Hyperspace, Hangar Bay, and Leagues, Oh My!

Greetings all, and welcome to the last entry from this blog in 2018!

It’s been an interesting few weeks in the X-Wing world; the worldwide release of Wave 2 has happened, we’ve been treated to the first looks of what the Hyperspace half of the Organised Play tree will look like for the first six months of 2019.

Others have already gone into detail about how Hyperspace and Extended differ (PhilGC has written about this several times, his latest entry went live while I was writing this one), and there has been a great deal of discussion on the topic on both Social Media and the FFG forums (not all of it positive). Personally, I’m a fan of not having to worry about Punishers or Phantoms in every Imperial list, though I see the points many players are making about the restrictions being just that; restrictive. It will be interesting to see, with a lot less Trajector Simulator Proton Bombs being thrown around or Quadjumpers generally ruining people’s lives with Tractor Beams, whether some old favourites start seeing a revival: much as I detest the Admiral Sloane card (not that we’ll be seeing her) and still fail to effectively combat large numbers of ships, I think it’ll be nice to see an old-fashioned Imperial TIE Swarm again.

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Maybe not this many TIES, though… I do miss my Rogues, sometimes!

In other news, the local gaming group (TNX Squadron) have started yet another league at Warboar; it’s simple enough, play one game against everyone else in your designated group before the league ends like a giant round-robin tournament. As I’d not participated in the previous leagues, I find myself in Group 3 with such august bodies as Joel North (author of It’s Getting Hot in Here), Dale Cromwell (current Italian National Champion), and Martin (who I have, at time of writing, still never beaten). I think my chances of winning the group are slim at best, but I can at least give it a good go! In addition to playing many rounds of the game we all love, each group appears to have developed its own little gimmick; some are playing a format where both players agree to use either Hyperspace or Extended lists, while Group 3 is playing it in Hangar Bay format for those who are able; I’ve been running both of my triple X-Wing lists (one Rebel, one Resistance) and have had reasonable success. To make it even more interesting for my opponent and I, I’m generally laying out Poe and Wedge on the table and asking my opponent (or another player nearby) to pick the card and decide what I fly. It’s been…interesting, to say the least!

I do quite enjoy the Hangar Bay format for playing, though the reverse-Hangar Bay is arguably more fun, as your opponent decides what you fly and they decide what they fly. It’s a great way to mix things up and ensure that you’re not going to have to fly the same list four or five times a day, which can be both mentally taxing and a little dull.

That wasn’t going to be the case this Sunday, however, as Warboar hosted their Christmas Tournament: four rounds with more goodies from the Wave 2 kit as prize support. With a lot of the usual suspects busy with family in the run-up to Christmas, I might even stand a chance of coming top ten! But what to fly? What to fly? An event really isn’t the time to start experimenting, but Poe/Rey needs investigating, as do the RZ-2s. I’ve also never flown Luke Skywalker, which is an oversight that needs correcting in the New Year, especially in the run up to the Hyperspace Trial being hosted by Warboar in March. The decision came down to either of my triple-X lists: the first being three T-65s all firing at I6, but Garven really hasn’t been pulling his weight/sharing focus tokens like he’s meant to and I’m tempted to drop him for something else (perhaps Norra again?); the other option is the Heroic T-70s, which while a more expensive list overall, has more shenanigans and, unlike the T-65 list, can operate independently of one-another.

I’ve had more practice and greater success with the Rebels (12 wins from 15 games), but the Resistance (6 wins from 9 games) are more fun to play, and I started this week wondering if I’d played too many games too quickly since 2.0 came out. Fun it is, then! Now to see if I have a suitably-garish Christmas jumper to wear!

Fast forward to Sunday morning…

Nope, no Christmas jumper! I shall just have to be boring and wear a hoodie or something (which would be warmer)!

I also had a touch of last-minute list anxiety when I saw people unpacking their stuff. In the end, I picked blind with the assistance of another player, and ended up running Rebels rather than the Resistance.

Game 1 vs. Malc – Redline, Deathrain, Lieutenant Sai

Oh joy, Punishers…

My opening manoeuvres were bold, boosting straight up the left-hand side of the board and forcing Malc to turn to engage. Sai kept bumping thanks to her placement on the outside edge of his formation, preventing any actions being taken. The initial engagement saw Deathrain deleted, and the subsequent phase saw Sai halved and Garven killed.

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I have advantages in Agility, Initiative and Manoeuvrability; what could go wrong?

Things went south so badly immediately following Garven’s death. My dice went ice cold, and Thane found himself joining Red Leader (in the Blue X-Wing) in death. Sai didn’t last long, but with Wedge now down to half points, and Redline reloading Torpedoes, it was going to be an issue. I was having visions of a reversal of my last game against Malc, with him soloing my entire list just with Redline. Fortunately for me, the damage started to pile up and Malc misunderstood the wording of Loose Stabiliser, K-Turned himself into a one-shot kill, and was promptly dispatched by a range three hail mary shot from Wedge.

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Fortune favoured me here, but it could easily have screwed me…

Final result, 200-150 Victory.

Game 2 vs Simon – Nien Nunb, Ello Asty, and Ben Teene

This was going to be interesting; Simon was flying a Resistance Bomber and two T-70s so he could throw bombs around and still claim it as Hyperspace Legal. I’ve not fought against the Resistance, yet, so this ticked the fifth and final faction from my list.

As in the first game, the initial engagement claimed a victim; this time Nien Nunb. Unlike the previous game, I only fired one Torpedo to do it. Thane and Wedge both lost a shield, which did not prevent them turning in against Ben Teene the next turn and crippling him. Ello and Ben weren’t going down without a fight, however, as Garven and Thane were both brought down to half points by highly-accurate return fire.

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Ben probably thought twelve overall health would offset his one Agility die. He was wrong…

The one-hull Garven nailed Ben on the following turn, while a one-hull Thane bugged out through the Asteroid field. Ello, now shield-less, found himself going one-on-one with a full-health Wedge at Range One; a situation that proved to have disastrous consequences.

Result: 200-58 Victory

Game 3 vs Osman – Redline, Deathrain, Deathfire

Oh joy, more Punishers…

I’ve now drawn both Punisher lists attending the event, and I’m beginning to wonder if they know how much I loathe them and fate is cruelly intervening to ensure I suffer them as many times as possible?

I screwed up here, slightly. The initial deployment saw all three X-Wings facing off against Deathrain, so I decided to turn and engage somewhere else, on my terms. This bit me in the behind, and bit me hard when I killed Deathfire (who had K-Turned in front of me), who then dropped a Proximity Mine on Thane (stripping his shields), who in turn ate a Torpedo from Deathrain. After that it was an uphill struggle, and one that I can’t say was the most enjoyable of experiences, but nor was it my worst – the two named Punishers simply have a bit too much action efficiency to be healthy, especially Redline with his free Target Lock nonsense.

I bugged out, managing to put damage on Redline and Deathrain on the way. I had a kill-shot lined up on Deathrain with Garven, but he was just a touch outside of Range One so could not benefit from Swarm Tactics, and ate a Torpedo before he could fire.

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Not a great place for anyone to be at the best of times…

I finally managed to get Redline and Deathrain both down to two Hull. Wedge was half-pointed and stressed, and time was running out. I also really needed the bathroom by this point. I’d ditched the R4 Astromechs weeks ago, and suddenly I was missing them immensely. All I had to do was get myself into a position to kill one of them, and the match was (probably) mine.

