Up next in ChahDresh’s review of X-Wing ships: a rust-bucket and a speed demon.
X-Wing Ship Parade is an ongoing review of the ships in our hobby, showing them off at their best and most iconic. As always, all cards referenced can be found at Yet Another X-Wing Squad Builder.
Featuring a natural boost and eight green maneuvers, the A-Wing is a joy to fly and reasonably durable to boot (with the Autothrusters upgrade, known these days as Auto-includes). Among those eight green maneuvers is the 2-Turn, helping make Push the Limit both viable and borderline necessary for A-Wings to function. The A-Wing Test Pilot title opens up a bonus Elite Pilot Talent slot for more options. It’s firepower-light, so players opt for one of the two upgrades from the Rebel Aces pack: Chardaan Refit to control costs, or Proton Rockets for a potent one-use sting. Either way, the A-Wing is a persistent and mobile blocker, skirmisher, and annoyance.
YT-1300 (i.e. Millenium Falcon)
ROLE: big bully
An iconic bucket of junk, the YT-1300 is tough and surprisingly mobile. While the prevalence of Twin Laser Turrets and ordnance have hurt its presence in the meta, the 1300’s powerful pilots and easy flying keep it relevant and beginner-friendly. Actions can get tight, so C-3PO is an extremely popular action-independent defensive crew for any 1300, while Gunner is very common to make those attacks stick (again without the use of an action).
Representative list: Fat Han and Jake From State Farm
Han Solo: Lone Wolf, Engine Upgrade, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, Millennium Falcon title
Jake Farrell: A-Wing Test Pilot, Push the Limit, Veteran Instincts, Proton Rockets, Autothrusters
Hey, this time we get to do both ships with a single list! This classic from the heyday of two-ship lists features the most popular A-Wing and YT pilots- two great tastes that taste great together. This standard Jake build is a copy-paste standard you see time and again, 33 points best thought of as a complete package. Though his attacks are usually on the soft side, the moment he gets an opening he can slam home a double-modified five-dice shot with his PRockets, which is pulverizing.
How pulverizing? This is what your hit probabilities look like:
- 3 hits: 3%
- 4 hits: 24%
- 5 hits: 72%
It’s enough to make an Advanced Proton Torpedo blush— but the difference is that PtL on an A-Wing allows Jake to get into position (even reposition) at PS9 while providing all his own action economy.
Push the Limit does more than boost Jake’s firepower, though: it allows him to pull off the absurd Boost + Barrel Roll combos that are the exclusive preserve of the game’s top aces, with a focus token as the cherry on top. Toss in his PS9 (thanks to Veteran Instincts) and Jake is one of the game’s premier arc dodgers. Against enemy turret ships which have no arc to dodge, Autothrusters bail you out, though you’ll likely need to stack tokens against any but the most casual of turret attacks.
Push the Limit is the card that makes the magic happen. PtL was custom made for TIE Interceptors and A-Wings, and the card is truly a defining one for the game. So, so many ships and builds rely on Push the Limit for their value, and new ships have their dials checked to see if they’re green enough to support PtL. We talk about actions and action economy all the time, and PtL gets it for you. Jake and Soontir are able to use that card to essentially get *triple* actions, which again became the benchmark for future ships.
Han Solo, on the other hand, has rerolls and re-attacks for days. The pattern was easy to follow but hard to fault: when you roll attack dice, if you have one miss, you use Lone Wolf (or Predator). If you miss with two or more, you toss them all again with Han. If your opponent avoids the shot, Luke Skywalker kicks in and you try again with a soft focus. Few ships have enough tokens to withstand all of that. You’ll notice, also, that none of that takes actions- which frees them up for use on defense.
Even better, the presence of Luke (or Gunner) induces some really funky mind games for your opponent. Picture this: Han connects with three hits, because of course he does. A TIE Fighter rolls an evade and two eyeballs, and has a focus token. Does he eat the damage and let the token languish unused? Or does he spend the token and cross his fingers that Han craps out on the re-attack? And what if there’s a crit in there? Now what? In general, if your opponent is thinking about anything other than flying his ships, you’re getting ahead.
To stay alive, Han has Engine Upgrade, which is shockingly effective for large-base ships, and doubly effective for PS9 Han Solo who becomes an arc dodger with the upgrade. If you can’t dodge arcs, take an evade token with the Millennium Falcon title, which (combined with C-3PO) means you’re sure to avoid two damage per attack. In fact, with Lone Wolf you have a (small but real) chance at three evades– not bad for a 1-agility ship. The total package is called “Fat Han” because of his ridiculous price tag- but he earns that price back by out-flying who he can and out-surviving the rest. And at PS9, most of the time, Han shoots first.
There is some slight variation to the list- some opt for Predator over Lone Wolf, others take Gunner over Luke. The astute will note that the economized version of this list comes in at just 94 points, for a *six* point initiative bid. There was a time when even that seemed like it was maybe not enough. Happily those days are behind us.
The other nice thing about the list is that Han is relatively easy to fly. He doesn’t care about his own arc, so he flies purely for position and to avoid the arcs of the ships chasing him. And, because the list has only two ships, there’s lots of space to use and fewer distractions. In most situations you use that space to the fullest: Han starts out flying towards the enemy, then turns away and puts his enemies behind him; from there he “kites” them, dragging them along behind him like the tail of a kite. He can dodge them entirely thanks to his high PS or just stay away. This method causes pursuers to overrun each other, breaking up formations, denying actions, and putting the Falcon in 1-on-1 situations (which it wins). If anyone does get close, Jake can pounce and PRocket their faces off. And chasing Jake is just inviting him to blow past and disengage, while Han gets free (highly accurate) shots. Not that Jake is a pushover, either!
So why did this ever-so-popular list fade? Autothrusters were the first blow; while they made Jake even more durable, they also gave Interceptors, A-Wings, T-70s, and Aggressors greatly increased resiliency against Han. Han’s greatest virtue on the attack was the ability to force the enemy to burn tokens on attack number one, then hit with a second attack that was just as vicious when the enemy’s defenses were exhausted; Autothrusters work every time. Twin Laser Turrets didn’t do Han any favors, either, since they largely bypassed his defensive tricks. Still, this build was able to hold on until the ascendency of two other builds we’ll talk about eventually: Palp Aces, and Triple U-Boats. Palp Aces had strong enough defenses to leave even Han feeling helpless; Triple U-boats could alpha-strike him out of the game. The list does still work, though, and with Triple U-Boats nerfed and Palp Aces trending away from Autothrusters, there’s definitely space for Fat Han to crash the party, up to and including top-16 at Worlds 2016.
Next time: Squint or you’ll miss it– oh, never mind.
ChahDresh is an amateur writer and an even more amateurish X-Wing player.
Have favorite memories or lists featuring the A-Wing or YT-1300? Let him know below.