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Vilo512

Deep thinking: or how to plan several rounds ahead.

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I've been playing for at least 2 years. X-Wing 1.0 was more forgiving of stuff like not thinking enough to escape your enemy's arc. But now, especially with fragile ships (Looking at you, Fang Fighter), you can't miss a single maneuver. If you do, the critical hits are going in, and they will do HARD.

 

So, a friend of mine told me to think several turns ahead. And from my time playing chess, that's a skill I was never able to develop. May it be that I'm not intelligent enough or whatever the reason, but in x-Wing I can't either. So, what is your train of thought while planning your dials? Do you "see" several moves ahead and accurately predict 1-2 turns ahead of you?

Share your stories and game tips and tricks :)

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Practice openers before the first round of combat, but don't over script. Reacting to where things are placed and point after 1st movement is more important. 

After first round of pew pew keep it simple and just think about this turn and maybe next turns pre-movement/movement options. Just try to maximize options. Don't have to plan anything specific across multiple turns.  

Basically no one is planning 2+ turns ahead. Its not possible, and even if it was its not worth it. 

Edited by Boom Owl

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Planning multiple turns ahead isn't really possible outside of openings.  What you can do is pick maneuvers or final positions that give you as many options as possible.  If you're sure they will turn in, maybe bank instead of turn just in case they try and surprise you. 

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The greatest thing you can do is genuinely understand what your enemy is bringing to the table and how much of a threat each ship is.

This is why my Han, Teroch and Fenn list worked so well against my little brother's Soontir, Turr and Decimator list. I knew he'd be coming straight at me, but I also knew that no matter what his TIE Interceptors did, my Fangs would always, always have far, far greater odds in their favor in a joust. So I went straight for it.

After round 5 or so, the game was spent mopping up his Decimator. But this happened because I knew what to attack because I knew what was coming.

Pay attention to the initial setup. This is the main reason you want higher Initiative pilots- not because you shoot first, even, but because you get to put your fighters in the best position from turn one, based off where your foe is. That's the biggest reason initiative is important- and while firing first is great, it isn't always the most important thing. Especially with decidedly reactive abilities.

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1 hour ago, Boom Owl said:

Practice openers before the first round of combat, but don't over script. Reacting to where things are placed and point after 1st movement is more important. 

After first round of pew pew keep it simple and just think about this turn and maybe next turns pre-movement/movement options. Just try to maximize options. Don't have to plan anything specific across multiple turns.  

Basically no one is planning 2+ turns ahead. Its not possible, and even if it was its not worth it. 

 

This is both kind of right, but also kind of wrong. I would agree that planning specific maneuvers multiple turns ahead is usually both wrong and inflexible, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't, can't or that it's not beneficial to have an idea of where you need to be and where you're trying to get them to be.

 

When you plot a maneuver it's very important to ask, "what does this set you up for next turn and will this be useful based on likely plays of your opponent?". If the answer is "no", then reevaluate options and see if there's something better. There may not be, but it's important to understand if your sacrificing a turn for a shot or for position that this trade might not be worth it. It's also very important with smaller squads or squads that heavily rely on a big closer to ask yourself, "where can I go next turn if this gets bad?"

 

As an example, had a game against Dash and Wedge last night with my XXYY list. I had Luke boost in very quickly to drop in to apply pressure while the Y's and Wedge slow rolled from the front. I spotted a clear opportunity for a Y to get a torp off on Wedge in a position where he didn't leave himself a lane to run and due to a good roll one shotted him (2 hits and 2 crits, fuel leak Followed by direct hit). This left me in an awkward position with Dash because I didn't want to chase him through rocks, so I set up a Y with a lock on Dash to scare him away from a left turn and kept Luke on his heels while the other Y and Wedge disengaged and set up a intercept anticipating Dash getting corralled into an area of the field free of rocks and went off exactly as planned. Luke chipped some damage off, then Dash was confronted with Range 1's from both X-Wings and a Torp from a Y which was GG. I definitely wasn't planning every maneuver, butbI knew where I could force him and how many turns it take to put him in the position I needed.