Unfortunately, I second-guessed myself. Instead of doing a 2 turn to chase down Redline or a 1 bank to engage Deathrain head-on (the safer option), I did 2-bank which narrowly avoided missing a Proximity Mine (and only because I clipped Deathrain’s base). No shooting, the points were tallied…

123 – 150 Loss. If only I’d done a one bank, it could have been so different… (If my maths are right, I would have come third instead of sixth! But coulda, woulda, shoulda…) Still, not bad for a Hyperspace list in a mostly-Extended environment!

It was a great way to finish the year, having played way too many games over too short a period of time! (I’ve recorded 59 games on LaunchBayNext, but I only started recording there after the Wave 1 tournament that wasn’t in October, and I’ve played a number of games I’ve neglected to tally). I’m now going to rethink my list a bit; Garven isn’t pulling his weight, and I think another pilot might be better (maybe a Y-Wing such as Norra Wexley, or a Partisan U-Wing such as Magva Yarro). That’s something I can worry about next year, however, as I have family to see, food to eat, and models to paint when I’m not doing either of those.

I’d like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the revival of this blog; it doesn’t get the most likes or the most views, but every one I get means a lot to me, and it wouldn’t be here without your support.

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season, and I’ll see you all in 2019!

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Joining the Resistance – A Tale of Heroic X-Wings

The E-Wings are enjoying their retirement, and I’m in need of a new list to play with. Last Thursday I played a game with the triple T-65 list that won me the 5-player Magic Madhouse tournament back when 2.0 was new, and though I won, I found it to be a rather soulless experience – everyone moves forward slowly, Swam Tactics chains Initiative Six across the group, and everyone focuses on a target until its dead. It’s effective, but it’s boring: there is nothing there to excite me or my opponent, nothing to make either of us think “wow, that was cool!”

Sadly this seems to be the general state of Rebel lists right now; beyond Supernatural Luke or Sabine, everything feels a little…stale…

Which is why I was delighted to see points posted for the Resistance and First Order on Thursday evening, occurring alongside the early release of both factions in the UK (kits had already been on sale at the Polish System Open in Gdansk the previous weekend). Immediately I started crafting, draining the battery on my phone quite considerably as I switched between PDFs and refreshed pages to ensure everything was complete and up to date. The list I came up with was fun, but L’ulo L’ampar is not the pilot to learn to fly the RZ-2 A-Wing with!

The release of the Resistance was particularly pleasing for me, given there was a Wave 2 release event on Sunday at Waboar Games in Bromley. I dithered on a list; unsure whether I should just pile up on new stuff like the RZ-2 and my recently-acquired Resistance Bomber, or fly what I knew, which in this case represented three T-70 X-Wings. In the end I chose the latter, and because it was new, I stapled the Resistance-only Talent ‘Heroic’ on all three.

The List

Poe Dameron – Heroic, Integrated S-Foils, Proton Torpedoes
Nien Nunb – Heroic, Integrated S-Foils, Pattern Analyser
Ello Asty – Heroic, Integrated S-Foils
Total – 196pts

196 wasn’t going to be a big enough bid against most lists that relied on I5 and 6 pilots, I knew, but I wasn’t sure how to trim more points off without sacrificing anything: Nien Nunb with a Pattern Analyser basically gives the guy the old Push the Limit when he’s performing Red Manoeuvres within Range 1 of an enemy ship, and dropping the Proton Torpedoes from Poe would mean the list would lack any serious punch.

New Poe excited me: spend a charge, perform a second action and treat it as red. I’d stopped playing Poe before Expertise was a thing, so this reminded me a lot of the old PS9 PtL Poe build I quite enjoyed. Pairing it with a BB-Unit or BB-8 could add even more action variety, without the need to accumulate stress. Nien Nunb was a pilot I’d never flown in 1.0, but his ability intrigued me especially when combined with Pattern Analyser. Ello Asty had been a staple of my early 1.0 Resistance lists, and his ability had thankfully remained the same. Hopefully this list would enable me to fly three reasonably-threatening ships which all had a little gimmick that made them stand out from the X-Wings I was used to flying.

Game 1 vs Chirag – Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, Cassian Andor

I went into this game a little annoyed. Not because of what anyone had done, rather that between taking my T-70s out of my case and getting to my table, I’d already broken two of them. One had a snapped the holder for the peg off (which I fixed with glue) while the other had shattered down the middle. This was less easy to fix, but thankfully I managed to Blu-Tac it and it seemed to hold. Big thanks to Simon for helping me there, otherwise I’d have been flying empty bases all day!

This was going to be an interesting matchup, as the U-Wing could not only coordinate but remove stress from friendly vessels. This meant I was potentially facing an endless stream of K-Turns and Tallon Rolls, which wouldn’t be fun. Initially I went for a head-on engagement, stripping Luke’s shields and dealing a Weapons Failure critical hit on him in return for Poe losing two shields (Heroic rerolls preventing it from being all three).

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Three on three, head to head…

The following turn Wedge managed to K-Turn inside my formation, causing Poe all sorts of grief. Wedge lost both shields and a hull point, and as I was moving first, I’d need to get clever if I was to prevent Wedge acting as a blocker. This, as is par for the course for me, failed spectacularly and Poe died, though Wedge also went with him.

So I’m down to two I5 pilots, moving first, and Luke has Supernatural Reflexes and one hull remaining, and three charges on R2-D2. I was never going to get the kill-shot on Luke, so half points on Cassian became my priority. I managed this, and it was only an ill-timed decision to regenerate a shield that prevented one of my remaining T-70s taking enough damage to be half-pointed itself.

Result: 129 – 78 Victory

Game 2 vs Ian – Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, Sabine Wren (Attack Shuttle)

Another Wedge/Luke combo, though this time with Sabine for pre-manoeuvre barrel-roll shenanigans. Again I favoured a direct approach, trusting in once again firing first to potentially blunt any return fire through prodigious use of critical hits (or so I like to claim). Poe boosted into range 3 of Luke and locked him for a Torpedo shot, and promptly rolled four blank red dice…

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Plot armour might have saved Luke in the Original Trilogy, but the time of the Sequel has come!

Annoyed, I went to spend the lock, then re-read the Heroic Talent, which starts with “While you defend or perform an attack…” I’d rolled four blanks, I was attacking, there were more than two of them, so I picked them up and re-rolled into three hits and a critical hit. The one point upgrade derided by so many as “situational at best” had just saved me from needing to spend my target lock, and Luke promptly blanked out. With a Weapons Failure and Panicked Pilot, the aspiring Jedi had been removed as a threat and died the next turn.

Wedge managed to drop Ello to one hull with a well-placed shot that could not have been modified by Heroic thanks to the -1 agility, but Sabine then instantly fell to the wrath of the now critically-damaged Ello and Nien Nunb. Wedge fled, losing two shields to a long-range Torpedo shot from Poe before being cornered and whittled down.

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Game over for Wedge, but he went down fighting!

Cornered, Wedge was finally dispatched by Poe, but the simultaneous-fire roll put down the crippled Ello Asty, who had narrowly avoided death while Tallon-Rolling onto a rock.

Result: 200-57 Victory

Game 3 vs James – Drea Renthal, Outer Rim Pioneer, Jakku Gunrunner, 4x Binayre Pirate

Oh look, Headhunters and Quadjumpers, my favourite! In fairness, I should have known that two early wins would put me among the meta lists, but that didn’t mean I was pleased to see one. The inclusion of the Outer Rim Pioneer rather than a second Quadjumper meant that I was only going to get half as irritated at being thrown around the board.

The game started…badly… I managed to score half points on Drea Renthal with a long-range Torpedo shot from Poe, and that was it. I couldn’t even score three measly hits on a Quadjumper to bring that underpriced monstrosity down to half points. Ello died first, then Poe then Nien in three consecutive engagement phases. The game was so short that I didn’t even take any photos!

