Having been active (well, actively scrolling at least!) for quite a while on X-Wing Facebook pages (and some excellent blogs found through these pages) and more recently with podcasts and Reddit I have seen this advice given to many people who have felt burnt out with the game.
Fly what you love.
Sometimes put as – fly a list you’ll enjoy losing with. Sounds weird for what is essentially a competitive, combat game, right?
But it’s true though isn’t it? I remember when I first started playing that I expected to get beaten. I was playing a new game with LOTS of rules and phases and things I wasn’t used to. I was definitely not playing on an even field since some lists were clearly better than others and experience and knowledge counted a lot. But I still played. Why? Because I liked the way the game worked, because I’m a Star Wars nerd (I’ve talked before about Star Wars evoking memories of my childhood), because my son wanted to play (and it gave me an opportunity to spend time with him) and because there was a community to get to know.
While I was finding my way through 1.0 I was led to a list with Dash Rendar (in a YT-2400) and Miranda Doni (in a K-Wing). Miranda normally tended to die first (despite the shield regen and twin laser turret shots, or maybe had a bigger target on her back because of them?!) which meant that Dash had to do a disproportionate amount of the work and (mostly) he did.
Lone Wolf gave infinite re-rolls on attack and defence, the white barrel roll and ignoring obstacles meant I could range control easily to run away or go in for the kill.
So when 2.0 was released one of the first things I checked was the cost of Dash.
98 points base. Hmmm. Wait, PLUS the title for 14 more points?! It turned out that a similar build to the 1.0 list I had been using amounted to roughly 75% of the total available squad points on just Dash. I believed that around 60% would have been crazy but workable but at 75% I (grudgingly) dismissed it out of hand.
January brought the first points change and again I looked for a drop in Dash’s points and again I was disappointed. At this time I already had a list I enjoyed and so I just carried on with that as I was preparing for the UK System Open.
Once the Open had been and gone my list was still valid but I decided to mess about with some new lists for a bit of variety. A list by Jack Mooney had won the System Open which consisted only of a heavily kitted out Han Solo (in the Rebel Millennium Falcon) and Jake Farrell (in an A-Wing). So it seems that 2 ship lists aren’t dead after all?
This inspired me to look at putting something together and see what could work.
Dash has a shiny 4 dice gun and the Outrider title just begs for Tricky Shot to be added. Sadly this prevents other things which could help like Expert Handling to make the barrel roll white but the potential to add another attack die is too strong to ignore.
Since we’re being ridiculous with points, adding Bistan gunner adds the threatof a 2nd shot per turn and to maximise the opportunity to use it I’ll put Perceptive Co-pilot on too. So with Trick Shot and the Outrider title that comes in at an eye watering 138 points (circa September 2019 at least!).
That leaves 62 points to fill.
So where to begin?
After a bit of messing around with different options I narrowed it down to 3 main options:
Wedge Antilles (X-Wing) – initiative 6 and reducing the agility of the defender makes Wedge a strong candidate.
Jan Ors (HWK-290) – with the Moldy Crow title and setting the turret to one side gives 180 degrees of options to activate Jan’s ability on Dash – giving Jan a stress to give Dash an additional attack die. So a range 2 obstructed attack from Dash would now be 6 dice. 6. Dice.
Norra Wexley (Y-Wing) – Norra’s passive ability adds an evade result if an enemy ship is in range 1. Also she’s initiative 5 so I can choose who moves/shoots first out of my ships. It also leaves quite a few points for upgrades.
There were many options (like, MANY) but these were the 3 avenues I went down.
On the next game night I wanted to try the list. I had intended to fly Wedge but was trumped by my son who was experimenting with Rebels ready for a doubles tournament in Firestorm Cardiff (which we sadly now can’t make).
As such I went with Norra (since the Y-Wing model was handy and we have a gorgeous frosted card from the System Open).
I went up against one of the local guys who was running a scum list which I can’t remember the exact build of but in the first round of engagement Dash one-shotted Fenn Rau (in a Fang Fighter who had been trying to flank) before taking 3 shields off something else. Beast. I don’t recall the details but I won that game.
Another week I played against a First Order list of Kylo Ren (Tie Silencer), Quickdraw (Tie/SF) and Tavson (Upsilon). This time it didn’t go so well. My opponent kept Kylo well back. I took out Quickdraw but that lured me into putting Dash into harm’s way. Once he got stuck parked in front of the Upsilon’s 4 dice gun he didn’t stick around for long. It was a learning match for me but I found that, despite losing, I quite enjoyed it.
At my FLGS (JARGON ALERT!) we have held a short 4 game league and in the lead up I had struggled to know what to fly. I wrote this blog about developing a new list. I had practised some openings on Fly Casual and had a general strategy on how to fly it (rather than my default of point at things and try shooting them) and felt generally good about it as a list.
I flew it a few times (which I mentioned in that post) and decided I would use it in the league.
In my first game I’m paired with the resident 10 year old (who I have already flown this list against). Last time he flew against me with Republic but this time he had reverted to his preferred faction of Rebel and his preferred ship of B-Wing. 4 of them in fact. Beefy.
We played the game out and in the end I win 145-100.
I was reasonably pleased with how it had gone. Since my son had to fit 2 league games in (but I didn’t) I then played a casual game against Luke, one of the best players at the store.
He had brought 3 lists so asked me to pick a number between 1 and 3 and that’s what he would play. It turned out to be Vader, Soontir and 3 Academy Pilots. Long story short, I lost, losing all my ships while Vader was undamaged and Soontir not at half. We chatted about the list and my strategy and that there could be something there with it.
