PARSING THE X-WING

Near the end of X-Wing’s Wave 2 expansion, my life as a table-top gamer was in transition. Privateer Press’s abandonment of Monsterpocalypse years early was finally, despite the continued love of its players, starting to fully kill the game — regular opponents online were becoming impossible to find, as each player slowly found other things they would rather do.  I’d already started playing X-Wing back at the start of Wave 1, but it was time to put my brain to X-Wing.

At the front of Wave 3, X-Wing saw a strange event; the B-wing platform was introduced, a ship that was not entirely different from the existing X-Wing platform. Curious which ship was better and at what moments in the game, I took my first look at the numbers behind these (and other) ships — I wanted to learn how to fly each one to make each shine, and I wanted to see if FFG’s numbers guys were solid before I fully commited to X-Wing as “my game” for the coming years. I never particularly shared my findings, except to say that the B-wing was slightly superior to the X-Wing in durability and mobility. But later I began to say that the X-Wing platform was soft. The B-wing was not superior to all other Rebel platforms; the X-Wing merely lagged behind other Rebel platforms in overall capability, and next to the B-wing it was obvious.

The critical statements I made about the X-Wing were not easy for many to swallow. After all it’s the X-Wing, Star Wars’ most canon ship… even more than the “star” ship of the trilogy, Millenium Falcon. Hearing that it sucked a little was a bitter pill. Many players dismissed it as bellyaching, or tried to argue the merits of the X-Wing as some kind of counterpunch. And of course, many Rebel players had piloted X-Wing lists to many victories — some could not fathom that they had done so well with a weak ship. But “sucks a little” isn’t the same thing as unplayable. (The X-Wing is playable.) Many people misunderstood what I was trying to say, and I gave up trying to convince those who weren’t ready to listen.

I wonder who is ready to listen now.

02

THE EASY COMPARISON: X-WING vs B-WING
To start us on the same page, I want to share some numbers.
(In available cases, X-Wing and B-Wing Focus to survive.)
(This also assumes no damage-altering crit results.)

Against a mass of TIE Fighter guns, at Range 3/2/1 (w/ Focus):

— X-Wing dies in 9.8/7.0/3.9 shots.
— B-Wing dies in 10.6/7.7/4.7 shots. (+0.7/+0.7/+0.8 durability)

Against a mass of k-turned TIE Fighter guns (target also k-turned):

— X-Wing dies in 14.3/9.8/5.6 shots.
— B-Wing dies in 15.7/11.1/6.8 shots. (+1.4/+1.3/+1.2 durability)

Note that the X-Wing relies heavily on defensive Focus to survive. Even vs less accurate guns, it drops comparatively vs the B-Wing when it can’t spend that Focus. But I will also point out that vs fewer guns, the X-Wing can catch up by spending a Focus where the B-Wing could not — in these cases they are defensively even, but the B-Wing shoots with a Focus while the X-Wing shoots unmodified. The B-Wing becomes the harder hitting ship there despite both being ATT 3 ships.

Against a quad of ATT 3 shots, at Range 3/2/1 (each with TL or Focus):

— X-Wing dies in 4.8/3.9/2.6 shots.
— B-Wing dies in 5.8/4.6/3.3 shots. (+1.0/+0.7/+0.7 durability)

As the caliber of enemy guns climbs, AGI weakens as a defense. The extra shields from a B-Wing becomes the better defense. The X-Wing’s best comparison to a B-Wing is vs swarm guns. The X-Wing is comparably worse elsewhere than it is against ATT 2 guns.

THE QUALITATIVE COMPARISONS
X-Wing vs B-Wing favors the B-Wing defensively; demonstrated above. But are there perks that the X-Wing has, that B-Wing doesn’t have? Yes, and no. They are different, but is it enough?

