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gadwag

Faction Identity in X-Wing 2.0 - A guide for new players

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Reposted from reddit

When choosing a faction in X-Wing there are three main factors to consider: whether the ships look cool, whether the ships are any good, and whether the playstyle suits you as a player. Each faction has some very cool ships and some rather ugly ones, but I shall leave it as an exercise for the reader decide which faction is most aesthetically pleasing. In terms of power level, stay on the leader has an excellent trio of articles reviewing each of the main factions in 2.0 and discussing the effectiveness of their various ships.

This guide, however, aims to provide a brief introduction to the playstyle of each faction as we know them so far. Bear in mind that each faction can pull off out-of-faction tricks to a limited extent - for example, Sabine crew is a very "scum" card in the rebel faction. You also aren't locked into a single playstyle for each faction, as each faction has a variety of ship types to choose from. This guide highlights the strengths and key features of each faction.

Rebels: Damage and stress mitigation, inter-ship buffs, sturdy ships and big turrets.
Rebels are the "good guys" and thus have plenty of abilities which support one another. Most distinct are their abilities to mitigate damage and stress. Damage mitigation comes in many forms - Biggs, Kanan, Rex, Evaan, Lowhhrick, the signature Rebel talent "Selfless" and the named astromechs R2-D2 and R5-D8. These let rebels reduce, move or remove damage and avoid important ships dying early. Note Saw Gerrera as an interesting deviation from this trait.

Similarly, Rebels can mitigate stress with abilities such as Princess Leia, AP-5, Jek Porkins and Cassian Andor Pilot. At first glance this may seem lacklustre, but when one considers the stress-punishment abilities in other factions and the prevalence of linked actions it becomes quite convenient to avoid or mitigate stress. Keep the timing of stress abilities in mind, though - Cassian won't help you during the combat phase against Sloane!

The third "good guy" trait of the rebel faction is an abundance of token sharing and abilities which require ships to work together. Examples include Esege, Airen Cracken, Kyle Katarn, Roark, Garven, Dutch, and of course Mario and Luigi Edrio and Benthic, the Two Tube Brothers. These abilities set up powerful squad synergies, but they can fall apart if key support ships are removed.

On a more general note, Rebels tend to have sturdy, well-shielded ships which are not overly complex to fly. Typical rebel ships will have 1-2 agility and enough health to take a few hits before going down. This makes rebels less prone to variance (as they don't rely heavily on green dice to survive) and more friendly to new players.

Rebels are also the "fat turrets" faction, flying modified freighters sporting heavy armor, shields and big guns. In addition to an abundance of turreted ships, rebels have a plethora of gunners designed to make the most of these ships - Bistan, Han, Luke, and Ezra all require a turret to operate.

Imperials: Giving/receiving orders, swarms, stress punishment, evasive high-tech ships.
While rebel buff abilities are generally between peers, the imperial command structure dictates that action economy and buffs should be passed from commander to subordinate. Typically, this involves coordinate-based abilities or powerful commanders boosting the abilities of many ships. Examples include Lt. Sai, Grand Inquisitor Crew, Ciena Ree, Emperor Palpatine, Admiral Sloane, Moff jerjerrod, Grand Moff "you may fire when ready" Tarkin and Director Krennic. These abilities rely on a support ship to improve the effectiveness of one or more aces.

Not all commanders ride in crew slots, however. Howlrunner, Jonus, and Iden Verso (with honourable mention to Del Meeko) bring an entirely different archetype to the table - the Swarm. Howlrunner, Iden and 4-5 other TIE/ln fighters are a ruthlessly efficient and dangerous list, while Jonus and his TIE Bomber swarm bring powerful munitions to the fight.

As a counterpoint to the rebel stress mitigation, imperials offer some stress punishment abilities. Sloane, Death Troopers, 7th Sister and (if you have Vader) BT-1/0-0-0 threaten enemy ships that become stressed, making linked actions and red moves a dangerous prospect. Interestingly, imperials also offer jam punishment in the form of ISB slicers (but no, this doesn't make jamming beams good, stick to using the jam action).