Now, in the past I might have bitched and moaned about how I hate Quadjumpers, but the Gunrunner did bugger all this game. I think it might have tractored once. I force-fed mu three T-70s to James, and I suffered for it; in retrospect what I should have done was split my force, as they don’t need to remain in formation, and made James split his fire or at least need to turn after destroying one of my ships. Some of James’ rolls were also pretty hot, a point he apologised for, but it is what it is. I wouldn’t have been in the position to suffer from those rolls had I not willingly put my ships there!

Result: 24 – 200 Defeat

Game 4 vs Olly – Deathrain, 2x Delta Squadron Pilot

Lunch eaten, time to go into round four. Olly brought Deathrain and two Delta Defenders to the table, which could prove to be an interesting matchup. It was Olly who I played with the T-65s the week before, and whose Rexler Brath and Soontir Fel I deleted with Torpedoes before they got to engage. We were both flying very different lists, and this promised to be an interesting game.

The early engagement was fairly disastrous; Poe was dumped down to one hull for little damage done in exchange, and I honestly thought it was going to be a repeat of my game against James. The room is getting hotter, and I am both tired and a touch dehydrated so I am making mistakes, but I know I can at least take Deathrain before I go down. Nien and Ello make that a possibility as Poe, suffering from a Panicked Pilot card, bugs out.

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With Deathrain dead, the T-70s scatter

What followed was a game of cat-and-mouse between Defenders and T-70s that lasted for nearly an hour. Ello Asty bit the dust while Poe escaped, and Nien Nunb was reduced to a single hull point. Heroic rerolls had kept me in the fight, and I’d managed to get the Defenders down to two and one hull as the game entered its closing phases. However, it was not to be: the focus/evade combination simply proved too strong to put shots through, and when Nien finally rolled focus/blank on a one-hit shot and was denied the Heroic reroll, it was game over. The game had swung both ways, with dice running hot then cold for us both, but the wind was blowing in Olly’s direction when the timer sounded.

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This is suicide range for the T-70s, but not a point of damage was caused on either side…

Result: 128 – 157 Defeat

Game 5 vs Andrew – Outer Rim Pioneer, 6x Mining Guild TIEs (inc. Unique Pilots)

I’m 2-2, it’s not the end of the world, I can bring this back and go 3-2. I knew I could, so long as the matchup was in my favour. It proved not to be, as I was against Lord Pattiswarm again, with his new (and Hyperspace-legal) Scum Swarm consisting of six Mining Guild TIEs and an Outer Rim Pioneer.

Once again, I banzaied straight into his force like an idiot. Ello Asty died first thanks to a mistake on my part, requiring Andrew’s entire force to kill him, but dying nonetheless. Throughout the game I would make several silly mistakes, mainly involving S-Foils, as I was overheated and dehydrated (never underestimate the importance of hydration at an event like this!)

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Well this situation looks familiar…

The ability to effectively ignore asteroids meant that Andrew could manoeuvre a lot more freely than if he was using Headhunters or Imperial TIEs, and this caused me no end of grief. I managed to actually kill something (two things actually) which is two more ships than last time I played Andrew, but the game didn’t go to time and there were no T-70s left on the board when the game ended.

It’s worth noting though that the odds of rolling four blanks into four odds are miniscule, and I’d already managed it once, Nien Nunb also managed to achieve this feat in this game. That 1pt upgrade may well be situational, but even if it only triggers once in a game, I think it’s been worthwhile!

Result: 56-200 Defeat

Outcome

Disappointingly I went 2-3, the two early wins drowned beneath two sound beatings and a game that was so close it could have gone either way. I was happy with my performance in 3/5 games, and it was something Andrew said that made me think about my skills as a player, and how they had developed or atrophied over the five or so years since X-Wing was released.

“You’re like a deer in the headlights when faced with a swarm” – Andrew Pattison

I agonised over this for a while, at first writing off this conclusion given that during early 1.0, swarms were basically all I faced, and could usually beat them pretty soundly. That made me wonder whether it wasn’t the list, but the player; James and Andrew are both members of the 186th Squadron, and I have huge amounts of respect for them both as players and people, and I wondered if perhaps I was psyching myself out because of who they were rather than the list they were flying.

I honestly think it’s a mix: swarms in 2.0 behave nothing like swarms in 1.0, or rather swarms in Extended Format 2.0 behave nothing like swarms in 1.0: with characters like Drea Renthal or Admiral Sloane floating around, swarms are pretty horrific to face these days: Howlrunner always game a TIE swarm rerolls, but now we’re seeing shielded ships like Z-95s having the same re-rolls but now with the added benefit of coordinated actions and tractor tokens, or players suffering negative effects for destroying ships thanks to Sloane throwing out paired Stress tokens. The swarm has returned, and it has come back swinging.

What I need to do as a player, is face more swarms, perhaps even get behind the swarm myself and figure out how it works: how do cards interact, how do the formations work, and where do its strengths and weaknesses lie? Once I’ve done that, I can better plan and execute my deployment and approach, and not feed my entire list to my opponent piecemeal.

Looking to the future, I’m really looking forward to the Hyperspace Format of competitive events coming soon; the System Open Series might attract the true “elite” players thanks to their no-holds-barred use everything you want attitude, but I quite like the restrictions put in place for Hyperspace. The way the format levels the playing field and means a new player is less likely to be battered into submission with Punishers or Phantoms (or both) can only be a good thing for the continued expansion of the player base, especially for those who may have to travel two or three hours to their nearest event and don’t have the disposable income to fork out for 1.0 ships on sites like eBay.

I’ve got no more events this year, thanks to a combination of work and family engagements, but I’m looking forward to possibly attending a few themed events in the New Year, and I’m also taking part in a league at Warboar (I’m in a group with Dale Cromwell, who is not only a fantastic artist, but also the Italian National champion, so I’m not expecting to do so well 😛 )

Now, I’m going to properly repair my T-70s, paint my Resistance Bomber, and ruminate over possible lists for the league. I’m torn between Rebels and Resistance, maybe I’ll take one of each?

Once again, thanks for reading!

 

 

X-Wing on Hard Mode: The Quest to Vindicate the E-Wing (Part Two)

Last week I took the E-Wings to a tournament at Warboar Games in Bromley, going 2-2. This weekend, in a final attempt to vindicate the E-Wing in competitive play, I took them to Wayland Games in Essex for another four rounds of toy spaceships.

As of last Sunday, the E-Wings were currently lagging behind at a slightly disappointing win/loss ratio of 12/14: not the end of the world, but not brilliant, either. On Thursday I managed to bring that score up to 14/14 against a Wedge/Thane/Gavin Rebel list and a Boba/IG-88 Scum list. So I was going into today on level ground: if I lost more games than I won, I wouldn’t have succeeded in vindicating the E-Wing; if I won more games, I would have; and if I went 2-2 then it’s not quite vindication but proves they aren’t terrible.

Round 1 vs Phil – 2x Jakku Gunrunner, 3x Cartel Executioner

I played Phil last time I was at Wayland in February, and spent a fair while chasing his Countess Ryad around the board with a T-70. I lost the game, but it was probably the most fun game I’d played on that day. I was a little apprehensive going into this game; Phil had beaten me before, and I’ve never faced a Kimogila let alone three; they’ve got a large pool of health and their dial is pretty good. It was going to be an uphill struggle if I couldn’t get some early damage in.

Diving straight in fairly boldly, the E-Wings dropped a Kimogila to half points, then a second the following turn. Phil’s dice were rather atrocious, and in exchange he managed to drop a shield from each E-Wing. Gavin then swung round and deleted one of the crippled Kimogilas, the fuel Fuel Leak triggering after two Direct Hits and leaving the seven Hull Kimogila with eleven damage cards piled on top of it.

