Brobots

The core of this article about my usage of IG-88 in Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures has been kicking around in the back of my mind for about five months now, but I’ve been hesitant to post about it. Over this year’s store championship season, I’ve encountered several players who were more than eager to tell me about how one of my lists inspired their own, and this build wasn’t something I wanted to see more of. I also didn’t want to share some of the tricks I was using, because I felt they might only work once against a particular player. So I’ve held back until now, as the locals seem to have caught on to my tactics, I’ve seen a few lists “inspired” by this one (there’s not a lot to change) and I’m pretty much ready to retire the list in favor of something new. So time to spill some of the secrets, I suppose.

In a marathon practice session before his trip to the 2015 World Championships, a friend requested that I fly against him utilizing a “Brobots” list. He gave me some basic parameters for how he’d like them equipped, I filled in the blanks, and I suddenly had a very effective setup that I found very effective and would use frequently thereafter. I’ve tried several slight tweaks of the list, but this seems to be the best load-out that I’ve seen:

 

IG-88B – 36 (IG-2000)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

IG-88C – 36 (IG-2000)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

It doesn’t have the alpha strike capabilities of the Crackshot (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth) / Glitterstim (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth) combo seen often on IGs, or the overwhelming firepower of dual Heavy Laser Cannons, but I still prefer this variant. It’s extremely rare that these ships take hard turns, so everything on the dial that I’m actually using is either red or green (see dial below). The red moves get actions anyway thanks to Advanced Sensors. Then on the green maneuvers Advanced Sensors and Push The Limit are a great combination, because you can declare two actions, get the stress, and then do your green move to remove that stress and have an open dial for the next turn, all without caring about bumping in to other ships.

Aggressor-Dial
Lots of green makes for a happy pilot.

The biggest question I have on how to tweak the list is which ship should have the Heavy Laser Cannon, the other gets the Mangler Cannon and Inertial Dampeners. IG-88B’s gunner effect for cannons gives this list a lot of its’ punch, which makes that ship the obvious target. I like having the HLC on IG-88C during the end game for 4 attack dice at any range, but I also fly the ships so that the Mangler cannon is up front, which makes B even easier to kill in that case. It’s a conundrum, but you can’t really go wrong either way.

Ig-88b             Ig-88c

Meanwhile, IG-88C works great for an end-game ship. I found myself in a no-win situation early on in a tournament last month, and that free evade made all the difference in the world. I had experimented with an Ion Cannon on IG-88C (I do NOT recommend this), and found myself staring at a full health Miranda Doni, who could regenerate health as fast or faster than I could deal damage, while I had two shields keeping a close win from becoming a loss. Seeing no better tactical option, I turned tail and ran. And ran. And ran. For 24+ minutes I flew everywhere but toward that K-Wing, boosting for extra range, and stacking up tokens with the PTL / Advanced Sensors combination for the turns Miranda managed to find a shot. I lost one shield over that entire period, and squeaked away with a win.

img_20160221_121405924.jpg
I’m already running at this point as I documented the time. My opponent is setting his dial and trying to figure out how to catch me, no stalling on my part!
img_20160221_123912171.jpg
Boosting into the corner on the last turn of the game kept me out of harm’s way.

One of the hallmarks of this list is that unlike most builds with only one or two ships, having a lower pilot skill enemy ship move into your way is not an issue – you’ve already gotten your actions in. This turns normal swarm piloting tactics against the opponent, any collisions just mean that they’re just getting one less opportunity to fire and break through your stack of tokens!

img_20160221_135927307.jpg
I was more than happy to bump one of these TIEs on the prior turn, it meant one less shot at me.

One of the trickier things I learned early on while flying this list was that I didn’t care if I ran into myself either, and that I would often want to. Keeping the Mangler Cannon carrier out in front helps maintain effective range for the other ship carrying a Heavy Laser Cannon, but an extra turn of fire for the HLC from an unexpected angle is often possible by causing an intentional collision before the ship with Mangler makes its’ move for the turn, essentially giving the HLC ship a green “0” move.

