Saturday, 11 October 2014

X-Wing - Getting Re-Inspired with Rebels

When I started playing X-Wing nine months ago I gravitated towards rebels.  Although I bought pretty much everything, I found Rebels more inspiring, easier to get my head round, and more forgiving on the table.  I went to my first tournament with the classic Golden Daggers.  For those of you not down with the build names, this consists of 2x Gold Squadron Y-Wings with Ion Cannon Turret and 2x Dagger Squadron B-Wings with Advanced Sensors (AS).  This was very strong prior to the release of Imperial Aces and all the wave 4 shininess, and I won with four wins out of four, including an incredibly tough final against four ion cannon Y-wings.  Then Imperial Aces came out and everyone started flying Imperials, and I started to lose.  A lot.  Since then I have struggled to get back into rebels. 

However, last week I finally found something to make me adore Rebels once again, and I think it's really, really good, so I wanted to share it with you guys. 

Several weeks ago my club started a league.  With 1

8 players, everyone is going to play everyone else.  The twist is that each time you have to play two games, one with Imperials and one with Rebels, each time against the opposing faction.  I pissed around with a load of new builds for rebels, some of which vaguely worked, and some of which failed spectacularly (never, ever try flying three E-Wings, seriously).  The problem was Phantoms.  I just couldn't kill the bastards, or even get many hits on them with the slow-ass rebel ships. 

So what to do? I don't like using Falcons, so looking for alternative high Pilot Skill (PS) turrets I realised that Horton Salm can now have an EPT if you give him R2-D6 first, so I gave him veteran Instincts (VI).  This mean that he was now PS10 and with an Ion Cannon, really scary to Phantoms, I played a non league game to test it and it was OK, but was a lot of points for something which was basically a waste of points in any other game. 

The other option was Jan Ors, who I had never used before.  So lets see what she can bring to the table.  She comes in at PS8 naturally, so PS10 with VI.  This guarantees shooting before any Phantom that can currently be fielded.  She can also take the classic combination of Blaster Turret, Recon Specialist, and Moldy Crow title.  This combo enables you to gain two focus each turn and store them up for future use.  Since the Blaster Turret needs one to fire you need two per turn for a reliable shot.  All you need to do is move slowly for two or three turns and you have enough to last you game, often enabling you to target lock instead for some very reliable shooting in any direction.  This comes to 36 points, so not cheap, but we have not yet considered her special ability.  Once per turn, Jan Ors can take a stress to give another ship at ranges 1-3 an extra dice when attacking.  This is a very powerful ability and works especially well on ships with an already high attack rating, as it increases the chance of one-shotting things. 

So what to take alongside this powerful but relatively fragile platform.  The obvious and in my opinion best choice is a couple of B-Wings.  They are hard hitting, can take some damage, and have compatible dials with the HWK (crap, then).  With this in mind I loaded up two Blue Squadrons with Heavy Laser Cannons (HLC) and AS.  However, despite being dead on 100 points something just didn't sit with with the AS in this case, as I was after reliable hard hitting shots, not close range manoeuvring, so I swapped AS out for another popular System Upgrade, Fire Control System (FCS), and used the spare 2 points to upgrade one Blue to a Dagger. 

This leaves us with the following build:

Jan Ors
 - Blaster Turret
 - VI
 - Moldy Crow
 - Recon Specialist

Dagger Squadron
 - HLC
 - FCS

Blue Squadron
 - HLC
 - FCS

100 points

So to sum up, I had made a three ship rebel build, something I have always sworn was crap, and was fairly certain it would die horribly the first time I came up against a stuff breeze.  How wrong I was. 

So I rocked up to a game against a very good player fielding Whisper with all the toys, Soontir Fel upgraded to 4 hull and 1 shield (!!) and a Doomshuttle (standard shuttle with Vader on board).  I won 100-0, and though he made a mistake in deployment, Whisper and Fel both died in a single round each.  Turns out that not even 4 dice can stand up to 5 twin linked and focused shots for very long.

I then faced off against another very good player with a Bounty Hunter and two Defenders with Stealth Devices.  This was a much harder game as Defenders are impossible to one-shot and can run rings round HWKs and B-Wings, but in the end the obscene firepower won out and I only lost Jan, wiping him out. 

