New Toys…Part 2

The intro…

Hey! Welcome to my little blog! No massive intro this week as I’ve been away a few days (like, as a family, away from our house! How exciting!!) and not had a huge amount of time to get things written up and edited and so on (and that does take a rather surprising amount of time y’know!).

I’ve also not had a game now for almost 2 weeks!! Well, I mean, not against a person anyway. I’ve played some Fly Casual for testing and research purposes but that really doesn’t feel like the same thing. I’m missing it a bit which I feel is a good sign, that after over a year of online X-Wing I’m not fed up or burned out. The game still has me. And the prospect of in-person play against my friends at some point really fills me with excitement. I can’t wait! We’ve even discussed playing in a field/garden/driveway although planning for the weather in this country is a challenge in itself. Somehow we will make it work. Eventually!

Before we begin…

While researching for this post (yeah, I know, research, like a proper blog!) I found that a few links on the Player Resources page were broken/out of date so I’ve done a bit of tidying up there. I have removed the link for the FFG forum while leaving the entry there because AMG are due (at some point) to make their own. I’ve changed the link for the points tracker to the GSP version because the old link was dead, this one gets updated regularly and, to be frank, GSP are freaking awesome. I’ve also added a link to the 186th Tournament Tracker run by Oliver Pocknell since it’s useful and doesn’t have it’s own site (as far as I know?!).

This did get me thinking that I haven’t done an update to the Jargon Buster (JARGON ALERT!!) in quite a while and it certainly needs it. After the home page it is the most viewed page on the site, the one I reference every week without fail and what I consider to be my practical contribution to the X-Wing community – help and information for newer players who have no idea what the pro’s are talking about! (for me, FLGS is one I had to go Google…)

I can make some updates to it but I can’t say that I’m fully clued up on ALL jargon (like list names, etc) and so I’d like to kind of crowdsource this work. If you know your X-Wing stuff and you’ve got a little time to spare to read through it and offer up any additions or changes you feel it needs then that would be a HUGE help. I can’t offer any financial incentive for this but I will credit you on the page and give a shout out in the next post I make that you’re an awesome human being. Will that do? If so, get in touch (comment in one of the places I post this link out or, if you’re feeling fancy, drop me a message via the contact form) and let me know what you feel needs adding!

Cat meme for maximum cuteness!

Anyway, in last week’s blog I spoke about how some of the new Rebel pilot options might fit with my beloved Dash Rendar and had some lists to try out. As I said earlier, I didn’t manage to get any games against real people but for the purpose of testing the feel of a squad and how to fly it I normally go with Fly Casual first and so this post is a sort of summary of each of the lists I covered last week and how I feel about them having played about with them a bit.

The lists…

Option 1 – Dash & Ahsoka

He’s back!

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=

Right, where to begin. I struggled with this list a bit. Ahsoka can certainly help Dash, possibly even every turn if recharging Force with Patience but doing that very seriously impacts her firing options. Dash can do work but, as with the original Dash & Jake list, Ahsoka often ends up doing very little damage. Once Dash burns down (and he will burn down sooner or later, usually sooner), her ability is useless since it doesn’t work on herself. Is she better than Jake? Yes, definitely. Is she 15 points better? In general I think so, yes but in this particular list, perhaps not so much.

This got me thinking that Hera may be better in a 2 ship list because she can be up to range 3 of Dash and either focus and shoot Thread Tracers to get Dash a lock for double mods OR can take an evade and throw it over to him, helping him more directly because Dash really, REALLY hates those blank greens.

After a little tweak, I think that Instinctive Aim works with Ahsoka’s Prockets (JARGON ALERT!!) better than Foresight does in general, allowing her to take a lock action for double modded Prockets or double repositioning to line up for it while still being able to fire and mod them. I also found that moving at i5 doesn’t gel so well with how Foresight triggers. It probably works better with i3 and below (although it did trigger a few times, more by luck than judgement).

Looking at Dash in this list, I’ve long preferred Lone Wolf as his talent (or Expert Handling if he doesn’t have the title) as it can help with defensive rerolls. The Stealth Device vs Shield Upgrade debate is certainly there to be had. My argument has historically been that Stealth can give you more value but more often than not I lose it the first time Dash defends (maybe there’s some confirmation bias there but still…). Shield upgrade is a guaranteed extra health AND it increases the half points threshold of the ship. Either way, either of those options and Rigged Cargo are pretty optional but dropping them doesn’t give you enough points for an extra ship and switching them with other options (like Hull Upgrade or False Transponder Codes) just buys you an even bigger bid (which is probably unnecessary).

Going back to the Hera option though means freeing up even more points (more on that later). Maybe that’s worth investigating further but as it stands, this list is not my preferred option. I think that with so many cheap 3 agility ships and 5+ ship lists being quite popular at the moment, 2 ship lists are struggling, even strong ones and while I love Dash, he definitely isn’t strong enough to carry this off right now.

