Interview with 2017 X-Wing Hoth Open winner, William Haigwood

William Haigwood, on the left, took a selfie with me at Adepticon after his win.

William Haigwood, you just returned from Adepticon 2017 as the champion of the Hoth Open. What was the attendance for this tournament and how many rounds of X-Wing did you have to play in order to accomplish this feat?

There were over 300 players in the Hoth Open. It was split into two days of Swiss rounds, I played in day 1A which had over 100 players. I played 7 games that first day, winning 6 and losing 1. The game that I lost went the entire 75 minutes of the round and I lost on point count of the remaining ships.

I returned for day 2 and played 2 more rounds of Swiss before we went to elimination rounds for the top 8 players. After winning both games that morning I was seated 4th overall going into top 8.

Then, after 3 rounds of elimination, my final record was 11-1.

What was your secret to staying mentally sharp and physically fit for that many rounds of X-Wing?

I was drinking plenty of water and avoiding greasy foods, eating just a light breakfast before the event. I stand while I play, so I make sure to where comfortable shoes and stretch when I can. On day 2 during the elimination rounds, the beer lady on a tricycle rode past the tables and I got a couple beers off of her. I wouldn’t recommend it but it definitely helped me stay calm and upbeat for the remaining two rounds.

How long have you been playing the the game? And prior to Adepticon, what was the largest X-Wing tournament you’ve won before?

I’ve been playing for over 2 years now. Started buying ships with some birthday money to check out the game and was hooked on its beautiful models and deep strategies. I believe I have only won two tournaments prior to this one. First was a small point level (40pt) single ship tournament in Davenport at Games +1, that I won with Darth Vader. The second, and larger of the two, was a tournament at Critical Hit Games in Iowa City that was a warm-up for the upcoming 2016 Store Championships season. I flew Bossk and two HWK-290s all that season but never managed to win another tournament.

What was your list?  

K-Wing: · Miranda Doni (29) Extra Munitions (2) Twin Laser Turret (6) Thermal Detonators (3) Cluster Mines (4) Advanced SLAM (2) · Sabine Wren (2)
X-Wing: · Biggs Darklighter (25) · R4-D6 (1) Integrated Astromech (0)
Y-Wing: Gold Squadron Pilot (18) Twin Laser Turret (6) · R3-A2 (2) BTL-A4 Y-Wing (0)
— TOTAL ——- 100p. 

Also, tell me about your decision making for your build; sometimes people build lists to counter what they think is prevalent in the meta, whereas sometimes people just bring what they know is strong. Was there a strategy involved in what you brought?

I have to give credit to Paul Heaver, the 3 time World Champion of Xwing for the list. He won a similar tournament the weekend before Adepticon in New York. My own rebel list struggled against the multiple action and highly maneuverable aces that are so common in the top tables of a tournament. Paul had simply brought together the best of the best in the current Rebel line up and put them all into one list. I was very familiar with the powerful ability of Biggs to force shots on himself to save his wingmen and the debuffing of the “Stresshog” Y-Wing and had flown them many times since I first started playing. It was in the Miranda piloted K-Wing that the list had its powerful endgame ship. With Biggs to protect her and the Stresshog to take away actions and available maneuvers away from enemies, Miranda was free to use her ability of spending a shield to increase accuracy much more often early game and place bombs on ships who were slowed down by the Y-Wing.

Miranda is able to drop mines directly onto ships who haven’t moved yet with great accuracy thanks to the SLAM action and the Advanced SLAM modification. Many of the top ships in the game survive on defensive dice modifications. Dropping mines does damage without attacking them and the crew member Sabine adds an automatic damage on top of that damage rolled as well. This was the perfect counter to these unkillable Aces that rule the tournament scene.

Did you feel well prepared for the the variety of lists you faced against or did the meta at the Hoth Open surprise you? If so, what was the most interesting list you faced?

