Star Wars Monday: X-Wing ep. 1

Introduction

Greetings, cadet.  My name is Andrew but you may also refer to me by my designated Imperial serial number (ok, it’s actually the username on all of my social media accounts): FRFC3S.  First of all, I would like to thank Ready to Role for picking up my content and providing a platform for my content to reach even more readers and hopefully encourage some crossover between the different game universes promoted on this site.  As a kid, I liked Star Wars, but my tabletop gaming experience started with Wizards of the Coast’s Pokemon and Decipher’s Young Jedi CCGs around 1998-1999.  Shortly thereafter, during the Urza’s Block, I got into a little game called Magic: the Gathering.  After a good bit of fumbling around, I played Type I (now called Vintage?) until I quit Magic after winning a Darksteel prerelease flight, selling all of my cards, and buying a car.  There were little games in-between, such as Duel Masters, Yu Gi Oh!, and Dragonball Z, but Magic was the biggie.  Miniatures games started with WizKids’ Mage Knight, which led to all of their other IPs: Mechwarrior and HeroClix.  I also won a WotC Dreamblade cash prize tournament at some point.  I’m positive that there were other games that I cannot remember, but that’s the gist of my background.

Enough about me, you’re reading this because you’re interested in starting, just started, or a veteran of one of Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars related games.  This week, we are talking about X-Wing, released in 2012.  Now, I only started playing X-Wing about a month ago.  If you are new, we can use this article together to experiment and learn from each other’s mistakes.  If you are a veteran, hopefully by reading these articles you are able to reminisce to simpler times where you had no idea what you were doing.

My Friendly Local Game Store (“FLGS”) holds an X-Wing league.  Much like a fantasy sports league, the first and third Thursday of every month are scored and, at the end of the season, the Golden Hutt is awarded to the top performer.  Prior to being picked up by Ready to Role, I participated in week one in the beginning of April.  Let’s just say you guys didn’t miss much, considering I was in 24th out of 24.  Last Thursday, being the third Thursday of April, was league night.  This would be my second league night and a chance for redemption.

 

Acquisitions

Currently, I only own:

  • Classic Red Core Set
  • Imperial Veterans
  • TIE/fo (the First Order from The Force Awakens) expansion packs

That gives me a T-65 X-Wing, 2 TIE Fighters, a TIE Bomber, a TIE Defender, and a TIE/fo.  Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (“MSRP”) for this collection is about $85, but you should be able to pick these up second hand for 30-50% off or catch an online sale at 20-40% off.  These expansions just kind of fell into my lap on trades or Craigslist purchases.  They may not be an ideal starting place, but they are what I have.  I strongly encourage that you check out the variety of online resources to determine which squad best suits your tastes and what ships you personally should buy first.  Everyone is different.  However, it is tempting to buy bunches and bunches of cool looking ships to start.  That can be overwhelming.  Start off slow and “run what ya brung” before you drop $500 of miniatures across three different factions.  The latter causes sensory overload and burnout.  I fear that is why most collections go up for sale at 1/3rd MSRP.

In this section, future articles will review what new expansions I have acquired and how I intend on incorporating them into my builds.

For this week, I will merely make note that a mandatory purchase for an Imperial player is the $15 TIE/fo expansion pack.  It is one of the most self-contained expansion packs in the game.  It comes with a great pilot, “Omega Leader,” and the two upgrades that you almost always see on him: Juke and Comm. Relay.  It also comes with some other unique pilots to supplement the TIE/fo ships contained in the New Blue Force Awakens Core Set.

 

Prep

In X-Wing, you are allowed 100 points to create either a Rebel, Imperial, or Scum squad.  Your squad must be faction specific and no overlap is allowed.  I do not have any Scum and I only have one Rebel T-65 X-Wing.  By way of necessity, that makes me an Imperial player.  Based upon my limited knowledge of the current meta, Imperials are the least played faction, but the Rebels follow closely behind.  The vast majority of the current meta is Scum.

A common Imperial build includes a “Swarm” of TIE Fighters up to a maximum of 8 ships.  Numbers and attrition are the path to victory.

Another common build includes “Aces,” which are usually about 3 fast and evasive “arc dodging” ships, such as the TIE Interceptors and Phantoms.  They are called “arc dodgers” because with high pilot skills, barrel rolls, and boost action, they excel and getting into an opponent’s blind spot where they can shoot a ship and avoid return fire.