Mobility — X-Wing has 4 forward, 3 bank, and a longer k-turn. This lets it rush an enemy formation to get by some arcs, pursue a fleeing enemy when the X-Wing wants to Focus and shoot, run for it and Focus to defend at the same time, and get behind an enemy that is about to overshoot its position. The B-Wing cannot do these things as well.  Still, the B-Wing has some perks; Barrel Roll being the huge one, but the shorter k-turn can be a better pursuit weapon vs ships fleeing danger by overshooting your position (as Interceptors like to do). In addition, the B-Wing has better access to mobility-ramping upgrades. I’d say it’s a not a draw here… the X-Wing has some minor advantages, and they can be useful; but B-Wing has more tricks and those tricks are better.

Offense — B-Wing all the way. Fire Control System, HLC, you name it. Against light fire, you still have your Focus for offense more often and are still as tough as the X-Wing without spending your focus on defense.

Control — R3A2 is good, but double-edged while the B-Wing gets Ion Cannon and Tactician, and can even run both cards together if you like. The B-Wing all the way, again.

02a

THE HARDER COMPARISON: X-WING vs B-WING vs A-WING
There isn’t really anything that X-Wing does that B-Wing doesn’t do better. So the question becomes this — is the X-Wing weak, or is the B-Wing “too good?” There are multiple ways to answer that question. One way is to compare both ships to a third Rebel option:

20 Green w/ PTL + Chaardan Refit (+ whatever you like)

Slightly cheaper but just as capable, the Green can be an amazing ship. It excels at avoiding heavy enemy fire and getting lots of Range 1 shots with TL+F vs whatever target you wanted to chase down. It’s as tough as a B-Wing under heavy fire, and nigh impossible to kill in a 1-vs-1 dogfight compared to a B-Wing. Still, the A-Wing lacks the control options of a B-Wing. It’s also worth considering that the A-Wing can only ramp its offense up via missiles, but it’s quite good at launching them before it dies and is accurate with the delivery.

The A-Wing and B-Wing are both good solid ships. They switch out for each other pretty well, each bringing one heck of a fight to the enemy. By comparison to the A-Wing, the X-Wing… continues to suck a little. It doesn’t bring much of a game to play. It’s not tough. It doesn’t hit hard. It’s less mobile. It does NOTHING.

We can go on to the Y-Wing from here. The HWK even, though the HWK doesn’t build for cheap. We can compare a 24pt Rookie w/ Hull to x2 Bandits, and the numbers say choose Bandits. Outside of getting R3-A2 or key pilot abilities, there’s no reason to choose X-Wings. Every other Rebel ship has much more to offer, no matter what you are looking for.

IF AN ISSUE EXISTS, WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
I’m sure that I still haven’t made the case to some people. So from here, I write only for those who are reasonably convinced. What does the X-Wing need to be cool?

-Added Durability-
If the X-Wing had 1 extra point of Shield or Hull, you might not be reading this article. The X-Wing would slightly outperform the Bwing in absorbing damage vs small guns, giving the X-Wing a clear niche as the better Rebel fighter vs TIE Fighters. So an ultra-cheap way to add health to the ship would be good. Perhaps this:

R4 Astromech (3pts, droid)
“At the end of combat phase, you may
discard this card to regain 2 shields.”

It would help the generic E-Wings as well. They see very little play, because they have severe efficiency and performance issues. This would turn the X-Wing into the Rebels’ cheap tank, a strong role for the game’s canon ship.

-Added Mobility-
If the X-Wing could do something B-Wing could not in terms of getting around the board, it would go a long way toward giving the X-Wing a clear place in Rebel lists. There are ways to do that:

Stealth-wing Rebuild (1pt, droid, X-Wing only)
“Your action bar gains the -cloak- action.
While you have a cloak token, you have no pilot ability.”
(Compare the 22pt Stealth-wing Rookie to the 25pt Sigma.)

R3 Navigation Droid (1pt, droid)
“Your action bar gains the -boost- and -barrel roll- actions.”
(This brings the Rookie more in line with the Alpha as a cheap glass cannon flank ship.)

