X-Wing Wave 5 First Impressions

Those who attended GenCon had an opportunity for a head start, but yesterday marked the retail release of the Wave 5 expansions for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the two new ships. Yesterday was also our weekly X-Wing night at my home store, so I was lucky enough to immediately be able to put them both to work.

Let’s start with the VT-49 Decimator. It’s a large ship… both in game terms and as a physical model. As in “everybody else that bought one was trying to figure out how to make it fit in their carrying cases” large. Fortunately, I had no such problems – I had already purchased one of these cases to put my large ships in (like the Millennium FalconLambda Shuttle, Slave 1, and the odd one out, my Borg Tactical Cube).  It’s a very cool looking model, as you can see in the photos from my test match further down this page.

Storage and looks aside, I needed to see it in action to really be satisfied. I had previously put together a sample build for the Decimator, but I don’t think that one will be anywhere near competitive, especially not when put up against the current meta. Unsurprisingly, my opponent also wanted to get his new ship onto the field, so we had a VT-49 mirror match going on.

Hammer & Sickle

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (46)
Push the Limit (3)
Ysanne Isard (4)
Mara Jade (3)
Rebel Captive (3)
Dauntless (2)
Engine Upgrade (4)

Soontir Fel (27)
Royal Guard TIE (0)
Push the Limit (3)
Stealth Device (3)
Targeting Computer (2)

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Opponent’s list

98 points

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (46)
Ruthlessness (3)
Tactical Jammer (1)

ruthlessness                           tactical-jammer

 

 

I’m not exactly sure what the initiative bid was for, or if he had really thought this whole thing through, but his plan was to run the swarm of 4 Academy pilots right behind his VT-49. Throw in the Tactical Jammer, and those TIEs become hard to kill. The problem is, the VT-49 would be moving after the TIEs, and nothing in the list is putting out lots of reliable damage. That, and he didn’t practice the maneuver to begin with.

I helped him out with his tactical flaw though, by both not letting him use the plan, and showing him how to get into that formation next time in case he finds a way to make it work.

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He thought he would have plenty of time to get his TIEs into position behind his Decimator…

 

 

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… but boost + large bases = FAST! Our VT-49’s traded off couple of shields on the first turn!
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Turn 3 – 2 TIE Fighters down, and I’m perfectly happy to be throwing 6 defense dice with Soontir  Fel (3 base + Range 3 + Stealth Device + Asteroid) while working on the other two Fighters.
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Turn 5: The Fighters lived, but I’m able to start pouring damage on to his Decimator. Interceptor at Range 1 w/Target Lock & Focus vs 0 Agility, those 12 points of hull fell off in big chunks.

Seeing the writing on the wall, my opponent flew off the field on turn 7 with a crippled Decimator and a beat up TIE Fighter. Not the toughest fight that I could have been in, but the list showed promise.

I would heavily consider taking out Push the Limit in favor of Predator. I was using Push the Limit for a Boost and a Target Lock anyway, so why not get the benefit without the stress, and keep the dial more open on subsequent turns? This would also help reduce the weakness to stress mechanics here, because Soontir Fel has enough weakness already. Determination wouldn’t be a bad fit either, as it would almost be guaranteed to buy you an extra hull point or two by discarding those pilot crits.

push-the-limit                           predator                                              Determination

I loved the engine upgrade on the Decimator, it really helped make sure I had exactly the shot that I wanted with it each turn, and it worked well in combination with Mara Jade, I got up close and personal with his TIE Fighters on turn 2, and stressed them all, forcing them to choose between taking actions or not having any chance at a shot in turn 3.

mara-jade                           engine-upgrade

Rebel Captive, on the other hand, didn’t do much in this game. Since its’ stress applies before Mara Jade’s ability, and Mara Jade won’t give a second token, it was a largely dead slot. On the other hand, anyone running a TIE Phantom or Interceptors with Push the Limit will cringe a little bit when they see Rebel Captive on a turreted ship. If you decide that you like this build, but that Rebel Captive isn’t for you, Navigator would be a great replacement for the extra flexibility, or perhaps Moff Jerjod to get a 1 point initiative bid and to negate a few critical hits on that big beefy hull.

rebel-captive                           navigator                                            moff-jerjerrod

 

 

Final verdict: The VT-49 definitely gives the Imperial Navy a new way to approach the game. Until now it’s been either A) Swarm the opponent with lots of fragile ships, or B) Dodge the opponent’s shots with a handful of fragile ships. We’ve skipped option C and gone straight to D) Decimator. It’s durability is just plain silly with 16 total hit points, it’s the first Imperial ship with a turret weapon, it’s the first ship in the game to have 3 crew slots, and to top it all off the VT-49 has ZERO red maneuvers on its’ dial. I’m almost crazy enough to buy a second one.

VT-49-Decimator-maneuver-dial
VT-49 Maneuver Dial
YT-2400-Outrider-maneuver-dial
YT-2400 Maneuver Dial

 

 

 

 

 

But as cool as the Decimator is, it’s fighting a losing battle, because the YT-2400 Outrider is far and away the superior ship of the two, and suits my recent play style perfectly.

Margin of victory is great and all, and a huge part of tournament scoring, but it’s a tie-breaker; winning counts first. So I’m willing to take a chance on nobody at all will have shots in the combat phase to ensure that when we ARE in range, I’m at an advantage. I accomplish this generally by bringing less models than my opponent, with more powerful shots, and then evening up the numbers by using the maneuver phase to deny my opponent as many shots as possible.

