New Toys…

The intro…

Welcome to my blog!

Before we get into the actual X-Wing content (or should I say ‘content’, I’m exactly an expert in this…) I just wanted to share my excitement. You see this week the Welsh government announced the next steps for coming out of lockdown and, while it is over the course of around 2 months, it’s a start at least. I’m sincerely hoping this means that in-person X-Wing is on the cards by the summer at the very latest.

What it looks like after that (with whispers of a 3rd wave/further lockdowns across Europe and then heading back into winter months) is anyone’s guess really! Still, I like to focus on the positives and I believe that better things are on the way.

I loved seeing Ian Courtney’s blog this week about playing a few games outdoors with a mate. The UK isn’t the best for consistency (or predictability) of weather but with the sun popping out more often and the temperature very slowly starting to rise, the prospect of getting a table put up in the garden is starting to become more than just a pipe dream.

The face-to-face aspect of X-Wing is undeniably one of the best things about the game and while TTS, Vassal and Discord make things bareable/convenient, you simply don’t get the same experience as when you sit/stand across from a friend/total stranger, spinning actual dials and throwing your very own traitorous dice.

It’s special, I miss it and I will (like many other people about many other things I’d guess) never take it for granted again.

And so with the Sith Taker Cup done and dusted (for me, at least!) and the next season of the league still a little while away, what should I do with myself?

Well, despite not seeing the physical evidence of it myself yet, I’m led to believe that some new stuff it out! Maybe I should take a look at it and see if there’s anything that might be interesting!

WARNING!

For the first time in quite a while, this post is not a batrep (JARGON ALERT!!).

The ships…

Ok, before I get started, let me just inform/remind you of something. In general, I’m a Rebel player. I like Resistance, yes. I dabble with Republic, sure. But in my heart is that red symbol of hope.

So in this post I will be looking at the new Rebel ships/pilots. Not Scum, not Empire, just Rebel.

Right, let’s move on.

First (and shortest) is the B-Wing. Now don’t get me wrong, I do like a bit of B-Wing action. I’ve never particularly taken to Braylen, the generics are a bit meh (in my opinion of course) and Gina Moonsong seems to work best with another named B-Wing which then starts getting pretty expensive.

Ten Numb though? I like him. To me his ability seems better than Braylen because when it triggers and you spend the stress as a focus you immediately open the dial back up for the following turn. And when coupled with the s-foils you can roll linked to a red lock, giving you a double modded shot. Sure, it’s not as easy to trigger as Braylen’s focus into red roll which gives you the stress even if you fail the roll and don’t reposition but I just prefer it.

Anyway, the new pack includes the same generics as were already available and so there are 2 new pilots, Netrem Pollard and Hera Syndulla. Netrem’s ability seems a bit, umm, odd and at 4 points more than the generic at the same initiative, I can’t see myself flying him.

Hera being i6 is good. Hera’s ability is good. But combining them? A support ability at i6 on a chassis that’s designed to smash things in the face? This ship needs it’s tokens. There may be a way to do some fancy stuff (like take Fire Control System, take a lock, not spend it to re-roll an attack die and then pass the lock on to a buddy for example) but with Hera not having the built-in action efficiency of the original two named pilots you’re basically only paying for the higher initiative on an already expensive ship. Unless some super strong combo gets discovered I can’t see myself flying much of B-Wing Hera.

But the A-Wing…..? Different story.

I’m quite partial to an A-Wing. Going back around 18 months ago I eventually picked Jake Farrell as my preferred wing-man for Dash based on his support ability (giving out focus tokens), his ability to keep up with Dash and his increased survivability (3 green dice with a focus since he mostly wasn’t dealing damage in attack). I flew him A LOT over the course of around 4 months and enjoyed it.

For the last 4 months or so I’ve been flying Rey_wings (JARGON ALERT!!) and it seems my experience with the RZ-1 managed to translate quite well to the RZ-2. I enjoyed the list and did reasonably with it.

So, what goodies does the pack contain for A-Wings? Plenty is the answer!