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Kimogilas really are rather large, but the bigger they are, the harder they fall!

Corran destroyed the other crippled Kimogila soon after, leaving one Executioner and both Gunrunners hale and healthy, while Corran was now shieldless thanks to Tractor Beams and those pesky rocks. Scattering, the two E-Wings managed to drop both Gunrunners to half health, but failed to score the single hit required to get half points on the last Executioner.

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Fed up with Tractor tokens, the E-Wings turn their ire on the Gunrunners.

Result: Victory 123 – 50

Game 2 vs Andrew – Whisper, Soontir Fel, Lieutenant Sai

Imperial Aces, hmm… I knew that this list would be tough, but I hadn’t considered quite how tough it would prove to be.

The early engagement went about as badly as possible: Soontir and Whisper stripped Gavin of his shields and blinded him, leaving him on precariously low health, though Whisper in arc of two E-Wings toting Proton Torpedoes soon wiped the smirk from Vader’s face. Corran made the mistake of double-tapping Lieutenant Sai the following turn (for sadly little gain), which led to Soontir Fel sitting quite happily in his fire arc as he ate what was left of Gavin. Sai fell to Corran soon after, but Soontir chased the E-Wing down; Interceptors with double-reposition are almost impossible to outrun or lock down, and are overall a bit of a bastard to play against when you don’t have anything at Initiative Six in your own list!

Result: Loss 128-200

Game 3 vs Denny – Soontir Fel, Redline, Deathrain

I really didn’t want to play Denny. Not that I don’t like him; I think he’s great, and he is a fantastic X-Wing player, but if I wanted to be battered up and down the board, I could play him at Warboar 😛

This was less of a game than an execution, brought about by my own mistakes. Gavin attempted to Torpedo Soontir early on and missed, when his ordnance could have been better put to use piling more damage on Redline. Gavin fell to Soontir, and Corran finished Redline off, but instead of chasing down Deathrain opted to try and fight Fel with similar results to the previous game.

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Rough position for Corran to be in, and one he wouldn’t improve on.

Result: Loss 66-200

I’m not sure I ever stood much chance of winning this game, but had I not messed up with Gavin early on I might have had two E-Wings for longer and been able to put a bit more pressure on Deathrain. I’ve said before that this list is unforgiving when you play it wrong, and this was a prime example of that.

Game 4 vs Omer – Wedge Antilles, Norra Wexley, Shara Bey

Omer runs the Can’t Sleep, Must Paint blog, and I’ve been a fan of his painting for a long time. It was him saying he was going to this event that convinced me to attend, as we’ve not seen each other since I won the Rochester Games and Models tournament way back in 2015. Omer was playing his ” Clever Girls” list: Wedge Antilles, Norra Wexley and Shara Bey; all painted to look like the vehicles from Jurassic Park (though Wedge looked more Velociraptor than tour jeep!) Take a better look at the models on Omer’s blog, they really are very pretty!

We both favoured bold approaches, with the first volleys of fire stripping Norra’s shields and dropping her to half health. The second turn got very bloody, very quickly. Everyone was in prime firing condition, some with double-modified shots.

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Before Engagement…

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After Engagement…

Wedge was dead, as was Gavin. Taken at face value, this wasn’t a particularly equitable trade, but with Norra mostly crippled, I wasn’t feeling too terrible about young master Darklighter’s death. The rest of the game looked to be an uphill struggle, I knew, but I had the advantage of speed and agility. Corran finally managed to put Norra down, having also nibbled away at Shara when able, but things were beginning to look iffy; Shara had six hull and a shield with one agility, while Corran had three hull and one shield with three agility. A few bad dice rolls could see either or both ships explode spectacularly.

The two ships chased around the board, and once again I forgot my own rule of “never dogfight”. As the minutes ticked away, shields and hull evaporated. Corran had been reduced to two hull remaining with a Hull Breach, while Shara was similarly at two hull with a Fuel Leak.  By now I knew full well that if Corran failed to get a hit on Shara before she was able to fire back, he was likely dead. At this point, however, the idea of me “vindicating” the list had been pushed to the back of my mind; I was enjoying myself too much.

Omer finally gave me an opportunity and I pounced, closing to Range Two and letting fly with Corran’s primaries. The shot was obstructed, so it was possible that I’d miss and need to pray for poor dice from the ARC in order to finish her with the double tap, but my faith in the E-Wing was rewarded.

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Game over, Shara!

So concluded possibly one of the tensest and yet most fun games of X-Wing I’ve played, certainly with this list!

Result: Victory 200-150

With that win, I went 2-2 and came 9th out of 14. Though I failed to manage more wins than losses, either competitively or in general, I also managed to avoid losing more games than I won.

After thirty-two games in total, I have sixteen victories and sixteen losses. I think I can say I’ve gone at least part-way to vindicating the E-Wing as a ship in 2.0:  it’s not a bad ship, the list is not terrible, and is an awful lot of fun.

It is, however, not the most competitive ship in the game, and likely never will be. It has its place, but it will probably never be in any lists that win events unless something drastic changes.

The E-Wings are now being put away to enjoy their retirement; I may break them out for a pick up game or two every once in a while. I think, with Resistance dropping in the next week or so, they’ll be my main focus for the foreseeable future; I’m really looking forward to seeing how the T-70 differs from the T-65, and whether any strategies are cross-compatible between the two.

Special thanks go to all four of my opponents, the Tournament Organisers and the staff at Wayland Games for a fantastic day!

X-Wing on Hard Mode: The Quest to Vindicate the E-Wing (Part One)

“That’s X-Wing on Hard Mode, man!”
European Champion Ben Lee, commenting on the E-Wing list.

This was going to initially be a single post detailing two events, but thanks to the fascination the rail companies have with closing lines on weekends, the second event is looking a little more doubtful.

Ever since PhilGC’s initial article, I’ve been fascinated by his double E-Wing list and what it can (or cannot) achieve. Two ship lists in 2.0 are in a precarious position, and the E-Wing list is perhaps in the most precarious position of all – it’s got a lot of evade dice, the snazzy Elusive re-roll, and four shields per ship for a total of fourteen hit points overall: that’s one less than the Boba/Guri list and nine less than a Decimator/Defender build, but has more green dice than both. Offensively six red primary dice, nine if Corran double-taps, increasing to eight and twelve at Range One. Add some Proton Torpedoes to taste, and you’ve got a fairly hefty offensive output. Theoretically, anyway.

As of Saturday, this list was 10/12 for me; that’s not a bad result in the grand scheme of things, but neither is it a great result. What I’d like to do, before Wave 2 drops and I get swept up in Resistance hype, is to bring this list back to a positive win/loss ratio and retire it on a high note. It would only truly earn its spurs, however, if it went to a tournament and didn’t suck (which is on me as a pilot as much as it is on the list); so I took it to Warboar’s Q3 Kit event this weekend with the hope of at least equalising the score (which would require a 3-1 result), though I knew I’d settle for 2-2.

The event boasted twenty three players, meaning there would always be someone getting a bye, and I aimed to never be that player (because a win that way never makes me feel any better, nor should it). TNX were well-represented, as were members of the 186th and Eagle Squadron (I don’t recall encountering any of them prior to this event). The early indications suggested that Punishers were going to rule the roost; I think I counted over a dozen before the first round began!