I bring the list again the following week and find myself facing off against Matt with a new style of Tie swarm (well, it’s new to me anyway!) in which Howlrunner and Iden both have swarm tactics. Long story short, the swarm tactics hurt me badly, my approach was definitely a poor decision on my part and my variance was horrendous, I lost Shara Bey before she got a shot (well, she did but only because of simultaneous fire and managed to land exactly 0 damage) and lost the game 20-200.
At this point I was not having fun. I felt like the list should be doing better than it was (or rather, I should be doing better with it!) and not being able to figure it out was irritating me.
Again, my son needed a 2nd game and so I pulled the Dash list out since I needed a change. I ended up playing Matt again and he also wanted to try something else since he was preparing for the afforementioned doubles cup in the Cardiff store and he’d agreed to play scum.
Since we played I have found out that his list is a very strong one (Ketsu, Kavil and Old Terroch) which has done well at several tournaments and is the same list that Dee Yun (of the Fly Better podcast) took to the XTC and went 7-3 with.
Anyway, we set up and Matt comes in quite aggressively, pushing for an early engagement. I send Dash in towards the obstacles and hard turn with Norra away from Matt’s ships and barrel roll towards my board edge to try and out myself out of range of a shot. Matt has initiative and it turns out that I didn’t escape range 3. Ketsu takes a shot at Norra. Damage gets through and he tractors Norra…. Off the board.
I thought I was out of range of the shot but I also totally didn’t expect that. Norra with 1 shield down – now gone.
Ok, well, nothing I can do about that now. Time for retribution. Dash pours a 5 dice trick shot enhanced attack on Old Terroch. 2 hits, 3 focus. I spend the focus. Terroch rolls 3 evades. That could have gone better but still, damage was done. With Bistan gunner I then shoot at Ketsu. Again, 5 dice with trick shot and roll…. 1 crit, 2 hits and 2 focus. Spend the focus for 4 hits and a crit. Ketsu rolls 1 evade and is now unshielded.
The game progressed with Terroch running away while Ketsu and Kavil tried pinning Dash down. Dash took care of them both with 2 hull left when Terroch came back around. We finished the game with a shot on each other (not obstructed) at range 3. Dash shoots and takes 1 health off Terroch, not quite enough. Terroch shoots, gets 2 hits. With a focus still in hand I just need paint to be ok. Of course I roll blanks.
A defeat but a VERY narrow one and OH MAN did I enjoy that. Had Norra been around to do, well, anything at all, then I’m very confident I’d have won it.
So next week comes around and I have a choice to make. What list do I fly? I have 2 league games to get in and no real idea who will be there and available. I resolve in my mind I’m flying Dash. I’m not all that bothered about gunning for wins in the league (I’m already 1-1 anyway) and I want to see how it gets on.
My first game of the evening was against Neil. He has only recently started playing the game and had been given a list to play that was actually quite difficult to fly – Fenn, Guri and Palob. The game went as you might expect. His list was difficult to fly and while we openly discussed what would be the best manoeuvres or actions for him to take as we played, as time ran out I was 157-0 ahead. A win in league terms but I felt a little bit dirty about it truth be told.
My 2nd game of the night against Luke made up for it. Having recently sold off his Resistance ships to finance a foray into Republic (and established as one of the best players at our store) he lined with with Anakin (in an Aethersprite with Delta 7B config and an R2 astromech), Obi Wan (also in an Aethersprite with Calibrated Laser Targeting config and Sense) and 2 Gold Squadron V-19 Torrents.
With his experience he knew his target priority and how to make that happen with the ships he had at his disposal. This list is a strong one in the current meta and mine, well, not so much. He flanked with Anakin while Obi-Wan headed directly in and brought the V-19’s in to try and block. Dash is hard to block. Even with Sense on Obi-Wan he wasn’t able to put the torrents in where he could block Dash. As the game progressed I destroyed a Torrent and put some damage on the other while also putting a few hits onto Anakin (who then disappeared to use his R2 astromech to regen the shields). Eventually Dash went down and Norra not too long after that. The last manoeuvre Dash made was a 4 forwards. A 2 forwards instead would have blocked Obi-Wan and possibly have helped him last out a bit longer but the writing was on the wall a long time before that.
Afterwards we discussed my list and pondered swapping out Norra for some more traditional blockers like a pair of initiative 1 Z-95’s and what could be done for similar points or perhaps what could be changed on Dash. But to me, this Dash build is as optimal as it gets in terms of damage output vs points investment.
So now the dilemma. On paper the Rebel 4’s list should be stronger. More health, more shots per round, great synergy and action efficiency. Perhaps I just haven’t grasped how to fly it right just yet? Maybe I just need more real life reps (and not just Fly Casual games)?
But yet I keep being drawn to this Dash list. I know obstacle placement that suits me. I know how to open and once the game starts I’m basically flying re-actively rather than with a set plan and I’m probably more comfortable with that in general.
Yes it’s ridiculous. I mean, Dash is 138 points!! 5 hits on him (which, if I seriously screw up isn’t impossible in 1 round of shooting) and he’s on half points – 69.
I love it.
Blasting over obstacles without a care in the world, rolling lots of red dice (twice per turn if I’m doing it right!), deciding between that white 4 forwards or the white 1 hard turn. It’s just so fun!
So maybe I’ve answered my own question here.
Do I want to win games?
Do I want to become a better player?
Yes, of course I do.
Should I learn to fly different styles for that?
But is that fun? Or rather, is that something that I personally have fun doing?
If I’m being honest, no, not really. I’m not a student of the game as others are. I’m not in it so much for the pitting of wits against my opponent or the mental challenge of developing strategies or finding the next super meta list. There’s nothing at all wrong with any of these things, they’re just not…me.
I’m in it for the fun. So why not embrace it?