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Very interesting article on BackToDials.com: CrackDealers as improved 5 X-Wing list

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Tried this list out at game night tonight, and it was brutally effective. To be fair, my opponent made a couple mistakes and his attack dice were a little cold at the start, but I cleaned up 100-0. If he had flown smarter and his dice had been average he probably would have killed a couple of my ships, but I don’t think he would have beaten me. 

Lots of fun to fly, too. It was fun to throw attack dice and blank out and thinking “Sweet! I get another free focus token.”  

Also, one other comment to those who are turning their noses up at the A-Wings instead of more X-Wings, I feel you are undervaluing the combination of crack+snap shot. Remember that crack shot works on snap shots, and as @acegard said if you’re smart you can use the threat of it to influence your opponent’s movements. 

Anyway, nice find Asa and nice write up! :)

Edited by Herowannabe
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Just now, Herowannabe said:

Tried this list out at game night tonight, and it was brutally effective. To be fair, my opponent made a couple mistakes and his attack dice were a little cold at the start, but I cleaned up 100-0. If he had flown smarter and his dice had been average he probably would have killed a couple of my ships, but I don’t think he would have beaten me. 

Lots of fun to fly, too. It was fun to throw attack dice and blank out and thinking “Sweet! I get another free focus token.”  

Also, one other comment to those who are turning their noses up at the A-Wings instead of more X-Wings, I feel you are undervaluing the combination of crack+snap shot. Remember that crack shot works on snap shots, and as @acegard said if you’re smart you can use the threat of it to influence your opponent’s movements. 

Anyway, nice find Asa and nice write up! :)

Thank you! Yeah I'm seeing a lot of A-Wing hate and 1) what did the poor A-Wings do to deserve this, and 2) once you fly it with the intent to control the power becomes apparent and you understand why the A-Wings are essential vs. just 2 more Rookies. 

As an aside, was it you I played at Salt Lake like two years ago with the 5-ship Rebel swarm? 

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2 minutes ago, acegard said:

As an aside, was it you I played at Salt Lake like two years ago with the 5-ship Rebel swarm? 

Yes, though it was the 5 ship pocket-ace imperial swarm. :) I still think about bringing that list out and flying it again, but there are too many meta monsters that would just tear it to pieces nowadays. 

Edited by Herowannabe

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Just now, Herowannabe said:

Yes, though it was the 5 ship pocket-ace imperial swarm. :) I still think about bringing that list out and flying it again, but there are too many meta monsters that would just tear it to pieces nowadays. 

YES oh my gosh that was so much fun! I was so happy to see a Bar Crawl swarm doing well, even if it meant I had to kill it ;) You'll be more than able to fly it in 2nd edition though - look at all those TIE monsters!!

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5 hours ago, acegard said:

YES oh my gosh that was so much fun! I was so happy to see a Bar Crawl swarm doing well, even if it meant I had to kill it ;) You'll be more than able to fly it in 2nd edition though - look at all those TIE monsters!!

Right? Inferno squadron is going to be fun to fly with how all their abilities synergies with each other. :D

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5 hours ago, acegard said:
  • and don't discount that 2/3 of those 2-dice ships can roll 2 dice twice

If one of those ships is rolling 2 dice twice, it is rolling 3 dice the second time (assuming the same target or one at the same range).

I gave this squad a try last night and quickly learned why you put the a-wings off to one side.  I tried putting them in front so they could snap, even though they were the higher pilot skill.  That was the wrong choice, as I was constantly tripping over myself.  That aside, it was a lot of fun to fly and I definitely want to play it again and maybe take it to the one store championship I am planning on attending.

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From what I've been able to see, the 5 X-Wing versions are slightly inferior to the '4 X & thing" versions because you get a bit more upfront punch.  I'm thinking of the '4 Crack Zealouts & AP-5' or '4 Rookies and Tracer Blount' versions.

I'm not sure about this X/As hybrid though - the X Wings are so much better than As for the same cost that I'm not really buying Ops Spec as an important inclusion.

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36 minutes ago, SOTL said:

I'm not sure about this X/As hybrid though - the X Wings are so much better than As for the same cost that I'm not really buying Ops Spec as an important inclusion.

Look at it this way: think of your A-Wing as souped up blockers. What is a blocker’s job? To block the opponents ships (obviously), but really to create a situation where you are better able to modify your dice than your opponent is. 

Now consider that with Snap shot and Ops Spec added in. All of a sudden your blocking footprint is a lot bigger: the A-Wing plus everything in its arc in R1. If you position your A-wings right (which isn’t that hard to do when you are flanking from slightly different angles as @acegard suggests in the article), then when your opponent moves in 1 of 3 things will happen:

  1. They will bump your A-wing. Result: No actions for them, less ability to modify their dice (or if they are reapers, they can’t jam you and take away your dice mods)
  2. You snap shot and miss. Result: one of your ships gets a focus token, giving it better dice mods. 
  3. You snap shot and hit. Result: Bonus! You just damaged the enemy, bringing them that much closer to death. 