Finally, while rebel ships are typically sturdy and well shielded, imperial ships are fragile, fast, and often completely unshielded. What they lose in durability they make up for in maneuverability - Imperial ships typically have 2-3 green dice and excellent repositioning. For example, compare the X-Wing with its far more maneuverable enemies the TIE Striker and TIE Phantom, or the Y-Wing with the TIE Bomber.

Imperial ships also have far more access to the system slot than other factions. Fire control system and trajectory simulator are likely to be more common in imperial lists than in others, but the most fearsome upgrade is probably advanced sensors. When combined with imperial repositioning abilities, advanced sensors makes imperial ships even harder to pin down than before.

Scum: Shenanigans, control effects/token denial, stress punishment, warped versions of ships from other factions, hate hard 3 turns
The key feature of the scum faction is "shenanigans". While the other factions have abilities that are generally pretty straightforward, scum have whacky, weird, sometimes janky abilities that make the faction feel quite different. The illicit slot is the perfect example of this - it offers powerful one-time tricks like placing debris, ignoring stress, stopping, or cloaking. Other examples include Beckett, Boba crew, Tel Trevura and Moralo Eval. In addition to "shenanigans", scum are also a selflish and reckless bunch, with abilities that hurt themselves or friendly ships to gain a benefit. Examples include dead man's switch, Kaa'to Leeachos, Xixor, R5-TK, and Genius.

While Rebels and Imperials generally buff friendly ships, Scum tend to prefer control, debuffs, and token denial. The Scum HWK-290 is almost a mirror opposite of its rebel counterpart, with Torkil debuffing enemy Initiative and Palob stealing enemy tokens instead of handing them out. Dace Bonarm doesn't mirror Jan Ors, but brings a powerful ion ability instead. Other debuff/denial abilities include Old Teroch, Torani Kulda, 4-Lom crew, zuckuss crew, Dengar gunner and Captain Seevor.

In addition to straightforward debuffs, scum hand out plenty of red tokens for control. Latts (pilot) Ketsu (pilot), Shadow Caster, Unkar Pilot and the quadjumper can dole out tractor tokens, while Ketsu crew prevents them from being removed. Scum also brings stress control surpassing that of the empire. With Koshka Frost, 0-0-0, BT-1, Viktor Hel, Asajj, Latts Razzi and 4-Lom, as well as rigged cargo chutes, scum can both hand out stress and punish it.

Unlike the other factions, scum don't have a defining archetype for their ships. Instead, they tend to be warped versions of ships from other factions. Generally the scum version of a ship will be slightly weaker but brings some new tricks (and probably an illicit slot) to the table to make up for it. For example, the Starviper is a high-tech ship akin to the TIE defender, but swaps white 4k turns for bendy barrel rolls. Kihraxz Fighers are dodgy X-Wings - a bit cheaper and weaker, but with more mod slots.

Scum ships also tend to lack the hard 3 turn. I don't know why, but approximately half the ships scum can field are missing the hard 3. Some, such as the Kihraxz or Scyk, have a hard 1 instead.

Resistance: fast and durable, powerful and expensive
The resistance feels a little like rebels, but their ships are generally faster, better, tougher - and more expensive. Like the rebels, this faction features pilots that work well together such as Tallissan, Jess, Bastian, Chewbacca and vennie. Stress removal/management appears again as a theme with Jaycris, Nien, Ello and the resistance transport, as well as access to the tech slot. Rey gunner and the falcon also continue the "big turrets" theme.

Mobility and speed are a defining feature of this faction, with cards such as black one, kaydel, ga-97, and the speedy rz-2 a-wings.

First Order: even faster, powerful, expensive
Just as resistance mirrored rebels, the first order presents a faster, more shielded, more expensive version of the empire. The focus of the first order shifts away from swarms and more towards powerful individual ships such as Kylo, midnight and quickdraw. Like their imperial counterparts, the first order ships are fast and agile, but first order ships have even better dials. Powerful fleet commanders such as Hux, Stridan, Cardinal and Snoke support the first order, while characters such as Phasma and Thanisson debuff and control enemy ships.

