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:
- Blaster Turret
- Moldy Crow
- Recon Specialist
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.