The iconic slug has finally arrived in X-Wing, but what does that mean in game terms?
After posting up yesterday about the Wave XI leaks, I wake up this morning and we've got new juicy information to dissect thanks to the FFG preview article so let's waste no time and get right into it.
Leaks for the upcoming Wave XI have been revealed from GAMA 2017, to much excitement. Without further ado, let's check out some of the additions due later in the year:
Last month Ben Doyle took the title of Australian National Champion in X-wing, securing him a spot against other competitors at Worlds. I was lucky enough to steal a moment of time from Ben and he politely agreed to answer some questions below:
J: How long have you been playing X-wing, and what drew you to the game?
B: I started playing a couple of months before Wave 4 dropped, so coming up on two and a half years now. A friend had picked up the old Core Set and a couple of expansions, amongst them an A-wing and TIE Advanced. Two of the pilots from those packs are Tycho Celchu and Maarek Stele.
Now, I spent a very, very large chunk of my childhood reading the Rogue Squadron books (where Tycho is a major character) and playing TIE Fighter (where you play as Maarek). Then I started looking into other expansions and saw more and more of my old favourites represented. It was more than enough to draw me in.
J: Tell me about the first time you played X-Wing: how'd you do, and what about it made you want to play more?
B: I can barely remember them at all, to be honest. I do remember losing a lot, but the guess and counter-guess nature of the manoeuvre dials made them all much more interesting even while I was getting smashed.
I don’t think I was really hooked until I first met up with some other players at the friendly local game shop and began getting into the competitive scene. I quickly realised that the core mechanics were far deeper than they first appeared once you started really learning them.
J: At what point did you realise that you were really pretty good at X-Wing? At what point did you realise you might be the best in the country?
B: The first time I started to think I was getting pretty good was an online Vassal game against our 2014 National champion Morgan Reid, my first legitimate win against him. The only other win before that had been at a Store Championship where he was mucking around with an unusual squad, but this one was his PalpAces against my BroBots in a Regional practice game. Neither of us were pulling any punches, and after an intense slugging match, I managed to pull out a solid win. It’s still one of my most memorable games.
As for being the best in the country… I still don’t think I am, to be honest. Nationals was actually my first “major” tournament win, and there is no shortage of players I’d still rate equal or better than myself.
J: Do you have a favourite faction? If so, what about it keeps you flying it?
B: Not really. I kind of just go wherever new releases and changes in the meta pull me. I played a lot of Rebels back in the day, switched to BroBots when they landed, and then changed to the Palpatine Defenders to combat Dengaroo.
J: How about a favourite ship/pilot? Any situations where using that ship/pilot's ability meant a huge difference in a game?
B: The IG-88's would still be my favourite ship. They’re difficult to learn but hugely rewarding once you do. It’s a bit of a mean “gotcha” moment, but I still love surprising people who aren’t used to them with just how fast they can be, racing out of deployment and putting Heavy Laser Cannon fire into the opponent’s ships in the first round.
J: What did you win the Australian Nationals with?
B: The “Commonwealth Defenders” squad:
Colonel Vessery + Juke + TIE/x7
Countess Ryad + Push the Limit + Twin Ion Engines MkII + TIE/x7
Omicron Group Pilot + Emperor Palpatine
I picked it up after hearing MajorJuggler on the FFG Forum talk about how strong it was against Dengaroo. I tried it out for myself and realised it wasn’t just strong against Dengaroo; it’s almost invincible, and at the same time has enough all-round strengths to stand a fighting chance against the rest of the field.
J: Tell me about that game: was it super stressful? What do you remember most about it? Was there a different game leading up to it that you enjoyed more?
B: I wouldn’t call it stressful. It was a high-pressure game, but that’s not really the same thing. Jaren is a very calm and professional guy to play against, which also helps a lot.
J: Does the Australian meta match with the US/Worlds do you feel?
B: Historically, not really. I remember back in Wave 4 when the Phantom was running amok in the US, it didn’t get anywhere near that level of representation down here. Wave 8 was the first time I’ve seen our meta really follow the overall world one with massive amounts of Jumpmaster wolfpacks & Dengaroo.
J: Have you decided on a squad as yet for the Worlds? If so any details without giving anything up to your opponents?
B: I have, but I’d rather not broadcast that on an open channel.
J: What do you think are the 3 most powerful squads currently?
B: Difficult to say, given FFG decided to blow the meta sky high a couple of weeks ago. Palpatine Aces/Defenders and Dengaroo are both still really strong, and I’ve been very impressed with Shadow Caster lists. But the death of the JumpMaster U-boat has opened the meta up a lot, particularly for the Rebels, so it’s impossible to know for sure right now.
J: Most underrated ship in X-wing today?
B: I’m going to go a bit left-field and pick the little Attack Shuttle. It’s easily the ship I’ve seen the least of since it launched, despite being pretty decent. I think a lot of people get scared off by the low stat-line and how expensive it can get, but Ezra and Sabine, in particular, can be utter terrors if built and used correctly.
J: What do you think people should learn from your playstyle? What do you think you have to improve on yourself?
B: You don’t always need to be pushing for damage. It took me a long time to learn it myself, but breaking away and taking a round or two to “reset” is a lot better than staying in a bad position and trying for maximum damage.