The first order has even wider access to the tech slot than the resistance, granting them access to a range of abilities, notably infinite-range support with biohexacrypt codes.

Republic: maneuverable aces, force, sturdy troops, teamwork
The republic brings the Jedi and clones to the table, with two strikingly different flight styles.

Jedi ships are incredibly fast and maneuverable, able to double-reposition without stress, but are more expensive or more fragile than aces in other factions. Jedi rely heavily on force to operate and thus work well for hit and run tactics so they can recharge force between passes. A single Jedi is almost unbeatable 1-on-1, but as their force wears down from multiple attackers they become much much weaker.

Jedi aces such as Anakin and Mace Windu are independent operators and excellent flankers. Most Jedi are more support-oriented, however, with abilities that help both themselves and their allies (at the cost of spending force).

The clones are much less maneuverable and feel a lot like rebel ships: slow, sturdy, and good at teamwork.

The republic is notable for the interaction it introduces between limited and non-limited ships, with upgrades such as dedicated and battle meditation, as well as the Naboo handmaidens.

Separatists: Piles of cannon fodder, tactical relays, calculate, aggressive sith, odd movement
7th faction, thousands of battle droids. Cheap, weak and disposable, droids can be flown in large numbers to compensate for their individual weakness. While droids can only calculate instead of taking the more powerful focus action, they can work together to share calculate tokens with the ships that need them.

Droid swarms usually benefit from a cornerstone ship carrying a tactical relay upgrade. This offsets the droids' own abilities, which are generally quite weak. In addition, many separatist pilots can take advantage of calculate tokens (either their own or those of friendly ships).

Not all droids are ships: the separatist faction also introduces "remotes": upgrades that can move about the battlefield for support (probe droids) or offense (buzz droids).

In addition to droids, the separatists have access to powerful sith. While the Jedi are fast, nimble, and evasive, the Sith are powerful, brutal, and durable. They rely on heavy offense and force tricks to crush their opponents, often fuelling their force through pain with the hate upgrade.

Finally, the separatists have quite odd movement. The droids can turn more easily than they can bank or land on asteroids with grappling struts, and the nantex fighter is truly bizarre.

Edited by gadwag
renamed tallie to tallissan

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Pretty good synopses, thank you for writing this up! :D

If you'll allow me to make a couple small suggestions: 

  • For the Rebel faction, one of their defining characteristics is Regen. Yes, every faction now has access to regen via Gonk and a few Scum ships can take astromechs, but it's still primarily a rebel trait and is a big part of their damage-mitigation schtick. 
  • For the Scum faction, I feel like we could get a little more specific than "they have a bunch of random shenanigans."
    • For example, isn't one of scum's defining features supposed to be an "Every man for himself" philosophy? There are a few ships and cards that deviate from this (like Serissu and Bro-bots), but for the most part they don't really have a lot of abilities that buff/help friendly ships, especially when compared with Rebels and Imperials. In fact, many of their abilities hinder friendly ships in order to get personal gain. See for example: Kaa'to Leeachos, Prince Xizor, and Kath Scarlet. 
    • Also, another one of their defining characteristics is supposed to be "Dirty tricks."  This is best illustrated with the illicit slot, which for the most part allows for one-off special abilities that allow ships to do something they couldn't normally do. See:  Inertial Dampeners, Contraband Cybernetics, Rigged Cargo Chute, and Cloaking Device, and a few non-illicit upgrades like Boba Fett (crew), Tobias Beckett (crew), Tel Trevura, and Moralo Eval. 
    • Lastly, and this one kind of ties into both of the above points, but Scum seems to have a lot of Kamikaze-type abilities- things that tend to hurt or hinder yourself in order to hurt your opponent more: Fearless, Deadman's Switch, Feedback Array, R5-P8 (the Painbot), Genius, etc. 

