In my previous post, I mentioned that I recently helped two new players through a learning game of X-Wing Miniatures. One was creating his own Imperial squadron, the other was borrowing some of my ships, and had played several demo games, but didn’t know how to build a list. The only input he gave was that he wanted to play as the Rebels, and he loved A-wings.
I only have 1 A-Wing, I was waiting for Rebel Aces to be released to get more, but I made sure to include the one I had. With this being a friendly demo game and with his opponent being new, I didn’t necessarily want a tournament calibre squad. I didn’t want a lot of tricky movement to be involved, I wanted to use things I normally don’t, and I didn’t want any duplicate ships. First think to come to mind there is the HWK-290. It’s not a horrible ship, it just normally doesn’t fit my lists, and the only thing I had seen done with it up to this point is the Focus Factory concept, which is underwhelming to me. But it be improved upon with more recent releases?
Focus Factory Training
Green Squadron Pilot
I explained to the player about the HWK generating two focus per turn, and being able to hand one off, or keep them from turn to turn, and about Garvin handing one off too. I also hinted at the Holy Grail that is target lock + focus. I know everyone hates the blaster turret, but I wanted to keep ion tokens out of this teaching game.
Seeing that the other player brought two TIE Interceptors and 3 TIE Fighters, I was hoping to see a focus passed to the A-wing to be used for his assault missile. But these are new players, so nothing went as expected. Instead, the A-wing went solo against the TIE Fighters and whiffed on the missile but also dodged all return fire. Meanwhile, the other Rebels and the Interceptors held back and didn’t engage right away. Focus started stacking up on the Moldy Crow, which became huge later on.
The Imperial asked for advice, and I gave it freely and without guilt; despite being on the Rebel side of the table I didn’t see the maneuvers picked this turn. He agreed with my evaluation of what the A-wing would do, and he caught it perfectly in a crossfire of his entire fleet; dead ship, advantage Empire, but his TIEs were all pointed in the wrong direction and would have to scramble to get shots on the remaining Rebels in subsequent turns.
And then the most amazing thing happened: Garvin became a tank. Between his own focus and being handed one by Katarn, he was barely taking damage from the scattered TIEs who were no longer in coordinated formation. Then any spare focus token was spent via R5-P9 to regenerate his shields. And completely unplanned when I built the list, Garvin could hand those tokens went right back to the Moldy Crow to be saved for next turn!
Eventually, inexperience showed itself and the Rebel player made some bad moves in the name of being “unpredictable”, and thus gave the Imps the match, but I was seriously impressed with Garvin and Kyle’s potential. The only thing I really wanted to change was replacing the Green Squadron Pilot with something that had more synergy.
Without changing anything on the other two ships, there’s 28 points to work with here. Dutch Vander is a possible fit, adding target locks for his wingmen along with bringing in a second turret, but I play with Y-Wings a lot and I’m looking for something new. Tarn Mison with an R7 and a stealth device is also tempting, he can be a tank too and would also be able to hit all the harder with free focus. But we had talked a lot about the upgrades coming with Rebel Aces after the game, and something told me I should take a look at the new A-Wing pilots rather than changing the 3rd ship entirely. And sure enough, there’s a wonderful fit here in Jake Farrell, who gets a free barrel roll (not normally available to A-Wings) or boost when he gets a focus token, regardless of how he got it, and that just clicks perfectly into place. He can potentially target lock, get handed a focus by Kyle to boost or barrel roll to line up a shot with the target lock and focus, and then get handed another focus by Garvin to use on defense plus use the evasive maneuver not already taken to dance out of firing arcs.
Focus Factory Refit
Ion Cannon Turret
Advanced Proton Torpedo
A-Wing Test Pilot
There’s plenty of room to swap out upgrades, as outside of Recon Specialist and the Moldy Crow title, these pilots do all the work themselves. Maybe move the Stealth Device to Kyle, or drop the Advanced Proton Torpedo for Stealth Device on all three ships instead. A lot of this is pure theory, as I haven’t run this list myself, and certainly it’s not going to be the most competitive out there. But just thinking about how it would play is fun.
Of important note here, the combination of Jake with Garvin and/or Kyle is one of only 3 ways in the game right now to move a ship during the combat phase, the other two being Turr Phennir and Airen Cracken. As the TIE Phantom has shifted the meta towards high pilot skills, being able to squeeze in a small maneuver after all other moves are completed for the turn is a big deal.
In summary, the Focus Factory concept has gotten a nice addition to the assembly line in R5-P9, and Jake Farrell is a great addition too. If you’ve got a better way in mind to use them, by all means I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section. Also, be sure to help me out a bit and click here to order the X-Wing: Rebel Aces expansion.
— The Tabletop General