In something of a mirror to my X-Wing: Should I Fly It? Series on YouTube, this series gives some thoughts on a squad and explains why I think you should fly it, be it for competitive strength or pure fun, or a crazy combination of the two.
Continue reading “X-Wing: Why You Should Fly 8 TIE/fo’s”
The first in the series is this video on Base Sizes, Movement and Formations.
Then as I really am trying we have a second video on the Range Rule and the concept of Known information and the Rule of 11.
Hope you enjoy them guys and I will be back soon with even more content!
A bit of a deviation from my standard X-Wing articles today (ah a stats pun in the opening paragraph…) I wanted to take a look at what is more important in the X-Wing Meta when constructing a Squad, Stats and Abilities or Dials and Actions?
The X-Wing community has had a lot to take in during 2014, FFG released the first official fix for a ship the felt they could have done a better job with. Namly the Chardaan Refit for the A-Wing, effectively saying that the A-Wing just did not justify its points cost.
Its hard to argue against the raw stats that get thrown around and you only have to look at the upcoming fix for the TIE Advanced to see that this is how FFG plans to address these issues in the future to try to keep all the ships relevant.
This leads on to the reveal for the M3-A Scyk and the discussions that it has generated. This was the ship that I was most looking forward to seeing in Wave 6 as the concept really excited me.
A shame than that the general consensus seems to be that the dial is going to have to be very good for it to see meaningful play and as hard as I find it, I have to agree that the stat line does not justify 14 points.
This leads me back to a thought that I have had for a while of just what points value do you assign to a dial?
As some of you may be aware there is a lot of information out there for how we should value the stat lines of various ships, MajorJuggler from the FFG forums has some excellent posts on the FFG forums that go it to far more depth than I am going to in this article, and you can read them here.
The basic premiss is that it is relatively simple to assign a given value to a statistic and then judge it in comparison to another ships stats.
This is something that I have spoken about when I have been a guest on NovaSquadron Radio.
Normally I have a gut feeling of where something is going to fall and then MajorJuggler comes in with the actual maths, This usualy results in us having a long off air discussion about how much we agree on something being overcosted or that something is a really good value upgrade.
I would expect that almost everyone reading this does the same sort of thing, we all have some form of grasp of how a stat line works, be it in X-Wing, 40K, Infinity or whatever.
The fact that we even call them stat lines implies that Math is going to have the answers, this lends itself to a form of Math(inserts end part of game name here) where Unit X comes out to be stronger than Unit Y because it kills Z Space Marines per turn more (OK, so it kills Z TIE Fighters a turn…)
My point is that skill level does not in anyway influence the list building phase of the game, especially with the existence of the internet and the wealth of information available at peoples fingertips about latest results and what Paul Heaver is flying this week.
The costing issues come in when you then transfer this on to the table top. The game stops being all about the numbers as there is dog fighting involved. Not all ships are created equal and the Dial now come in to play, what is harder is actually getting the value from the points cost of the dial.
This X-Factor is something that FFG has to build in to the points cost of a ship and this is where the problems start!
Lets look at an example.
This is a comparison I like to make as it removes the Action Bar and Pilot Skill from the equation as both ships are the same.
In this case 21 points on the Lambda buys you the equivalent of 2 Hull Upgrades and 3 Shield Upgrades which (as an unfair comparison) FFG costs at 18 points the loss of the 1 Defense dice has to be accounted for as well which I personally cost at approximately 6-7 points in this case (this is not an arbitrary number and involves lots of comparisons to other ships but does come down to my personal gut feeling that if the Lambda had 2 Evades is would cost about 27-28 points with no other changes)
These numbers put the Lambda as a raw stats level of being about 12 points undercosted when compared to the X-Wing so is the Lambda’s dial really that bad when compared to the X-Wings?
We will ignore the All Stop on the Lambda for now and see what they have in common first. For the 1’s they are all green and the both have the 1 Ahead and the Banks with no turn.
Both have access to all the 2’s again with the ahead being Green and the banks are both white but the Lambda’s turn is Red.
The 3’s is where the difference starts to really show with the 3 Ahead being white for both but the banks being Red on the Lambda and it not even having the turns.
