Variety, the Spice of Life?

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In wave 1, ship choices in Xwing was a limited thing at best. With only 4 ships to choose from, many player’s lists found them running the same ships with different pilots. 7 tie swarms or 4 xwing builds flew firmly in the meta and were vastly favoured as the most viable lists.

Wave-2-X-Wing-MiniaturesWave3_layoutwave4-layoutimages4 waves past that point of limited choice, and gave players an amazing choice of 15 different ships to build lists from. The ability to create new and interesting lists surpassed anything the pioneers of Xwing could even dream of. However, while the ability for diversity has grown in Xwing there’s still byproduct of wave 1 that has never left the meta, lists that utilize multiples of the same type of ship.

The two Phantom list is one that sits highly on the meta even currently, the 4 Bwing list still viewed as a strong contender for any player, 3 interceptors are amazingly powerful now with the addition of “Autothrusters”, and rebel headhunter swarms are viable tricky ships.

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A new day has come, Wave 6 is in many players hands and firmly worming it’s way into a new meta. The Scum faction has brought with it many new tricks, as well as many new toys for both the rebels and imperials to play with. The thing I have most enjoyed about the lists that I have seen Scum bring to the table is that they have variety in the ships that construct the major lists.

This has lead me to the question, what is better? A Mutt list that utilizes a variety of different ships and embraces the collective strengths of all them but also suffers their collective weaknesses? Or a Purebreed list that flies firmly on a handful of the same ships, making it’s strengths and weaknesses few but very crippling.

We’ll start by looking at the Pros and Cons of each.

The Mutts.

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“Uglies” from the Rogue Squadron novels

Pros
– The ability to bring the strongest tool for the job. You never know what kind of list you will be up against, and different ships preform better against different opponents. If your list is a mix of ships, it can preform differently but just as effectively against a multitude of enemies.

– A ship that might be limited in it’s potential alone can be greatly boosted by the another ship’s help, this especially rings true in Rebel builds that have a lot of synergy potential or the classic Howlrunner reroll.

– Keep them guessing, a variety list has the chance to confuse an enemy and might put them up against something they never have faced and don’t know how to properly counter.

Cons
–  
A variety list will most likely have a priority target in it that will leave you list hurting if you lose said ship, or at least a weak link in the chain. If your opponent knows who to bear down on, it could leave you list severely crippled before outright destroying you.

– Lack of formation. A variety list will have a variety of maneuvers, this can allow you to move in interesting ways but it make cause your list to get scattered and might make you choose a move you’ve rather not, just to escape a massive traffic jam.

Purebreed
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Pros
– 
Formation, ships that fly with the same amount of options usually have a lot easier time sticking together and bearing down effectively on one enemy, their chances of spreading out will be greatly lowered.

-If all your ships are the same attack, defence and only differ from PS and ability, it usually makes picking a priority target a lot more difficult. And even if you destroy one, it usually is a ship that can do well on it’s own right, making your list stand strong even if one of it’s legs is blown out from under it.

Cons
– 
All your eggs are in one basket. If your chosen ship that you used to build this list has a counter to it, that counter will be able to walk all over your list without equal opposition.

– Predicability, this rings true from Bwing to Phantom, once you’ve flown against one enough times you’ll know how they move. They are most likely to move the way you expect when backed up by the same type of ship, and you will most likely be able to guess how your opponent will try to move against you, because it’s the same ship coming at you.

Everyone loves the potential for this in epic.
Everyone loves the potential for this in epic.

At the end of it, I would have to say that they are a pretty even match, and with the addition of Ig-2000 title, the side of the Purebreeds gain a very strong team player. However, with Scum I personally have found that variety will keep your team very strong on every angle of the meta. I feel like the Imperials can gain from this approach, with the new upgrades available you could make a very strong list out of a handful of different imperial ships working together. As well, the rebels can now use the BTL Ywings in new lists as slow but heavy hitters to augment an old favourite squad that might have before just used some filler rookies or Blue squadron pilots.

I asked some respected and talented players to weigh in their opinions:

JD-88:
Well, the classic example is Donfour’s Wave 3 list that was Soontir + Krassis/HLC + Omicron/Vader. Nobody knew what to do against it because each was a radically different threat.

This is back when people were still jousting with bricks of 4 B-wings.

all the same = keeps formation easily, and easier to mentally manage

different = present the opponent with tough choices and you are better tech’d for different matchups which you can handle by presenting the threats in a different order.

Captain Jonas:
It’s usually a smart play to have different ship types covering for each others’ weaknesses, but one of the reasons I love playing lists made of the same type of ships is theme. I love playing squadron lists based on background stories, like Vader alongside Mithel and Backstabber, Major Rhymer and Scimitar Squadron, and Colonel Jendon and Onyx Squadron (maybe not the best example ). Case in point, one of my more memorable games in recent memory was a ‘bomber’ faceoff with Squishee, pic included.
D00n796

Squishee:
In general, a build utilizing multiple different ships, you get to cover all you bases and should have the capability to deal with most situations. What I find tough is the current meta and point limit, it is extremely difficult to create a competitive list that uses a wide selection of ships. On the flip-side, it is also difficult to make a list comprised of only one ship type and role.
As for Imperial list I find it harder to make a mixed ship list as TIE fighters are so point efficient for a core part of a list. I think imperials suffer the most with small ships at current point limit for diversity. TIE defenders are just too expensive to fit in with any arc dodgers and large based ships. TIE bombers are still a little behind until they change or add ordinance. The TIE adv currently doesn’t have much power behind it as well until the raider comes out. This pretty much only leaves TIE Fighters, TIE Intercepters and TIE Phantoms for small ships and the large base ships.

And since the intercepters and phantoms are both arc dodgers, you see imperial list either: mini swarm/arc dodger, Decimator/Firespary w/arc dodger, or arc dodger spam with Intercepter/phantom mix for the majority at this time.

One thought on “Variety, the Spice of Life?”

  1. There is also the important Pilot Skill to consider, which in turn lends itself to a preferred play style.

    When you fly many identical ships you will usually be on the low end, around PS 1 or 2. When you fly anything else, you’re coming in at a higher pilot skill, and then you have to decide if you want to push the bid into the PS 9-10 range (like deciding between Echo & Whisper).

    One thing that I look at, if a higher PS ship doesn’t have a reposition ability it’s out of my consideration since high PS ships that can’t tweak their ending move are just too expensive for me.

    Lower PS lists don’t need to reposition as they should be using asteroids to create lanes, dirty tricks to catch opponents and split their fire arcs in anticipation of where enemy ships will be going.

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