R7 Combat Jump Droid (1pt, droid)
“Before or after executing a maneuver, you may discard
this card to perform a 5 forward maneuver. If you overlap
any ship or obstacle, remove your ship from play.”
(Because “that would end your little trip real fast, wouldn’t it”.)

Of course, R3 helps the E-Wing and the Y-Wing also. The E-Wing could use it. The Y-Wing is never going to be a powerhouse because of it. Mainly, R3 helps the X-Wing finally accelerate to attack speed.

-Added Control-
R3-A2 was a nice start, but I wish that droid hadn’t been unique. A generic with that ability would have revitalized the generic X-Wing fully. Again we can add to the E-Wing and the Y-Wing  without it being a big deal, since those ships share a very different design space to the X-Wing. (And also the E-Wing struggles too.)

R3 Targeting Droid (3pts, droid)
“After you miss an attack, assign 1 stress token to the defender.”
(I think this would be extremely neat for Ion Turret Y-Wings as well.)

R5 Defense Droid (2pts, droid)
“During your combat activation, you may discard this
card to assign 1 ion token to all ships within Range 1.”
(This includes yourself and friendly ships, as written)

A QUESTION FOR READERS
I won’t ask if you agree with me; we don’t get very far that way. Some players will agree that X-Wing needs some new toys to make it what it really ought to be. Others will swear that the X-Wing is fine, and we’ll all end up in an argument. That’s not what i want.

What I want to know is much simpler, one question really.

If you could make an upgrade card for the X-Wing, what would it be?

Remember that depending on what upgrade type you use, other ships will have access to the card. Obviously, I like the droid slot, since I think the E-Wing needs a little help too. Feel free to tack on “X-Wing only” if you need it, like I did for the “Stealth-Wing Rebuild” card. Mod, title, droid? Torpedo???

Please share your ideas with me. I would love to hear them.

12 thoughts on “PARSING THE X-WING”

  1. I agree that the X-Wing needs help filling a niche roll for the rebels and I think a good Title is the way to go.

    I don’t see the X-Wing as a tanky ship like the B-Wing or being nimble like the A-Wing. The Y-Wing fills the turret niche, and will soon be a rebel bomber and even a different type of gun ship with the BTL-A4 Title.

    Perhaps the X-Wing should be more of a customizable tech piece? You can encourage that kind of play by reducing the cost of Astromechs.

    Custom X-Wing Title

    1. I don’t have the fancy graphics, but i do like the idea of a title to improve a ship that is falling a little short of being useful. At the end of the day, i do feel that is roughly where it lies, just short of the power curve. Just a little out of competitive play, short of interesting pilot abilities.

      So… i was thinking of something like

      x-wing title only (1)
      title bar gains additional astromech droid slot

      I’d love an r2-d2 x-wing with an R5-P9 as back up.

    2. I think that’s been the irony of the X-wing vs B-wing comparison. The X-wing was the Rebellion’s go-to Fighter because it was versatile and durable… but within the game, the X-wing has been neither and the B-wing owns both those descriptors. To large degree this request for brainstorming is for ways to make the X-wing what it really always should have been. I hope people think up some really good ones. You don’t have to especially agree with me to think of a cool X-wing card.

  2. Given that the X-Wing, Y-Wing and E-Wing are the only (current) ships with the Astromech Droid slot, that’s probably the best option.

    A greater range of generic Astromech Droids that were aggressively costed would work wonders to revitalize the X-wing. While they look great on paper, most of the ones that came with the Rebel Transport pack don’t seem to be good enough by themselves.

    Theorist’s R3 Targeting Droid and R2EQ’s T65 title (above) together would definitely bring the X-wing right back into the spotlight.

  3. I actually think Xwing as a game needs to implement an “S-foil” system to really make ships like the Xwing more useable in an interesting fashion.

    It would be an action to “Close your S-foils” and when closed all your red manoeuvres turn white, and all white turn green and you gain an agility dice. However, because your S-foils are closed, you cannot attack. It’s a play on the cloaking mechanic, but makes more thematic sense for Xwings and could be used on the new “StarViper” ship in the Scum faction.