Speaking of first rounds…

Game 1 vs Bernado – Soontir Fel, Redline, Major Vynder, Scimitar Squadron Pilot

I played Bernado during Warboar’s Farewell to 1.0 event, in which he narrowly beat me thanks to a last minute barrel-roll (curse those low-Pilot Skill ships!), and I was looking forward to an equally thrilling and close game. The initial engagement favoured me, with Corran and Gavin dropping the Barrage Rocket-toting Scimitar, though the following turn saw me get a little greedy and boost rather than barrel roll and miss the opportunity to eliminate Fel early on – a decision that would haunt the rest of my game.

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Corran and Gavin administer a dose of Rebellion to a TIE Bomber.

Both E-Wings swung round to engage Redline, the lumbering Punisher finding it impossible to dodge the incoming fire. Of course, Vynder was using this time productively: keeping Gavin ionised while Soontir crept up on him from behind and the two of them killed him stone dead (a forgotten Elusive roll never helps). By my maths, I was still winning by a point. If I wanted to be “that guy”, Corran could have just run away for fifteen minutes, but that’s no way to play X-Wing, so Corran dove into the fireworks. None of the ships managed to keep arc on each other, it was almost as though they refused to engage, until the final round: Corran dropped Vynder down to half points, while the very last dice roll of the game saw Corran’s shields stripped and my lead suddenly and brutally disappeared.

Result: Loss 120-144

Game 2 vs Robin: Wedge Antilles, Fenn Rau, Arvel Crynyd, Evaan Verlaine

This list was going to be interesting: Wedge is dangerous, especially when armed with Torpedoes, Arvel can be annoying especially when combined with Wedge, Fenn Rau’s ability to prevent me spending green tokens could prove irksome, and Evaan is… Well, I’ve never used her or played against her, so I was dubious there!

Wedge found himself out of position in the first engagement phase, stripping three of Corran’s shields with a Proton Torpedo. Unfortunately for the Rebellion’s supposedly-best pilot, he was also in arc and range of both E-Wings who both had a Target Lock and Focus Token. Two Proton Torpedoes, eight dice, six crits and bye-bye Wedge! I started to make mistakes at this point; though I was chipping away at Evaan thanks to her low agility, I allowed Corran to be hit pretty hard and dropped down to two Hull Points. I needed to remember how to fly the E-Wing properly: hit and run, don’t try to dogfight.

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3 vs 2 and all to play for.

After disengaging, Gavin pounced on Evaan’s ailing Y-Wing and finished her off while Corran stripped Arvel of his shields. Arvel was finished off the following turn, leaving two E-Wings to hunt down a single Sheathipede; Fenn was moving last, but he was never coming out of this game alive.

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Game over for the Reluctant Rebel

Result: Victory 200-50

Game 3 vs Andrew, Lord Pattiswarm: Drea Renthal, 2x Jakku Gunrunner, 4x Binarye Pirate

Wonderful: a hard-counter to a two ship list, flown by someone who has flown swarms pretty much exclusively since he started playing X-Wing. This was going to be rough, and my only hope was that Andrew (who was getting over an illness at the time) would be addled enough to make mistakes.

Long story short, mistakes were made. Gavin ended up too far in front, and was focused down and killed. I then got greedy and went for the kill on a half-health Drea, the K-Turn causing me to crash into a Quadjumper and spend the rest of the game either stressed, ion’ed, or overlapping another ship while being slowly chipped away by a horde of Z-95s.

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Gavin got ahead of himself, with disastrous results!

Result: Loss 200-23

Some would argue that this was always going to happen, but I was feeling a little sour about it afterwards, which would affect my decision-making early in the next game. Still, being 1-2 wasn’t the end of the world, and if I managed to get a good match-up in the final round, I might be able to claw that 2-2 I had set myself as a benchmark of success.

Game 4 vs Malc: Redline, Deathrain, Lieutenant Sai

I’ve played this list before, and beaten it quite handily, so I knew this was a game I could win. However my mind wasn’t in it, the dose of salt from the previous game still hanging over me like a cloud. This led to me massively screwing up my initial engagement and throwing Gavin away as if he were nothing but garbage (as I was quickly coming to the conclusion the list was). I was asked if I wanted to call it there and then: I was at a 94 point defecit no more than fifteen minutes into the game, and I must admit I thought about it (much as I had at Wayland back in February). However Warboar is a lot closer to home, there were no rail replacement buses to mess around with, so I decided to see it through to the bitter end (which I figured must come quickly).

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Corran Horn vs The World

Sai was target #1: having Vader stripping tokens or doing damage simply would not do. Having by now lost his shields, he was potentially an easy kill for any of Malc’s ships, and suffered a potentially devastating double-crit from Deathrain before using his Initiative 0 attack to finally take Sai off the board. With a disabled Power Regulator and Damaged Engine, Corran had lost a lot of his manoeuvrability, and he was dangerously low on health, but he still had a full rack of torpedoes and by now even the two Punishers were one-shot kills if he rolled well.

Disengaging to re-engage on his own terms, Corran pounced on Redline first: a well-placed torpedo removing the Punisher from the equation. Deathrain was going to be more of a challenge as he still had four health remaining, all it would take was a bad roll from me or a good roll from Malc and Corran would likely go down in flames. Lamenting his lack of bombs (which could have killed Corran several turns previously), Malc opted to attempt to run with the larger (and slower) ship, until Corran found himself in perfect firing position.

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Corran gives Deathrain a leaving present: a Proton Torpedo. From Corellia, With Love.

I rolled well, Malc rolled horrifically. Deathrain was gone and somehow, Corran had defeated Malc’s list mostly on his own.

Result: Victory 200-150

In the end, I placed fifteenth out of twenty three, which was lower than I’d hoped, but I’d somehow managed to achieve my desired 2-2 result. I came away from the event wondering how things could have gone differently: if I hadn’t messed up and let Soontir slip through my fingers against Bernado, I might have gone 3-1. On the other hand, if I hadn’t seen a sudden and brutal reversal of luck in my game against Malc, I might have gone 1-3.

The two-ship list, especially the two E-Wing list, is an unforgiving mistress. Treated right, it will generally do right by you. Mistreat it and it will ensure you ride the flames of toasted hopes and dreams into the bottomless pit of despair. I think it’s still a lot of fun to use (except against swarms), and that if flown well and by a competent pilot, it could do rather well. The E-Wing is not as bad as people claim, but it is by no means as good as a lot of other ships in the game.

I had started this journey purely for the fun of it, and then taken this list to an event in order to try and attempt to vindicate the E-Wing somewhat in the eyes of the community. Though I believe it is possible, I think it requires a better pilot than me to do so! If I manage to make it to Wayland on Sunday (rail replacement buses allowing), I’ll likely give these chaps a final competitive send-off before retiring them. Then I can see what sort of fun I can have with T-70 and RZ-2 pilots that nobody else wants to use!

Thanks for reading, and if you’re a Rebel player struggling to find inspiration, throw in an E-Wing. It just might surprise you!

In Defence of the E-Wing

Among the X-Wing community, it seems that the unfortunate target for the most bile from the internet has been the poor, unfortunate E-Wing. I’ve seen claims that it’s “garbage”, that it’s “overcosted”, that “the linked actions are useless”, and even one claim (from the FFG forum) that it is “the worst ship in the game”.

This is a little unfair, in my opinion. Is it the best-performing ship in its faction? No. That’s probably the humble T-65 X-Wing currently. Is it the worst ship in the game? Definitely not, it’s not even the worst ship in the Rebel Faction! I’ve just had my twentieth game with the Corran/Gavin list, and am currently at 9 wins and 11 losses with it. All games that I have thoroughly enjoyed. If the ship truly was the worst ship in the game, surely I’d be 0-20 and have hated every minute of play?