 

TL:DR you probably shouldn't think too much about specifics, but try to get a feel for generally where things will be in 1-3 turns and try to understand what they want to do otherwise countering it in a meaningful way is that much harder.

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1 hour ago, Chumbalaya said:

Planning multiple turns ahead isn't really possible outside of openings.  What you can do is pick maneuvers or final positions that give you as many options as possible.  If you're sure they will turn in, maybe bank instead of turn just in case they try and surprise you. 

To add to this, one thing I think a lot of players do subconsciously is they try to point the middle of their arc at where ships will be, rather than use the full width of their arc. If you free up your thinking of trying to center your arc on the target, you can end up picking moves that help more in the turns to come.

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I like the above post by @MasterShake2. In the recent turn 0 article (and the associated forum discussion) there was talk about determining where the first engagement should happen. A lot of this has to do with rock placement, and giving yourself good options after that first engagement, while giving the opponent rotten options to bug out or flip around. So you plan your maneuvers roughly, adjusting for the speed of your opponent, and then meet where you have foreseen it.

Interestingly, the above post shows that this kind of "foreseeing" isn't restricted to turn 0, but can be applied mid-game as well. Often this has to do with applying pressure to some ship that wants to avoid multiple shots, forcing it into a corner where its maneuvers are more predictable.

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30 minutes ago, Parakitor said:

I like the above post by @MasterShake2. In the recent turn 0 article (and the associated forum discussion) there was talk about determining where the first engagement should happen. A lot of this has to do with rock placement, and giving yourself good options after that first engagement, while giving the opponent rotten options to bug out or flip around. So you plan your maneuvers roughly, adjusting for the speed of your opponent, and then meet where you have foreseen it.

 Interestingly, the above post shows that this kind of "foreseeing" isn't restricted to turn 0, but can be applied mid-game as well. Often this has to do with applying pressure to some ship that wants to avoid multiple shots, forcing it into a corner where its maneuvers are more predictable.

Having a general long term plan about your win condition etc. makes perfect sense and evolves during the mid game all the time. 
For me though that is very different than planning specific actions or maneuvers 2 turns ahead (outside of an opener your opponent opts into). 

Edited by Boom Owl

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6 hours ago, Vilo512 said:

I've been playing for at least 2 years. X-Wing 1.0 was more forgiving of stuff like not thinking enough to escape your enemy's arc. But now, especially with fragile ships (Looking at you, Fang Fighter), you can't miss a single maneuver. If you do, the critical hits are going in, and they will do HARD.

 

So, a friend of mine told me to think several turns ahead. And from my time playing chess, that's a skill I was never able to develop. May it be that I'm not intelligent enough or whatever the reason, but in x-Wing I can't either. So, what is your train of thought while planning your dials? Do you "see" several moves ahead and accurately predict 1-2 turns ahead of you?

Share your stories and game tips and tricks :)

As others have pointed out, planning exact moves far ahead is not really practical, or possible.

But what you can quite easily do is to plan your overall strategy and movement directions, and also guess the opponent's.

Full combat usually starts on turn 2 or 3, so you should have a good idea where you want your ships to be at that time, and also estimate what your opponent will be doing.

Which of his ships wants to joust, which will try to flank you, and is there any ship doing baiting, and so on. 

When doing this you need to consider the composition of both squadrons. You will want to use very different strategies against a TIE swarm, and against triple Aces, and also opponent's will fly those squads completely differently..

Also, always try to be at least a bit unpredictable, and surprise the opponent. Good players will expect your "best" moves and prepare blocks and/or killboxes. You want to avoid those, while trying to catch the opponent off guard. Sometimes breaking some of the basic rules of thumb is actually the best moves - e.g. switching your target suddenly might help you to catch his flanker in a killbox..