Both “Swarms” and “Aces” can be very fragile.

A third common build include “Jousters,” the exact opposite of fragile, which are usually 3 tough ships.  These are almost exclusively TIE Defenders.  They can take hits, give em right back, and then loop back around for another go.  This continues until you, or the enemy, are dead.

Based upon my limited collection, the squad that I brought last Thursday was a combination of the Swarm and Jouster archetypes.  My squad included many elements of popular and successful squads, but failed to specialize in any of the three areas.  Simply put, it included what I thought were good ships but that (knowingly) did not necessarily synergize well.

 

I started with a mini swarm:

A TIE Fighter piloted by an Academy Pilot: 12 points

A TIE/fo Epsilon Sqd. Pilot: 15 points

And a TIE Fighter piloted by Night Beast: 15 points

Total: 42 points.

 

TIE Fighters are the cheapest ship in the game.  The cheapest TIE/fo is 3 points more, but comes with some extra actions and an extra shield for added durability.

Night Beast’s special ability is that he gets a free Focus action every time you execute a green maneuver.  This allows Night Beast to be exceptionally hard to hit, with a free Focus, an Evade as his normal action, and 3 Agility dice.  With 5 Pilot skill, if he still has his Focus token by the time it is his turn to shoot, he should probably spend it on his attack without fear of needing it in the remainder of the low pilot skill shootout at the end of the Combat Round.

 

With 42 points down, I added a bigger body to the mix: a TIE Defender piloted by “Countess Ryad.”  Along with the TIE/x7 Title that comes in the Imperial Veterans expansion pack, she clocks in at 32 points.  Similar to Night Beast, she gets free tokens.  Her title allows her to take a free Evade action if she executes a 3, 4, or 5 distance maneuver.  Along with her pilot ability, she can K turn behind an enemy, clear her stress, take a free Evade Action, and then use her normal action to take a Focus or Target Lock.  With all of that dice modification and 3 Evade dice, it is tough to make damage stick.  If you do manage to get a hit through, the Countess has 6 combined hull and shields, making her an effective jouster.

That brings us up to 74 points.

 

To polish off the squad, and arguably the most cost-effective us of 26 points in the game, is the aforementioned “Omega Leader.”  To start the game, you take an Evade token that carries over into future Rounds with Comm. Relay.  Once he takes a Target Lock on an opponent, combined with his pilot ability and the Juke upgrade, he can turn one of the enemy’s Evade rolls into a Focus result and leave them unable to modify the newly-turned Focus or any other die results afterwards.  At just over a quarter of your squad’s point total, he is a cheap, effective jouster that rounds out the squad.

 

So, there you have it: 2 jousters escorted by a mini swarm.

Academy Pilot 12

Epsilon Sqd. Pilot 15

Night Beast 15

Countess Ryad, TIE/x7 32

Omega Leader (“OL”), Juke, Comm. Relay 26

 

Total: 100 points for a combined health of 21 and 11 attack dice.

*Note, I had to borrow a TIE/fo dial and ship from my Rebel friend to create this squad, as I only own one TIE/fo.  You will not have this problem if you have both Core sets.

 

Results

Upon arrival at the store, the meta had shifted from almost exclusively Scum to almost exclusively Imperial.

 

ROUND ONE

My round one opponent was similarly new, also playing Imperial, and also playing a similar squad of three jousters:

Quickdraw in the TIE/sf

his own OL and

Colonel Vessery in a TIE Defender.

 

He set up Quickdraw in the middle and the rest off to the right.  I set up my OL in the middle and the rest off to the right.

Initially, Quickdraw came up the middle at my OL.  However, my OL wanted nothing to do with that and turned to the right in formation with the rest of my TIEs.  I then proceeded to mess up my swarm formation, causing the Academy Pilot to bump.

Just as we got in range, I asked my opponent if I could take a quick photo (I did not want to be accused of delaying the game in a timed round), because this was what we were looking at:

 

 

WHAT A CLUSTER.

The honorary joust commenced and the dice were flying.  My Ryad takes a bunch of hits but so doesn’t his Vessery.  Quickdraw only gets a glancing shot off while my OL starts shooting at his OL.  Ryad goes down but the TIE swarm avenges her and takes down Vessery.  With the Defenders both down, the TIE swarm traded with his OL, leaving me with my OL and an Academy Pilot vs. Quickdraw.

