X-Wing Tactics: Putting the ‘X’ Back into X-Wing

Rogue-Squadron-II

Today we are going to look into what can  be done to return the mighty X-Wing great ship to dominance on the tabletop!

Greetings all, Ed here from NOVA Squadron Radio!  For quite some time now there has been a serious lack of X-Wings being played at the high end competitive levels of this game.

Where have all the X-Wings Gone?

What happened to the backbone ship of the Rebel Alliance?  If you watched the movies and read the fiction, the X-Wing was a staple ship for the ‘good guys’ for many years, and often would be the key to victory in great battles, included destroying not one, but two of the Empire’s Deathstars!

So why is it that in a game that bears its name, the X-Wing really has not seen a lot of love from the competitive X-Wing players as of late?  Oh sure, Biggs is still out there, don’t you doubt it.  And you may, on occasion, still see him on the field.  But that is mostly due to his absurdly under-costed ability and how good it is.  But what happened to Wedge and Wes?  Why is that Jek and Tarn aren’t huge in the meta?  And how about those generic pilots, where are they in the game?  Today we are going to take a close look at this ship.  Expose what is wrong with it, what pushed it out of favor with Rebel players, and explore some ideas on how to correct it.

X-wing_schematicsWhat is wrong with the X-Wing?

So let’s take a close look at this ship and see if we can find out what is so wrong with it that competitive players do not run it.  At first glance it is a great little glass cannon, no doubt about it.  With three attack dice coupled with two evade, two shields and three hull, this ship is pretty much the baseline standard for ships in the game.  It can dish out quite a bit of damage when you need it to and has a couple of shields to shed off some fatal blows early in the game.  But clocking in at 21 points for the low level PS 2 Rookie pilot feels a little bit high, especially when compared to the much tougher tank of the Blue Squadron pilot B-Wing at 22 points.

That 21 point cost minimum is usually the first thing people point to as a glaring reason for this ship not really being played all that much these days.  For the dice that you are getting its suggests more like an 18 to 19 point cost, as opposed to the whooping 21 you are paying for it.  Meaning that the beloved X-Wing is about two to three points over-costed in comparison to other ships in the game.  Now there could be several reasons for this, the first of which is that I believe that in the early beta testing of the game the designers felt that having five three-attack die ships on the field was a bit unbalanced, and decided to jack the price up on the X-Wing.  This would ensure you could never field more than four of them in a standard game.  I also believe that this line of thinking was also what crippled the TIE Advanced as well.

The X-Wing also only has two actions available to it, the focus and target lock.  Meaning it is an all offence ship, with little in the way of defense or maneuverability.  And those upgrade slots are also a little meager as well.  First, it has the torpedo slot, which I understand from a thematic level, what with the movies and all.  However as we have discussed on the podcast at length, munitions in this game do not function as they should and are often over valued in turn.  I am sure the designers originally thought that munitions would play a much bigger part of the game, and costed that slot a bit higher than it should have been.  So the X-Wing suffered for it.  The Astromechh slot is pretty cool and there are some really great droids you can add to this ship to help it, so I will accept that this slot is costed correctly.  So really what we are looking at is an approximately 18 point ship for 21 points.  But up until wave 3 it still saw a lot of play competitively despite its all of its short comings.  So what toppled this ship at the ‘go-to’ ship of the Rebellion?
databank_bwingfighter_01_169_460cc528

Enter the B-Wing!

Wave three brought us some very interesting ships and upgrades, but none shook up the meta more than the introduction of the B-Wing to the game.  What it lost in green dice over the X-Wing, it gain in a LOT of shields and a LOT more upgrade options.  Suddenly this ship became the staple of several of the top tournament lists, and for good reason.  It was far more superior to its predecessor for what seems like basically the same point cost.

With its three attack dice and five whooping shields it was instantly far more durable then the X-Wing, and equally as potent in combat.  It is also a much better dog fighter then the X-Wing, as it came with the insane 2-K Turn, making it very deadly in close quarters.  Not to mention it came standard with a Barrel Roll Action, a canon slot, an additional torpedo slot (sigh) and the all important systems slot for things like Fire Control Systems or Advanced Sensors!  So while its dial seems on the surface not as good as the X-Wings, with Advanced Sensors you can take your actions before performing those red maneuvers and not really suffer for them.  Or better yet, take your actions before overlapping another ship!  For 1 little point all of the great options became available, leaving B-Wing the top of the heap and the X-Wing in the dust.