Edited by baranidlo

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4 hours ago, Boom Owl said:

Having a general long term plan about your win condition etc. makes perfect sense and evolves during the mid game all the time. 
For me though that is very different than planning specific actions or maneuvers 2 turns ahead (outside of an opener your opponent opts into). 

I agree that planning the exact next two maneuvers each of your ships will make (including repositioning actions) is not practical. It is also absurd for arc dodgers, since they want the flexibility to react to the opposing forces moves. 

But there is a thing in between knowing the win condition and exact planning, which is knowing where you and your opponent want to be in the next few turns. This is foggy and often not crystalclear, yet feasible and should help when thinking about which options your maneuvers leave open for subsequent turns. It should also help to decide when to break and engagement and reengage. 

My suggestion is to imagine the lanes that each ship will most likely take for the next few turns and get a sharper picture for the turn at hand. This will of course change every turn, future in motion and such... 

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If you can think one turn ahead, you're on par for the typical competitive player, and above the curve for weaker players. 

If you're actually capable of thinking two turns ahead AND keeping a very clear overall game plan, you're likely better than 90% of the players. 

 

I'd aim for one turn ahead first. 

Second, I always say this: most players go wrong from the first turn of engagement. Very few people can reliably get all their ships to fire on the first turn with focus. And then almost always have a focus and a shot every turn after that. 

If you can do that, you're likely going to be better than easily 75% of the players again. Sadly, a good number of players cannot do this consistently. 

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I mean, a plan doesn't have to be "I'm going to 2 straight, then 1 hard, then 3 bank".

First, figure out who is the jouster. If two lists straight up joust, one of them is wrong (as it's been said by far wiser players than I).

If you are the jouster, then, uh, joust. Try to get as many arcs on target as possible and focus fire down your opponent. 

If you are not the jouster, your goal is to reduce the number of arcs that they can get on your ships through whatever combination of rocks, their available maneuvers, and reposition abilities you have. Plan on how to make that happen. Don't worry about specific maneuvers, that's pointless. 

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To give some brief examples of the planning process I use.  Both of these were with the XXYY list on my side.

 

Against Ten, Braylen and Dash

 

I set up the initial engagement basically how I wanted an on the initial exchange we jut traded on of my Y-Wings for one of his B-Wings, specifically Braylen and both of them had done linked barrel rolls into focus for various pilot abilities, but Ten didn't roll any focus, so he didn't clear his stress.  The Y-Wing that remained was facing off with Ten, but shifted to right a good bit, Dash was far on the right of that Y and both Luke and Wedge had banked on Ten's Left.  The Plan was for the Y-Wing to hard 2 into Ten and Target Lock him, then hard 3 both the aces into Ten.  I knew I wouldn't get shots on Ten This turn because he was likely accelerating out of the Killzone, but the Hard 2 from the Y-Wing set up a K-Turn next turn, fire his second torp into Ten and when Dash turned in, he could easily bank 2 with the R4 to clear stress and reload a torp, then begin pursing Dash.  Luke and Wedge would lose Ten for a turn, but Dash basically had to turn in because he couldn't risk sacrificing damage this far behind which would put him right in front of Luke and wedge.  Since Ten was clearing stress this turn, he wasn't turning around, so I wasn't getting hit by him.  After that, Luke and Wedge hard 2 or 3 into Ten depending on how fast he's going, then they Tallon roll around and pull a straight 2 to drop in behind Dash.  This is basically my entire plan, not just for next few turns, but for the remainder of the game.  There was a minor hiccup in that a good roll by Dash with some crits dropped the second Y a little early, but at point, he had already finished off Ten with a torp shot off the K-turn, so I wasn't going to get too greedy about it and Luke and Wedge easily closed out the game.