4 Ahead for the X-Wing and it also has a 4 K-Turn while the Lambda has the aforementioned Red All Stop.
It is also worth pointing out that the Lambda can’t really slow roll as well as the X-Wing as it is a large base ship so its 1 ahead actually covers the same amount of space as the X-wings 2 Ahead. So it needs to pull the all stop of effectively slow roll which whilst powerful induces stress.
What this actually boils down to is that yes the X-Wings dial is a lot better than the Lambda’s and if you ever get around a Lambda with an X-Wing it should never get away from you.
However in a joust, your X-Wing could well be dead before it ever gets a chance to be behind the Lambda. In this instance you could say that I am doing the comparison backwards looking at how FFG have give us a points break on the Lambdas stats because of its dial and that is correct, people who actually use the shuttles a lot swear by them as they are extremely cost effective if they are firing.
It is when we take the comparison in the opposite direction that we see the true problems with this dial, action bar and upgrade costing.
A look at one of my personal favorite ships in the Expanded Universe the TIE Defender. There is no denying the power of its stat line all the 3’s make it a ship not to be trifled with but 30 points for a PS 1 Defender, really.
This is where we start to look at comparisons to other ships FFG is making with and add the Action Bar and upgrade bar in to the equation.
FFG with releasing the Chardaan Refit have effectively costed the ability to take missiles at 2 points, this is somewhat reinforced but the up coming release of the Scyk with the Heavy Scyk Title.
Does this mean that the Defender is paying a 4 point premium for the ability to take a Missile and a Cannon? Not necessarily but it does mean that part of the cost is included in the platform. Couple that with the Dial and the placement of the White, Green and Red and you have a ship that stat line wise should be right up there but despite having access to the full suite of moves and a White K-Turn just does not quite cut it.
Compare that to a Knave Squadron Pilot with a Hull Upgrade.
Both Ships would share the same stat line of all 3’s both would come in at 30 points and both would have 17 maneuvers available to them, so which is better?
That is the X-Factor that is hard to cost, what the player can actually do with the ship on the table drastically affects how much value they get out of the dial.
In a match between two weaker players I would give the edge to the Defender as its White K makes the 2nd pass easier to plan out. If the E-Wing player has enough about them to start forcing hard turns though and its a whole different ball game.
This ultimately means that a player of less skill can fly a ship where to cost is factored more heavily in to the stats/abilities better than they could fly a ship where the cost is weighted more heavily in to the dial and action bar.
A player of a higher skill is going to get the same amount of value from the stats of a ship as a weaker player. The difference is that they are going to squeeze every ounce of value out of the points cost that were factored into its Dial/Action Bar.
Not to say that any of this is bad or that there is anything inherently wrong with flying the “easier” ships, just that with the current state of the game. Where both sides deploy opposite each other in a victory point grabbing furball that the Stats/Abilities are always going to weigh more heavily than the Dials/Actions.
I would love to see some variation in deployments or missions to help take some of the stress from points killed being the only way to win a game. Until that happens there is no reason to change and damage application and mitigation are going to continue to be the deciding factors in games.
The good news is that whilst this is not changing, more variables are being added to the game. The addition of Debris Clouds, Corran Horn, 58 Point Dash, Autothruster Fel and the upcoming TIE Advanced fixes the more slippery ships are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, and whilst all the ships I mentioned live or die by their abilities the fact that they are centered around positioning rather than brute force is what we all want.
The Game is not perfect, and I for one hope it never will be, Pawns don’t hold the same value as Rookes and nor should they, it does not mean that chess is unbalanced it just means that you have to use the pieces at you disposal to the best of your ability and dice being even the better player should win.
I do have one last point before I sign off this piece, make sure you talk with your opponents about the type of game you want. If its an event than fair game, play the best squad you can use well but don’t be afraid to lose some games on the kitchen table whilst you try to get better with some off the wall lists. You will never get value out of the more Dial/Action intensive ships if you never take the time to get to grips with them, and who knows you may even enjoy it!