As I have been playing just with my within my local friends, I was not exactly sure what to expect at the tables of a major tournament. The latest FAQ changed some of the strongest cards in the game, including Manaroo, who I had be flying alot of up until the latest changes to the game. While I thought the changes were valid and well thought out, my abuse of her pilot ability combined with Attinni Mindlink was much more difficult after the nerf. Because of a few other changes to the over used, and for the most part overpowered, cards meant that the variety of lists in the meta would be at an all time high. The meta didn’t surprise me too much though, the strong list archetypes where all represented from each faction just in new combinations. While I faced alot of high pilot skill turrets and maneuverable aces, one Imperial list did surprise me with a new combination. He placed the new Kylo Ren crew member, who can call out 1 of 8 critical hits in your damage deck for you to take, and placed it on the TIE Phantom Whisper. It was backed up by Darth Vader and two Academy Pilot TIE Fighters to supply evades which powered up Darth Vader’s attack, trying to push through the Kylo crit placed by Whisper. It was unique, had high damage potential, and was hard to deal with. Luckily he was terrified of getting mines places on his low health aces and I was able to force a bad engagement for his Vader and Whisper. And while this game was a unique experience, the practice of trying to blow up his low health aces with mines and bombs was a actually helped me prepare for my last game of Swiss because I face off against a similar Darth Vader and maneuverable Imperial aces build.

Let’s take a step back from the tournament, what are your opinions on X-Wing as a game right now? 

X-Wing has reached a new levels of complexity and balance. With each new ship and expansions the uniqueness of previous ships gets smaller and smaller but the variety in which you can fly each one gets greater with each new upgrade card. X-Wing keeps up with the latest Star Wars movies and television shows by putting the newly iconic ships in the players hands. This doesn’t seem to be slowing down as they will most likely release ships for each movie that comes out.

What is your favorite aspect of X-Wing as a game?

My favorite aspect of the game is setting your dials and guessing your opponent’s dials. You need to be able to not only understand how your own ships fly but you must understand what your opponent is trying to do with their ships and how they move around the board. Correctly calculating your opponent’s maneuver puts you in better situations and will win you games by avoiding bad situations.

And if you could make one change to any ship or card, what would it be?

If I could change a ship I would give the HWK-290 a primary weapon turret. It is the only ship in the game with a 1 die attack rating and it is a bad design flaw. While it is thematic, the HWKs were civilian transport and were sold without weapons, this is a dogfighting game where every ship has a decent primary weapon. By changing the HWKs from 1 die in arc to a 360 degree turret it would make up for this lack of raw dice by being able to get shots all the time. Currently every HWK requires a secondary turret to be effective and each turret has a range band that it isn’t able to shoot at. This change would allow a HWK to be flown with out an expensive secondary turret and push it’s cost for its support abilities way down.

For those who don’t know, winning the Hoth Open qualified you to be one of eight competitors to compete at the Coruscant Invitational in Orlando Florida, the invitational will test your all-around-knowledge of X-Wing by making you build a 77 point squad for each faction and then you and your competitors will draft the remaining 23 points. How well versed are you in the other factions?

I play each faction equally. I started on Rebels and played against the Empire, as my opponents changed to newer players who wanted to fly Rebels, I switch factions as well. Since the Scum and Villiany faction was released I do favor them and had been playing Scum competitively for the past year.

Obviously, what you draft will have many variables, but, can you give any insight on what ships you would like to draft and what ships you hope you don’t get stuck with?

I am looking at the Y-Wing and HWK in both Rebel and Scum for their utility options, with bombs or debuffs, as well as a secondary turret. I am hoping to not get stuck with the Starviper or TIE/FO. I have looked at their builds already and do not think they are worth the points or will be effective.

Thanks for the interview Will, any shout-outs you’d like to make? 

I wanted to thank my girlfriend, Alyssa Parker for wishing me luck between each game and her parents who let me stay with them in Chicago and watched my dog for the days I was at the convention. Without their support I wouldn’t have even been able to make it to the event. Another big shout out to Gold Squadron Podcast for their support during the tournament. I played against their host Dion during my last match and he gave me one of thier custom Gold Squadron Pilot cards that I used for the rest of the tournament for my Gold Squadron Y-Wing. Dion officially welcomed me into their Squadron in an post match interview and are even helping me with the travel arrangements I need to go to Orlando.

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