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X-Wing: Swarm Theory Part 2 (& Bonus Battle Report)

9 Minute Read
Jul 14 2014

For Part 2 of Swarm Theory we have a more in depth look at Deployment for an 8 TIE Swarm and cover the opening moves in a Battle Report showcasing some of the principles we spoke about in Part 1.

Last time on Swarm Theory we spoke about the principles behind an 8 TIE swarm, what Build options were open to still allow all 8 TIE’s and some basic stuff to think about during battle, if you missed it you can check back here to get caught up.

This time we are going to put some of that waffling in to practice and show how things go down on the table top.  The tactics and deployments I will be talking about very much reflect my play style and are in no way the only way to fly an 8 TIE swarm but this is how I like to do it.

Meet the Pinwheel
For an 8 TIE Swarm I like to fly in two separate Pin Wheel formations that will interact only when it is time to do some shooting.  This is also the main reason that I am a fan of 4 Academy Pilots and 4 Obsidian Squadron Pilots as both of the formations will share the same Pilot Skill, giving you more versatility in moving them.

For those of you not familiar with a Pin Wheel this is an excellent explanation of how/why it works taken Team Covenant’s website and put together by KLUTZ.

As you can hopefully see this formation gives you a very large option of maneuvers whilst maintaining a tight group.


I would really recommend you spend some time one the Dining Room table and see for yourself how you can set them up and how they will shift when each move is carried out just so that you are confidant going in to the first 3 or 4 turns of movement.

The opening pass is very important to this type of list as if you take too much punishment without downing something,  your individually weaker TIE’s will start to suffer.  So I will say again make sure you practice some opening moves to see where your formations can get to from different starting positions.

Now in my games I like to fly both Pin Wheels as if I were just Flying 2 Large ships.  In my head they are each a single entity and I want to position them to support each other.

Deploying the Swarm
This process starts with Asteroid Placement.  There are two real options to go for here.  You can either try to develop channels to fly through or try to create a large open space to try to drag the battle in to.  If you are going to go for channels than you want to try to match your asteroids with your opponents at about 1.5 Range bands ( Just under 4 ship lengths) and then create as straight a line as possible  This works well if they place the first asteroid as close to a table edge as possible as that will mean that they can only off set other asteroids in one direction (back in to the table)
If an asteroid is placed nearer to the center of the table than I like to try to go for a much tighter group all in one quarter of the table.  It will not take long for your opponent to see what you are doing but it if they place first there is very little reaction they can do as one lone asteroid should not be a problem for our two independent groups to handle.  This will give you a large field to move in to and operate in with little fear of obstacles.

Now it is very rare for Academy Pilots to not be placed First in Deployment so this is where the planning of your opening moves comes in as you need to asses the table and pick where you want the opening engagement to take place, this may seem difficult at first especially as your opponent has not placed anything but most deployments for X-Wing revolve around one of the open channels on the Flanks and as you had a hand in creating the battlefield I normally place my Academies on the worse of the two flanks facing the enemy table edge.  I then either place the Obsidian Squadron facing along my table edge or directly in support depending on if the enemy has placed anything or the available space.  It is important to remember that if you think you may be force in to deploying all on one flank facing the enemy table edge than I would aim to have the Pilot Skill 3 obsidian Squadron on the outside of the Pilot Skill 1 Academies to allow them to cut in to the table once they have moved out of the way.


Swarming Into Battle!
So enough Chatting about it and lets See it in action!

I was going to use the Same 4 Academy/4 Obsidian List I have been talking about and I managed to get a game against Greg Jackson, who used the same BY BY list that he recently won the Regional Championship with in Alberta.
Greg’s list was as follows;

2 x Gold Squadron with Ion Turrets
2 x Dagger Squadron with Advanced Sensors

My read of his list was that there was a lot of potential fire from the B-Wings and the Y-Wings add a nice control element to Greg’s list with the Ion Turrets 360 fire arch and controlling my movement if I’m Ion’ed.  The Ions don’t worry this type of swarm as much as a Howlrunner swarm though as each ship is capable of acting independently after the initial pass anyway.

Turn 1

As you can see, for Asteroid placement in this game I concentrated on opening up space in my Right Flank as this is where I wanted the majority of the flying to take place.
I deployed the Academies on to my Left Flank despite the host of Asteroids knowing that Greg would be foolish to set up for a joust in that area he obliged and placed his Pilot Skill 2 Y-Wings on my Right Flank, and so the trap was coming together.  The Obsidian then set up approximately two ship lengths away from the Academies facing along the table towards my Right.  The Photo shows my opening moves of a Hard 1 Right for the Academies and a 2 Ahead with a Barrel Roll in to the table for the Obsidian Squadron, opening up room for the Academies to join them if Greg continued a charge down that flank. (He only did a 1 forwards to bait out my first move)

Turn 2

I picked up the pace a little with the Academies moving 3 Forwards (remember I said that I had deployed more than 2 Ship lengths to the right so I knew that there was going to be room before the Obsidian Squadron moved as I had moved 2 the turn before and had the extra half base length from the Barrel Roll forwards.)  Speaking of the Obsidian Squadron they maintained course with another 2 ahead and Barrel Rolled in again to make even more room in case the academies needed to speed in behind them.