So am I right or am I wrong. Is X-Wing sinking in to a pit of Turreted, 2 Ship list madness or is the Interwebz misleading when it comes to what is on vogue? I know that 90% if the games I play out side of events have all manor of lists and combinations that no-one talks about but are we destined to complain about the top 1% being the same event after event and for that to influence the overall image of the game? I would love to hear your thoughts and will be doing my best to remain an active part of the discussion. So, have at it!
Pilot Skill is an important part of the X-Wing and how you put your squad together but just how important is it to be Top Gun?
I wanted to spend a bit of time looking at something different for this article, rather than delving in to one specific ship or build its time to get a little more generic and talk about the Bid for Pilot Skill.
What is Pilot Skill?
Pilot Skill in X-Wing varies from Pilot Skill 1 up to Pilot Skill 9 (without any external factors) and is used to determine two things, who moves first (Lowest) and who shoots first (Highest) seems simple and in honesty it is.
End of article, and thanks for reading…
OK so there is a little more to it than that.
Whilst the advantage of shooting first is obvious there are also advantages to moving first and this is why it is important to think about not just what Ships you are trying to fit in to your squad but also at what pilot skills they are going to sit at, and why.
Why would I want Low PS?
The most obvious advantage of a lower PS is cost, as the Pilot Skill gets higher so too does the points cost.
Here are two TIE Interceptor based lists;
So here we have a PS 6 Royal Guard list, it did the rounds after the release of Imperial Aces and is really good fun to fly, Unfortunately with the PS 6 and Push the Limits each ships clocks in at 25 points so you are flying a 12 Hit Point list.
This second list keeps the core of 4 Interceptors but with the drop from PS6 down to PS1 saving 16 points and not spending 12 points on Push the Limits you can fit in 28 points worth of goodness.
In this case I went for an Omicron Group Pilot with Vader and a Shield Upgrade.
The Points you save by not even taking part in the Bid for Pilot Skill lets you add in some guaranteed damage with Vader and you never have to worry about someone beating you to the punch as you are expecting it.
So we drop from a 12 hit point list to a 23 hit point list with a couple of tricks.
The Head to Head match up on this is quite interesting as as I honestly think it could go either way. The Royal Guard should be pulling a Focus and Evade as good as every turn as should be able to kill one Alpha and put damage down on a second but it then comes to if the 3 remaining can down one whilst the Omicron downs a second, that first exchange will decide the game.
The strength of the second list only really comes to the fore when you take it out of the head to head and start to look at it against some other lists. As soon as you run in to anyone at PS 7 and above a main strength of paying extra for Pilot Skill is wasted.
As soon as you are facing off against a Han or a Dash having Vader in the Omicron is looking a lot more profitable than spending 16 extra points on Pilot Skill.
That is only looking at the Combat Phase side of Pilot Skill though, it is important to cover the double edged sword that is Activation Phase.
Getting to activate and therefor move first can be a big plus.
Going back to the head to head with the above lists the Alpha player will get to move all of their ships before any of the Royal Guard get to move. This means that the Alpha’s can move to occupy the space you are expecting the Guard to finish in in the hope of causing a bump. The Alpha’s will still get their action and force a double hit on to the Guard denying them their action and the opportunity to use Push the Limits as well.
Whilst this is obviously skill based it can not be ignored that Blocking is a thing and has been since wave 1.
The fact that Enhanced Scopes for example even exists add credence to the point, FFG think it is worth 1 point to be able to move before your opponent whilst still being able to take part in the bid to shoot first.
So why would I ever Spend Points on a bid for PS?
This is easy, You get to Shoot First!
|Ask Greedo if it matters…|
The simple fact is that if you remove a ship from play before it fires it have zero chance of doing damage to you.
The counter point to this is that if you are not removing the ship from play with your shot than it becomes irelevent if you shot first or not as effectiveness of a ship is not affected by loss of Shields/Hull and whilst this is true to a point Crits matter and Focus tokens that you can force to be used in Defense are a huge boon.
It is easy to get pulled in to the Low is best for Moving and High is Best for Shooting debate but getting to move second can be worth its weight in gold. The Key is not your ships dial but its action bar.
This is because of the game mechanic of “locking in” your dial in the planning phase.