We now know the reasons why the X-Wing feel from the top tables but what can be done to bring it back to the fold, competitively speaking?  Let us first take a look at what has been done in the past to correct ships in the game.

The Fix is in!

One of the big reasons that I am an FFG fanboy today, aside from the fact that they make amazing games like X-Wing, is that they are not afraid to admit that they made a mistake.  And that sometimes, ‘fixes’ or ‘tweaks’ to the game are needed to set ships right in the meta.  FFG has fixed ships before, some in more subtle ways than others, and our first taste of how FFG would address fixes to the game came in the Rebel Transport.

R2-d6R2-D6
The Astromech R2-D6 was a fix for the poor Y-Wing and all of those thousands of people who were confused as to why Dutch and Horton did not come standard with an Elite Pilot Talent slot.  It didn’t make sense considering their high pilot skill and their roles in the universe.  So this droid would take up the Astromech slot and grant an EPT.  In some ways this card feels to me like a missed opportunity to be honest. First, by taking up the Astromech slot, you lose the ability to take a stock R2 droid which helps the Y-Wing make up for is sub-par dial.  Second, but having a unique droid used as the fix, it mean that only one Y-Wing could ever use this card.  Not to mention you had to buy the Transport to fix the Y-Wing, which some folks would complain about.  A good attempt, I applaud the effort, but ultimately this card never really sees much play and in the end did not fix the ship it set out to correct.  But it paved the way for more ‘fix’ cards in the future.

Chardaan-refit

Chardaan Refit
FFG’s next attempt to correct a ship was far heavier handed then R2-D6 in the Chardaan Refit.  They basically determined that that not only did the A-Wing need help, but that no one was using the munitions slot anyway.  So why not just fill it and drop the ship cost by two points.  This was a historic precedent in my opinion, as it was FFG openly admitting that they got this ship wrong and here is how you fit it.  Up until this point we had never see a negative point cost for an upgrade, and this was FFG saying that the A-Wing was about two points over what it should be.  Now, while this fix did not bring the A-Wing to a position of elite power, it did bring them back into a conversation that they were not in before, and that is competitive play!  We even seen them in lists on top tables now, meaning that they got this one right, as the A-Wing is now not too powerful as to dominate the meta and not too underpowered to never see play.  Bravo FFG!

Btl-a4-y-wing-1-BTL-A4
We have more fixes yet to come to in future releases, starting with Most Wanted for Scum and Villainy.  While the BTL-A4 Title card may not seem like it, it really does boost the ailing Y-Wing in several ways.  The ability to basically lock that turret into a forward firing arc now get two attacks per turn with this ship; one standard, and one Ion.  Now ideally you would want another, less expensive option in that turret slot, however the only other turrets in the game really do not help out much.  The Autoblaster Turret is simply too short of range (R1) to be of any help and the Blaster Turret requires you to spend a focus just to fire it, which would really bring the productivity of this weapon down considerably.  So the Ion Turret seems to be the best option at this time, but I hold out hope that a better turret weapon is on the way.  Keep an eye out in the early days of Wave 6 for these ‘Warthog’ Y-Wing builds as they are far deadlier then you might think!


BBomb-loadoutomb Loadout
The Bomb Loadout card is another interesting addition to the Y-Wing, if you think about it the third card targeted at fixing the Y-Wing!  How far off were they with this ship anyway?  In any case, bombs are alright in this game, but not super effective.  I am one who believes that my points should be spent elsewhere other then in things like bombs, missiles, or torpedoes which have a chance to never be fired and hence, wasted points.  So while the Bomb Loadout is a cool call back to how the ship flew in the fluff of Star Wars, I do not see it as game breaking at this time.  Give me a super awesome bomb for cheap and then we are talking!
TA_FixTIE/x1 + Advanced Targeting Computer/Accuracy Corrector
The Heavyweight Champion of all fixes will be upon us soon enough.  The long ailing TIE Advance is already starting to salivate at it chance to finally be relevant in the competitive game, and the TIE/x1 Title card will be a Quantum Leap for it.  Similar to the Chardaan Refit, this card basically acknowledges that the TIE advance is about four points over costed, so here, have a free systems upgrade to help balance that out.  While there are a lot of good System slot upgrades, two are really being discussed now as the best options.  If you are running a generic pilot, you’ll be adding the Accuracy Corrector.  This allows the TIE Advanced to just take evade actions knowing its offensive output is guaranteed to be 100%!  With Lord Vader and Maarek Stele however, the Advanced Targeting Computer is better for them.  It adds an automatic Crit to the dice rolls and with Vader, he will have an in-built Target Lock + Focus every turn to maximize those two attack dice.  Overall, Vader will be REALLY good, and on the edge of broken.

