There’s a lot more to a good X-Wing squadron than firepower. Here what you need to know about starfighter maneuvers.
I’ve covered a lot of ground the past few weeks on how to pick a solid squadron for X-Wing, but there’s still one very important topic left to discuss- the maneuverability of your chosen ships.
I remember when we got our first real glimpses of the Wave 2 ships that peeps were fairly disappointed with the Firespray-31. Partly it was because fan-favorite Boba Fett got kind of an underwhelming (in the grand scheme of things) special rule, and partly because compared especially to the other big ship of that Wave, the Millennium Falcon, the Firespray appeared to be outclassed.
For those of y’all who have played this game much, you know that the Firespray proved to be a more than capable ship in the long run for the Imperials. A Falcon it ain’t, but it’s still pretty doggone nasty. The stats are decent for the points, but it’s not exactly a Lambda Shuttle or anything, right? There are a lot of options, but as we’ve discussed before, you can’t just bolt on every option available and expect to remain points-effective, right?
So what makes the Firespray such a tough nut to crack?
Its moves, baby.
The Firespray is maybe the best example of a ship that defines not solely examining X-Wing Miniatures ships in a stats-vacuum, which of course is why I’m leading off this article mentioning it.
While a lot of miniatures games have units that move in different ways, when you couple up the maneuvers mechanic of X-Wing along with Pilot Skill, you start to notice that not only was that a really effective way to translate the difference in maneuverability of a old warhorse like a Y-Wing and a nimble TIE Fighter, but it also increases the tactical depth of the game immensely.
To put it another way, some ships in X-Wing are much, much easier to fly than others because they have different maneuvers available to them and in different quantities. As you’d expect, this plays heavily into the accessibility of these ships, especially in the hands of a new player.
In case you’re not aware, all of the Maneuvers in X-Wing are dictated by templates- no need for tape measures. Basically, you’ve got five different Straight templates- the shortest distance being 1 and the longest distance being 5 with all of the other numbers in between, some easy Banks to the left and right at speeds 1, 2, and 3, and finally some hard Turns also at speeds 1-3. While there are some Actions that also allow for movement (Barrel Rolls, Boosts, etc.), these 11 maneuvers plus some 180 maneuvers (a straight move, essentially, but you face your ship in the opposite direction from which you started) are your movement options in their entirety for this game.
The other thing that comes into play here is maneuvers have colors- Green, White, and Red. This is where the Stress mechanic comes into play, which is a fairly significant topic in and of itself. Long story short, if your pilot is Stressed, he can’t execute his Perform Action step in the Activation Phase. Now, there’s other ways to get him a token or two, but by default, he can’t call upon his own Actions to get them. That’s a big negative, but sometimes it’s a negative worth incurring depending on the circumstance.
As you might have guessed, Red maneuvers get your pilot Stressed.
Green maneuvers are so simply executed by the pilots in X-Wing that they actually relieve Stress. In general, and again, depending on the circumstance, if you execute a Red maneuver in a previous turn, you want to follow it up with a Green maneuver the first chance you get to rid yourself of the Stress token and get your Perform Action back.
White maneuvers have no effect on Stress either way.
FFG did a lot of things right when they designed the core X-Wing box. A single X-Wing pitted against a pair of TIEs. Classic, right? Not only that, but it really demonstrates the difference in maneuverability present in this game.
Shamlessly ripped off from (Yet Another) X-Wing Miniatures Squad Builder
Above are the available maneuvers for the X-Wing and TIE Fighter. You’ll notice that even though the TIE Fighter only has one more maneuver available to it than the X-Wing, it appears to handle much differently. The X-Wing has more options at Speed 1, while the TIE can go faster flat out.
Which ship is easier to fly? Well, between these two it’s kinda relative. They have almost the same number of moves total, and both are pretty accessible for the new player to maneuver effectively. The TIE is a little more suited towards strafing runs, or “jousting” as it’s known in X-Wing Miniatures meta parlance, while the X-Wing can be tough to shake once it gets in behind you.
Ok, so those two are fairly similar- I’m not exactly making a strong case for the importance of maneuverability with those examples, huh? Let’s look at a really extreme example next.
All right- on the left, we have the supremely maneuverable Rebel Alliance A-Wing and on the right, the brick in space Imperial Shuttle.
First, notice the discrepancy in total available maneuvers- the A-Wing has 16 maneuvers while the Shuttle has only 12, one of which is sitting still. Also notice that while the A-Wing and the TIE Fighter have virtually the same set of available maneuvers, the A-Wing has a whoooole lot more Greens available, making an A-Wing pretty unpredictable that turn after he pulls a Red K-Turn (X-Wing Miniatures talk for one of those 180 turns I mentioned earlier) which goes a long way into not falling into a predictable spot on the board that your opponent can take advantage of. The Shuttle on the other hand, is one of the only ships in the game that has not only more Red maneuvers than Green maneuvers, but also more than White maneuvers available as well.
Which one of these ships is easier to fly? Well, the A-Wing obviously!
Now again- available maneuvers isn’t the be all, end all in ship selection, but as I’ve said in regard to all the other articles in this little mini-series, no single thing is the be all, end all in ship selection. That A-Wing has less than half the Hull and Shields of that Shuttle, and the Shuttle has a 3 Attack to boot for pretty dang close to the same points, so all that maneuverability does come at a cost. Is the cost worth it? Well, that’s entirely up to you, your strategy, and your playstyle. Many people find the Shuttle a real challenge to fly, but that doesn’t make it a bad ship- it just makes it tough to fly. If you’ve played much golf you’ll get the following analogy, and if you haven’t, well… I guess just skip to the next paragraph. A Shuttle is a lot like a 2-iron. It’s really challenging to hit, and a lot of people never bother putting one in their bag, but truth be told, it can allow you to hit shots that no other club can if you have the patience to take the time to learn to hit it.
Me personally, I’ve never been able to hit a 2-iron, but that’s beside the point. Whoops. Should have told you guys to skip two paragraphs.
The good news is even the ships that don’t have a bevvy of movement options in X-Wing are still viable for one reason or another. The main mitigator for a rotten maneuver dial? Well, if you’re the Rebels it’s usually access to a Turret Weapon. Being able to fire outside your arc goes a helluva long way to making a bad dial playable and effective. There’s tons of other ways to get around a board though- Named Pilot special rules, upgrades like Expert Handling that grant you a Barrel Roll as an available Action, Engine Upgrade gets you the Boost Action, and so on.
Back to the Firespray though- remember how I mentioned that people were kind of surprised at how well the Firespray worked after they gave it a chance? Dig the maneuvers for a Firespray-
Look familiar? It oughta- it’s nearly the same exact set of available maneuvers as an X-Wing. Actually, it’s even slightly better than an X-Wing as it has the option to K-Turn at Speed 3 or 4. Most folks agree the X-Wing is probably the most accessible/ forgiving/ user-friendly/ whatever you want to call it ship in the game. Sure, a Firespray is more points, but the Attack value is the same, the Agility is the same, it’s double the hull and shields, and oh yeah- it can shoot behind it.
And we wondered why it seemed to do so well…
If you want to get into X-Wing Miniatures but don’t know your Evades from your Target Locks, by all means, stop on by the hippest pilot bar in the galaxy- TheMetalBikini.com. We serve all kinds (yeah, even droids- they’re the best tippers), and have a whole bunch of articles from breakdown summaries of every single card released so far, to tactics articles, to our Bikini Battle Basics new player guides- all served up with a heapin’ helpin’ of my own personal brand of slang and humor. Can you dig it?