As for me, I’m still a very bad formation flyer, having never really flown a TIE Swarm or the like for more than a couple of games at a time. I can manage the initial approach, but once the furball starts everything falls apart awfully quickly.
There you have it, a glimpse inside the mind of an X-Wing champion. Ben has also kindly agreed to do a post-game interview after his Worlds experience, so I'll try and get that onto a podcast.
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When Imperial Veterans was announced last in 2015 the Imperial fans and die hard fans (including me) of TIE Defenders nearly had a meltdown. Once again this week its been announced that this expansion is now 'on the boat' meaning we 'should' see it around the middle of the year. What better time to share some thoughts on this upcoming expansion in a little more detail and what effect it will have on the TIE Defender.
Since the ships release its never quite matched other ships of similar point values and TIE Defender pilots across the globe felt like they simple were not on a equal playing field and rightfully so.
So the big question that often is posed on the FFG forums and Reddit is firstly if these 'fixes' in the forms of titles will bring the TIE Defenders into balance and secondly what impact on the meta will this have?
TIE Defenders are an awesome Imperial package and the only drawback is the rather expensive price tag. In the early days of X-wing the writers perhaps put a little too much value in the ability to perform a white 4K turn. Yes it is an awesome on of a kind manoeuvre but hardly game breaking which is obvious from not only tournament data but also looks from confused players whey they play against a Defender with thoughts ranging from 'What do they do again?' to 'Why on earth are you running that?'.
Imperial Veterans will gift the TIE Defenders with two amazing title cards. Firstly the TIE/x7 title allows the TIE Defenders an evade token after any 3/4/5 speed manoeuvre (8 in total). Remember it's not a free action so pesky stress tokens can't come into play creating a rather slippery ship to take out when combined with 3 defence dice and possibly a focus token to boot. Many people including me hope the new 'Glaive Squadron Pilot' is 33 points base allowing the title to be combined (for -2 points) and then Juke added (totally assuming they have an elite pilot talent) ensuring that the evade token can be put to good use.
This title for me also highlights that the creators have identified an area that needs a fix simply because of the negative points cost involved. I guess they have 3 options, they can do nothing. They can add titles to increase the power of a ship (TIE/D) or alternatively the same principle with a negative cost which to me is simply admitting 'Yes we got that one wrong – sorry'. But that's ok, I forgive you FFG for fixing it now.
At -2 squad points the TIE/x7 title takes the cheapest pilot skill (Delta Squadron Pilot) to 28 points which when compared to the likes of T-65's and T-70's you start to feel there is still quite a gap to be filled. Rather than using this title on lowly pilots I can see this being very versatile on Rexler Brath.
When combined with 'Push the Limit' elite pilot talent and the TIE MKII his value as a team player really starts to appreciate and I think he'll be a candidate from the TIE Defender ranks to finally sit proudly amongst the current 'aces' of the imperial navy currently falling on the shoulders of Vader/Fel and the Inquisitor to name a few.
Unfortunately he's sitting just shy of 40 points but check out the action economy. He moves with a 3/4/5 speed manoeuvre gaining an evade token, then a focus for the offence/defence and also to possibly use to trigger his pilot ability and then either a barrel roll into a better position or a target lock to ensure the focus token is kept through an attack. The addition of the engine means the stress token applied is very easy to get rid of next turn.
The TIE/x7 title essentially grants the Imperial navy a half decent jousting ability for the TIE Defender and with the evade token addition it will be interesting to see if this increases the overall survivability of the ship not so much from an individual ship point but from an overall squadron view. From another perspective to see if the enemy will target something else all together ignoring them or completely obliterating them with a fear normally reserved for Wampa for example.
Let's wait and see!
The TIE/D title is the one I'm most excited about currently. If you've ever played the Star Wars flight simulator games then the TIE Defender certainly left it's mark and the title somewhat in game terms finally represents this version fans are familiar with allowing to link weapons represented by firing a secondary weapon (under 3 points) and then shooting with the primary weapon. Ion cannons and tractor beams will be the pick of the bunch here (but don't discount Flechette cannons at this stage) purely because of the cost but also the amount of battlefield control that can be gained from them.
There has been a lot of chatter about combining 'Ruthlessness' elite pilot talent with this title for up to 2 splash damage seeing as the card reads 'after you perform an attack that hits' allowing you to shoot an equipped cannon, Ruthlessness takes effect, shoot with a primary and then once again the extra splash damage kicks in again. Combine that with Colonel Vessery and ensure he's attacking an enemy ship painted with a target lock and you've got a very potent combination.
Heaps of options with the TIE Defenders have opened up but also for squadrons awaiting for the release. I'm looking forward to trying Deathrain with two tractor beam Defenders and pulling them into any mines they happen to miss. Having Boba Fett on the table supported by two TIE/x7 Defenders also looks very appealing to name a few.
I'm hopeful with the release of Imperial Veterans the Empire will finally have a ship capable of performing the solid jousting role its struggled to achieve with any other ship. Of course that's not what the Imperial forces are all about but still I think it's long overdue to have a ship like this in the fleet.
The hardest part as usual is now waiting for the content to be released. Please share any squadron ideas you have and what you're looking forward to the most.
Hardcore war gamer at heart and a huge fan of tabletop games. I use any excuse to get my family involved. Join me as I play and review games while trying not to epically fail.