Option 2 – Dash & 2 A’s

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=

A few goes with this list gave me interesting results. The lack of Prockets means that you’re relying on Dash for the main damage output. Against lower agility ships this is fine but when it came up against 5 RZ-2 A-Wings I REALLY struggled to get damage through. This meant that I was focusing Hera and Ahsoka purely as support ships to supercharge Dash’s guns. Now that’s sort of ok when he’s taking 2 shots a turn and one of them is with a focus & lock (with the lock coming either from Ahsoka’s ability or from Hera’s Thread Tracers, or her own lock from Thread Tracers…) but the number of times you can get to 4 hits and those 3 agility ships just shrug most of it off, well, it feels bad.

And then there’s the volume of incoming shots. Even when expecting to lose Dash it’s entirely possible that a 5 or 6 ship list (even 2 dice ships) will put 6-8 damage on which basically means you’ve got 2 turns to do 4 shots before Dash dies. Combine that with the chances of doing major damage to 3 agility ships and, well, it isn’t good news.

Maybe I’m just doing it wrong (and honestly, that’s entirely possible. Likely, even) but I think that having 3 top end ships means sacrificing decent options to make any one of them really good.

Option 3 – Dash & 2 A’s…again

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=

Straight away, this is more like it. Each ship has a specific function. Jake feeds focuses to Dash. Ahsoka can feed locks to Dash with the Tracers or other actions once those are spent OR she can go and be a distraction somewhere else on the board. And Dash smashes things up. Hopefully.

Ahsoka’s i5 allows her to be able to finish a game out once Dash has inevitably burned down although, as I mentioned before, if she’s the lone survivor then her ability becomes moot. Then again, with 3 force and an evade if you’ve traded well with Dash (which isn’t always a given) then she can just run until time runs out and she can do so quite effectively.

The drop from Hera to Jake allows Dash to take stress free barrel rolls with Expert Handling and leaves points for Jake to take Prockets for a little extra threat. Prockets with Jake can be tricky because often your main goal is to have him feeding focus actions to Dash but perhaps trying to get those fired early game (while Ahsoka has Tracer charges to get Dash a second action anyway AND can get Jake’s Prockets double modded. Tasty) might be a decent strategy, provided he doesn’t just die!

I think this is my favourite so far. But could it be improved….?

Option 4 – 5 A’s

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=

Oh dear Lord, this list is insane.

I’ve never played the 5 Resistance A-Wing list. Not for any particular reason, it’s just not something I’ve ever really picked up or fancied flying.

I realise now that that’s a good thing because I SUCK WITH 5 A’S!!

Let me get into some specifics. I tried flying this by leading with Arval, following in with the i4’s and flanking with Hera. Now I will admit here a failing of mine – I’m not great at landing bullseye. I’m generally ok in the initial approach (not just straight jousting but generally going into the first engagement) but once things get messy I’m not great with the disengage/re-engage thing and (it seems) in particular with these ships. 4 health, 3 agility ships make me nervous. I fly them conservatively (because blank greens are a thing) and in this list that seemed to mean that I only managed to fire maybe 2 of the Prockets and once the first engagement is done that I struggle getting ships to focus fire (since they scattered) or sometimes to fire at all without putting them somewhere rather dangerous.

It’s probably that I need to practice this. That I should watch some stream games of 5A play (although this works pretty differently to 5 RZ-2’s). I did alter the list slightly too. I switched Hera’s Prockets to Tracers and put Prockets on Arval because if you’re bumping someone there’s a pretty good chance they’re in your face. Hera’s tracers mean double modded Prockets are a thing and that can be SUPER nasty if you get it right.

For me, without practice, this is too many slightly fragile ships all with differing abilities that I struggle to make the most of while all of them are on the board.

I have to admit though, if I can get the hang of it, it can do some major damage and then become VERY defensive.

As the only list here without Dash I (sadly) think it has the most potential out of all my options to be a thing. Just probably not with me flying it!

Honourable Mentions…

Ok, confession time, I didn’t try the other lists out. The problem with Dash is, well, complicated.

He’s good. Sort of. I understand why he is costed how he is. He’s a beefy 4 dice gun with 10 health and 2 agility. He also has lots of upgrade slots which can make him pretty good.

However, as with any expensive ship, the biggest issue is what can you put in a list with him? Or more to the point, once you’ve added upgrades to make Dash as effective as possible, how many points do you have left to put something in which doesn’t suck?

While the Dash & 3 A lists offer different things, the price you pay in a big drop off in Dash’s effectiveness. Of the two I think I prefer the one with Arval or at least I would if I didn’t suck at getting blocks (like, on purpose, accidental ones are a different matter).

Anyway, I don’t think either of the options I mentioned last week is especially strong when compared with the others so I won’t be taking them any further.

