No Card Left Behind, Part Two
An X-Wing™ Strategy Article by Guest Writer Neil Amswych
Guest writer Neil Amswych (aka "The Tusken Tactician") returns with the second part of his look at some of the most underrated cards in X-Wing, "No Card Left Behind." In the first part, Neil responded to the game's ever-changing environment by exploring some of the Astromech Droids and elite pilot talents that few players ever expect to face and might now help you take your opponents by surprise. Today, he turns our attention to some of the crew and pilots whom you may have previously relegated to other duties but who might be worth a second look in a metagame that now includes the M3-A interceptor, StarViper, IG-2000, and a whole slate of mercenary pilots ready to fight for profit.
Why don’t more people use Fleet Officer? The easy answer is that there's currently a lot of stress effects in the tournament environment, and adding another stress token to one of your ships can be extremely costly, limiting its ability to maneuver effectively or perform additional actions.
Nonetheless, the ability to assign two focus tokens per turn to two different Imperial ships at Range 1-2 is an extremely powerful ability. Suddenly, Rexler Brath , for example, can perform actions as normal and still gain a focus token that he can use to flip faceup the damage that he’s just caused. He becomes terrifying. If some of your pilots have performed red maneuvers, you can protect up to two of them by handing out focus tokens that they can use in defence.
If your VT-49 Decimator is outfitted with the Predator upgrade, you can reroll some of its dice as though it had performed a target lock action and can, instead, use its action to trigger Fleet Officer and hand out focus tokens to your other ships.
If you don't want to assign your Fleet Officer to a Decimator, then you could explore the use of Colonel Jendon (who almost made my list of top-three underrated pilots) with ST-321 . Turn one, Jendon can pass a target lock to one friendly ship. By turn two, at which point your games are often entering the first round of combat, Jendon can effectively grant two free actions to two of your ships, and each will open fire only after receiving both a target lock and a focus token for free. You can also equip Jendon with Advanced Sensors to activate Fleet Officer before you maneuver your shuttle, meaning that you can significantly improve your other ships for combat, even before breaking formation if you need to in order to get your best shots.
Flight Instructor is one of the game's more expensive crew members, but may well have received a recent value boost. As more and more of the Wave VI ships and Scum and Villainy pilots hit tables everywhere, we're seeing a rise in such low pilot skill pilots as Cartel Spacers , Binayre Pirates , and Syndicate Thugs . Against ships with such low pilot skill values, Flight Instructor allows you to reroll a blank result on defense instead of just rerolling an eyeball result.
Combined with Lone Wolf or Shield Upgrade , Flight Instructor suddenly makes your ships much more defensible. Expensive, yes, but potentially well worth the squad points if you’re looking to create a hard-hitting ship that can absorb a good number of shots.
There seems to be an early consensus that the K4 Security Droid and the Outlaw Tech are both excellent Scum crew members in the right builds. Greedo, on the other hand, has not received much early love, likely because of the potential disastrous downside that comes with carrying this crew. Players wonder why they would pay valuable squad points for a card that might cause them to suffer critical damage that they wouldn’t have otherwise suffered. In an environment with the "Mangler" Cannon , this problem is further exacerbated. Against a "Mangler" Cannon, if your ship with Greedo receives two hits, they could suddenly become two crits – one from the Mangler Cannon and one from Greedo. And that could be a serious problem.
Still, if we turn our thought toward offense, Greedo can help create some serious problems for your opponent. A Mandalorian Mercenary with Determination, Shield Upgrade, Inertial Dampeners , and Greedo can be a force to be reckoned with. The Shield Upgrade and Determination reduce the risk of self-inflicted critical damage while the pilot skill of "5" and Inertial Dampeners help the Mandalorian Mercenary line up a good shot on his target, which Greedo can help him destroy or disable before it can return fire and score a defensive Greedo crit. You could even replace Determination with Veteran Instincts to ensure that Greedo helps modify your shot at a pilot skill value of "7." Atlernatively, Greedo could crew a Scum HWK-290, so that if you successfully ionize a ship you can then turn the single damage from the ion hit into an effective crit. To maximize this strategy, though, Greedo’s HWK-290 would have to be placed in a build where the other ships present more threatening targets, so they are targeted first.
- Mandalorian Mercenary with Veteran Instincts and Inertial Dampeners
- Guri with Veteran Instincts, Virago , Advanced Proton Torpedoes , and Inertial Dampeners
- Spice Runner with Ion Cannon Turret , Greedo, and Inertial Dampeners
Total Squad Points: 99
3. Arvel Crynyd
On paper, Arvel Crynyd always looks amazing, but he suffers from one notable flaw – the combination of his mid-range pilot skill with an ability that involves making contact with other ships. Were Arvel able to take Advanced Sensors he would be fine because he could take his action before crashing, but A-wings don’t have a system upgrade slot, so he usually crashes into his target, loses his action, and is then destroyed by other nearby ships since he doesn’t have any focus or evade tokens to bolster his defense.
When he was released in Wave II, he was nigh unplayable in a tournament environment, but when Rebel Aces arrived with the A-Wing Test Pilot upgrade, Arvel gained access to an elite pilot talent. While most A-wing pilots usually prefer Push the Limit , that’s a tough talent for Arvel to use because he’s usually bumped into his target and can’t take one, let alone two, actions.
