-real-life events, some floor rules will be required so that those attending events know what is expect of them, and know in turn what they can expect from the tournament organisers and judges. At echobase we hope to start running IRL events as soon as we can. It will make the job of people like ourselves much easier when this appears.

So far ARH have proven themselves very willing to listen to, and respond to, criticism and suggestions. Ultimately, we players are on a journey together, and these events are for the players, which includes ARH themselves, and the wider community. To that end, I hope that when the floor rules are released, or perhaps before they are released, an opportunity is given for people to have their opinions heard. When FFG released their floor rules, it would be fair to say that it was met with mixed feelings (for an excellent analysis on the old floor rules, check out this YourDestiny article).

I also hope that the floor rules address some issues with TTS play. It is relatively easy to push the odds in your favour when rolling dice, or when using a die box. The Artificery League have guidance on TTS for competitive games (*reproduced at the bottom of this article) and it would be helpful for ARH to include a similar approach. Having these things in writing makes it much easier for games to be fair, it gives players who are suspicious of dodgy playing something to fall back on, and provides a common framework for playing to maintain equanimity.

The Detect Mechanic

It seems to be an ongoing discussion on various threads: how to handle the detect mechanic in real life. The issue is not in detecting cards, but when you need to randomly select or discard a card from the opponent’s hand and one or more of them is detected. You can’t know, if you randomly select a card and it’s a copy of a detected card, whether the card selected was a detected copy or a previously unseen copy of the same card, and this can significantly impact the game.

ARH have suggested that in such a situation you should determine which card to discard by lying out the cards and rolling a D6. Or a D8+ if the opponent has more than 6 cards in their hand. It’s a little clunky, but it works and doesn’t come up too often.

What I’m not clear on though is what to do in the situation where someone fails to bring an appropriately high sided die. I would like to see this clarified in the tournament rules. I don’t think it’s likely to come up very often, but it’s better to pre-empt and account for conflict, however unlikely, than to hope it doesn’t arise.

Proxies and Print-At-Home cards
FFG were not a fan of proxy cards (by which I mean fan-made alternate versions of existing cards), but their lack of clarity on the subject caused some disputes which could have been avoided with more care and attention to their tournament regulations and floor documents. ARH will do well to learn from this, but are in a very different position as they are not in the business of actually making physical cards.

Proxies are also complicated by cards such as Admiral Ackbar and 501st Assault Team which call up FFG cards. Will ARH demand that if you play Ackbar you have to use only FFG official cards and dice? It seems unlikely, as this puts a lot of pressure on players to source multiple copies of what could be a relatively rare and expensive card just to play one card. It’s also likely this trend of requiring old FFG cards will continue with future ARH sets. If they make allowances to proxy these cards, will they make allowances for all cards?

We love our echobase promos for cards such as On Guard, Anakin Skywalker’s Lightsaber and Pulverize, and would like to be able to use them in an event. However, there has to be a balance struck between narrowly insisting players only use official FFG cards or ARH cards with the original ARH design on the one hand, and having a deck full of alt-art proxies on the other hand. The latter may be confusing, especially in an international event where players of different languages will rely on the card art to know what a given card does.

echobase OP1

ARH cards and the Transformations set are essentially print-at-home cards. ARH cannot object to home printed cards of these sets, however they will have to make clear what quality of home printing is acceptable. Are paper printouts inserted into sleeves ok? If printed on card, should the card weight have to fall within a certain range? These need to be clarified before a serious IRL event.

Rather than just hypothesizing, this would be my proposal:
In competitive events (World’s, Mid-Cycle Events and GO‘s):
An insistence that you have either the original FFG card and die, or the correct ARH-art version, of all cards in your decks or on your team. Dice for ARH cards would have to be stickered or printed, and would have to be available for inspection by an opponent or judge on request. Alt-arts could be allowed with the opponent’s express permission on a game-by-game basis.
However, I would have a list of FFG cards for which it is acceptable to break this rule, a list which would currently be limited to X-Wing and E-Web Emplacement. Such cards could be home printed alt-arts, and dice should be re-stickered or printed dice with the correct symbols. No D6 proxies (by D6 here I mean an unstickered 1-6 D6 where you have to refer back to the dice reference to know what you’ve rolled).
In more casual events (Release Events and Regular Game Nights)
Proxies allowed unless there is a good reason not to include them, at the TO’s discretion, such as a non-native speaker who has trouble with the proxies, or cards that are too hard to read to be fit for gaming. Stickered or printed dice for ARH cards, with the correct symbols. No unstickered D6s.

One final thing to note is that a complaint of proxies is that they devalue the originals, and that by accepting them ARH contributes to this devaluation. I personally do not agree with this argument. The presence of a committee, who develop the game, and who have a strong forward facing approach to game development and Organized Play, for me, increases the value of my collection. Also, regardless of what ARH decides, I would much rather play Ackbar with “real” X-Wings if I can, and for that reason I have bought a few. However, I have no issue with others proxying them.

That’s all for now. Overall, I love what we’re seeing from ARH. Their dedication to Organized Play is fantastic, and I look forward to hearing what they’ve got in store for game nights.

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* Artificery Tabletop Simulator Courtesy & Rules (as referred to above):
1. Be courteous to your fellow players. We’re here to have fun and roll dice, not attack one another.
2. Call a judge on any issues you might have before they become problems, and certainly do so before the end of the round (or even the tournament!)
3. Avoid pressing R too many times. Three succinct presses will get the dice up in the air. There have been accusations in the past of people pressing R as the dice are coming down unfavorably for them. Please don’t make us deal with complaints like this. Dice Rollers are also acceptable.
4. Never, never, EVER delete anything. We have had issues in the past with the game state being in question after cards, dice, tokens, etc. were deleted. Set resources and overwritten dice to the side or in a bag so that there is no question. For obvious reasons, you also shouldn’t be rewinding the game, either.
5. Be able to hear someone else if they’re using a microphone. You should have one yourself to resolve any issues over voice.
6. If a die is ever cocked because it landed on an edge or is propped against another die, please reroll it. Use your best discretion as to what it means to have a die ‘cocked’. For instance, a die isn’t cocked if it’s slightly elevated because it landed against a character mat.

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