The conclusion…

Ok so some interesting findings from my admittedly very limited testing. Had I thought about it some more (and probably given more time to it in general) I’d have picked 3 differing lists to test against and played each of the above lists against each of the 3 different archtypes. That would have been more scientific. Hindsight eh? Anyway, I still managed to draw some general conclusions.

Hera and Ahsoka are both good. I like them individually and together. Hera with Tracers is just fine, even Hera with no upgrades (if you’re tight on points) is also good I’d say. Ahsoka is also pretty flexible, she’s fine with or without ordnance or even force upgrades although Patience makes her a better support piece and if you’re carrying missiles then Instinctive Aim is a good shout.

Having played each list several times (although only against the Fly Casual AI) I’d have to say that probably the best Dash & A-Wing(s) build is probably… none of these.

Option 1’s 2 ships are a little bit fragile (and expensive). Option 2’s ships are all good pieces but a little underpowered with points at a premium. Option 3 is getting there but I wonder if Hera’s ability would suit the list better than Ahsoka. She’s cheaper too, leaving points for… I’m not sure what.

Option 3 with Hera swapped in for Ahsoka gives me 10 points to spare:

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

Ship total: 107 Half Points: 54 Threshold: 5

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

Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 2

Jake Farrell (34)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 2

Total: 190

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X120WW77W54WWWY451XWW332WY50XWW102W&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

Perhaps I could drop Prockets from Jake (since he’s just Dash’s focus monkey anyway), change Expert Handling to Lone Wolf and add the title? Although the title still feels SO expensive for what it does.

Perhaps I could keep the Prockets and add Shield upgrade and False Transponders to Dash?

Does Hera need a little something to beef up her offence? Like Crack Shot or Predator?

And then a bid…?

I’m open to options at this point to be honest!

After a little more testing I found this list to be quite effective despite Fly Casual seeming to generate almost exclusively 3 agility swarm lists (seriously, Drea with Dorsal and 5 Cartel Spacers with HLC?! Yuck!!).

Dash Rendar (85)
Expert Handling (4)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Shield Upgrade (6)
False Transponder Codes (2)

Ship total: 115 Half Points: 58 Threshold: 6

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

Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 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=v8ZsZ200Z39X120WW77W54W165WW369Y451XWW332WY50XWW102W&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

Provided I don’t do anything stupid with Hera (which is not a given) then this seems to work quite well. I need to work on when to fire Tracers (i.e. NOT when Dash already has a lock on something) and maybe think about getting Jake’s Prockets off early but so far it’s reasonable.

I’d have to say though that my big ‘take away’ from this experience is probably that Dash is still too expensive.

Yes, I know I’m probably biased. Yes, I know that another points drop might see him dominate the meta for a while. But it might not. Dash is powerful but he isn’t ridiculous. After all, two of the best players around (Oliver Pocknell and Bartosz Wójcicki) both took Dash lists to 100+ player events around September last year and did….ok. What speaks volumes is that (as far as I’m aware at least) they no longer run the lists. They tried, it went ok-ish, they moved on (to other stuff. Better stuff).

In one sense I don’t feel that I have much of a leg to stand on when Darth Vader in a TIE Defender gets released at 115 points but I think a reasonable comparison would be Boba Fett.

Both are i5’s with 10 health and 2 agility. Boba is on a medium base (easier to navigate and harder to catch with bullseye or in arc generally than a large base) and has a better ability (no arguments there, surely?). Boba comes in at just 1 point more expensive than Dash but looking at their respective points history, Dash has come down to 85 from an eye-watering 100 while Boba has risen to 86 from just 80 to begin with. And let’s not even talk about the points for the title for each ship.

Given how dominant Boba Fett has been from release until quite recently, I think that a drop for Dash wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps Dash at 82 and the title at maybe 10? Would that be game breaking? I don’t think so but then, I’m no expert.

After thinking on this a little while I wondered whether if Dash was in another faction, maybe he’d have better options to go in a list with him? I know Rebels have Z-95’s at 22 points but have you ever flown a Z-95?

So I thought of a challenge for you fine, intelligent people of the X-Wing community. Since YASB now has a Multifaction option (thank you Raithos!), let’s see what’s the most potent list you can make with Dash as the focus.

A few rules:

  • you can ONLY pick one faction (i.e. Dash + scum or Dash + FO) since I want to see if it’s specifically the Rebel faction options holding him back.
  • Dash can have upgrades added (including faction specific ones) but must keep Bistan gunner and Perceptive Copilot crew (because double tap Dash is awesome). This gives you 97 points to play with.

Here’s a link to get you started:

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

Ship total: 103 Half Points: 52 Threshold: 5

Total: 103

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=All&d=v8ZsZ200Z39XWW77W54WWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Let me see what you’ve got!

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