In fact, there is a case to be made for inclusion for all 6 named pilots I’d say. Hera’s support ability seems to work a little better on an A-Wing which can take a token and then reposition and is fine to give that token away when their primary function isn’t necessarily to deal lots of damage (unlike the B-Wing).

Ahsoka? Initiative 5 and 3 force is enough but her ability is also pretty good and when upgraded with Patience she can potentially use it every turn. I5 coordinate is one thing but when it’s IN ADDITION to her normal action? Count me in.

The i4 pilots are all reasonably priced and fit well with other Rebel pilots of the same initiative, meaning there are finally some decent options for filler ships.

Derek ‘Hobbie’ Klivian’s ability is only ok-ish but at the same price as the generic you can’t really go wrong.

So which of these can I look to use?

The lists…

I’m not going to focus on building something from scratch here. I know I’m not great at that so I’ll let other people do their thing and ‘take inspiration’ from them later.

No, my first thought when points were released was: does this change what I can take with Dash?

I know, I know. He isn’t great, he’s too expensive, he’s too fragile, etc, etc. I know all this. But man do I love flying this ship.

So having spent months working on a list (which I mentioned earlier) only for things to change, could I re-visit the list with these new options?

Here’s my original list with Dash and Jake:

Dash Rendar (85)
Lone Wolf (5)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Shield Upgrade (6)
Outrider (14)
Rigged Cargo Chute (4)

Ship total: 132 Half Points: 66 Threshold: 6

Jake Farrell (34)
Crack Shot (3)
Outmaneuver (6)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 2

Total: 180

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X124WW77W54W165W157W96Y50X116W126W102W&sn=Dash%20Jake%20AP-5&obs=

Yes, you’re reading that right, there are 20 points to spare. The list had originally been 199 points (!!) in the autumn, gone down to 192 (!) in the January and is now 180. 180!!!!

Big drops for Dash and Bistan and a small drop for Jake and Prockets (JARGON ALERT!!) have made a HUGE difference in the cost of the list but it’s STILL not a particularly strong list.

Let’s look at the premise of the list – Jake hands Dash a focus action which Perceptive Copilot makes 2 tokens. Dash then takes a lock or can rotate or (in desperate situations) roll for his own action. Dash then blasts things with his 4 dice gun. Twice because of Bistan. Jake is loaded with Crack Shot, Outmaneuver and Prockets to provide a threat that you can’t ignore.

Is it great? No. Did I do well with it? Sometimes but not often. Was it fun? Heck yeah. Rolling lots of dice is fun.

So with the newer points and released ships, what can be done?

Option 1 – Dash & Ahsoka

I’ll start with a list that I was sent. Charles Berkhold (Mr Deathrain of Deathrain’s Blog) sent me this.

Dash Rendar (85)
Trick Shot (4)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Stealth Device (6)
Outrider (14)
Rigged Cargo Chute (4)

Ship total: 131 Half Points: 66 Threshold: 5

Ahsoka Tano (A-Wing) (49)
Patience (2)
Foresight (4)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 60 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 2

Total: 191

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X133WW77W54W166W157W96Y463X342W251W102W&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

It’s very similar to my original list both in practice and in theme. Heavy Dash backed up by support ship passing actions. But this time the support ship is an initiative 5 (higher than Jake’s 4) Jedi with 3 force and whose ability is up to range 2 (further than Jake’s 1) and who gives a coordinate (better than Jake’s focus).

The fact that she’s an upgrade in almost every way and that due to the points changes she slots in with limited changes makes this appealing. I know how to fly this list. Is it an adjustment to change from Jake to Ahsoka? Yes because she isn’t so closely tied to Dash but still it’s similar enough that I’m comfortable that I know what I’m doing.