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24 minutes ago, Herowannabe said:
  • For the Rebel faction, one of their defining characteristics is Regen. Yes, every faction now has access to regen via Gonk and a few Scum ships can take astromechs, but it's still primarily a rebel trait and is a big part of their damage-mitigation schtick. 
  • For the Scum faction, I feel like we could get a little more specific than "they have a bunch of random shenanigans."
    • For example, isn't one of scum's defining features supposed to be an "Every man for himself" philosophy? There are a few ships and cards that deviate from this (like Serissu and Bro-bots), but for the most part they don't really have a lot of abilities that buff/help friendly ships, especially when compared with Rebels and Imperials. In fact, many of their abilities hinder friendly ships in order to get personal gain. See for example: Kaa'to Leeachos, Prince Xizor, and Kath Scarlet. 
    • Also, another one of their defining characteristics is supposed to be "Dirty tricks."  This is best illustrated with the illicit slot, which for the most part allows for one-off special abilities that allow ships to do something they couldn't normally do. See:  Inertial Dampeners, Contraband Cybernetics, Rigged Cargo Chute, and Cloaking Device, and a few non-illicit upgrades like Boba Fett (crew), Tobias Beckett (crew), Tel Trevura, and Moralo Eval. 
    • Lastly, and this one kind of ties into both of the above points, but Scum seems to have a lot of Kamikaze-type abilities- things that tend to hurt or hinder yourself in order to hurt your opponent more: Fearless, Deadman's Switch, Feedback Array, R5-P8 (the Painbot), Genius, etc. 

I gave regen a brief nod in the damage mitigation section with the named astromechs. Off the top of my head, R2 crew and miranda are the only otehr rebel-only regen abilities so I didn't feel that it warranted a bigger shoutout.

Your points about scum are spot on. Scum are my favourite faction because they have so many unique tricks, but for the sake of brevity I've held back and tried to explain them as concisely as possible. I've rewritten their description to illustrate them a little more clearly.

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Good read.

I'm not sure in whether to puck uo Republic or Seperatists as my third faction. I already have scum and Rebels, so maybe Seps for the funny movement and swarmyness?

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36 minutes ago, Scum4Life said:

Good read.

I'm not sure in whether to puck uo Republic or Seperatists as my third faction. I already have scum and Rebels, so maybe Seps for the funny movement and swarmyness?

Rebels and Republic share some similarities, while Separatists are unlike any other faction and there will be even more crazy shenanigans when Nantex releases.

On the other hand outside of double Infiltrator Separatists are at the moment pretty much dead faction competitively. 

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If you're going to write something for "New Players", then please have the consideration not to use jargon and abbreviated names that will be completely unfamiliar to new players.  "Tallie" and "Vennie" on the Resistance entry for one of many examples.  Other than being unfriendly to the people it was meant for, a very nice entry!

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32 minutes ago, Pink_Viking said:

Rebels and Republic share some similarities, while Separatists are unlike any other faction and there will be even more crazy shenanigans when Nantex releases.

On the other hand outside of double Infiltrator Separatists are at the moment pretty much dead faction competitively. 

I was looking to expand my game by experiences, that's why Seperatists are my favoured choice. But neither Scum or Seps are doing well competitively. Imps and Rebels seem to be cleaning up. But my hope is as the four new factions get more ships and points updates things should balance out.

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41 minutes ago, Scum4Life said:

I was looking to expand my game by experiences, that's why Seperatists are my favoured choice. But neither Scum or Seps are doing well competitively. Imps and Rebels seem to be cleaning up. But my hope is as the four new factions get more ships and points updates things should balance out.

In my opinion bringing Scum up is mainly a matter of nerfing b******t like Beef or Phantoms and then some small point changes. There are some ships that won't be redeemed by that, but our good ships will have a chance to see play.

Separatists will be much harder to buff because of their chassis, 8 ship limit and wasted card/design space on those limited Vultures. They are really fun tho.

Personally I'd wait to see what's FFG's intended direction for the next season and then decide. 

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11 hours ago, stootchmaster said:

If you're going to write something for "New Players", then please have the consideration not to use jargon and abbreviated names that will be completely unfamiliar to new players.  "Tallie" and "Vennie" on the Resistance entry for one of many examples.  Other than being unfriendly to the people it was meant for, a very nice entry!

I've corrected Tallie, but "Vennie" is the correct name on the card, not an abbreviation. If new players have any questions about jargon, feel free to ask for clarification.

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