Greg made the sensible choice of doing a hard Right in behind the asteroids but I knew that he would have to turn towards me next turn as the time it would take him to maneuver around the tight formations would allow me in behind him or to sweep back around and hover in my open bit of table.

Turn 3

This is the turn that really shows the strength of the 8 TIE 2 Pin Wheel set up.  I took the chance that Greg would chose this turn to cut in to the table and sprang in to action the Academies did a hard 3 to the left bringing them in to a dominating position over the center of the board whilst the Obsidian Squadron did a Hard 1 and Barrel Rolled to the Left to make a tight group matching the line of asteroids meaning that if Greg wanted to move in to the open space he was going to have to fight through the entire Swarm!

Greg did surprise me a little going slow on his bank as I had expected him to power forwards this round to try to isolate one group.  This did mean however that his B-Wings were out of range and arch.  In the opening exchange the 5 TIE Fighters I had in range all Shot the same Y-Wing Stripping its shields for no return damage.

Turn 4

In this turn I took the decision to abandon the Formation and start the Dog-Fighting Phase of the battle as I was confidant my greater Maneuverability and Speed would come in to play in the later rounds so I positioned to block off as many escapes from the asteroid packed center for Greg as I could whilst maintaining my fire arcs.
Greg shot for the gap but my sacrificial Academy Pilot staled his lead Y-Wing, he did manage Take down 1 TIE with the shooting from the B’s up close.  I however striped the Shields and 2 Hull from the undamaged Y-Wing, destroying its Ion Turret in the process.  Ignoring the B-Wings for now as I knew I could get the majority of my force out of arc next turn.
Turn 5
In this round there is a good example of what we spoke about in Part 1 of Swarm Theory, breaking off damaged TIE’s and leaving fresh TIE’s as the only targets.
As you can see, each of Greg’s ships now has limited targeting options and while my fire is also diluted due to be Break Off’s (namely the TIE flying to the Left Flank and the one heading up to Greg’s Board Edge)  I ensure that there would not be an easy target whilst maintaining good fire arcs over the area of the board he was likely to move in to.
This round I finished off both Y-Wings in exchange for some Critical Damage on to  the bottom Academy TIE who I had used to Block the Y-Wings escape in to the open table.
Turns 6 & 7
In these turns Greg gave an excellent display of how annoying Advanced Sensor B-Wings are to fly against with some really good flying he held position among the asteroids, refusing to be drawn out whilst I was re-positioning to bring all my fire to bare again.
This is where he started to spread some nice damage across my remaining ships but my philosophy of always breaking off with a damaged ship whilst presenting a fresh target on a plate slowed down the attrition a little whilst I started working through the B-Wings 5 Shields each.
Turns 8&9
As the B’s Shields started to go down Greg knew he had to play more aggressively and actively started hunting the damaged TIE’s, but thanks to some 3 Evades from 3 Dice I still had 4 vs 1 going in to the closing stages of the game.
Unfortunately for me, whilst my Defensive dice were Hot my Attack dice were slacking a little (well that and some good Flying from Greg) ensuring that it took me two turns to actually kill the Shieldless B-Wing.
End Game
Greg’s Dog Fighting continued to be top notch taking it from a 4v1 to a 2v1 before I finally finished him off. Even than it should have been only 1 TIE remaining as Greg had managed to get the 3 hits on to a damaged TIE with only 1 Hull point remaining before I pulled out the 2 evades and a Focus to sped my token and live to fight another day.
All in all it was a very enjoyable game that was a lot closer than it seemed at the start due in no small part to Greg’s tricksyness with his B-Wings.  Advanced Sensors and being Pilot Skill 4 really came to the fore against my low pilot skill (3 and Below) TIE’s allowing Greg to continually be out of arc of some of my shooting and he did a very good job of sticking close to me as I was trying to hold range on him to continue chipping away.  In reflection I could maybe have held formation for 1 more round and tried to pile the fire on to one of the B-Wings but I did not want to give Greg the advantage of the open table to fly around in.
I hope I managed to show some of the ways I like to use an 8 TIE swarm and what kind of things you need to look out for and take in to consideration.
Thanks for reading people and if you would like to see more of the same than please take a look at my blog at The Dice Hate Me – Kris
If you have any questions on this game or this build than just leave a comment and next time on Swarm Theory we will look at some 7 TIE swarm builds and talking about Howlrunner!

Author: Kris Sherriff
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