FFG is giving the beloved but dated titular ship some love. This is no face-lift– this is major reconstructive surgery. Let’s take a look!
There’s not much going on in the world of X-Wing these days—I myself have been on hiatus because of life situations preventing me from playing games—so I thought I would return with a mundane topic. I’m thinking two thousand words and ten charts on the probability of… Wait, what’s that?
*is given the link to the Saw’s Renegades preview*
STOP THE PRESSES!
I just always wanted to say that.
What was once predicted has finally come to pass: ever since Biggs was hammered, the X-Wing has truly fallen out of the ranks of, er, X-Wing… but that nerf in turn has opened the door for X-Wing buffs. And boy, they’re even more sweeping and substantial than I would have believed.
The big one is Renegade Refit—a sort of “best of other ship’s fixes” card. It sacrifices your torpedo slot for -2 points (a la Chardaan Refit), gives you another mod (a la Royal Guard TIE), and reduces the cost of your EPT (a la Vaksai). That’s substantial!
There’s plenty to unpack here. First: the sacrifice of the torpedo slot isn’t *too* damaging; although a few archetypes used ordnance on X-Wings, it is all things considered an uncommon choice. It also caught me off-guard. The way the text was printed, I was sure the card was a title. Instead, the title slot remains clear—meaning there’s still room for additional buffs down the road.
The reason for thinking this was a title was because of the spacing of the header text—but, it turns out, that was caused by the upgrade being available for the U-Wing. Color me surprised! And sort of not-surprised. By some measures, the U-Wing might be considered the worst ship in the game. At least it’s the one the fewest people have won with. I found it hard to believe FFG would reprint the ship in a “fixes” box and then give it no love.
I was secretly hoping for a change to Pivot Wing. It always struck me as downright dangerous that you had to dump your agility *before* executing your turn-around. To avoid getting hammered, you had to disengage, flip Pivot Wing, then turn around—adding a turn to the process and leaving you hopelessly outmaneuvered. My favored sneak-fix was to use the occasion of reprinting Pivot Wing to change its card text… if you could flip it at the start of the End Phase, that would work better. You’d still be telegraphing your intentions, but you would have more control over your window of vulnerability. But I digress.
The last X-Wing fix, Integrated Astromech, made X-Wings tougher. This helped, but it didn’t address their core problem, which was a lack of repositioning options. This locked them into a jouster role without the pure numbers to win jousts. It’s no surprise Flight-Assist Astromech has been a hit with this ship. Renegade Refit’s unlocking of a second mod slot allows you to keep the advantage of Integrated Astromech while bringing in the new kid in town at no extra charge: Servomotor S-Foils.
Lock S-Foils in Attack Position
Yes, at last, now you too can lock S-Foils in attack position!
Let’s be honest to start: you’ll probably stay locked in Attack Position the vast majority of the time. This makes sense; losing a red die is a huge deal. That said, even if you never flip the card, you’re still getting your points’ worth from it. (Get it? Because it’s zero points? …never mind.) Getting barrel roll addresses the core weakness of the X-Wing, without the stiff price associated with Vectored Thrusters and (thanks to the Refit) without sacrificing Integrated Astromech. Yes, two points is “stiff” for something in the X-Wing’s price range.
Don’t sleep on the Tallon Roll, either. People have a very hard time visualizing where a Tallon Roll can put you, and an even harder time blocking it. A failed K-Turn is frequently a fatal blow. Having the Tallon Roll available not only gives you more options for turning around, the Roll’s flexibility lets you fit into tight spaces. I’m a fan.
By contrast, Closed Position seems almost obligatory, an “I suppose we have to” alternative. X-Wings aren’t Sheathipedes; they aren’t going to be earning their keep except by murder. The loss of a red die is a big obstacle to that.
Sure, you get to boost. Sure, you get 2-banks as greens. Big deal. Having the same greens as an ARC is one thing, but the ARC gets away with it because it has a rear firing arc the T-65 lacks. Even the new pilots are unlikely to get much out of it. There is something very damaging about being obliged to take a certain action, especially a repositioning action.