 

The next game was against Arvel, Dutch, Rex, Thane and Blount

 

I generally regarded this opponent somewhat highly for skill, so I spent the first 2 turns looking for cues on how fast or slow I should engage and managed to get initial joust almost perfect.  Arvel blasted out towards the Y-Wings, but came up short, both the Y-Wings got target locks on Rex and both Luke and Wedge were set up for good shots on Dutch.  After the initial salvo, on Y-Wing lost a shield and Wedge lost bost shield, but in exchange Dutch was down to 3 hp with a loos stabilizer and Rex was just dead.  So the position I found myself in was both Y-Wings hand banked in from the middle as had Wedge although he was on the opposite side of a rock to the Y-Wings and Luke had slammed on the gas from the table edge.  All of his ships had banked towards the Y-Wing's/Wedge and most of them were at about range 3 of the Y-Wings except for Arvel who had stressed himself and directly in front of them.  This is essentially where I have to put together a good engagement plan for the next at least 2-3 turns that will probably win or lose the game. 

 

My reflex says he's looking at the table thinking he needs to kill something to even out the board state and the most likely target is Wedge.  This is because Wedge is the easiest for him to block and has the fewest HP and is also in probably the least favorable position, so I have to make some choices right now.  The Y-Wings are relatively simple, they're just going straight 3, pick up locks on Thane (he's the best target for various reasons) to use later because I don't anticipate super relevant combat happening on their end right now, then K-Turn next turn and probably a bank 2, maybe a straight 2 the turn after.   This is the highest priority for me because it sets me up to bully him around with the Y-Wings for multiple turns and possibly force him to disengage and set up another joust, but this time I'm coming to it with a focus and a target lock on the torps.  Next up is Luke, who's super easy, just a 1 bank, probably followed by a hard turn or K-Turn depending on what he does, the a 1-2 straight or bank to drop in behind him or just joust him on the K-Turn.  I'm super concerned about a block on the 1 bank because he has force to mod dice and it would practically be suicide when this far behind to try and focus a ship with passive mods at full health.  Wedge is the oddball.  The only maneuver that really gets him out of danger and can't be blocked is 4 straight, possibly tied to a boost because he's not shooting anyways.  Here I have to ask myself "Am I willing to trade Wedge for just throwing out more damage?"  I mull it around, but there isn't a compelling reason to, I can't see many maneuvers he could execute that wouldn't eat a block, so it would be an unmodded shot.  If I was too far behind, I might gamble, but I'm pretty far ahead.  Next question is "does this interfere with the Y-Wings?"  It's hard to fully plot, but I'm about 90-95% certainty that he leaves the Y-Wings with plenty of room and can hard 3 over their K-Turns, then turn in to pursue as needed.  As an added benefit, if Arvel tries to block Wedge, I'm pretty sure it pushes him to the other side of the Y-Wings, so he'll still get a shot at Arvel as will potentially both Y-Wings if they lack a target for the torps.  I don't get to execute as much on this as I would like.  Arvel spends the turn resetting and Y-Wings hit the gas and lock Thane, Luke turns into a block by Dutch that's meant for Wedge and both Thane and Blount line up for Wedge.  At this point I kind of have to apologize to my opponent with a "Sorry, I was pretty sure you were going to do that, Wedge closes his Sfoils" and then reveal the 4 straight and boost in.  The next exchange goes abysmally for him, the only damage is Y-Wing shields and in exchange Blount gets killed by Luke and both Y-Wings.  At this point he concedes and I fully understand because he had lost both trades badly and lost position really badly as well with no reason to believe either would change any time soon.

 

 

An observation that I will make about X-Wing, that I've also made about other games is that frequently the options will seem infinite or close to it when in reality there are pretty limited options.  First eliminate what's outright impossible, then eliminate what just straight up makes no sense, then add the remaining options together and you'll soon find even more don't make sense because of the positioning of other friendly ships and this gives you a reasonable flight path.  Granted, it's accuracy decays the more turns out you get, but it's still enough to make an informed decision that sets you up for success in 2-3 turns. 

