Wednesday, October 17, 2018

X-Wing Report - A Question of Pilot Skill

Hello it has been almost a decade since my last post but its like riding a bike right?

The other day I was playing at my weekly casual gathering and during my last game I noticed something unusual. The five remaining ships all had a pilot skill of four. This is how it unfolded. My opponent was flying a Scum and Villainy list of Graz the Hunter, Victor Hel, and Dalen Oberos. I was flying Kyle Katarn and two Rouge Squadron E-Wings.

My List – Kyle, Moldy Crow, Stealth Device
- 2 x Ewings, R3, collision detector, crack shot

He won the iniative roll and elected to be second player (there is only one situation where you might want to be first player and that is if both players have low pilot skill lists and their plan relies on bumping the other person, but more on that later). Here is what the deployment looked like.

We were both spread from the centre to the opposite corner, a flexible position that allowed us both to consolidate quickly if required. I always start on the back edge and fly slowly for a turn or two so Kyle has time to accumulate tokens. That said my initial plan was to quickly joust the center ship and hopefully get a temporary situation where my three ships could take out one of his without having all of his ships in range of one of mine (the initial plan changed to this after set up for no good reason...). With E-Wings this is not impossible. but actually quite tricky as both players need to move 4 or 5 straight and boost for shooting in the first turn. The only time it will work out in your favour is if on your opponent's first move they do not fly their ships into a tighter formation. And even then on your second turn you have stressed E-Wings which have sadly predictable blue moves.

At any rate, since that now almost every ship has some sort of boost or barrel roll they can all arc dodge a little. And that combined with all my ships moving before his he could always dodge one arc, even with a not so nimble Kirax, never mind the Star Viper. As the game unfolded Kyle was the first to go which left me in the situation described initially.

                                         Good thing the E-wings have collision detector!

At this point the poor E-Wings that rely on getting second actions from support ships were destroyed or smashed down to half life by the end of the hour with only one ship and a bit being destroyed in return. During the whole game I felt like I was on the back foot. And quite literally was since my ships were always moving first. One change I made to the list after the game was swap R3 for R4 this gave me better blue moves, a white hard 1, and a squad cost of 198 instead of 200 for an inititive bid at the cost of looseing the ability to do a second lock.

More On Initative and Pilot Skill

The result of initiate roll does not require a difficult decision to be made, because of the simultaneous fire rule the correct answer is to be the second player unless your squad is built for bumping and your opponent is of equal pilot skill. Which in my experience is an unusual situation. This means the iniative roll is the single most important dice roll in any game (if both players have any ships of equal pilot skill, which is more likely in 2nd ed). Let me explain why, other than the design team saying they were going to put more emphasis on manoeuvre in 2nd ed.

Lots of ships have re-positioning or can take an upgrade that allows them to alter their final position after every ship with a lower pilot skill has moved. Many special abilities have been linked to arcs (specifically bullseye arcs, try lining up a bullseye arc if you move first :). There are more ships in an average game (Approximatly 2-3 per squadron in 1st ed to 3-4 in 2nd ed) I can't back this up with stats but since generics seem to be more viable and the cost of many ships has gone down a bit I think it is correct. Finally there are half as many pilot skills so the chance of over lap is greater. The game has tried to mitigate the power of post manoeuvre re-positioning by giving barrel roll only six distinct positions that covers half the area it used to.... but was it enough?

How to Mitigate.

Take a pilot skill 6 ships if possible and be aware that most pilot skill 7 tricks are for engagement only (by this time you are already out of arc). Also, there are only 2 or 3 pilot skill 6 pilots in each faction and no more veteran instincts. Initiative bids are most important for lists with an average pilot skill of 4 and 5, I have not mathed it out but if feels like they bell curved pilot skill, also the best generics are at 4. The result is that you will likely fly against a pilot skill 4 or 5 list (local metas aside). Having at least one ship that goes last will make your opponent think twice about using a repositioning action as it may turn out to be an ineffective action. If you are a rebel player then look at how you can use Fenn Rau in the shuttle to give you some pilot skill 6 actions.


Last night I was once again at my weekly games night. My first game was against another friend flying Captain Oicunn (PS 3), Whisper (PS 5) and an Imdaar Test Pilot (PS 3), and because I am a sucker for a good story line I flew my rebels against it. In the second game I flew Soontir's Flying Circus but more on that later. Anyway, this was the first time my friend had flown a decimator or phantom and he set up his ships too far away form each other. So, I isolated and killed his test pilot early, the decimator popped a little while after and then time was called.

                                         Kyle was safely off to the right

Long story short, the R4 was gold (or should I say blue...) but I feel like I developed a reasonable first order strategy for mid-PS Xwing squadrons. Attack the ships you outrank in pilot skill and avoid the ships that outrank you, after that you just need to run out the clock and call it a day.


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