With a little help from the wise words of PhilGC and the in-depth ship review written some weeks ago by Damo, I intend to highlight what works (and what doesn’t) in an attempt to justify the E-Wing, and identify potential builds and/or strategies that players can use or tweaks that FFG could make in order to make the ship more effective.

E-Wings in 2.0

Many people believe that the E-Wing is simply intended to be a better X-Wing; they have the same attack value, they share some manoeuvres, the generics share Initiative values, and they can carry ordnance. However, the E-Wing is not a native dogfighter like the X-Wing, and here is why:

Statline
EStat

So we’ve got an Attack rating of 3 like the X-Wing, but an Agility rating of 3 rather than 2. The E-Wing hits hard and has the agility to avoid a fair amount of incoming fire. Six health overall, split evenly between Hull and Shields; again equalling the health of the X-Wing but distributed in a different way. That extra shield can blunt the effectiveness of critical hits that would splash onto the T-65. On paper, this is fantastic.

Dial

EDial

Of the Blue Manoeuvres, you’ve got the speed-1 banks and straights all the way up to speed-4. Two- and three-speed banks and turns are white, while the one-speed turn is red. Add a five-speed forward in white, with speed-four K-Turn and speed-three S-Loops in red to taste. This alone suggests that, above everything, the E-Wing wants to be moving forwards, quickly.

Actions & Ship Ability
EAction

We have a Focus, Evade, Target Lock, Barrel Roll, and Boost; which can both be linked into a Red Target Lock.

It’s almost the same action bar as a TIE Defender (which lacks the linked Lock), and this is where the first major complaint about the E-Wing comes in. The linked Boost or Barrel Roll into Target Lock. Paired with Experimental Sensors, it seems counterproductive to do something that would get you closer to the enemy which you then cannot lock. This is where the E-Wing begins to differ from the X-Wing in terms of play-style: while the X-Wing can remain at knife-fight range with full action availability, the E-Wing cannot (not as effectively, anyway). Instead, the E-Wing relies on high-speed “hit and hype” (to use the Star Wars terminology) attacks: you fly in, attack your target, the run the hell away to set up for another attack run. The Boost and Roll into lock aids in facilitating this if your opponent is flying slowly or your chosen manoeuvre lands you at range 1 of the ship you want to pounce on.

What upgrades can we take? Sensors, Torpedoes, an Astromech, and a Modification (plus Elite Pilot Talent on the Rogue, Gavin and Corran). Not a bad mix, and depending what role you want your E-Wing to take, you can customise them pretty effectively.

The ability to acquire a Target Lock beyond Range 3 is, to me, a phenomenal opportunity. You Lock your chosen victim in the first Activation Phase, then you can ensure you’re Focused when the time comes to actually engage for the double-modded dice goodness. Alternatively, if you find yourself badly positioned, you can Boost or Barrel Roll out of danger. Failing that, Focus tokens work great defensively! The Evade Action can be useful, but in twenty games I’m not sure I’ve actually ever used it: changing the result of one die is great if you blank out, but the Focus just appears to have greater potential.

Cost

Major complaint #2 about the E-Wing is the cost, and I can agree with the complaints being thrown around here, if not all of the proposed corrections. The basic Initiative 2 Knave Squadron Escort is 61 points. Compare that to 41 points for the Initiative 2 T-65, or the 72 for the Initiative 1 Defender (which has an additional shield and the “Full Throttle” ability), and the E-Wing occupies the middle-ground, though leaning closer to Defender price than that of the T-65. You can argue that the improved dial, extra actions and speed make the E-Wing needs to be significantly more expensive than a T-65, and I would agree with you; but a twenty point cost disparity? Are the extra Evade die, upgrade bar and manoeuvre dial worth an extra half an X-Wing? Or being 6/7ths the cost of a TIE Defender? I do not believe so.

I’ve seen suggestions that the E-Wing is fine costed as it is, but I wonder if the people saying that ever fly them. I’ve also seen people claiming the E-Wing needs to drop to 51pts for the basic Knave, and while that would be nice in theory, it would take all of five minutes before someone showed up with three Knaves (or possibly even Rogues) with Torpedoes and Fire Control systems in 200pt games. All the double-modded ordnance dice, all the time. A more discretionary points drop, perhaps between four and eight points across the board, might make them more appealing to players.

Named Pilots

Gavin Darklighter from the Rogue Squadron series of Legends novels replaces the unlamented Etahn A’baht, who was an Army General in command of a Navy Fleet (because Star Wars). The pilot ability remains the same, turning a hit into a crit when a friendly ship attacks a vessel in his fire arc). His price point seems reasonably fair compared to the other E-Wings, coming in at 68 of your finest points, or five points more than a Rogue Squadron Escort. At Initiative 4, Gavin is going to be moving before and firing after many damage-dealing Aces, but his ability makes him an effective wingman for pilots like Wedge Antilles. Pop Marksmanship on something, and watch the crits start to pile on. Likewise, you could run him with a squad of generics and much like a Scum player might with Drea Renthal, and watch your opponents get pulled apart one crit after another.

Corran Horn from the same series of books returns to us at Initiative 5, at the rather hefty price point of 74 points. His ability to double-tap returns, but is now restricted to the Bullseye Arc, leaving many players to write him off as useless or over-costed. While yes, 74pts is a lot especially compared to a character like Luke Skywalker who also clocks in at 74 when upgraded with Supernatural Reflexes and nothing else, it’s still cheaper than the Initiative 5 Defender. Honestly, I’ve had little luck with Corran’s double-tap; I think I can count the number of times it has done me any good on one hand, and the number of times it has cost me would require both hands and feet, and possibly a handy spare hand from someone nearby. That said, you’re not just paying for the pilot ability: you’re paying for the Initiative 5, allowing you to move after and fire before every generic and a fair number of named pilots in the game. Still, I can’t think of many people who would willingly take Corran with the upgrades he needs to thrive when Supernatural Luke is also on offer…

So What Does This Mean?

It occurs to me that so far, I might not have done much of a good job “defending” the E-Wing, but that’s mainly because I’m not 100% sure it needs defending. Is it over-priced? Probably. Are the Linked Actions counter-intuitive? For 99% of players, yes. Does this make the E-Wing bad, in any way shape or form? No.

So far I’ve contrasted the E-Wing to the X-Wing and TIE Defender, but if we were to introduce a real-world analogy, the E-Wing is a classic Lamborghini while the X-Wing is a Ford Mondeo. The Mondeo is fairly solid, reliable (if you live outside of the US), and despite not having the best toys will get you from A to B in comfort and in one piece. The E-Wing, on the other hand, is fairly solidly-built, can turn if it wants to, and can trundle along as slowly as a four-door family saloon, but wants to be driven fast and recklessly as though you were driving the bus from Speed. The issue there is, if you aren’t careful you’ll be crashing through the pearly gates backwards and on fire.

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Corran chases Luke around the rock, and nearly loses because of it.

Possible Builds and Strategies

There are several ways to build an E-Wing, depending what you want it to do. These builds can be applied to all four E-Wing pilots with a reasonable chance of working well, and if anyone would like to offer other suggestions, I’m more than happy to discuss them with you!

Knife-Fighter: The R4 Astromech is key here, as it makes all of your speed-2 manoeuvres blue, and drops your speed-1 turn from red to white. This allows you to stay at close range of your opponent while still getting your actions. A Fire-Control System might be useful here; so long as you don’t spend the whole lock, you can keep chipping away at your opponent while Focusing/Evading/Boosting/Rolling to your heart’s content. Advanced Sensors could be useful here, especially if you believe your opponent is going to attempt to set up a block; a token-less E-Wing is often a dead E-Wing, especially at point blank range. On a Knave, against lists with Aces or higher Initiative generics, this could be a pretty good blocking build. The Rogue, on the other hand, could benefit from an EPT like Marksmanship, Crack Shot or Predator here. Alternatively, consider Daredevil for those extra-hard turn boosts.