 

If I'm being perfectly blunt and honest, this is exactly why I started playing the XXYY list in the first place.  The relatively basic nature of the squadron forces you to find solutions in maneuvers instead of combos and synergies and I had noticed that my flying had frankly been quite crap lately, so I really wanted to just reset and get back to basics and it's helped a lot.

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32 minutes ago, Micanthropyre said:

I mean, a plan doesn't have to be "I'm going to 2 straight, then 1 hard, then 3 bank".

First, figure out who is the jouster. If two lists straight up joust, one of them is wrong (as it's been said by far wiser players than I).

If you are the jouster, then, uh, joust. Try to get as many arcs on target as possible and focus fire down your opponent. 

If you are not the jouster, your goal is to reduce the number of arcs that they can get on your ships through whatever combination of rocks, their available maneuvers, and reposition abilities you have. Plan on how to make that happen. Don't worry about specific maneuvers, that's pointless. 

And if you're not Fenn Rau but you're playing against him, you're the wrong one, for example.

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7 hours ago, MasterShake2 said:

To give some brief examples of the planning process I use.  Both of these were with the XXYY list on my side.

 

Against Ten, Braylen and Dash

 

I set up the initial engagement basically how I wanted an on the initial exchange we jut traded on of my Y-Wings for one of his B-Wings, specifically Braylen and both of them had done linked barrel rolls into focus for various pilot abilities, but Ten didn't roll any focus, so he didn't clear his stress.  The Y-Wing that remained was facing off with Ten, but shifted to right a good bit, Dash was far on the right of that Y and both Luke and Wedge had banked on Ten's Left.  The Plan was for the Y-Wing to hard 2 into Ten and Target Lock him, then hard 3 both the aces into Ten.  I knew I wouldn't get shots on Ten This turn because he was likely accelerating out of the Killzone, but the Hard 2 from the Y-Wing set up a K-Turn next turn, fire his second torp into Ten and when Dash turned in, he could easily bank 2 with the R4 to clear stress and reload a torp, then begin pursing Dash.  Luke and Wedge would lose Ten for a turn, but Dash basically had to turn in because he couldn't risk sacrificing damage this far behind which would put him right in front of Luke and wedge.  Since Ten was clearing stress this turn, he wasn't turning around, so I wasn't getting hit by him.  After that, Luke and Wedge hard 2 or 3 into Ten depending on how fast he's going, then they Tallon roll around and pull a straight 2 to drop in behind Dash.  This is basically my entire plan, not just for next few turns, but for the remainder of the game.  There was a minor hiccup in that a good roll by Dash with some crits dropped the second Y a little early, but at point, he had already finished off Ten with a torp shot off the K-turn, so I wasn't going to get too greedy about it and Luke and Wedge easily closed out the game.

 

The next game was against Arvel, Dutch, Rex, Thane and Blount

 

I generally regarded this opponent somewhat highly for skill, so I spent the first 2 turns looking for cues on how fast or slow I should engage and managed to get initial joust almost perfect.  Arvel blasted out towards the Y-Wings, but came up short, both the Y-Wings got target locks on Rex and both Luke and Wedge were set up for good shots on Dutch.  After the initial salvo, on Y-Wing lost a shield and Wedge lost bost shield, but in exchange Dutch was down to 3 hp with a loos stabilizer and Rex was just dead.  So the position I found myself in was both Y-Wings hand banked in from the middle as had Wedge although he was on the opposite side of a rock to the Y-Wings and Luke had slammed on the gas from the table edge.  All of his ships had banked towards the Y-Wing's/Wedge and most of them were at about range 3 of the Y-Wings except for Arvel who had stressed himself and directly in front of them.  This is essentially where I have to put together a good engagement plan for the next at least 2-3 turns that will probably win or lose the game. 

