Welcome back to Raven Republic’s ongoing series about Armored Core’s competitive history. In this edition, the focus is on Raven Republic itself and its own Philippine Armored Core Tournament (PACT) series. But first, a little historical context:
Armored Core in the Philippines
The Armored Core games for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 were quite easy to find in the Philippines (because of unofficial distribution that we don’t need to talk about here). Because of this, most gamers at the time would have at least heard of Armored Core. But the game was still obscure enough that only a handful of people in any given area took the game seriously, if there were any at all. Internet penetration was low, and transportation infrastructure was (and still is) limited, so finding and meeting like-minded Armored Core players was difficult.
During Armored Core 3 was when the internet was becoming more readily accessible in the Philippines. So, it was around this time when some Filipino Ravens thought to look online for others like them. But since most English-language forums and message boards for Armored Core were based in the USA, these Filipinos joined but only blended in, not knowing that they had compatriots among them. It took until 2006, around the time of Armored Core: Last Raven, for a few Filipino members of the prominent Armored Core Online forums to find each other, and for one of them to decide to create his own site for Armored Core fans, particularly those in the Philippines.
On August 13, 2006, Grim finally launched Raven Republic with the goal of serving as a hub for Filipino Ravens. V1 of the message boards was found on one of those free create-a-forum sites (InvisionFree), complete with a free domain name hosted on cjb.net. Slowly but surely, the target audience found their way to the site by searching for “Armored Core Philippines” or by word of mouth from their own contacts and small AC playgroups. Activity in the budding community kept growing, and eventually, Grim floated the idea of meeting up in person.
The First Congregation
A shitposter in the Armored Core: Last Raven board of GameFAQs turned out to be from Manila. An RR member who also posted there was incited enough to challenge this troll in person, with other RR members in tow. From there, RR’s first official meet was organized.
On September 9, 2006, in Neo One LAN Shop at Marikina Riverbanks Mall, five RR members, many hailing from other online AC communities, gathered in person for the first time to challenge JV from GameFAQs. The RR members that came were Grim (Armored Core Online), Lord_Leperman (Raven’s Haven), NiX (Armored Core Garage), AEA1 (GameFAQs), and Cabs. Few as they were, that was already more Ravens in one place than any of them had been around.
This meeting was significant, not only because it was the first, but because it was there, over pizza after the games, that the idea of organizing a local Armored Core tournament was first discussed. And over the succeeding weeks, more and more Ravens found their way to the community.
The First PACT
With excitement still high, it took around a month to conceptualize and organize the tournament.
Doom Trigger (DT), who had previously hosted a few small fighting game tournaments, generously offered his home as the venue.
The basic format was adapted from Master of California, while the list of AC parts to ban were refined from existing lists from Western forums. AC designs were to be submitted beforehand to a non-participant to check for regulation compliance. Specific rules were as follows:
Game: Armored Core: Last Raven
- Single elimination. Random pairings on tournament day.
- One AC entry per contestant.
- Best of three rounds, 5 minutes per round.
- Best of five rounds, 5 minutes per round for the finals.
- Round loser can choose the next map.
- A ring out counts as a loss.
- A double KO is a draw. The round will be considered null and will be repeated.
- When both ACs are out of ammo and any other means of lowering their opponent’s AP, the AC with the higher AP automatically gets the win, whether time has run out or not.
- Conceding rounds is allowed.
- Advanced Base
- AC Garage
- Crest Base
- Military District
- Marine Base
- Born City
- UA core with hangers
- Lemur2 arms + left arm gun or shield (including hangered left guns)
- Loris arms + left arm gun or shield (including hangered left guns)
- TP boosters
- Pegasus back part
- all ECM pods
- ROE2 ammo extensions
- H3 handgun
- HP handgun in the hangers
- ROC4 pulse rifle in the hangers
- Any GameSharked or Action Replayed files (or hacked files of any kind)
The ACs submitted by the participants can still be found in the original forum thread.
On October 28, 2006, participants came from all over the metro and nearby provinces to make the trip to Quezon City. A few had to carpool or rendezvous at designated locations. Eager volunteers had already arrived early to help with preparations. And when everyone had arrived, the tournament finally began.
The event lasted the entire day, with DT even sponsoring the food for both guests and participants. And as the matches continued to be played, four semi-finalists emerged: NiX in a midweight sniper, Twin-Skies in a heavy GL quad, Lord_Leperman in a heavy biped, and Beastkiller in a heavy tank. NiX eliminated Twin-Skies in a close series, and Lord_Leperman eliminated Beastkiller. Finally, it was down to NiX and Lord_Leperman for the championship.
After the dust had settled, Lord_Leperman came out on top and was the champion of the very first PACT.
PACK 2 – PalPACT! You don’t need power to have fun
Before we start, a little Filipino lesson for everyone: palpak (păl′păk″) – a colloquial Filipino word meaning failure, badly done, thwarted effort. Don’t worry, it will make sense after a while.