But hey, maybe you’re close up on time and you need to run away to preserve the win. Go for it, buddy. Boost for freedom! There might be other exceptional situations, too, like a high-PS ace trying to stick to Super Dash. The fact that you’re allowed to flip the card at the start of activation is a generous quality.
Putting it all Together
The combined possibilities are intriguing. I’ve liked Hobbie ever since Targeting Astromech came out, but so equipped he was a destitute man’s version of a TIE Defender: a single point cheaper than an /X7 Delta, but down a point of agility and with less favorable action economy, especially on the approach. Those Tallon Rolls, though (and potential barrel rolls after) make him far less predictable for, of course, fewer points. Tarn Mison with M9-G8 already punched above his weight class; at 24 points he’s punching way WAY above his weight class. Wes’ ability to strip tokens led many people to give him Veteran Instincts to shoot first; now he can get more use out of that PS10 with a little arc-dodging action. And certain… ahem… overly enthusiastic people have suggested Luke Skywalker with Engine Upgrade and Autothrusters, allowing him to… er… imitate Poe, for a few points cheaper.
All of that is interesting, but only on a superficial level. There are, after all, gradations of good. These new cards unequivocally make the U-Wing and X-Wing better. But do they make them (here’s that word) competitive? After all, the classic Wedge build (Predator, cheap Integrated droid) went from 33 points to 30 and picked up barrel roll for free in the bargain. Is that Wedge, though, something that’s going to hit tables?
It’s hard to give a firm “yes”. I know, that’s the coward’s way out! I’m not prepared to endorse Quint X-Wings as a neo-swarm list, not after watching Quint Vaksai Khiraxzes be dead on arrival. Auzituck jousting lists get away with it by using Tactician to lock aces down, dragging them to their level; one X-Wing can carry R3-A2 but that’s the end of it. The U-Wing remains a brick to fly, a large-base arc-bound ship with only its parlor trick stall-turn to let it come about. The Tarn, Hobbie, and Wes that I mention above seem unlikely to compete with standard Ezras, Fenn Raus, or Lohhwricks in the same price ranges. They bring more firepower, but far less synergy. I want to believe that the aces will rock with the ability to barrel roll but it’s hard to say that with confidence (they still have action economy issues).
Neither of the new X-Wing pilots move the needle for me, either. As I mentioned above, I have trouble buying into a pilot strategy built around forced repositioning actions. Intensity Poe gets a pass because BB-8 happens before your movement and is a barrel roll, so you don’t lose range control. Having to boost with Kullbee to flip Servomotor S-Foils and shoot means you’ll be flying past people all the darn time. Kullbee falls into that dangerous range of mid-PS ships that want to arc-dodge. Even if you get VI to enable it, you only get up to PS9, and then you have no dice mods. At that point, you’re basically a worse Duchess or a slightly cheaper Ello Asty, neither of which has exactly lit the world on fire. As for Leevan Tenza, she can take Wired and become very survivable—but with only two gently modified reds, she’s not providing offense near commensurate with her cost, and she’s bringing nothing else to the list. The TIE Advanced long ago taught us the limits of survivable-but-offense-deficient fighters. (I.e. they suck.)
Is it possible we’re looking at this the wrong way? What’s remarkable about the Refit is that it allows you to field a reasonable number of solid, mid-PS bodies. If you were to drop, say, three X-Wings and a U-Wing on the table and dare the enemy to joust, some of the current gameplans wouldn’t work well against you: you have too many bodies for the enemy to completely lock down with control effects, even a Ghost would have trouble one-rounding a ship, and you’ll put a hurt on anything in front of you. Current four-ship lists save points by bringing Captain Rex, and he tends to get blown away early while adding no offense; both are distinct from an X-Wing. Homogeneity has its virtues, too: Captain Rex can’t slow roll, and an Auzituck can’t turn around. A squad of the type we’re discussing has neither problem. Maintaining formation against Palp Aces archetypes might be tricky, and Harpoons would be pretty threatening. Still, I feel like there’s some variant of this idea which can hold its own at a high level.
~Either that or we’ll be getting an X-Wing-only title in a year or two. Who knows!