 

My reflex says he's looking at the table thinking he needs to kill something to even out the board state and the most likely target is Wedge.  This is because Wedge is the easiest for him to block and has the fewest HP and is also in probably the least favorable position, so I have to make some choices right now.  The Y-Wings are relatively simple, they're just going straight 3, pick up locks on Thane (he's the best target for various reasons) to use later because I don't anticipate super relevant combat happening on their end right now, then K-Turn next turn and probably a bank 2, maybe a straight 2 the turn after.   This is the highest priority for me because it sets me up to bully him around with the Y-Wings for multiple turns and possibly force him to disengage and set up another joust, but this time I'm coming to it with a focus and a target lock on the torps.  Next up is Luke, who's super easy, just a 1 bank, probably followed by a hard turn or K-Turn depending on what he does, the a 1-2 straight or bank to drop in behind him or just joust him on the K-Turn.  I'm super concerned about a block on the 1 bank because he has force to mod dice and it would practically be suicide when this far behind to try and focus a ship with passive mods at full health.  Wedge is the oddball.  The only maneuver that really gets him out of danger and can't be blocked is 4 straight, possibly tied to a boost because he's not shooting anyways.  Here I have to ask myself "Am I willing to trade Wedge for just throwing out more damage?"  I mull it around, but there isn't a compelling reason to, I can't see many maneuvers he could execute that wouldn't eat a block, so it would be an unmodded shot.  If I was too far behind, I might gamble, but I'm pretty far ahead.  Next question is "does this interfere with the Y-Wings?"  It's hard to fully plot, but I'm about 90-95% certainty that he leaves the Y-Wings with plenty of room and can hard 3 over their K-Turns, then turn in to pursue as needed.  As an added benefit, if Arvel tries to block Wedge, I'm pretty sure it pushes him to the other side of the Y-Wings, so he'll still get a shot at Arvel as will potentially both Y-Wings if they lack a target for the torps.  I don't get to execute as much on this as I would like.  Arvel spends the turn resetting and Y-Wings hit the gas and lock Thane, Luke turns into a block by Dutch that's meant for Wedge and both Thane and Blount line up for Wedge.  At this point I kind of have to apologize to my opponent with a "Sorry, I was pretty sure you were going to do that, Wedge closes his Sfoils" and then reveal the 4 straight and boost in.  The next exchange goes abysmally for him, the only damage is Y-Wing shields and in exchange Blount gets killed by Luke and both Y-Wings.  At this point he concedes and I fully understand because he had lost both trades badly and lost position really badly as well with no reason to believe either would change any time soon.

 

 

An observation that I will make about X-Wing, that I've also made about other games is that frequently the options will seem infinite or close to it when in reality there are pretty limited options.  First eliminate what's outright impossible, then eliminate what just straight up makes no sense, then add the remaining options together and you'll soon find even more don't make sense because of the positioning of other friendly ships and this gives you a reasonable flight path.  Granted, it's accuracy decays the more turns out you get, but it's still enough to make an informed decision that sets you up for success in 2-3 turns. 

 

If I'm being perfectly blunt and honest, this is exactly why I started playing the XXYY list in the first place.  The relatively basic nature of the squadron forces you to find solutions in maneuvers instead of combos and synergies and I had noticed that my flying had frankly been quite crap lately, so I really wanted to just reset and get back to basics and it's helped a lot.

This is outright the most incredible post I've ever seen about the thinking process of a game. I have the understanding that most of the time the options aren't as infinite as they seem, but even though if you see 3-4 plausible options, good players usually manage to get you (you have to bet for one of those options and stick with it?) with one option you didn't see. And mostly there is where players like me lose, because after that, the exchanges are poor (you TL'd instead of focused, and get a fat shot right up your face or right behind you) and your position is unsalvageable. 

Thanks a lot for your insight, @MasterShake2, I'll surely try to improve my flying skills following your advice :)

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