That approach is perfect for the YT-2400. With a built in Barrel Roll action, tons of maneuver options, and the ability to ignore obstacles while moving and taking actions with the iconic pilot Dash Rendar, the YT-2400 can dance around the field. Then if you replace its’ standard turret weapon with the Outrider title and a Heavy Laser Cannon, you might as well be Muhammad Ali – “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”!

I played using the YT-2400 twice last night, and only made a slight tweak between games to the other ship in my list (yes, another two ship list).  I was extremely happy with how the list performed in both games, but I had the advantage of moving last with Dash in both games. Playing against someone with pilot skill 8+ will be much more of a challenge, and will often involve talking to myself to make sure I remember the strategy. Repeat after me: “A bad shot is worse than no shot”.

Lucky 7’s

Dash Rendar (36)
Push the Limit (3)
Outrider (5)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)
Lando Calrissian (3) – Heavily suggest swapping for Navigator (3).
Engine Upgrade (4)

Keyan Farlander (29)
Advanced Sensors (3) – Was Fire Control System (2) in first game.
Ion Cannon (3)
Push the Limit (3)
B-Wing/E2 (1)
C-3PO (3)

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A large based ship with a turret, an Engine Upgrade, and Push The Limit. Looks familiar, right? But in this case, we’ve also got a Barrel Roll action to add in, not to mention the ability to ignore those pesky asteroids while we’re getting into position for a shot. Lando is here pretty much for theme, as a competitive card I really don’t like him, but he could be clutch at times; roll the dice with him, and if you don’t like the results, Push the Limit for a Boost/Barrel Roll into “no shot” range. The big deal is that you try to make sure you’re firing at Range 3 and taking as few return shots as possible. Heavy Laser Cannon rolls 4 attack dice and ignores range bonuses, while you’re hopefully rolling 3 evade dice against one or maybe two primary weapon shots in return if your opponent’s maneuvers even leave them with a shot. Repeat after me again: “A bad shot is worse than no shot” – and I define a bad shot as one where you’re not dishing out more damage than you’ll take in return.

Keyan tags along as a separate one-pilot wrecking crew with a few tricks of his own. Try to maintain Range 3 or Range 1, Range 2 is your dead-zone. At Range 1 dodge firing arcs, take the Barrel Roll and Push The Limit for a Target Lock, spend the stress to convert your attack dice. At Range 3, PTL for a Focus and a Target Lock. If you have Advanced Sensors and know you’ll get a shot to spend the stress, go ahead and Barrel Roll behind an asteroid instead of taking the Target Lock. Any time you have at least 2 defense dice, call 1 evade with C-3PO. It’s fairly likely that you’ll either get it right or roll the evade anyway, and you can still use that focus on defense too. And on those long shots, especially through cover or against high agility ships, switch to the Ion Cannon for utility, since you only need to squeak one hit through and you’re negating the range bonus, you can set yourself up for a clean and pretty shot the next turn.

First Opponent

Dash Rendar (36)
Outrider (5)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (12)

Keyan Farlander (29)

11 points of other upgrades split between Dash and Keyan, none of which really stand out to me as having played an active role in how the game played out.

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Initial approach: The smaller ships are letting the YT-2400’s have their moment.
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My Dash (top left at this point) considers switching targets now after denying his B-Wing a shot and leaving his YT-2400 with no good shot.
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My B-Wing (bottom left) slipped into the “Doughnut of Safety” against his Dash, getting a great shot without fear of return fire since the HLC can’t fire at range 1.

This game was a bit painful at times as we tried to figure out how to maneuver the YT-2400’s, and my opponent’s dice were not being nice to him. He passed the point of caring about losing, and just wanted to end it so that he could move on and play against someone else (we tend to be matched up every week).

A glaring weakness of the “Super Dash” archetype using a HLC as a turret appeared in this game: Higher PS pilots, especially those with extra movement abilities, can and will get inside your minimum range. Not getting to attack because of long range is infinitely better than not getting to attack because of short range; that’s why it’s so important to be willing to give up on a shot with this kind of build if you don’t know where the opponent will move.

Second Opponent

Captain Jonus (22)
Shield Upgrade (4)

Delta Squadron Pilot (30)
Heavy Laser Cannon(7)

Delta Squadron Pilot (30)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)

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Initial setup. Asteroids in the way? Who cares!? I’m Dash Rendar!!!
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Turn One: Awww, your Heavy Laser Cannons only point forward? That’s too bad!
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Turn Two: A couple of well placed barrel rolls, and we end up with two unopposed shots.
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Starting turn 4’s maneuvers with a K-Turn for the bottom Defender. Notice that on turn 2, Dash barely at all other than turning in place. He took a speed 1 banking turn to clear stress and get himself pointed towards the fight, and then took a Barrel Roll for positioning purposes.
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Turn 12-ish…: Taking the slow and steady approach. I gave up several shots for the purposes of positioning, and got Keyan pointed the wrong way while stressed at one point. As a result, it took a few turns to beat down on these last two ships, but they both went down after this turn’s maneuvers and shots, and I missed my chance to take a final photo.

Not a lot of tactical analysis to be done here, other than a bit of reinforcement to the fact that low pilot skill will struggle to contain Dash Rendar’s shenanigans.

I’m looking forward to putting Dash up against some more competitive builds, because I certainly enjoy using him and think he’ll do well for skilled players. The VT-49 isn’t a bad ship by any means, but the YT-2400 is definitely my favorite of the two, and I feel that it will be the more likely of the pair to appear in successful competitive builds.

What are your thoughts on the new ships? How are you using them? Did I miss something awesome? Have you found a reliable use for the other pilots? Drop me a line and let me know, I’d love to discuss it with you.

– The Tabletop General