Instead, Arvel needs to use something that doesn’t require an action. Intimidation naturally lends itself to Arvel because it activates on contact with another ship. If Arvel's armed with Proton Rockets , Lone Wolf is another option that makes him very threatening as a close-quarters fighter in a squad that keeps other friendly ships at a distance, perhaps with cannons. Because Lone Wolf doesn’t require an action, it allows Arvel to modify his attack and defense dice even after he’s crashed into an enemy ship. Meanwhile, Rebels, as they are the galaxy's more friendly and caring souls, will sometimes share or boost abilities, so Arvel Crynyd might even receive a valuable focus token from the likes of Garven Dreis or Kyle Katarn . Now that we're a couple waves of expansions deeper into the game, the Rebels have more ways to lend aid to Arvel and support his ship-crashing tactics.
2. Jek Porkins
Poor Jek Porkins. He may be one of the Rebellion's most misunderstood pilots. Most fans know him only for his ship's explosion early in the Battle of Yavin, not for his long history of heroic service. Against the stress-creating threats of Rebel Captive , Mara Jade , Tactician , R3-A2, Flechette Torpedoes , and the Flechette Cannon , though, Porkins’ ability to ignore stress is extremely powerful, even if it's usually neglected. Now, however, may be the time to stop neglecting this underrated Rebel ace.
With a pilot skill value of "7," Jek could equip Veteran Instincts and fire at a potentially uncloaked "Whisper" with Rebel Captive – a fairly common choice for “Whisper” – without suffering any negative effects. Placing R2-D2 and a Shield Upgrade on Porkins may be costly but makes for an X-wing who can survive well against many of the newer stress-creating elements of the game. Replacing R2-D2 with R3-A2 means that Porkins is suddenly flying an X-wing that can stress your opponents and shed its own stress. Alternatively, you can give Jek Opportunist and R2-D2 to turn him into a bit of a powerhouse, rolling as many as four or even five red dice at the right target.
The concern with Porkins is that he receives a facedown damage card that ignores shields, which is why the maintenance of shields against enemy attacks is so essential for Porkins, making R2-D2 and a Shield Upgrade a sensible choice.
Tetran Cowall is a TIE interceptor pilot with a pilot skill value of "7," who can take an elite pilot talent. Such a pilot is not to be ignored, so why have so many people failed to pay more attention to Tetran Cowall, whose ability is staggeringly good on paper?
The answer seems to be that TIE interceptors rarely K-turn because they don’t want to be stressed without having taken any actions. The maneuver leaves them vulnerable to enemy attacks and reliant on natural evade rolls. Most interceptor pilots are perfectly willing to absorb stress to use Push the Limit and take two actions because they can clear it with one of the many green maneuvers on their dial the next turn. However, they need to survive until the next turn, which is why you rarely see an interceptor performing a Koiogran-turn, which denies the pilot the chance to take actions. Therefore, an interceptor pilot with the unique ability to change the speed of his K-Turns has, until now, had a very limited appeal.
In today’s metagame, though, Tetran Cowall has a lot of new appeal. For starters, Adrenaline Rush offers Tetran Cowall an excellent option for his elite pilot talent because it allows him to use his K-turn ability or, perhaps more importantly, to threaten to use it, and still take an action. Of course, Adrenaline Rush is discarded once it's used, making it a one-off, but the threat is real and not to be ignored. Taking Adrenaline Rush means not using Push the Limit, so Autothrusters might also be necessary to keep him alive, particularly against turrets.
Adrenaline Rush isn’t the only elite pilot talent that's good on Tetran Cowall, though, because he combines excellently with Stay on Target . With this, he can choose a K-turn, decide whether he wishes to execute the maneuver at speed 1, 3, or 5, and then rotate his dial to any other maneuver of the chosen speed, at the cost of a stress token. Likewise, he can reveal a speed "3" or "5" maneuver, use Stay on Target to change it to a K-turn of the same speed, and then change it to a K-turn of speed 1, 3, or 5, again at the cost of a stress token.
Perhaps, if you partner him with a nearby Captain Yorr and Fleet Officer, giving Tetran a focus token and then removing his stress, he can be an incredibly formidable pilot, certainly one who should no longer be ignored. You could similarly use a nearby ship with Wingman to remove Cowall’s stress, although staying within Range "1" of him might prove tricky simply because of he will so often and suddenly change his mind about his maneuver. Especially as some players move away from "Echo" and "Whisper" because of the change to the decloak rules, Tetran Cowall with Stay on Target has the potential to shine as the new ace of arc-dodging, able to wait and see where opposing ships have flown before changing his dial to any of a wide array of maneuvers.
- Tetran Cowall with Stay on Target, Royal Guard TIE , Shield Upgrade, and Autothrusters
- Captain Yorr with Fleet Officer, Advanced Sensors, and Engine Upgrade
- Avenger Squadron Pilot with Autothrusters
- Academy Pilot
Total Squad Points: 100
In this squad, Captain Yorr and Fleet Officer keep Tetran Cowall safe and mobile. Advanced Sensors allows Yorr to activate the Fleet Officer and then clear the stress with a green maneuver. The Academy Pilot runs interference on opposing ships, and the Avenger Squadron Pilot stays near enough to the Fleet Officer to get a second action and essentially have Push the Limit without the stress.
Are you looking for the new tricks and technology that will help you claim one of our upcoming X-Wing Regional Championships? Or are you just looking to try something new to spice up your matches with your friends? Either way, we encourage you to reach deeper into your X-Wing collection and try flying some of the ships, pilots, crew, and other upgrades that you may have overlooked time and again. The Rebels, the Imperial Navy, and the galaxy's Scum and Villainy are always looking for new recruits, and the constant change in their rosters ensures that the game remains fresh and engaging. Ships and pilots fly in and out of fashion as the game's constantluy evolving tactics reward fresh approaches.
Will you be taken by surprise? Or will you be the one surprising your enemies? Take Neil's advice today, and take your own second look at some of the game's less commonly played cards. Can you find a winning combination that no one will ever expect?
in our forums!