Proposed Fixes for the X-Wing So with the fixes that we have already seen in this game, I would like to propose the two following changes.  I only believe that one should be used, and not both, but I wanted to provide options to debate over.  Here is what I recommend:

Name: X-Wing Refit
Type: Torpedo (X-Wing Only)
Cost: 0 Effect:
Increase your Hull by 1

Name: Rogue Squadron
Type: Title (X-Wing Only)
Cost: -3 Effect:

‘X-Wing Refit’ has a negative squad point cost, and both of these card proposal address the fact that the X-Wing is just a little under-costed for what you are paying for.  Both cards try to mimic two similar existing fix cards that we have already seen.  ‘X-Wing Refit’, and my favorite of the two to be honest, removes the missile slot that you weren’t using anyway and bumps up your hull value by one.  It is a little give and take as you do lose the ability to take torpedoes but I really feel like in the end this is the best fix for the ship to keep it at its 21 pint cost and make it worth those 21 points!  Suddenly, the X-Wing is a pretty tough ship to have to deal with, with a total Hull/Shield value of now six with two evade dice!

‘Rouge Squadron’ is a flat out correction to the point cost.  Drop the points by three and allow the ship to then be run in squads of five if desired.  But there are broarder implications to this fix.  Imagine what it will be like to have a free Predator on Wedge for example, or a free R7 droid on Tarn, or R2-D2 for one point on Luke Skywalker, or Biggs with a free R2-F2.  The possibilities are endless, making the X-Wing once again THE go-to ship for the Rebellion.

So those are my proposed fixed for our beloved X-Wing.  What do you think?  How would you fix this poor ship?

If you are a new player looking to  get into the more tactical end of the X-Wing Miniatures Game, or an old pro looking to up your game, why not check out our podcast, NOVA Squadron Radio!  Every two weeks we review what’s new in the world of X-Wing Miniatures.  We break down those top lists from the big tournmament, interview X-Wing personalities from around the world, and review all of the new ships, cards, and combos that are all the rage in the meta today! 

  • Charm City Brendan

    A 3 point reduction on Wedge or Luke would be amazing, I’ll take a stack of those cards, please!

    I find it unlikely we’ll get anything even close to that good. I still see the X-wing getting a fair amount of use these days. The Y-wing on the other hand I have not seen in ages, but I can’t wait to have it as a viable ship again, sad that it’s going to take 3 new cards to make that even remotely possible.

    • Moik

      Agreed, the X-wing is one of the most popular choices from where I sit, and not just because it’s owned by everyone.

      That said: I thought the advanced was fine, and for the same reasons I think the x-wing is fine. They’re just both really unfocused, and rather high end ships.

      • Charm City Brendan

        Its a little of both in the meta here. Some people just own the boxed set, so they are super familiar to the x-wing and it’s pretty much all they have. There is just such a wealth of pilot options now too. I like the way it plays and it just feels Iconic, ya know. Personally I am fond of the Wedge/Biggs/B-Wing combos.

        I wish I could say the same for the Y-wing, as that is probably my favorite ship in the fluff. Though… I’ve got a good feeling the new upgrades will help a good deal with that…

    • It’s a shame to hear that the Y-Wing is suffering so badly – I’ve always loved that ship! I wanted to run it, B-Wings, A-Wings, and E-Wings…

    • The point of veiw I took in the artcile was really on the top end of the competitive torunaments lately, and the X-Wingis really part of that meta. Fat Han, Fat Decimators, Super Dash, Phantoms, Swarms, but no X-Wings. I think with just a few tweaks, the X-Wing could return very easily to the competitive scene!

      EvilEd

  • shamemonkey

    Is an automatic crit better than the reroll you’d get from spending the target lock?