I’d probably change out Trick Shot for Lone Wolf on Dash just because experience has shown me that it helps him to last longer (when I’m disciplined enough to keep it for my defence rolls…). Ahsoka loses the talent slots that Jake had so Crack Shot and Outmanuever have to go. Patience is a good option to replenish force, helping on defence or enabling her ability to be used in consecutive turns. Based on what we’ve seen from TIE v1’s over the last few months, Foresight is a strong option too, giving a bonus shot but also can be used as her primary attack and eliminating the defensive range bonus.

I like this, mostly because it’s familiar. Is it good? Like the original, probably not so much but it’ll be fun for sure.

Option 2 – Dash & 2 A’s

When thinking about the previous list (before Charles sent his version over), I had been mulling something over. Ahsoka or Hera? I think Ahsoka is a better option for this particular list and since she fits, it makes sense.

But…. why not both?

If I strip Dash back to ‘bare bones’ (while still being able to double tap), can I make it all fit?

Dash Rendar (85)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 103 Half Points: 52 Threshold: 5

Ahsoka Tano (A-Wing) (49)
Patience (2)

Ship total: 51 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 2

Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
XX-23 S-Thread Tracers (2)

Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 2

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39XWW77W54WWWY463X342WWWY451XWW332W&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

Apparently I can! Now my list has an initiative 6 pilot who can pass off tokens when needed (hey Dash, want this evade?) while also having Thread Tracers to pass out locks. Ahsoka can still power Dash up (ALL THE ACTIONS!!) too and do so every turn by sacrificing a die from her already weak shot. We already know she’s not there for damage output though.

This list has the added bonus of Dash not giving up over 2/3’s of the points in the list when he (inevitably) dies. Go and smash up 110 points and then run away with the A-Wings.

Is it any good? I’ll have to test it out. I like it less than option 1 because Dash isn’t so good but I also like it because Dash isn’t so pricey.

Option 3 – Dash & 2 A’s…again

I was sent another list this week (credit to /u/Stevesd123 aka Slawek from the Outer Rim X-Wing group in San Diego) and at first glance I actually thought to myself ‘yeah, I’ve built that and it’s in my list’ but when I checked it wasn’t! It’s effectively a compromise between option 2 (just above) and the original list, dropping Hera for Jake.

Dash Rendar (85)
Expert Handling (4)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 107 Half Points: 54 Threshold: 5

Ahsoka Tano (A-Wing) (49)
Instinctive Aim (1)
XX-23 S-Thread Tracers (2)

Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 2

Jake Farrell (34)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 2

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X120WW77W54WWWY463XW73W332WY50XWW102W&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

It allows for Proton Rockets on Jake as well as a bit of a bid which, with 2 ships at initiative 5, I feel can have some significance. It also allows points for Dash to have a talent (with my preference being Expert Handling because stressed Dash is sad Dash but Trick Shot or Lone Wolf are also options) and some possibilities for Ahsoka too (I’ve picked Instinctive Aim because it allows her to fire the Tracers without a focus but you could also go with Patience in order to charge the force back up for her ability).

How does it compare to the other lists? I guess testing will tell but I think it’ll fare better than the 2 ship list in option 1.

Honourable mentions

While putting these lists together I did come across some other combinations that I like. I don’t think they’re as good (in my opinion. They might be?!) but I think they’re worth a mention here.

Dash & 3 A’s

Double tap Dash with focus from Jake plus a blocker plus a piece with some threat.

Dash Rendar (85)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 103 Half Points: 52 Threshold: 5

Jake Farrell (34)
Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Wedge Antilles (A-Wing) (35)
Ship total: 35 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Phoenix Squadron Pilot (28)
Ship total: 28 Half Points: 14 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39XWW77W54WWWY50XWWWY452XWWWY53XWW&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

Dash & 3 A’s v2

Similar to the previous one but this one subs in Arval for Wedge. Arval bumps things, Dash kills them. And to think this one was here all along!

Dash Rendar (85)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 103 Half Points: 52 Threshold: 5

Jake Farrell (34)
Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Arvel Crynyd (32)
Intimidation (3)

Ship total: 35 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Phoenix Squadron Pilot (28)
Ship total: 28 Half Points: 14 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39XWW77W54WWWY50XWWWY51X122WWWY53XWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Option 4 – 5 A’s

Yes, it’s 7 not 5. It’s multiple though. That counts, right?