Quickdraw gets to take a free attack whenever he loses a shield.  With 3 shields and a title that gives him an extra die, I was looking at a total of 12 free attack coming at me over the course of the game.  Every time I hit him for 1, I took 2 back.

I may have been able to beat him through attrition, but time was called.  After tallying up the victory points, I had lost 61-62.

What. A. Game.

 

Loss, 61-62

 

ROUND TWO

My round two opponent brought Rebels, including Norra Wexley in her ARC-170 with a rear facing firing arc and modified with R2-D2 for shield-regeneration with an escort of 3 A-Wings.

 

Norra set up mid and the As off to the left, opposite of my Countess who set up mid and TIEs that set up on the right.

To start, Norra comes right up the middle, but my Countess turns off to the right in formation with the TIEs, leaving the As well out of the fight.  The As are fast, but are going to miss a round of shooting.

Then, Norra jousts with my entire squad.  However, I only get one shield off of her.

Afterwards, Norra takes a hard turn to the right to entice the TIEs to chase her through her rear firing arc.  I had other plans.  I immediately turned my entire squad around and jousted with the flanking A-Wings.

The rest of the game was Norra trying to turn around while her A-Wing escorts suffered heavy casualties and I won 39-0.  My first league win!

 

Win, 39-0

 

ROUND THREE

My third and final round opponent was the player who took first place on the first week of the league.  He brought 3 Rebel T-70 X-Wings piloted by Poe, Nien Nunb, and Norra Wexley’s son, Snap Wexley.  They all had maneuvering abilities and ways to generate free actions like Push the Limit and BB-8 as well as Integrated Astromech for more hull value.

 

At this point, it was like 10:30 p.m.  I was knocking things over and apologizing.  Probably a combination of low blood sugar, hunger, thirst, standing for too long, etc.

We still managed to make it a very fun game.

OL died almost immediately.  I got both Nien and Norra down to 1 hull remaining, but unlike medium-sized ships, you don’t get half-points for half-killing them.  You either kill them and get full point value or nothing at all.

 

Loss, 0 – ~50ish (tournament was over so I didn’t really keep track)

 

Takeaways

The first round makes me want to pick up a TIE/sf.  Quickdraw at range one hits for 4 dice out of his primary arc or makes both a front and rear 3 dice attack.  That’s 6 combined hull and shield and 4-6 attack dice for just shy of 40 points.  Anything with the ability to generate multiple attacks, such as Gunner, Twin Laser Turret, abd Dengar, is very powerful.  Notably, included in the Imperial Veterans expansion, is the TIE/D title which gives a cannon-equipped Defender both a cannon shot and a primary attack shot per turn.

Speaking of Defenders, Ryad only died in the first round.  She is a tank.  I would also consider acquiring the Defender expac to run Colonel Vessery alongside her.

Every single one of my matches went to time.  I never got “100’d,” but I didn’t get a single kill in Round 3.  That leads me to believe I have a good amount of hull/attack dice in my squad, so to not go any less than a combined health of 21, but that I should probably try to find a way to get more than 11 attack dice.  Maybe replace the TIE swarm with a generic Defender with Tie/D and a cheap cannon.

With that being said, I managed to place 17/27.  This is a remarkable improvement up from 24/24 in week one.  I definitely had learned a lot on the bye week.  My margin of victory (“MOV”) was the 2nd highest for a 1-2 record because that first game was so close.  I think a short-term goal of going 2-1 in at least one of the weeks next month is reasonable.

My third round opponent’s squad was able to generate free actions.  Night Beast and Ryad already do that, but it seems as though any other ships we find along the way that can assign free tokens improve your rolls and lead to the overall strength and resilience of your ship.

Finally, this may seem silly, but playing X-Wing is mentally and physically exhausting.  Standing up for 3+ hours in deep thought, after working all day, is grueling.  Wear comfortable shoes and layer your clothes so you can adapt to a wildly fluctuating FLGS temperature as people come and go.

 

After the tournament, I helped put the tables away, grabbed my free Q2 Tactician alternate-art participation promo upgrade card, skipped the post-mission beer, and went to home.  The standings came out later on in the week and I am now 19/32!

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