“Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want that ship.”
–Darth Vader, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
FFG’s 2013 Regional Championship tournament season is now underway, and X-Wing™ competitors have already pitted their squads against each other in hard-fought battles for space supremacy!
Still, the tournament season runs through June, and there are many, many X-Wing Regional Championship tournaments ahead of us. So, as you think ahead to the Regional Championships you plan to attend – or as you consider participating in your first X-Wing tournament – we’re happy to provide you with one expert player’s opinions about what you might expect.
Today, the game’s reigning World Champion, Doug Kinney, shares his thoughts on the dynamic and varied X-Wing metagame.
X-Wing World Champion Doug Kinney selects a maneuver during the 2012 finals.
Doug Kinney on the Evolving X-Wing Metagame
I have posted many thoughts on the Fantasy Flight Games forums about where the metagame is headed for X-Wing, and there have been many great discussions about the release of the second wave of starships and how they will affect the game.
Keep in mind, this is all my own personal opinion.
With the initial wave of releases, the top Rebel squad was a four-ship build, usually with one top pilot (often named Wedge Antilles), and three level-two pilots. There were some very competitive three-ship Rebel squads, too, but the four-ship Rebel squads generally were stronger and had better winning percentages. For the Imperials, the top squads were TIE swarms of six or more ships, and these swarms came in many successful varieties.
With the introduction of the second wave of ships, players are now finding out that the Millennium Falcon and Slave I are tanks that are tough to take down and can dish out a great deal of punishment. During the upcoming Regional season, I think you'll see many squads with at least one of these ships in them. The success of these squads has a great deal to do with the person flying them; as many people have noted, there is a new learning curve with flying the large-base ships. When you have a board cluttered with asteroids, the rest of your squad, and your opponent's squad (which is also likely to have a large-base ship), you won’t always be able to perform your optimal maneuver for your ship. Those who can learn how to fly their large-base ships and fly against them are the ones who are likely to be successful at this year’s Regional tournaments.
The introduction of these large-base ships also means that both factions are now getting away from lots of lower pilot skills and moving towards fewer ship builds with higher pilot skills. From what I’ve seen, this is where the game is moving. This doesn’t mean that the old squads are necessarily bad now, but these more streamlined squads are going to fare better in tournaments. Wedge is still a power player for the Rebels, but now he has many more options for wingmates. The introduction of the A-wing and the YT-1300 have really opened up the floodgates for new combinations of pilots and upgrades within a 100-point Rebel squad. Likewise, the TIE interceptor and the Firespray-31 have brought some big hitters to Imperial squads. I daresay that I doubt anyone going to a Regional tournament will face the same squad twice; there is so much more parity now in the game.
The newest X-Wing starships will make their mark upon the tournament scene.
Actions and Upgrades
With these new ships, we also have the boost action (), which changes the game. Now, a ship that was in your line of fire can get out of it by taking the boost action, so you need to have multiple firing arcs covered if you want to get an attack against a ship that has boosted out of one of your other ship’s firing arcs. More importantly, covering multiple firing arcs can deter your opponent from boosting and make him take another, more defensive action, instead, like focus or evade. For Imperial players, covering multiple firing arcs is going to be difficult, because doing so takes away squad cohesion in favor of spreading out to cover areas. For Rebel players, the YT-1300 solves this problem quite easily by itself due to its primary weapon being able to target an enemy outside of its firing arc. The boost action comes standard on the A-wing and TIE interceptor, but it can be equipped onto any ship with the Engine Upgrade card.
We also now have Stealth Device. Stealth Device increases the agility value of the ship upon which it is equipped. For example, it transforms ships with a base three agility into an extremely skittish four-agility defender. I believe this changes the game as well, because firing with two attack dice just isn’t going to cut it against four or more defense dice. For example, if you defend at Range 3 while your opponent is firing through an obstacle, you’re rolling 6 defense dice! You will need a ship with at least three attack dice to strip away Stealth Device so that your other ships with two attack dice can have a better chance of hitting once the Stealth Device is gone. Stealth Device doesn’t make ships invincible, but it does increase the chances of survival for a few more rounds, and since it’s only three points, I think you're going to see a lot of it at Regional tournaments.
As I mentioned earlier, with the introduction of the new wave of ships, there is so much more parity now in this game. With the initial starfighters, there were only a few top squads that you had to prepare against because you expected to face them at tournaments. Now, though, there is so much more variety now among both factions that people are just going to play what they want to play and feel is fun rather than play only what they think is the “top” squad. You will see people playing their own versions of any emerging “top” squads, and there are likely to be as many versions as there are players of this game. I will be just as interested as everyone else to see what the winning squads will be for the Regional tournaments because I believe we’re going to see a lot of variety among the winners of different areas.
What do I think the top squads will be? For the Rebels, the “Han Shoots First” list, which pairs Han with two Rookie Pilots, will be tough to beat, especially in the hands of someone capable of flying the Falcon. I’ve also seen Wedge and Tycho make quite a duo, and paired with a third ship, they can be a fearsome force. A-wings with missiles will do well against squads of TIE interceptors, but they will be less successful against other Rebel squads. You've got the YT-1300 and Y-wings, and even some of the early combos (like Wedge, Biggs, and Dutch) will still be competitive with some new upgrades.
For Imperials, I think you'll see a lot of lists featuring Slave I with four TIEs, and some even with two Firesprays. All of the Imperial players are loving getting to know their interceptors, so there will be a lot of successful squads that will run some combination of interceptors, TIE fighters, and TIE Advanced. Some of the higher skill TIE fighter pilots like “Mauler Mithel,” “Backstabber,” and “Dark Curse” will see a lot of action.
No matter what squad you bring or what squads you face, this Regional Tournament season is shaping up to be a lot of fun for everyone! Have fun, and make friends this season.
In the meantime, whether you run a squad of just two starships or try to swarm your opponent with eight TIE fighters, the addition of the Millennium Falcon, Slave I, A-wing, and TIE interceptor is bound to create a dynamic and exciting tournament environment, by any account.