And with 2 A-Wings, you frequently double that list. The end result is that when it comes time for combat you are in a much better position to modify dice than your opponent. 

 

Also, several people have cited the X-Wings as being more powerful because of that extra attack dice, but as I think about it, I disagree. Or at least, they are on the same level and/or it’s situation dependent. Think about it: at Range 1 (which isn’t too hard to set up with A-Wings) you get two attacks- snap shot and regular shot. Against low-agility ships like the ghost, that’s 5 dice to the X-Wing’s 4. Against high-agility targets, the snap shots get in before they take actions, meaning you have a chance to slip in damage before they get their token stack. Combined with crack shot it’s a good way to slip some damage onto (typically) a hard to hit ship with low HP. 

Or at least create a big enough threat that your opponent is enticed into making bad maneuvering choices. 

Anyway, I guess the point is that you have to think of the A-wings in a different way than the X-Wings. X-Wings are hammers- they are better at straight up smashing stuff. A-Wings are like screw drivers- no they are not as good at smashing stuff, but they are better at digging into your opponent’s list’s weak spots and dismantling it.

Give the list a try sometime and see, you might be pleasantly surprised. And if you find it’s not to your liking, that’s fine, you can switch back to X-Wings. There’s nothing wrong with chucking a box of hammers at your opponent. ;) 

EDIT: Another thing that I just thought of. As someone higher up in the thread mentioned (IIRC), one of this lists greatest strengths is that if your opponent hasn’t seen it before they will tend to underestimate it. If your opponent sees 4 or 5 X-Wings lined up across from them they know they’re in for a bloody slugfest. But if they see A-Wings and AP-5 thrown in there the list doesn’t appear as threatening, when if fact it has just as much teeth as the all X-Wing list would have.  

Edited by Herowannabe

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I don't have any contention with the list or need to tell you how it is worse than another, Asa, but I do want to say this:  this kind of writing just doesn't exist about X-wing, and it is a shame.  A detailed exploration of a lists strengths and weaknesses, an exploration of synergies, a discussion of tactics and strategy, even an intentional look at how to use obstacles and use them advantageously (as opposed to the typical, "use three big rocks because I'm better than my opponent").  This is the best piece of X-wing writing I've seen in a long time.  I'm not very good, but reading this has me starting to understand conceptually what you are doing and to understand concepts that I really don't get even when I've heard people speak of them.  So, thanks!

 

how I'd love to see Dee write a similar article about the new mynock special, or the Yorr Vermeil Inquisitor list.  Podcasts are great for listening, but because they are horrible for referencing, they are not nearly as useful for improvement as something like this.

 

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7 hours ago, acegard said:

Y'all better not let me get a swelled head about this list, I've already taken up a combined four hours of Mynock and BTD listeners' time ;) Keep tearing it down! 

I'd like to address a couple specific points brought up: 

Yes, that would be nice. The gratuitous upshot of Snap Shot is it lets you control the flow of the battle much better than simple one more red die. Often, it equates to two more red dice if you're Snapping regularly. The threat of Snap Shot allows you to herd people into places they don't want to be.

 

It seems to me that almost any blocking you do with an A wing can be done with an X wing.  The X-wing lacks a 5 straight-boost, but the 2-turn Roll pretty much makes up for the lack of 1-turn, and the Roll added to all the other moves gives the X way more blocking options.  So most of the blocking tricks one might use to keep A-wings alive work with Rookies as well.  That's not even getting into the absurd effects of Flight Assist.

If you don't mind, can you elaborate on "control the flow of battle"?  Maybe I'm not seeing the right kind of ships, but my initial impression of the meta is that there's not a lot of things that get bullied by 2 unmodified dice at Range 1.  

I'm not saying the list is bad or you can't do well, but the Rookies seem like a 90% across the board improvement.  

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11 minutes ago, Clutterbuck said:

I don't have any contention with the list or need to tell you how it is worse than another, Asa, but I do want to say this:  this kind of writing just doesn't exist about X-wing, and it is a shame.  A detailed exploration of a lists strengths and weaknesses, an exploration of synergies, a discussion of tactics and strategy, even an intentional look at how to use obstacles and use them advantageously (as opposed to the typical, "use three big rocks because I'm better than my opponent").  This is the best piece of X-wing writing I've seen in a long time.  I'm not very good, but reading this has me starting to understand conceptually what you are doing and to understand concepts that I really don't get even when I've heard people speak of them.  So, thanks!