Getting to watch your opponent move and then performing your move with the confidence that you can Boost or Barrel Roll in to a favorable position is extremely powerful.
Its one of the reasons that I like Imperial Boba Fett, reactionary movement is powerful. Engine Upgrade costs 4 Points and is the (jointly) the most expensive modification available for just this reason. Being able to change your facing and position after you have seen where your opponent’s ships are is in my opinion one of the most powerful abilities in the game
If my opinion is not good enough for you, World Champion Paul Heaver when given the opportunity to introduce an Elite Pilot Talent in to the game here is what he came up with.
|If you want to read Paul’s thought on Stay on Target (and I suggest you do) follow the link to his article on the FFG Website|
The problem with using moving last as an advantage is that it takes more finesse to get the most out of it.
OK, I get what you are saying so how do I build a squad with that in mind?
As long as you have a plan when building your squad and know why you have gone in at the Pilot Skill you have than it should all work out (Dice Dependant :p)
The Impact of upgrades like Predator and Flight Instructor whilst not being game breaking should be considered when putting your squad together but don’t let it dominate your thoughts too much.
I will try to give a couple of examples of what I mean;
So this list bids as low as possible to save points and allow access to more ships/better upgrades.
This is a typical Rebel List at the moment, it sacrifices any opportunity to bid for Pilot Skill instead going for a solid base of Hit Points and Fire Power.
The B-Wings provide a solid fire base that most lists that bid high for PS should struggle to take out in a single turn.
The inclusion of the two Bandits give you flexibility for Blockers and options for firing order due to the entire list sitting at the same PS. This is something I covered at length in my Swarm Theory articles but the ability to choose firing order for your ships and the activation order adds a layer of flexibility that mixed PS lists miss out on and is often overlooked. For example a Whisper with Rebel Captive can be shot by one of the Bandits first to reduce the impact of the stress on your key ships.
This is an example of a list that whilst makes a small bid at Pilot Skill but has its focus on other interactions.
So for this list the Pilot Skill is reasonable and whilst all the pilots maintain a consistent level of 6 to add versatility the actual PS is not what the list is relying on to function.
This list is relying on Maneuverability and raw damage output to keep it in the game.
The hope is that Echo can provide the Target Locks for Vessery to provide value whilst Backstabber is overlooked as a filler. The list actually outputs quite a bit of damage easily being able to throw out 11 dice per turn.
It relies on positioning to survive against Higher Pilot Skill lists but can still hold its own.
This last list is all about Pilot Skill
This list is all about Han Shooting first.
Han fires and then the return shots have to go on to Biggs until he is dead all the while Han is shooting before your opponent. Biggs allows Han to take offensive actions in the early game and Luke backs him up well for any Token Tanking. Having Han alive and relativly unscaved in the end game and still firing at PS 11 is extremely nasty.
What does all this mean?
The sort answer would be to Go Big or Go Home, but that would be dismissive of quite a few options and list builds.
I honestly think that X-Wing is in a healthy place right now and that whilst the top tables may be dominated by styles of lists there are very few occurrences of the EXACT same lists facing off against each other on top tables.
The “Fat Han” is a style of list rather than a build as is the Swarm, people are still putting there take on the archetypes and finding ways to use them.
Whilst Pilot Skill has a big impact on the game, it does not out weigh actually flying your squad well.
There is no right or wrong answer to what Pilot Skill is the best as the synergy within your squad is going to be more important.
Wave 5 is going to give Imperials access to their first 360 degree turret in the form of the VT-49 Decimator, so lets take a look at exactly what this brick is going to bring to the table.
The Decimator is a bit of a first on a few fronts, its the Imp’s first turreted ship, it has an Agility of 0 (more on this later) but also it has its routes in the Star Wars Galaxies MMORP, every other ship, even the stuff from Wave 4 was routed in the EU in some form of story, but the VT-49 was introduced to Galaxies purely to give the Imperials an evil Falcon to fly.
It is fitting then that FFG have taken the opportunity to do a similar thing for X-Wing but whilst it would be easy to thing of the Deci as an Imp Falcon there is a lot more to it than that.
OK, so the Falcon comparison starts off well with the 3 Attack dice Turret primary weapon but for X-Wing thats where the similarities end.
