In a new running series, ChahDresh celebrates the glory days of X-Wing’s myriad ships.
Every card I reference can be found on Yet Another Squad Builder. If I lapse into jargon and use terms you don’t recognize, let me know in the comments below and I’ll fix my mistake.
When I started thinking about articles I wanted to write, high on my list was a comprehensive review of ships and their pilots. This approach had two flaws. First, it committed me to spending time talking about uninteresting pilots (there are only so many times you can say “these generics get two more points of PS for two more points, which is rarely useful” before you start to ask existential questions). Second, it robbed ships of context. It’s misleading to talk about pilots like Colonel Vessery and Wes Jansen in isolation. It doesn’t do HWKs or Lambda Shuttles justice to talk about their builds without talking about the squads they fit in, since the squads dictate the builds and not vice versa.
So we’re still doing a review, but it’ll be a little different in form. Each ship will get an intro, and then I’ll discuss a squad build that featured that ship. In some cases these will be widely renowned, world-conquering lists; in others it will be a squad that shows the ship in its purest form. So let’s begin, as we should, at the beginning: with the X-wing.
Role: space superiority fighter
The game’s eponymous fighter is an all-rounder with no particular strengths. Its biggest weakness is the lack of an inherent boost or barrel roll, forcing it into a jouster role even though other ships have edged it there in terms of raw efficiency. This is especially painful because the X-Wing boasts one of the game’s best line-ups of high-PS aces, who are sadly hamstrung by their inability to dodge or maintain arcs. So, despite having some superior pilot abilities, these aces can only do so much. Recognizing this, FFG has been releasing cards with the explicit purpose of “fixing” the X-Wing. Integrated Astromech made the X-Wing more resilient without addressing its core problem. Vectored Thrusters, on the other hand, may yet be the card to bring the X-Wing back to the table.
Representative list: Biggs Walks the Dogs, a.k.a. The Trench Run Squad
X-Wing: Biggs Darklighter, R4-D6, Integrated Astromech
X-Wing: Wedge Antilles, R2-D2, Predator
X-Wing: Luke Skywalker, R5-P9, Draw Their Fire
You’ll notice this is a 94 point list. Traditionally, the remaining points were filled with some combo of Shield and Hull Upgrades, but Integrated Astromech is stronger and cheaper than either, freeing up points for other, more attractive options. Vectored Thrusters and torpedoes are worth thinking about.
How it Works:
Wedge’s firepower is enviable without any tricks: as long as you have Biggs you know you don’t have to keep your focus token for defense, so you can spend it freely on the attack after you get your free re-roll(s) from Predator. His pilot ability is a standing reduction of 3/8ths to 5/8ths evade results (depending on if the target is focused). Add it all up and Wedge has some of the game’s nicest attack math, repeatable turn after turn. Unfortunately, Wedge can’t dogfight solo. Even though he has PS9, he’s predictable. Your foe doesn’t have to reckon with barrel rolls or boosts that would shift Wedge’s position. He’s confined by his dial, and not terribly tough. All of this makes him a high-priority target who can’t get away from the attention he draws.
This brings us to Wedge’s handcuff pick: Biggs. Biggs boasts the most disruptive pilot ability in the game; just by being on the table he changes your opponent’s plans. The price you pay is that he’s even more predictable than Wedge, and that predictability carries over. He’s PS5, which means that foes with a PS between Biggs and Wedge’s 9 can use Biggs’ maneuver to infer Wedge’s. You can fool the enemy by breaking formation, but this only works once- though maybe once is all you need.
So, if the Wedge-Biggs combo platter can’t dodge arcs, the alternative is jousting as effectively as possible. The thesis of the list is simple: line up right across from the enemy and kill them first. With Wedge’s and Luke’s high-PS shots, that happens with some regularity. To an extent, Biggs is like six Shield Upgrades for Wedge. (That doesn’t mean his offense should be ignored- he’s still a three-dice ship- it’s just a secondary function.) Luke helps sustain Biggs and Wedge, siphoning off crits and regening after. He can keep doing this to sustain Wedge even after Biggs dies because, with his ability, players are reluctant to shoot at him, especially when they could be shooting Wedge instead.
You expect to lose Biggs, but losing either Wedge or Luke is much more serious. The list degrades steeply. Luke isn’t scary offensively and not as durable in practice as he is in most people’s minds. Some pilots load Luke up with Lone Wolf (since it makes him far more effective in the end-game), but this means his wingmen die earlier and Lone Wolf is useless in formation. Modern lists typically see Luke as the weak link, and replace him with a more effective third ship. We’ll show an example of this later on.
Role: multi-mission fighter
For years, the combination of low firepower, lack of green on the dial, and absence of EPTs on the unique pilots confined the Y-Wing to a supporting role. However, it has experienced a serious renaissance since waves 6 and 7, thanks to new turret options and the BTL-A4 title. With the title, the ship is a jouster with some tricks and a great carriage for R3-A2, the God of Stress. Without the title, the ship’s turret provides consistent damage output and easier flying. Both roles work well for a reasonably costed, reasonably durable Y-Wing. Recent buffs to ordnance may yet give the Y-Wing another mission as a torpedo boat, and Bomb Loadout enables the Y-Wing to be used as a bomber (though this is a rare choice). However you load them, the Y-Wing is a known quantity of a ship: not flashy or overwhelming, not skittish or slippery, but solid as a stone floor.
Representative list: Worlds 2015 Championship List
T-70 X-Wing: Poe Dameron, Veteran Instincts, Autothrusters, R2-D2
Y-Wing: Gold Squadron Pilot, Twin Laser Turret
Y-Wing: Gold Squadron Pilot, Twin Laser Turret, BTL-A4, R3-A2
Z-95: Bandit Squadron Pilot
How it Works:
This list demonstrates the Y-Wing in both its jouster and turret ship forms. The overall thesis is that Poe Dameron is a beast in the end-game; the ships around him serve to deliver him to the end-game with a mismatch. Poe starts with the formation in a jousting configuration and becomes a millstone later on. In between, the Y-Wings provide the majority of the firepower with respectable durability.
A Y-Wing with the title and R3-A2 is known as a “Stresshog”. Because the primary weapon attack and the TLT attacks are separate events, each one procs R3-A2, meaning you can burden your target with two stress tokens- a death sentence for most pilots. The Stresshog takes stress, too, but frankly doesn’t need actions to do what it needs to do. The threat of being caught by the Stresshog is a huge deterrent to aces of all stripes, and even low-cost jousters aren’t crazy about it (or about weathering the hail of fire from the combined shots of the list). The non-title Y-Wing adds consistent damage, turn after turn. Enemies with Autothrusters are generally resilient against TLT shots; everyone else is fair game.
This list presents foes with a tall list of tasks to manage. They have to kill the Stresshog, which is enormously threatening, but without taking the stress in return. An alpha strike might work against the ‘hog, but burst damage of that caliber is what they’d need to finish off Poe. If they only casually attack Poe he’ll walk through it and out the other side, but with the other ships in the way, blocking and stressing and jousting, it’s hard to push the attack home on Poe; and all the while the TLT is peck, peck, pecking them to death.
~The Ship Parade continues next week as we go wave-by-wave, alternating factions. Coming soon: The Swarm Endures…