Boom ‘n’ Zoom: Fire-Control System once again makes a reappearance, though Collision Detector might prove useful if you intend to be engaging near or around obstacles. Astromech-wise, I think the R3 could be quite useful, as that double lock allows you to engage one target, disengage, then re-engage the other locked target while freeing up your actions for repositioning or further dice modification. If you want resilience, an R2 Astromech to recharge shields as you disengage isn’t a bad choice.

Though only useful twice, attaching Afterburners for that free Boost when performing a speed-3 to 5 manoeuvre (even while stressed) could prove a Godsend when needing to get into or out of arc/range and again, leave you free to perform an action better suited for dice modification (or further arc dodging).

If you want to hit really hard and don’t care about points, throw on some ordnance: Proton Torpedoes are a solid choice these days, though Ion Torpedoes could lock your opponent down for a turn and allow follow-up attacks. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you could even equip some Advanced Proton Torpedoes and close to suicide range, and hope you’re the ship still standing when the smoke clears.

Flanker: A variation of the Boom ‘n’ Zoom, this build requires the E-Wing to operate alone, charging up the flank of the board and then diving into the fireworks from the side. Given the similarity between the two builds, the Flanker is built similarly to the Boom ‘n’ Zoom, but perhaps with a Shield/Hull/Stealth Upgrade to prevent it being focused down before it can engage. Likewise, Lone Wolf might make for an interesting EPT choice, as would Elusive. Both have their pros and cons, and would depend largely on player preference.

Aces: You could quite happily run Corran or Gavin (or both) as any of the above archetypes I have identified (there may be more), but with named pilots you generally want a little more bang for your buck in addition to what I’ve already mentioned. Corran with Elusive and Chopper can be great for ever-recharging shields, especially if you lose a shield or two getting that double-tap off. The issue becomes, do you spend the Elusive charge to re-roll an evade die, or take the hit and use Chopper to regenerate a shield?  Gavin with Proton Torpedoes and Marksmanship amuses me; assume you roll one natural crit on the four attack dice from your Torpedo shot and the other three become hits thanks to modification; Gavin changes one to a crit, the Torpedo changes one to a crit, and if you’re in the Bullseye arc, the remaining die also becomes a crit. One attack, four potential crits! Against low agility ships without shields, that’s horrific!

Alternatively you could just overload both E-Wings with toys and not have points for a third ship (fun, but not recommended)!

So What’s Your Point?

Honestly? I’ve forgotten. I started this entry before lunch, it’s now dinnertime.

The E-Wing is in a rough place right now: it’s in a bad place points-wise and requires a different play-style to most Rebel lists that players may find offputting. That said, while the chassis is far from perfect, it’s even further from “garbage” or “the worst ship in X-Wing”. It is my hope that January sees at least a small points drop in the E-Wing pilots, just so that they see a little more table time (I’m not asking them to become under-priced monstrosities), but just something to make them viable, or Corran a viable alternative to other I5 pilots like Supernatural Luke.

That said, just because a ship isn’t “competitive” or is “overpriced”, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun using it. If you have an E-Wing at home, write a list with it and play it for a few games. It just might surprise you!

On that note, I’m still enjoying E-Wings, so I’m going to try and improve my win/loss ratio and get it in the positive again. Will I be flying it in either tournament I’m attending in November? Maybe! Flying two ships over the course of a day will be less mentally-taxing than four or five, but I also don’t want to be spending “x” amount of money on a ticket and travel just to get battered four or five rounds in a row. That’s when the fun goes away.

So what do people think? Can the E-Wing be redeemed? Does it need defending at all? Or has all of this been for nought?

Thanks to PhilGC and Damien of Damo’s X-Wing Hangar. Special thanks also to Raith for the awesome YASB 2.0
Featured Image by Shane Molina

Out With The Rogue, In With The New!

Good Evening and Happy Halloween Everyone!

For the first time in a few weeks, I’m not going to bore you with tales of my (mis)adventures with Phil’s E-Wing list. Today I want to talk about the end of a era for me, and the start of what I hope will be a new dawn for my X-Wing career.

Waaaaaaaay back in 2013, I decided it might be fun to repaint my T-65s in the colours of Rogue Squadron from the book “The Bacta War” by Michael Stackpole. In the book, Rogue Squadron operate as a rogue unit (ironic, huh?) which meant they painted their fighters in schemes that were important to them. For example: Corran Horn’s fighter remained green, Wedge repainted his in the colours of his late parents’ refuelling station, Tycho Celchu copied an Alderaanian Home Guard colour scheme, and Ooryl’s was a masterpiece if you could see in the Ultraviolet range (otherwise it was white).

I was quite happy with my results, which I have spoken about in a previous entry, but I’d like to remind everyone just how they looked before I continue:

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Fast forward to a week or so ago, so five years later. The X-Wings have been stripped down and re-Rogue-ed once about a year or so ago, but 2.0 is out, and I have twelve T-65s and three dials. No matter what way you look at it, those numbers simply don’t match up. The decision to sell the models I wasn’t using was easier than I thought: yes I was attached to the models, but people were doing newer and better paint jobs (Rodent Mastermind did back in 2013, and more recently I provided local(ish) painter Omer with the source material I used so he could do the same for his blog), and I was satisfied with the knowledge that mine might not have been the best, but I’d done them first.

So…what to do? First I stripped down all of my ships with an air eraser, which is a fun but somewhat messy way of stripping models. There’s no chemical smell afterwards and no danger of melting your models, but you’ll be washing sand out of your hair for a while if you aren’t careful. The T-65s I was selling were primed black and sold through Facebook, which left me with four – one more than I had dials for, but I can always source another dial when/if I need it. Now I had four naked T-65s, stripped to bare plastic, and no idea what to do… Until I was watching Macross: Do You Remember Love? and realised that the protagonist squadron, aka Skull Squadron, had four fighters in it. Four fighters with a paint scheme that was unified but still differentiated between pilots. Unlike my T-70s, which were based upon the characters from the original Macross series and were therefore very bright colours and under-individual, these actually looked like they belonged in the same unit.

Here is an example of how two fighters look in the movie:

Simple, right? Mostly white/light grey with black markings and coloured trim.

I started by priming the models with Vallejo Grey Primer, something I’d never used before. It works quite nice and brushes on easily, though I think from now on I’ll airbrush it to ensure smooth and even coverage. Next I applied a basecoat of Vallejo Wolf Grey, which is a touch bluer than I wanted, but served as an effective basecoat when washed liberally with Nuln Oil. Following the wash, I started laying the basecoats for the black and coloured areas.

Once the basecoats dried, I layered the white areas with Vallejo Ghost Grey and line-highlighted the edges with Citadel White Scar, while the black areas were highlighted with Citadel Mechanicus Standard Grey. The cannons were painted with pure Citadel Leadbelcher, while the engines and mechanical workings were painted Citadel Warplock Bronze and then drybrusghed with Citadel Ironbreaker. The cockpits, which may need lightening up, were painted with Citadel paints The Fang and Russ Grey.

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The Finished Article!

They aren’t perfect, they need a little more work, and the lighting in the photo has washed out the white somewhat so you can’t see detail, but they’re different and they are done. I gave each model a spray with Purity Seal to ensure my grubby fingers wouldn’t mark the white, and I’m looking forward to seeing them actually on the table!

Of course, with those done, I wondered what else I could adapt this colour scheme to…

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I said I wasn’t going to bore you with E-Wings, I LIED!