This is a really good point.  It's a great write-up, @acegard, and I'd love to see more like it!

I played against it last night and, admittedly, lost.  But, it is what I thought it was.  It's another X-Wing swarm variant which, when it doesn't surprise it's opponent with damage output, it survives with more points at time.  It's very good at doing that.

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1 hour ago, Herowannabe said:

Look at it this way: think of your A-Wing as souped up blockers. What is a blocker’s job? To block the opponents ships (obviously), but really to create a situation where you are better able to modify your dice than your opponent is. 

Now consider that with Snap shot and Ops Spec added in. All of a sudden your blocking footprint is a lot bigger: the A-Wing plus everything in its arc in R1. If you position your A-wings right (which isn’t that hard to do when you are flanking from slightly different angles as @acegard suggests in the article), then when your opponent moves in 1 of 3 things will happen:

  1. They will bump your A-wing. Result: No actions for them, less ability to modify their dice (or if they are reapers, they can’t jam you and take away your dice mods)
  2. You snap shot and miss. Result: one of your ships gets a focus token, giving it better dice mods. 
  3. You snap shot and hit. Result: Bonus! You just damaged the enemy, bringing them that much closer to death. 

And with 2 A-Wings, you frequently double that list. The end result is that when it comes time for combat you are in a much better position to modify dice than your opponent. 

Oh I get all that, as @wurms said I was right there championing the Ops Spec Snap A-Wings from the outset (I think I invented it?  Honestly can't remember).  I get the upsides you mention, but I also get that you're only seeing the upsides.

The X-Wings are as good or better than your A-Wings at bumping.  If you Snap Shot and miss you get a focus token... and I've swept up plenty of unused focus tokens from my Snap A-Wings in my time.  And if you hit, that's great, maybe between the Snap Shot and the primary attack you'll deal as much damage as you would with a 3 dice primary (depends primarily on what you're shooting at).

Snap A-Wings are really cute.  Crack X-Wings are rude.  Rude beats cute.

HOWEVER

The X-Wings are so rude that I don't doubt you can shave an edge off them by playing a hybrid and still come out with a very good list and win a lot of games.  We're not talking about if a squad is good or bad, we're talking about whether it's completely bonkers or only utterly ridiculous.

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@Biophysical, I'll steal whole hog what @Herowannabe said above because he put it very eloquently: 

3 hours ago, Herowannabe said:

Look at it this way: think of your A-Wing as souped up blockers. What is a blocker’s job? To block the opponents ships (obviously), but really to create a situation where you are better able to modify your dice than your opponent is. 

Now consider that with Snap shot and Ops Spec added in. All of a sudden your blocking footprint is a lot bigger: the A-Wing plus everything in its arc in R1. If you position your A-wings right (which isn’t that hard to do when you are flanking from slightly different angles as @acegard suggests in the article), then when your opponent moves in 1 of 3 things will happen:

  1. They will bump your A-wing. Result: No actions for them, less ability to modify their dice (or if they are reapers, they can’t jam you and take away your dice mods)
  2. You snap shot and miss. Result: one of your ships gets a focus token, giving it better dice mods. 
  3. You snap shot and hit. Result: Bonus! You just damaged the enemy, bringing them that much closer to death. 

And with 2 A-Wings, you frequently double that list. The end result is that when it comes time for combat you are in a much better position to modify dice than your opponent. 

 

3 hours ago, Biophysical said:

If you don't mind, can you elaborate on "control the flow of battle"?  Maybe I'm not seeing the right kind of ships, but my initial impression of the meta is that there's not a lot of things that get bullied by 2 unmodified dice at Range 1.  

If I may batrep for a moment, here is an excellent example: 

Top 4 of my first Store Champ, I faced Bossk, Guri and a Jakku Gunrunner. He set up across from me and slightly in the middle, then immediately turned away and started running. Classic: bait the swarm through the rocks, dangle the ace (Guri) in the wind as a juicy target and hit me hard once I go for it. We played a lot of mind games for the opening of the match: him making it look like Guri was overextended, when in reality it was just bait. Now, I was lazily flying up the side of the board and the A-Wings turned around the top, like I mention in the article. Once Bossk got around the center of the board, I suddenly turned in hard. Now, my opponent found himself in a rough position. The top of the board is no longer his real estate because my A-Wings are there. He can't turn down because the edge of the board is there and I am behind him. His only open lane is now straight ahead: and there's a rock there! 