0 Evade dice with 12 Hull and 4 Shields give the Decimator a different feel, its a lumbering giant that you can hit but can you kill it?
The dial for the Decimator is also an interesting one;
No Red manœuvres whilst maintaing all of the 2’s and 3’s makes it an interesting ship to fly but if you do get it stressed it becomes a little trickier as the green is very limiting with none on the 1 manoeuvres.
In my mind the combination of Stats and Dial make it an extremely offensive focuses ship and with only Focus or Target Lock available as actions that does nothing to really change my mind.
Upgrade wise though things really do get interesting.
Having no less than 3 Crew Slots, a Bomb and Torpedo Slot and access to Modifications and a Title on even the PS 3 Patrol Leader make the Decimator an extremely versatile ship build wise but at 40 points for PS 3 it is also a weighty investment as it will no doubt end up costing a good percentage of your points.
The Named Pilots add even more spice to the mix with all 3 of them adding access to an Elite Pilot Talent and some interesting pilot abilities.
Caption Oicunn was probably the most spoken about when the news dropped about the Deci with his PS 4 and 42 points cost getting you the ability to Ram other ships and deal damage to them. He is a natural fit for the Decimator Dauntless Title allowing him to perform a Free Action after overlapping an opponent in exchange for a stress token.
Mara Jade also fits in really well with his play style of getting stuck in, up close and personal.
Another option you can throw on him is the Tactical Jammer Upgrade to force enemies who shoot threw him to count their shots as obstructed.
That comes in at 48 points but can be a very powerful tool if you can support him correctly with your remaining 52 points.
Something like 3 Black Squadron Pilots with Predator could be a nice support element with a good damage output and keeping the PS4 theme going.
I would use Oicunn to run in to the enemy early and then try to push through their squad with brute force and then giving the opponent the difficult choice of chasing the damaged decimator, which should be hard to do initially due to the stress induced by Mara Jade or leaving a damage ship to live in to the late game, therefor wasting the fire they initially put in to it.
Commander Kenkirk on the other hand walks the line of trying to be defensive on a 0 Agility Ship.
Coming in at PS 6 for 44 points his Pilot Ability lets you gain 1 Evade Dice once you have 0 Shields and have suffered at least 1 point of Damage.
I have to admit that I am not really convinced on this one and do need a lot more playtesting as I think he forces you in to spending too many points on the Decimator leaving you short for standard play but could be a big hit in a 60 minute format.
For Kenkirk I am thinking somthing along the lines of the following to see just how much aggro he can take if used correctly;
With a bit of creative flying I think that this list could emulate some of the Fat Han lists out there but I just don’t think it will have the staying power as you can quite easily be down to 8 or 9 Hull points before Ysanne kicks , worst case is that you go in to a Combat Phase with 0 Shields and 12 Hull as then you miss out on the evade and can take another volly before Kenkirk activates.
The last Named Decimator pilot is Rear Admiral Chiraneau who brings his attack focused Pilot Ability to the table allowing you to turn an eyeball in to a Crit when attacking at range band 1 or 2.
Having that in built focus and 0 Evade dice for me he is crying out for an Engine Upgrade to give him a useful action to take which should make him a much more versatile ship to fly.
I have been toying with this PS10 based list;
The plan with this list it to alternate which ship you present as a target to your opponent and to take advantage of your High PS and versatility in movement that Boba and the Engine Upgrade allow to try to out fly your opponent.
Builds for the Patrol Leader I have found a little harder as I have been tempted to run one with just Vader but I struggle to justify the extra 19 points over an Omicron. Although, if you can actually fly a Lambda well, this could be fun;
This list is about as subtle as a brick to the face but if you can pull it of it will kill things but one mistake and its GG as the Hull points are as forgiving as you may think.
I dont know about you guys but I am really excited to get this ship on to the table properly and try out some new things with the Imperials as I think it opens up some doors that have not been available to them in the past. Whilst some people may lament the addition of more turrets to the game, I honestly think FFG have done an amazing job with the Decimator as all of the pilots seem to open up completely different possibilities and I am looking forward to seeing where it takes us!