    • Moik

      You meant the Adv. targetting? Better? Debatable. But this isn’t a comparison; the two have nothing to do with one another.

      You don’t spend the target lock, so you can access an action, and a target lock often can’t improve your results, like if both your rolls are hits/crits.

      Edit: I didn’t read the article yet. The accuracy correct means you already hit as much as you can, so the target lock can’t do anything for you already.

      Is gravy better than steak? The question should be: What’s better than Steak au Poivre? (It’s nothing)

    • Chuck777

      It gives you more options. You can still spend the lock to get a reroll. It makes your best rolls amazing, your average rolls better and is meaningless for horrible rolls.

      • Moik

        And with the advanced targeting computer software combo they listed above: it makes EVERY attack your best attack.

        It’s a little pricey, sure, but it’s murder that runs like clockwork, and bypasses a lot.

  • This is the downside of competitive play. You only see a fraction of the game.

    • tristan

      Well some companys make sure they correct their mistakes.
      Some just don’t care.
      *cough*serpent*cough*
      Have you even read the article?
      FFG tries to make sure that all ships are equally viable.

      • I didnt mention companies trying or not trying to fix anything.

        In any game where people are trying to break the game (what we call competitive gaming) you will only see a fraction of the game.

        No matter what game.

        No matter how hard a company tries.

        As my post said.

        • Chuck777

          Making ships better helps everyone, even casual gamers.

          • I didnt voice an opinion either way on that topic.

          • Chuck777

            You can only fix things if you are aware of the way they are being used both in competitive and casual environments.

          • You can fix things by watching it being played period.

            This also doesnt nullify my statement or have anything to do with my original statement 🙂 which was “the downside of competitive play is that you will only ever see a fraction of the game”

        • tristan

          DZC is a competitive game that includes listbuilding.
          95% of all units in the game are fairly good balanced against each other.
          5% is either to weak (those will be buffed in time) or very niche (flametanks for example)

          Trying to spam the most powerful units in DZC WILL make you lose the game.
          In a competitive DZC match there is a high possibility that you could face any unit, since no unit is either super powerful or super weak.
          They don’t need to be perfectly balanced! It’s fine if they are just about the same power level.

          The most important part is that the company producing the game makes sure that units who are too/not enough powerful get nerfed/buffed.

          If you give a competitve gamer the choice between a super powerful unit (serpent) and a unit that fulfills the same role but is much much much weaker,(falcon) he will allways take the more powerful choice.

          The trick is to balance the game good enough that units don’t stand out as “OMG this is soooo POWERFUL!”or as “OMG why would I ever want to take that!”

          I would like to add that I don’t consider myself a competitive gamer.
          That does not mean that I like to gimp myself because I would like to bring this sub par unit.
          I would also never play a unit that I don’t like the look of. No matter how powerful they are!
          (Centurions)

          • Dzc still hasnt really taken off nor does it really have a super competitive scene just yet. It reminds me of the warmachine days year 1.

            Give it time.

  • Chumbalaya

    The problem with any across the board “fix” for X-Wings is they just make Wedge, Luke, Wes and Biggs better while the rest remain relatively in the same spot. Personally, I think X-Wings are still pretty solid ships. If anything, I’d like an astromech for PS4 or less X-Wings to give them something like a recon specialist effect (focus for 2 tokens). A little boost to the Rookie and Red Squadron, but nothing to make the big names bigger.

  • Moik

    I’m only a novice to this game, but my opinion is FFG WAYYYYY overcharges for turn dials. Like, they expect you to get every ounce of use out of your dial, which isn’t a good metre to price it on. It is the stat with the most potential, I would agree, but more potential means more potential to screw up, not just to excel.

    Compare the x-wing to the B-wing, as you do here. Now compare the x-wing to the Interceptor Avenger. These two comparisons share very similar stat, dial, and option advances, and similar price differences.

    Does the interceptor have fantastic manoeuvre? YES! but does that one fact counter all the added durability and systems of the B-Wing? I really don’t think so. I think that halving the cost of manoeuvre across the board, no pun intended, would fix most of the issues with over costed ships.

    • Adam Albright

      It’s maneuverability does make up for it because it can use that to arc dodge and not get shot at all. The x-wing cannot react to the opponents movement or compensate for it with a turret. The only other ship with that problem is the z95.

