What is the League?Author: Earthworm
The Vassal League is a pyramid-shaped stack of 9-player round-robin divisions, sorted by skill and by geography or preferred play time. There are 5 tiers of divisions, from the single Coruscant division at the top, to the twelve Unknown Reaches divisions at the bottom. New players start in one of these bottom divisions, and at the end of the season, the top players in each division are promoted to the next tier (inward toward the core of the Star Wars galaxy) and the bottom players are demoted, much in the manner of Association Football.
The league is moving to its new home here at xwvassal.info (replacing reddit.com/r/xwingonline, where you can still find past information on the league). We also maintain an active Slack channel with both general and league-specific chat. A Slack channel is the web based, modern version of a chatroom (similar to the Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, of olden times).
What’s going to be new for Season 5?
Big Changes are coming our way! We’re bringing on a host of new sponsors, as well as migrating our technical operations away from places like Reddit and Challonge and bringing them in-house. In the near future, the Vassal module, the League Page, ListJuggler, X-Wing Data, Cryrodex, the .xws standard, and all your favorite squadbuilders will talk seamlessly, and we’ll have a one stop shop for all of our Vassal and League needs.
Take a look down at the bottom of this document for some developments regarding prizes and funding, as well.
What is Vassal?
Vassal is a Java-based boardgame client originally designed for live and PBEM play of Advanced Squad Leader. There are now hundreds of game modules to play online. The module for X-Wing is quite sophisticated and is now the most popular game on Vassal. Vassal does not present complete game information and is not a substitute for physically owning X-wing materials- you must have access to all of the cards and rules separately.
One advantage of Vassal is that newly spoiled cards and ships are available to play as soon as complete information is known about them. This is a great opportunity to plan your future purchases: You’ll remember how hard it was to get a Jumpmaster right after they became available, and that everyone seemed to buy them in threes….
All the info you need about getting started with X-wing on Vassal can be found at Mu0n's excellent tutorial.
I just started playing, or just started playing online. Should I join?
The Vassal interface takes a little getting used to. Most players are fairly comfortable with it after their third game or so, and highly proficient after about ten games. The Vassal community is a very welcoming one, and you can freely spectate games to get a sense of how we communicate, and you can often find an opponent who is willing to walk you through your first game.
If you’re new to X-wing in general, please understand that this is a competitive league, and while there are multiple levels of play represented here, it is important that you have a solid grasp of the game. It’s a big game, and there are lots of combinations- you don’t have to understand all of them, but be prepared to review your opponents list before you play, as some of the more popular card interactions are difficult to explain over chat. If you’ve played more than a few 100 point games or competed in even one local tournament, you’re more than ready.
What is the time commitment?
Players will play each of the other members of their division once during the season. This works out to 8 games in about ten weeks. You are free to play these games in whatever order and at whatever time you and your opponents find mutually convenient. This means that you could be gone for a week or two and still have no trouble keeping up on your games, freeing you from the one-game-per-week schedule of most online tournaments. You’ll be grouped with players who want to schedule games at the same time of day as you.
Do I have to decide on a list?
No! You can play a different list in every matchup you have, or play the same one for the whole season. We use an Escrow feature built into Sozin’s ListJuggler to handle lists. Once you and your opponent have agreed on a time for your game, you enter your list onto the escrow and it is held, invisible, until your opponent enters their list. Then, both lists are visible and locked. This gives you time to consider your strategy in advance, and prevents your opponent from knowing your list in advance and choosing a hard counter.
This process gets more interesting as the season continues and you have access to the logfiles of each other’s games. Can you bring a list that counters their play style? Do you switch up your list to keep them guessing?
What’s in it for me?
Beyond the joy of playing competitive games online and the challenge of climbing up the ladder, we have prizes! Our Prize Sponsor has been Team Covenant, and they’ve created some awesome league-custom Range rulers for us. Division winners at every level, top players and selected other players who are active participants receive these. Your first ruler will be a Range 1 ruler. If you win a second ruler during your career, you’ll win a similar Range 2 ruler. These prizes were graciously donated by the good folks in Tulsa, and we will continue to award them while supplies last.
After that, we’re going to be awarding similar prizes, sponsored by the German game club Team Hooters, the Scum and Villainy Podcast, Evergreen Squadron Radio, Gold Squadron Podcast, Mynock Squadron Podcast and others.
Additionally, the folks at Scum and Villainy support some more prizes, including alt-art cards for the top two players in the league as well as a template set that is randomly drawn from among all the players who keep up with their assigned games, regardless whether they have a winning or losing record.
How do I sign up?
Signups for Season 5 will begin at the end of August 2017 and we expect to get play underway during September. We’ll post notices in all the usual places when signups begin.
What does it cost?
Playing in the league is free. We are, however, going to begin accepting voluntary donations from players, with special incentives for doing so. Our costs are going up as we increasingly handle prize production and technical operations in-house, but we do not expect to ever have a mandatory fee for play.