Eventually, this morphed into a setup strategy for me, wherein I create a “castle” from the start, neither of my ships has to move anywhere, but both have the option to do so via using Advanced Sensors for a boost. Meanwhile, both can have Focus & Evade tokens for defense, while I wait to see where the opponent will go. Both ships set up facing roughly parallel to the other’s front edge but tilted in slightly, and with the corner of one ship touching the other. Forgive the drawings, the tool I use for these diagrams only has the Firespray (with a rear arc) as a template, and I was absent minded enough to miss-hyphenate the ship names. You’ll figure it out though…

Setup
Initial setup, with IG-88C’s back facing a corner. 

Both ships dial up a green 1 Forward maneuver, or for the very first turn a 1 Bank toward the other ship if it doesn’t look like you managed to set them up just right.

Castle
After using Advanced Sensors for actions, IG-88B’s move doesn’t clear anything but stress.
Castle 2
IG-88C mirrors this move, and stays still too thanks to the angle of overlap.

This can be repeated indefinitely if your opponent is silly enough to fly down the channel covered by both firing arcs, but eventually you’ll want to move. In an ideal world, your opponent will have a ship of lower Pilot Skill that will give you information about where they are moving for the turn before you have to make this choice, because you don’t even have to change the dials!

Boost out
IG-88C uses Advanced Sensors for a boost to the right before completing the forward maneuver (If you’re keeping score at home, that means a free Evade, then PTL for a Target Lock or Focus, before removing the stress with the green move).
Boost out 2
IG=88 B follows suit, not completing the maneuver but not caring, actions are already taken.
Boost out final
The original and final positions. Note that B is slightly askew, thanks to the extra angle needed to set up the castle originally.

If you know you’re planning to begin moving on a given turn, you can substitute in most any maneuver to give yourself options. The only thing that you can’t really cover well is if the enemy is approaching from your left along the table edge. IG-88C can let B move first and then take a bank in that direction, but C doesn’t have any great options. The best choices to try for a shot is an Segnor’s Loop or a Koiogran Turn.

S Loop exit
S-Loop left, no boost. Any boost puts you off the table if you’re set up in the corner.
K Turn exit
Koiogran exit, with an Advanced Sensors Boost – not taking a Boost to the left puts you off the table, assuming a corner setup.
Bad S Loop exit
Again, assuming a corner setup, a Segnor’s Loop to the right is a BAD idea, none of your boost options keep you on the table.

You can, of course, just turn, but that leaves you with a large blind spot to your left.

Side break
Even the tightest turn available doesn’t leave a good angle for IG-88B, and a boost doesn’t really help, I’ll show you why in a second.

This last diagram shows a relatively safe approach by a TIE Fighter from the left flank, along with the original positions of the IG’s, and the options we’ve discussed for B’s movements. He’ll still have to contend with IG-88C, who can either move to counter or stay still one more time by attempting to move first. But IG-88B can’t touch him. The Boost + K-Turn option, at the top of the diagram, is way out of range. So long as the approaching ship stays just over Range 1 away from B’s back corner, he’s out of arc after the Segnor’s loop. And the hard turn with a Boost before/after leaves our ship out of arc too, plus those potential positions are both easily blocked with an asteroid at range 2.5 from each side of the map.

Side approach
Well, dealing with one Aggressor is better than two, I suppose.

Your whole squadron isn’t going to get in there, but you can certainly slip a ship or two into this blind spot of the castle, and that’s one of the things I didn’t want to reveal while playing the list. I had far too many folks fly blindly into the teeth of these guys to want to offer up suggestions to the world at first.

I don’t know how well it will hold up against the upcoming wave 8 releases (Ghost, Inquisitor’s TIE, Mist Hunter and Punishing One). But now that it’s time for me to move on, perhaps the core ideas will be useful to others.

Have you had success with IG-88? Or do you have a favorite way to fight against them? Drop me a line or write a comment below to share your story!

– The Tabletop General