Paul Heaver

2013 X-Wing World Champion

“Never tell me the odds.”
   –Han Solo

2013 X-Wing World Champion Paul Heaver

Who is Paul Heaver?

Paul Heaver got his first introduction to X-Wing at Gen Con Indy 2012. He came to the Fantasy Flight Games booth looking for Android: Netrunner , but after seeing how popular X-Wing was, he read some online reviews and picked up the Core Set for Christmas. At his local Kessel Run event, Paul borrowed a set of ships and battled his way to third place, starting him on a long and glorious journey. After improving his skills throughout a series of Regional Championships, Paul elevated his game to the highest levels at the 2013 FFG World Championship Weekend where he claimed the title of 2013 X-Wing World Champion!

  • X-Wing World Champion – 2013
  • X-Wing North American Championships, Top 16 – 2013
  • X-Wing Team Covenant VASSAL Tournament Champion – 2013

In His Own Words:

I am a software engineer in the Northern Virginia region, living with my wife and two kids.  Our group of X-Wing players calls itself NoVa Squadron. We play at the Game Parlor in Chantilly and make trips to most of the game stores that run X-Wing in the Baltimore-DC area. I've done well in a few competitive CCGs before this and played the D&D minis game competitively for a short while, but X-Wing is the first miniature game I've gotten serious about. Otherwise, I casually play some online CCGs and computer games.

On Preparing for Tournaments:

The first step is to figure out what you expect to face in the event by paying attention to battle reports on forums. For the 2013 World Championships, I expected TIE swarms and low-pilot skill pilots such as Blue Squadron Pilots , Rookie Pilots , and Bounty Hunters . Once I have an idea of the popular squads, I try to build something that has a good chance of beating those ships. Finally, I practice as much as possible. You can have the best list and lose because you aren't familiar with it. I tested via VASSAL online, and I performed additional testing of a number of opening maneuvers and asteroid placements by myself.

On His 2013 X-Wing World Championship Squad List:

The first time I saw a B-wing, I started playing around with it. The extra shields over an X-wing seemed worth the loss of agility. I had a lot of trouble getting used to the dial, getting blocked while performing Koiogran turns, and getting burned down by opposing ships. When I was constructing my squad list, Biggs Darklighter seemed to add a lot of defense to the list by staying back and drawing fire against an extra defense die. I also decided to add Advanced Sensors to the B-wings so they could K-turn and focus, even while ramming into other ships.

Paul Heaver’s World Championship squad

At that point in testing, my list was three Blue Squadron Pilots with Advanced Sensors and Biggs. It seemed like a good list, but then I read Doug Kinney’s article on the Team Covenant website entitled "Use the 4's," where he talks about how pilot skill “4” pilots could be a strong counter to the current metagame. I was having trouble keeping all three B-Wings close enough to Biggs anyway, so trading one for a Rookie Pilot and upgrading the other two to Dagger Squadron Pilots seemed like it was worth testing. I played on VASSAL a bunch (winning the Team Covenant VASSAL tournament), and came in second at a monthly event near me, losing to an Imperial list that had everything at pilot skill six or higher. My squad list going into the World Championships was Biggs , a Rookie X-wing, and two Dagger B-wings, each with Advanced Sensors .

On the 2013 X-Wing World Championship:

In the World Championships, I faced two lists with Firesprays, four with YT-1300s, and one build with four X-wings. In each match, Advanced Sensors were extremely helpful. Barrel rolling to K-turn to a clear spot, focusing before purposefully ramming my own ships, and otherwise “cheating” the action mechanics worked really well for me.

My strategy against a TIE swarm was mainly based on the asteroids. A swarm player will drop asteroids in the corners, and usually has initiative, since they often run less than one-hundred points. My first asteroid is always in the middle, then my second asteroid is between that one and one of the corner asteroids. If they place their first two asteroids in my corners, I situate the rest of the asteroid field in my half and loiter there. If they place the asteroids in their corners, I make a hook and maneuver my ships into the pocket. I try to play so that Biggs can only be shot through the asteroids in the beginning, and the TIEs can't K-turn without landing on rocks. After that, you have to play it by ear and take range “1” shots when you can.

Paul Heaver in action during the World Championship finals

All in all, I was surprised at how many large ships I faced at Worlds. Generally, my plan against large ships is to force them to navigate the asteroid field, while Advanced Sensors lets me dodge rocks easier than the large ships. My only loss in the event was to a proton bomb-heavy Firespray list fielded by former World Champion Doug Kinney. Doug won with two hull left, so that match was nail-biter!

On the 2013 World Championship Finals: 

The final match of the World Championship lasted twenty-one rounds, but it seemed like more when we were playing. It was a game where the least likely events happened. I was surprised when Biggs one-shot “Dark Curse” at the beginning of the match, and even more surprised when Biggs rolled zero evades on sixteen dodge dice! With Biggs shot down and the rest of my ships in bad position, I resigned myself to killing as many TIEs as possible before losing.

Paul Heaver’s B-wings were briefly outnumbered two-to-six!

I realized that I needed “Howlrunner” to die to stand a chance of winning, or the phantom attack dice provided by her ability would overwhelm my B-Wing defenses. So I took shots at her instead of closer Academy Pilots, and when she was stressed from a K-turn, the second shot paid off. I definitely felt the tempo had come back to me and that I could joust better than the Academy Pilots, thanks to Advanced Sensors and my higher pilot skill values. I had been playing my squad list exclusively for the past six to eight weeks, so I'd gotten pretty good at using the Sensors to their full value. Never losing my action for the K-turn was key to winning the joust.

Click on the thumbnail above to watch full match coverage of the 2013 XWing World Championship final match, originally presented live at FFG's Twitch channel .

Throughout the match, whenever a ship exploded, there were cheers from various the crowd. It slowly got louder and louder as more people stopped to watch the finals, and the tension ratcheted up as each ship died. You could tell the spectators were just as into the game as we were!