  • Chuck777

    I can’t really see the point in playing a rookie X-wing pilot when I could just as easily run 2 Bandit Squadron Z-95’s (sure they are three points more but collectively are more survivable and better at taking things down) or a B-Wing (which is much more survivable elite fighter).

    Dropping Wedge down to 26 and Biggs down to 22 could be a huge change to the meta but it is no where near as cool as Tie/x1. Tie/x1 is giving Advanceds more options, rather than simply reducing costs. I think X-Wings need something like this.

    Looking at some of the X-Wing variants on Wookieepedia, I was struck by a few –

    Tandem X-wing starfighter: This would be a cool idea to help make the X-Wing better, bump up its Hull by 1 and give it a crew slot.

    T-65D-A1 X-wing starfighter: This option would replace the Astromech option with a Systems Upgrade.

    T-65AC4 X-wing starfighter: Give the X-Wing a title upgrade that would give the X-Wing an 8 point discount on any torpedoes it purchases AND expand its torpedo load out to a total of 3 slots. (8 might be a bit much but what better way to make people use Torpedoes then give them a lot of them for free).

    Recon-X: Replace the Torpedo slot with a Systems upgrade AND give it a Dead Man’s Switch (to represent completely destroying the craft so that the enemy cannot recover any of its sensitive data).

    I would mention the Stealth-X but I kind of feel like FFG could make that an entire ship in its own right, rather than just using it as a fix for the generic X-Wing.

    • Ssi’Dal

      What do you think of this kind of title?

      Rogue Squadron Pilot:
      “Once per round, you can remove one stress token from your ship at the end of the end phase.”
      Then you would be able to use stay on target, PTL or something like that without beeing stressed. This could compensate the lack of maneuverability of the X-Wing.

      Maybe you could also add to this title:
      “In addition, increase your pilot skill value by 1.” (or maybe 2, with an upper limit)
      This would fit storywise since the Rogue Squadron pilots were very experienced and not easily stressed.

      And a upgrade card like this:
      Quad Laser:
      “When attacking, you can roll an additional attack dice. If you do so, you receive one stress token.”
      (maybe in addition: “You can not use this ability if you are already stressed.”)

      Just some ideas. I didn’t do any calculations. It’s just something that crossed my mind.

      • Moik

        IDC what you do, but I think the idea that RS pilots aren’t available is outrageous. My friend argues that they should all have profiles because of their skill level, but I like the idea of a generic rogue.

        Also it needs Elite skills. Maybe even a unique rule on top to represent the living legends they are.

  • deuce1984

    I don’t really play X-Wing competitively, even at a local level. I got into it as a game I can have two 100 point lists for any friend to pick up on a rainy day and get the gist. However it picked up in popularity so much that I like going to the FLGS to play on occasion but my lists of TIES and Advanced TIES or X and Y wings just doesn’t stack up. It would be great to be able to buy the cards in decks separate and apart from new ships.

  • Houghten

    That’s an awful lot of fuss over 2-4 points.

    • In a 100 point game, 2-4 points can mean more upgrades on other ships. It is a LOT more then you may think.

  • Eric

    I read the entire article thinking it had a solution to the X-wing problem. Found a bunch of hard facts on things that fix the A and the Y wing. Very end… X-wing wishlisting.
    Damn

    • Well, by fix we as a community can only suggest thing that hopefully FFG see and debates changing. As it stands now, there are no current in-game fixes for the poor X-Wing.

    • Well, by fix we as a community can only suggest thing that hopefully FFG see and debates changing. As it stands now, there are no current in-game fixes for the poor X-Wing.

  • Drew

    I really like the game but boosting large-based turreted ships also have to be considered part of the problem. Two X-Wings are never going to be as good as even a bare bones decimator with an engine upgrade.

  • NagaBaboon

    They may not see much competitive play but I think you’ll find they get plenty of use in friendlier games because, though they may be a tad overcosted, they’re still not that bad. If you were going to drop the cost I’d say it was reasonable to bring it down by 1-2 pts, but not 3, all you’d ever see is x-wings then.

    • I completely agree, however my angle for the article was from a competitive aspect.
      EvilEd

    • I completely agree, however my angle for the article was from a competitive aspect.
      EvilEd