Next to deal with Guri, get her out of the fight while I kill Bossk. She's fragile. Her actions and maneuverability give her strength but it's still 5HP, and Snap Shot timing means she's vulnerable when she has none. So I sent the A-Wings after her. And by that, I mean I simply 1-turned them so they were facing her. Suddenly, she can't close on me. With the A-Wings covering the X-Wings' R1 band, she's vulnerable. I get blocks. I snap a couple times, crack off a shield and land a crit, and it's over. FAA Rookies would never have given me that utility, being unable to boost while engaged (in order to get the positioning) unless I sacrificed my primary. And if I'm doing that, why should I not have an extra shot each round? The A-Wings dictate where my opponent can and cannot safely go. Another example: bullying a Poe to cut off his escape lanes with A-Wings, forcing him to turn down the center into X-Wing arcs, and, predictably, die. Snap Shot triggers off Advanced Ailerons, too, so suddenly Reapers can't even escape the scrum. 2 unmodified dice works very well against that! 

It's all about that little incremental damage. Where 3 modded dice won't touch Time Walk Asajj with Stim, Latts and Lone Wolf active, 2 unmodded dice become a much better chance. Forcing Miranda to SLAM when she could otherwise sit tight and regen to dodge my arcs is invaluable, so is constantly re-stripping the shields because I am on her *** like Hugh Hefner. 

3 hours ago, Clutterbuck said:

Some very kind things. 

Thank you :) 

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What did the A-wings do in your example that Rookies couldn't?  FAA combined with S-foils makes them more maneuverable and at least as fast in most circumstances.  They can get in the same places and block the same way.  4 dice shots at Range 1 on Guri are way better than a 2 dice + 3 dice shot.

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On 7/27/2018 at 11:17 AM, Biophysical said:

What did the A-wings do in your example that Rookies couldn't?  FAA combined with S-foils makes them more maneuverable and at least as fast in most circumstances.  They can get in the same places and block the same way.  4 dice shots at Range 1 on Guri are way better than a 2 dice + 3 dice shot.

Specifically, Soontir and Guri had to fly fast and away, vs. being able to knife-fight and arc-dodge. Guri, specifically, with the curved barrel roll: I Snap-Cracked her to death, basically, doing damage when I otherwise wouldn't have. You're right that 4-dice shots are better than 2+3, but 2 is better than no shots because she arc-dodged me. That's the crux, and it applies to aces, Miranda, Reapers, etc. - everything that would arc-dodge me still gets some dice rolled against it. I can still block and set up good shots if I want, but especially in an endgame where, say, Miranda wants to bump a ship so that she could theoretically take unopposed shots against another, negating my body-on-board advantage, I can not block, roll some dice, then give her the decision of arc-dodging or firing. Rookies can't do that. Rookies can joust far better, and over the course of the game their durability is far better, but they can't give me an option against a player who is really good at playing around swarms. 

It's all about gaining the edge against arc dodgers and rolling any dice where otherwise I wouldn't get the chance.

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I tried the list out in a store championship this last weekend. I did poorly with it, but that's more on me than the list. A combination of bad target prioritization on my part and poor use of the A-Wings was my problem.

From what I found the list lives and dies on how you use those A's. They can do great things but you have to be solid at predicting or forcing the maneuvers into the snap shots as that's how they make up for the weak primaries. Otherwise you just don't get the offense out of them that you would with replacing them with the two X's.

There are what seem like some hard match-ups also. I faced Dash in one round and he popped an A in a single shot. Another round had crimson specialist daring them to come in for the snaps. That was another case where in retrospect I should have utilized the A's differently, or just approached the opposing list completely different.

It is definitely a fun list to fly though, even when I'm failing at it. I'll keep using it for a while since it exposed some areas I need to get better at. Thanks for putting it out there.

 

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15 hours ago, acegard said:

That's the crux, and it applies to aces, Miranda, Reapers, etc. - everything that would arc-dodge me still gets some dice rolled against it. I can still block and set up good shots if I want, but especially in an endgame where, say, Miranda wants to bump a ship so that she could theoretically take unopposed shots against another, negating my body-on-board advantage, I can not block, roll some dice, then give her the decision of arc-dodging or firing. Rookies can't do that. Rookies can joust far better, and over the course of the game their durability is far better, but they can't give me an option against a player who is really good at playing around swarms. 

It's all about gaining the edge against arc dodgers and rolling any dice where otherwise I wouldn't get the chance

As a striker swarm devotee, I can hand on heart say that snap shot is one of the nastier options out there fore engaging strikers and reapers.

  • Unlike boost, ailerons is a maneuver, so triggers snap fire (potentially getting snap-shotted twice by two different attackers, once after ailerons and once after the 'normal' move).
  • Since snap shots can't be modified anyway, and are priced accordingly, jamming the heck out of the A-wing doesn't achieve as much as you'd like
  • 2-dice attacks prevent a striker using lightweight frame to generate an extra green die when defending

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