I’ve really enjoyed getting back into repainting X-Wing Miniatures! I haven’t painted anything since probably around April, so this was a nice experience and makes me want to finish repainting the rest of my collection so that it is uniform yet unique (when I decide what I’m painting next…)

Thank you for indulging me and my average-at-best painting skills! Usual service will resume as of my next article!

EExperimentation 2.0

Since my last entry, PhilGC took his twin E-Wing list to a tournament and was disappointed with the results. I’m not going to go into detail, but you can read his thoughts here.

Despite the issues Phil had, I was determined to keep pushing on with the twin E-Wings, mainly because they are extremely fun to fly. Last week I went 1-2 with them, losing to Scum and winning against Rebels. It’s a 33.3% win ratio, which isn’t brilliant, but it shows that the list can win games when flown well. This week I intended to try and raise that ratio.

The first game I played was against Martin’s Whisper DemiSwarm: Whisper, 2x Alphas and 3x Academies. It went…poorly. They say the definition of madness is repeating an action and expecting different results, and putting my E-Wings into a position where an X-Wing might thrive was always going to end badly. I was now 1-3, a 25% win ratio (not that I’m counting!) Following this game, I was challenged by Dan (who I mentioned last week), who is a dedicated Corran-user. I asked him what he liked to fly, and he said “Corran Horn”; everything else in the list seems to be there as support for the Man from CorSec.

This was going to be a challenge to see whose Corran was the true Corran Horn: Dan’s, or mine.

Dan’s List

Corran Horn w/Elusive, Advanced Sensors and Chopper; Dutch w/ Dorsal Turret, Seismic Charges and Proton Torpedoes; Cassian Andor w/ Config, Tactical Officer

Game 1

This game was, to put it rather bluntly, brief. Dan made a mistake with his deployment and opening moves, which meant Dutch ate a pair of torpedoes fairly early on and died, while Corran was crippled. Not really wanting to see how one U-Wing fared against two full-health E-Wings with 60 minutes left to go, we agreed to reset. Technically I suppose this makes the list 2-3? But I think I’ll only count it in the case of a draw.

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Dutch is panicked and about to eat a second Torpedo… Corran is also within Gavin’s arc and starts to eat Crits…

Game 2

We left the asteroids in place when we reset, and my deployment was identical to the previous game: bottom right of the board facing to the right, so paired 3-Turns will have me zooming up the right flank. Like the previous game, I banked in to engage along the right-hand side of the asteroid field, with the initial engagement stripping Cassian’s shields and two hull points in return for one of Gavin’s shields.

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Mistakes were made on the following turn: Cassian blocked both of my E-Wings (another reason why people keep telling me to swap FCS for Advanced Sensors), though there is something of a silver lining. Enemy Corran fails to put any damage on my ships, while my Corran’s Double-Tap lands a telling crit on the E-Wing.

At this point, we both remark that my dice are perhaps a little warmer than average, and compare this to the coldness of my dice in my game against Martin: I’m usually of the opinion that if you’re relying on the dice alone, without modifiers, they’re going to screw you; you need to stack the odds in your favour, and in X-Wing that means tokens and positioning to ensure you get shots on target while your opponent doesn’t. In this case, though, I was actually getting pretty damn lucky!

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Corran disengaged the following turn, that Weapons Disabled token meaning there’s not a whole lot else he can do. Gavin decided to stay in the game, S-Looping behind Cassian and blowing him away with his primaries. Dutch was the next target, his juicy Y-Wing and its one agility quickly surrounded and dropped to one hull remaining. Dutch manages to drop his Seismic Charge, bringing Gavin down to 3 his 3 hull (and half points) before dying, at which point Dan conceded: two healthy E-Wings against a crippled Corran not really being an adequate test of his list or his flying abilities.

Game 3 – For Science

In games 1 and 2, I’d won the roll-off and decided to go second. In game 3, Dan dropped Dorsal Turret from Dutch (which he hadn’t used in any of the previous games), giving him the lower points total and forcing me to go first. We were both interested to see whether his list was suffering because he was moving before I was, or if there was perhaps something fundamentally wrong with it.

Again the asteroids remained in the same place, and again I set up for a right flank advance. Dan’s forces came down the left rather than trying to meet me head-on, and when I turn into the asteroids, I’m out of range, so I bug out the following turn to avoid any attacks from Dan next turn: I need to engage on my terms, not his. I take the opportunity in the subsequent turns, with Gavin then Corran turning in behind Dan’s formation and blasting the unfortunate Dutch out of space.

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There was a Y-Wing here a moment ago…

Following a devastating re-engagement that saw the U-Wing suffer several critical hits, Cassian ran for it while purple Corran attempted to harass my paired E-Wings. Pursuing Cassian, I managed to put one shot through (three hits vs two evades) and destroy Corran’s support ship: no more Co-Ordinate for you! Now things became somewhat problematic: E-Wings are slippery buggers when they’re moving last, and I began to wonder if maybe Dan had a point about your place in the Player Order having an effect on how to effectively fly Corran. Worse, all of those red manoeuvres recharging Elusive mean Chopper has an almost limitless source of charge tokens with which to regenerate shields.

Dan flew very well, dodging arcs while getting shots off where he could, but eventually it came down to a one-on-one between Corran and Gavin (my Corran had buggered off elsewhere to re-engage on his own terms following a double-tap from his doppelganger last turn). Disarmed Corran with a Focus, Gavin with a Focus and a Target Lock, it was going to be bloody.

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Thunderdome: Two E-Wings enter, one E-Wing leaves.

Dan’s dice betrayed him here: he blanked out entirely in the face of four hits, and when the smoke cleared, only Gavin remained. That meant I was now 3-3 with the list if we don’t include the 15 minute first game, but crucially meant I’d seen how other people fly Corran and what tactics they use.

Dan flew very well in all of our games, and I think his losses weren’t because he was outplayed so much as there were weaknesses to exploit in his list and I pounced on them early and hard. Removing Dutch meant no lock sharing and (crucially) no Torpedoes being thrown at me, while killing Cassian prevents Corran from being Co-Ordinated and token-stacking. I think Dutch was the weak link in Dan’s list, as though he can share Target Locks and throw ordnance around like sweets, he just melts under focused fire, and post-game we discussed options for replacing him with something else. I think it’s safe to say, however, that we both came out of these games with a healthy respect for Gavin’s pilot ability, especially when combined with Proton Torpedoes, as multiple Critical Hits will absolutely ruin a ship’s day.

Looking at the list, I think there are things that work and things that don’t work for me. The R3 Astromech, for example, allows me to lock two ships and doesn’t give away my targeting priority as much as only a single lock would; but the R4 opens up the E-Wing dial and allows lots of knife-fighting shenanigans. Likewise, Elusive worked well for me against Dan, but has been somewhat of a failure in previous games. Perhaps Predator would be a more beneficial talent? I think I’m definitely going to stick with Fire Control over Advanced Sensors for now; the ability to re-roll one dice while still retaining the lock proved very useful when my dice were behaving.

That said, if I was going to fly Corran with something other than Gavin in a Twin-E list, I’d probably go with something like Dan’s build with Chopper and Elusive. I’m going to keep flying the list as-is, get a few more games under my belt, and then make any changes at the end of this week. Warboar’s Q3 kit is mid-November, and though I don’t expect to take this list and walk away with any prizes, I think it’ll be fun to run it competitively and see where it places (if I can get an equal W/L ratio, I’ll be more than pleased!)

As always, thanks for reading! What do people think of the E-Wing in 2.0? Is it overpriced? Do you have your own builds that are working (or not?) Please let me know!