I mention the previous lists because they include Dash but what if the best lists with new stuff didn’t contain Dash? I mean, obviously they don’t. Despite the 13 point price drop since launch he’s still a little too pricey. Or the title is (although I’m of the opinion that the title isn’t mandatory). Or both maybe?

Anyway, after a little playing about I put this together.

Jake Farrell (34)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 2

Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 47 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 2

Shara Bey (A-Wing) (32)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 37 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 2

Wedge Antilles (A-Wing) (35)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 2

Arvel Crynyd (32)
Intimidation (3)

Ship total: 35 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z50XWW102WY451XWW102WY462XWW102WY452XWW102WY51X122WWW&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

With 5 RZ-2 A-Wings having been something that made a mark on the meta (JARGON ALERT!!) I felt this was worth a look. The obvious difference is that RZ-2 A-Wings can rotate their turret for better time on target. It’s possible to get that here by adding the new config card – Vectored Cannons. Like the RZ-2 it allows you to rotate your turret to front or back, the difference is that you have to do it in the Systems phase. Oh, and it costs 1 point per ship. AND you have to add it to ALL the A-Wings in the list. I could free up the points for it by dropping Shara down to Hobbie but I’d rather not have to re-learn how to fly this ship completely and I like my trio of i4’s.

I’ve briefly tested this one in Fly Casual. I made a mess of it, bumping ships, blocking myself, missing blocks with Arval, getting Hera and Ahsoka too far away to do their thing. I still won.

I then changed Hera’s Prockets to Thread Tracers and gave the Prockets to Arval. I’m yet to test that properly but I like it.

The conclusion…

Ok so I’ve got some decisions to make and some testing to do. Whatever I find, will it be the list I run exclusively for the next 3-4 months? Probably not. But Maybe, who knows? I am still enjoying the Rey-Wings list and in all honesty I don’t know that I get enough games in against real players to make a quick decision about these lists. Assuming 3 games per list to get a proper feel for how they work multiplied by 4 lists at one game a week that’s three months just for testing. I am incredibly unlikely to do that.

However, if I find that one of these lists is particularly fun or interesting while testing in Fly Casual I may just give it a run out in the Sith Taker league when it starts back up. You’ll have to wait and see!

I do find it amazing that this pack seems to have made such a difference to the Rebel faction. Last year’s Hotshots & Aces pack included some new toys, sure and I now almost always take S-foils with Ten Numb but aside from that (plus I know some people like flying Leia in the Falcon) I don’t think the pack made much of a splash, for Rebels at least.

With no new ships on the horizon (there’s got to be something that wasn’t released in 1.0!) it’s nice to have a few more options, particularly with the A-Wings. New pilots that don’t cost a fortune, that you can use to fill out spaces in your list (rather than build around them) are a big deal.

Just look at the results for the recent ACE GSP Flight Club tournament for example. The tournament was made up of players who had got 5+ wins in any of the qualifying tournaments (so, people who are decent at the game). The whole GSP event had over 400 players across the 4 qualifiers and 62 of those made the cut for the ACE event.

Four out of the top 8 lists in cut were Rebel lists (plus another one in the top 16) and of those four lists, 3 of them had at least one (mostly more) of the new pilots (as did the top 16 list).

In the other GSP Flight Club events (6 of them, 4 Hyperspace, 2 Extended) only 1 Rebel list made top 8 with the exception of 2 in the Delta qualifier.

I know it’s not a huge sample pool but it’s reasonably accepted that since Rebel Beef (JARGON ALERT!!) was nerfed (JARGON ALERT!!), the Rebels haven’t had much in the way of widely used recognisably strong lists. There’s a few staples (like 5X or Luke/Wedge/something alpha strike) and for a while 4 Auzituck’s with support was a thing but on the whole there’s not been much.

Maybe that’s about to change? Personally, I really hope so.

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