After a few months, and a Christmas party thrown in between, members couldn’t get enough AC battles and friendship. Almost every holiday since PACT 1 was spent hanging out with RR members for a round of AC, or just to chill. Eventually another rumbling of PACT was being talked about among members.
After a long discussion and plenty of adjustments, PACT II was settled to take place on 19 May 2007, a little more than 6 months from the first tournament, and again at DT’s place.
Around 18 people signed up, and after tons of organizing, carpool planning, and equipment checks, the day finally arrived. Everyone had been practicing hard, hyped for potential runbacks. Plenty of new faces showed up too. Most notably, a crew from the Cavite province south of Manila made plans to attend and participate after hearing about the success of the first tournament.
On the day itself, everything was smooth and on schedule. TVs, chairs, and tables were set up immediately. And finally, the Playstation 2s were plugged in. Then there was a very loud pop, and DT’s house lost power. Something smelled burnt.
All the excitement disappeared. Plugging in the second PS2 not only overloaded the house’s power supply, it also caused a blackout for the whole block.
But it wasn’t a total loss. The participants instead used the time to laugh about the situation and bond over common hobbies aside from Armored Core. There was talk of making a doujin AC manga, or what if AC was set in the Philippines, and other wild tangents. People stayed until after having pizza for dinner, which was a long time considering it wasn’t spent playing video games.
If you’re interested in reading more, Fox wrote a piece about this giant misadventure before.
PACT 2.1 – The Redemption
Right after the unfortunate circumstances of the previous event, the group was highly motivated to organize another real tournament. After numerous forum posts and planning, PACT 2.1 was set for June 16, 2007 at NiX’s home.
Though there were fewer attendees than the previous gatherings, this allowed for a more intimate event. DT entrusted his equipment even though he couldn’t attend, and AEA1 was still dying to compete despite coming from a 36-hour shift. New participant Sforza, who was also relatively new to Armored Core, spent the month prior training with the defending PACT champion. A few others who missed the first tournament also joined.
Rules were mostly the same as the previous tournament.
Participants’ ACs: PACT 2.1 ACs
Final Match (VOLUME WARNING):
NiX and Lord_Leperman faced off in the finals again. And again, Lord_Leperman took it all the way with his aerial lightweight AC.
And what was the prize for making it back to the mountaintop? A McChicken sandwich.
PACT 3 – Battle Arena Style
For the third PACT, the consensus was to spice things up with a new format. Taking inspiration from FromSoft’s Battle Arena 2004, the rule was to use 3 designs without repeating parts (including internals), and without repeating leg types. The hope was to force creativity in designing, and to shake up the metagame. The discussion for the tournament was largely set in this forum thread.
The tournament was set for October 27, 2007, a day removed from the anniversary of the first tournament. This time, it was held in Sforza’s house, which was to be the site of numerous RR gatherings to come.
- Each player must bring 3 unique ACs (up to 5 ACs, depending on whatever is decided upon for a particular tournament). Players who fail to present a complete garage will be DISQUALIFIED.
- The ACs in a particular garage MUST be of varying leg types (Humanoid, RJ, Quad, Tank, Hover). Players can only have one AC per leg type (ex. Only one humanoid AC is allowed per garage). A different weight class (light, mid, heavy) does not count as a different leg type (ex. Having a light humanoid and a mid humanoid in the same garage is not allowed).
- The ACs in your garage should have NO, as in ZERO, common parts EXCEPT for optional parts.
- However, a particular AC may be equipped with a pair of the same weapon (ex. A KARURA for each back slot/ An R3 for each arm, etc.). BUT if one AC in a particular garage has, let’s say, a KARURA on the left back slot, other ACs in that garage can no longer equip a KARURA even for the right back slot. This still applies to hand-mounted and hangered weapons.
- Players MUST switch to another AC after every round/match – For the first round of a match, the players may opt to use any AC in their respective garages. ACs that have already been used in a certain round of a particular match may no longer be used in the succeeding rounds of that match.
- In the event of a fourth round in a FINALS match, the players may reuse any AC in their respective garages.
- In the event of a fifth round in a FINALS match, the players may opt to use any AC that was NOT USED in the fourth round of that match.
Some of the tournament entries were posted here.
Participants included most of the mainstays and a few newcomers. Because of the newly implemented losers’ bracket, this tournament was more drawn out than the previous two. A second meeting on November 10, 2007 had to be held to resolve the remaining matches, forcing some players to forfeit due to logistical reasons.
The results were as follows:
For the finals, it was Lord_Leperman versus Sforza in a duel between master and protege. Yet again, Lord_Leperman took the championship to complete the hat trick, cementing himself as the greatest Armored Core player in the country.
But aside from Armored Core, the group also held a casual Tekken 5 tournament, some retro gaming on the SNES and PlayStation, and other shenanigans.
And now, exactly 17 years later since its founding, Raven Republic looks back fondly on these past events that had become a regular part of the members’ lives.
Editor’s note: There’s still more to this story leading up to present day and Armored Core 6, but as you can see this post has run rather long… so stay tuned for PACT IV and beyond in the next one!