    You could make opening your S-foils a reactionary, so that it doesn’t cost and action to re-open and attack. (Because they did that automatically in an Xwing game)

    Give an Xwing the title ability to close their S-foils after a successful attack and viola!

  4. So the IG-2000 title gave me this idea. Not sure about what an appropriate cost would be.

    Title: Rogue Leader
    Unique. X-Wing only.
    Friendly ships with the “Rogue Squadron” title also have your pilot ability.

    Title: Rogue Squadron
    X-Wing only. Generic Pilot Only.
    You have the pilot ability of the friendly ship with the “Rogue Leader” title.

    I picture a squad like this:

    Wedge with Rogue Leader
    Rookie with Rogue Squadron
    Rookie with Rogue Squadron
    Biggs

    1. JKL, that is brilliant and I love it. There are a ton of ways to use that. It pushes you to run that configuration you noted — Biggs, another named pilot, and 2 others. So it couldn’t be the entire fix, but it’s an awesome idea.

      I’d really like to see the Rogue Squadron title be not just generic only, so that you could also have it on Biggs. That would make it easier to run a squad like Luke/Biggs/Rookie/Gold, or some other configuration. I definitely see Biggs as critical to guarding Rogue Leader.

      What do you think about it?

      1. Theorist,
        My original idea was actually an exact duplicate of the IG-2000 title (letting every X-Wing share everyone else’s ability) but I wasn’t certain how to cost it and I was afraid it might be overpowered.

        For the same reason, I put ‘generic only’ on the “Rogue Squadron” title just in case there was an overpowered combination of X-Wing pilot abilities out there. That being said, having given it more thought, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to eliminate the ‘generic only’ requirement.

        Sample Squad:
        Tarn with Rogue Leader and R7
        Wedge with Rogue Squadron and R7 and Engine
        Hobbie with Rogue Squadron and R3-A2
        Airen Cracken with VI

        Probably would be more than 100 points but sounds fun.

        JKL

  5. Great article Jeff and I think the X-Wing needs a buff to bring it back to the ‘go-to’ Rebel Ship.

    I like the droid ideas but I think it would be a mistake to link any major fix to a droid slot as it may see the current droids gathering more dust. Maybe just add some good droids to help.

    I really like the Rouge Squadron idea and I also like the concept of something to do with the X-Wings S-Foils.

    Just spitballing ideas but something like this (only shorter!):

    X-Wing only
    X-Wings may start the game with their S-Foils closed. Whilst closed Increase agility by 1 and gain the Boost and Barrel Roll actions. You can only perform primary weapon attacks and your attack value is reduced to 1.
    You may lock foils once per game by declaring it at the start of any activation phase. The lock takes effect at the beginning of the following combat phase. Assign 1 Focus token to your ship once foils are locked.

    That aside I think the X-Wing needs an additional shield and/or Barrel Roll.

    1. I’d really like to see X-wings made into the superior option vs TIE Fighters and similar small guns, compared to B-wings. Although added health (R4 Astromech), added positioning (Stealth-wing Rebuild), added defenses (Rogue Leader on Luke), or your suggestion of +1 AGI when the S-foils are closed all work toward that… I think there are probably a lot more good ideas out there too.

      Modified S-foils (3pts, Mod, X-wing only)
      “Your action bar gains the -evade- icon. After performing an Evade action, you may perform a free Barrel Roll action.”

      This could work too. X-wings were revered for their combination of durability and maneuverability, traits they are currently missing. Defense mode!

  6. Personally, I’d like to see something that represents either power management or laser fire management…

    Quad fire
    Modification
    Attack: perform a primary weapon attack at Range 1-3, roll one fewer attack dice. Deal two damage cards for every uncancelled hit

    Harder to land a hit, but more damage potential…

    (Engine Laser Shields)
    Manual ELS.
    Modification
    Energy limit 1

    Action: spend a shield token to place an energy token on this card.
    Energy: spend one energy token to perform a boost action or increase your attack alue by 1 until the end of the round.

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