The crucial fact I'd failed to appreciate is the depth of the synergy present in this build.  Aside from the obvious five dice HLC thing it works like this:
  • The B-Wings, aided by an extra dice, like to engage at max range, because the enemy doesn't get an extra dice, and without AS themselves, they are vulnerable up close.  
  • Jan is utterly incapable of fighting at long range, and likes to get close to do damage.  
  • This means that if you fly all three ships in tight formation, the enemy is caught between two very hard decisions. 
Clearly there are some builds which would do much better against this, the good old Tie Swarm and the new A-Wing Swarm (it's coming, trust me) springs to mind, but I think that even against these it has a chance if flown well, because it has good odds of killing two ties a turn, and will almost certainly take one out.  In any case, I'll be continuing to use it for a few weeks.  Hello Rebellion, it's good to be back!


  1. 'Sup fella. Nice article.
    Some questions/views:
    The context...I played 4 games yesterday with the following:
    Rebel Op- crow, blaster turret, recon spec
    Dutch - ion, r2
    Rookie x wing
    Blue B - FCS
    Really enjoyed the variety of ships and the two turrets.. I didn't play a phantom however so didn't need to worry about the lists overall failing with high PS.
    So the HWK I ran has identical setup to yours except for pilot and VI. Whilst it can't hunt phantoms, it does operate in the same way... I found a few things and wondered what your thoughts were:
    1) you do have to slow roll for a turn or two in reorder to generate enough Focus. However, this means that if you wanted to punish an opponent for deployment errors this can mean that the rest of your crew get to the enemy before the HWK, or the HWK arrives without that much focus..maybe 2-4 max. I found 4 to be enough even in the midst of action/mid game. This, for me, was an issue - do I slow roll and allow the opponent to regroup or leg it (4forward is red) and try to kill off a lone flanker/out of position ship?
    2) Range 1-2 on the Blaster Turret. Pain. In. The. Ass. Combined with a shitty dial and I often found that the opponent could bug out if I didn't quite finish him off and I didn't have the manoeuvrability to chase, instead often having to move the squad onto the next target (3 ships with horrid manoeuvrability), leaving the crippled ship to shoot full strength as regular damage has no impact on offensive output. The HWK when successful can simply do 2-Turns and fly in circles in the midfield just chucking shots and I loved it when I could "ring fence" my opponent/predict movement enough to do so.
    3) Dial. No k-turns was ...different... With neither the HWK nor the Y Wing having a K, I had to fly these a little different, sure having a turret means you can just slow roll on a '1' and get shots, but this means the opponent gets another turn of superior positioning after that to punish you. I really, really felt like the HWK needed Engine Upgrade mod OR an Astromech slot for R7-T1 (or whichever one gives you a target lock followed by boost)

    Overall,I liked the HWK very much - I bought it for my love of the Jedi Knight PC games, but hadn't run it for a while. I guess really it should have Kyle or Jan in it to be authentic lol, but for me... I just don't like 3 ship rebels and worry about losing a ship too much, a two ship rebel is a vastly outnumbered rebel.. Or it always was- I do fully accept that actually, a lot of Imperial builds are much lower in ship quantity now though.
    I can't squeeze Jan in with 4-ships though as I don't have access to Z-95's.. I think that could be the next stage for me...

    Let me know if you encountered the same stuff, or how you mitigate those issues...or if you even find them to be issues!


  2. firstly, check the Y-Wing dial, they do have a 4K :)

    really funny, that list you flew is almost identical to the very first one i ever built. it works ok, but not brilliantly. its kind of an odd setup because all the ships move so differently but need to be quite close together for it to work, so you end up getting in each others way.

    the HWK is an odd beast. i've not used it a huge amount, and generally if i have its been with Roark for the PS12 thing. all that you say above is true, they have a horrible dial and range 1-2 is a major limitation, but the reason i like the list i posted so much is because, as i mentioned, the HWK is protected by the B-Wings, and it in turn protects them. i think you really have to build a list round the HWK for it to work.

    incidentally, if someone makes a deployment error, i have found it is usually best to let them stew in it, and stick to your plan. it is very hard to recover from a major error in deployment, even with 4 or 5 turns to do so, and you will always be on the back foot. that's just my opinion though.