Choosing a side: A beginner’s guide to faction identity

One thing that separates X-Wing from many other games, is that even a player on a budget can viably play multiple, or even all three factions with some degree of competitiveness, as opposed to picking one and having to stick with it. Most people who play other table top games (I’m looking at you 40k) are forced to stick to one army due to the fact that having more than one will cost you thousands of dollars. This gives X-Wing players some choice: they could play one faction exclusively if they wish, or they can spread the love around and play all three factions easily. Most players fall somewhere in-between, having some time with all factions, but identifying primarily with one or two.

This entry is designed to provide some insight for those who are likely new to the game, and wondering which faction might be the most geared towards their playing style. No thought required.

glasses and a thoughtful look won't make you any smarter. You gotta do research
Glasses and a thoughtful look won’t make you any smarter. You gotta do research.

So as to give you a bit of insight as to the factions, I will go over each of them one-by-one, giving you the factions’ strengths, general playstyle, as well as a description of a ship type, pilot, and upgrade exclusive to the faction that should give you an idea of how it ‘feels’ to play.


We all know the Rebels, and love them. They’re the heroes of the original trilogy, dedicated to taking down a corrupt, fascist power currently in power. The Resistance, from the new trilogy, also features Rebel pilots.

These guys
These guys

Rebels are most likely, the most forgiving and easy to play faction of the three. Many of their ships, the Y-Wing, B-Wing, the K-Wing, either of the two YT-class ships are designed not only to be able to take a hit, but also to give one. Usually in a straight up joust, the rebels will beat anyone.


Rebels however don’t even need you standing directly in front of them to damage you. They, out of any faction, have the most ability to hit you naturally with ships outside of their arc using natural turrets to protect their blind side.

The other major strength of this faction is its many support abilities, best seen on the HWK pilots. The rebels are great at having one ship help out another without even firing a shot. This includes things such as passing a token or a target lock, or increasing the number of dice your buddy gets to roll, or boosting his pilot skill.

So if you like having a ship that works well with others, can sit their all day exchanging fire with an opponent, and being the last one standing, the Rebels seem to be right up your alley.

And a ship that shows how the rebels operate is…the YT-1300

What a piece of junk!!!
What a piece of junk!!!

 This ship does it all. It has a very high number of attack dice, has a turret, and out of its three named pilots, Chewie is an obvious tank, Lando gives you a support option, and Han deals damage like crazy.

A good pilot to demonstrate the Rebels is…Poe Dameron

New guys, think they know everything.
New guys, think they know everything.

Poe’s ability is simple, yet it adds so much to both his attack and defence. He’s also easy to use, just keep him focused.

An upgrade that shows what the rebels are all about is…Jan Ors (crew)

Here, dodge
Here, dodge

She gives not only the ship she’s on the ability to gain an evade token, but any friendlies close to her also gain that ability. Talk about a team player.


Once again, if you’re reading this blog, you know who the Imperials are. They’re the government in power at the time of the original trilogy. The First Order from the new Trilogy also has ships in this faction.

These guys.
These guys.

The Empire has one primary strength, speed and agility: these guys can outfly anybody. These guys have most of the beat dials for their ships, with the ability to boost or barrel roll being near universal, with the other factions lagging far behind. It even has the TIE Phantom, a ship released in wave 4, who’s initial dominance made it the first ship to truly take over the meta game, and trigger the ‘pilot skill wars’, which still lingers today, likely less than a month before wave 8 hits shelves.

Still gives players nightmares
Still gives players nightmares

It should also be noted that the Empire also has many ships with 3 dice on defence, meaning that even if their opponent can line up a good shot, it can still be dodged

Essentially, if your idea of a good dog fight features well-timed flanks, squeezing between an asteroid and an opposing ship, barrel rolling out of the way of enemy fire at the last second, dodging a  blast from a second ship, and firing back at your opponent’s heart at point blank, the Empire may be the faction for you.


A ship that perfectly describes the Empire is…the TIE Interceptor.

Can't touch this
Can’t touch this

This baby has a mostly green dial, can perform almost any action, and has pilots who embrace the very powerful push the limit upgrade, shut down opponent’s defence and who take its manoeuvrability to the next level. All at very high pilot skill.

A pilot who demonstrates Imperial might is…Darth Vader

Apparently, this guy is in Star Wars. Who knew?
Apparently, this guy is in Star Wars. Who knew?

Vader leaves himself open to many upgrade options. Its almost standard to put an engine upgrade on him, to help take further advantage of his already immensely powerful and versatile ability.

A card that demonstrates the Imperial strategy is…Twin Ion Engine Mk. II


This card give you so many more ways to clear stress, which causes various levels of problems for their ships. Many of which can already do so easily, but become ridiculous with this.


Last, but certainly not least, come Scum and Villainy, a mix of mandalorians, bounty hunters, pirates, and other guns for hire.

These guys...and others.
These guys…and others.

First off, scum are probably the hardest to dedicate oneself to, as they are likely the most difficult to play, and don’t come in either starter set. If you do want to play them, best you get the ‘Most Wanted’ set to kick start you.

This is what it has.
This is what it has.

Scum are exactly what you would expect from someone boasting such a name. They’re frustrating to play against, often with abilities designed to shut down opponents entirely. With their pilot abilities ranging from outright stealing resources, to automatic damage, to handing off liabilities, these guys can be down right nasty. Their ships are often the most upgradable and customizable in the game.

Another thing these guys do well is reward risky play. They have some upgrades that require a gambit to be paid, often in the form of damaging oneself, in order to have a powerful effect. They also have several cheap ‘1-off’ abilities that can shift a game around entirely. Also, many of their pilot abilities depend on being directly in your opponent’s face, but when you get there, they are deadly.

In short, if you like to charge in head first, for what appears to be a head-on assault, and enjoy being temporarily immune to a certain rule or two, you could be a scum player.

A ship that does a great job of showing what scum is about is…the IG-2000.

Bleep bloop
Bleep bloop

This ship is highly customizable, features four unique pilots, two can work in tandem very well, and can feel very different in each build.

A pilot who excellently demonstrates the (lock of) spirit needed to be part of scum is…4-LOM


Although now officially released at the time of this article, everything about him has been spoiled. He can not only remove a stress, but give it to someone else, even an opponent. Ouch

Finally, an upgrade that shows what scum is all about is…Outlaw tech.


This guys simply takes something normally bad, stress, and turns it into something very useful. Red maneuvers, sure why not?

If you’re a new player, I hope I’ve made things a little bit clearer for you. May the force be with you, pilot.


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