The Battle of Toronto
A Report from the X-Wing™ System Open Series
Before the X-Wing™ squad builder was updated in January—and a host of squad points adjustments were introduced that shook the metagame to its core—players had wondered how impactful the app might be and how aggressively the developers might use it to promote the health of the game.
The points cost update answered many of those questions, but left the community with another question—"What squads would prosper in the new metagame?"
Ordnance and ordnance-based ships like the TIE punisher took a hit. Squads based around high initiative values also took a hit with the introduction of initiative-based adjustments to the costs of powerful upgrades like Supernatural Reflexes and Primed Thrusters . Many large-base ships had their points values reduced, as were many of the crew upgrades they could select.
It's likely that we'll still see the metagame evolve over the next several weeks, but last weekend's System Open in Toronto provided us a good look at what we might expect. While the game's large-base ships didn't fully make their way back to the top tables, the event clearly reflected a significant shift in how players were approaching the game after the points cost adjustment.
Ordnance and TIE Punishers were greatly reduced. There were fewer squadrons focused on repositioning their high initiative pilots. And the Galactic Empire saw its grasp on the galaxy loosened—with the Rebel Alliance claiming four of the System Open's Top 8 finishes and the Resistance and First Order each claiming one, as well. The galaxy's Scum and Villainy, meanwhile, failed to make the Top 8 entirely.
The Days of Unsung Heroes
While several of Toronto's top Rebel lists featured such recognizable names as Luke Skywalker , Wedge Antilles , and "Dutch" Vander , those heroes were not the ones who ultimately carried the day. Instead, System Open Champion Calen Wong defeated Runner-Up Peter Rose in a final match that featured no fewer than eleven total Rebel ships.
The only named characters in the match were Peter's "Zeb" Orrelios and Calen Wong's Leia Organa crew upgrade.
Calen's inclusion of Leia Organa, who recently saw her points value reduced from eight to two, was particularly notable in the wake of the adjustment to Supernatural Reflexes.
The changes to Supernatural Reflexes made it harder for Force-sensitive aces like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker to react to the final positions of low-initiative pilots, meaning that skilled squad leaders like Calen could more reliably line up their low-initiative ships' firing arcs before they were completely sure where their opponents' high-initiative ships would end up.
Then, to top matters off, Leia Organa—thanks to her newly lowered squad point cost—could now direct an entire squadron of six ships to crash straight into their foes—only to perform Koiogran-turns or other red maneuvers and find themselves in prime position behind their enemies.
While the other Top 8 players mostly built their squadrons around notable aces, Marc de Bruyn took third place with another squadron that relied upon the strength of its unnamed pilots. In Marc's squadron, this was a trio of Imdaar Test Pilots, who flew alongside a minimally upgraded Darth Vader with Hate and a Fire-Control System.
And the galaxy's unsung veterans didn't limit their impact to the System Open tournament—they also claimed the Hyperspace Qualifier!
Brendon Osmann-Deyman earned his invitation to the 2019 X-Wing World Championship as the tournament's sole 6-0 player. His squadron consisted of five Gray Squadron Bomber Y-wings, each outfitted with an Ion Cannon Turret, and four of them were further upgraded with Veteran Turret Gunners.
Brendon's victory suggests that the January squad points update may have proven just as important to the Hyperspace game mode as to the Extended game mode—as once again we see player skill and strategy trumping high-initiative repositioning effects.
In the current meta, if Toronto is any true indication of what we can expect, we're moving toward raw firepower and durability, as players who can anticipate their opponents' maneuvers can line up shots from as many as six ships—in the case of Calen Wong—or five ships, four of which can fire twice—as in the case of Brendon Osmann-Deyman.
Back in the Cockpit
While it remains to be seen if X-Wing has taken a lasting turn toward large squads of low-initiative pilots, the results of the Toronto System Open suggest that it's an exciting time to experiment with all manner of ships and squadrons—especially those in the Rebel Alliance!
Still, the European community has a long history of finding success with Imperial and Scum lists that North American players have overlooked or dismissed. Will we see one or more of these lists find its way to the top of the Eindhoven System Open? Will we see something new emerge by the time the System Open heads to AdeptiCon at the end of March?
It's likely that even by the end of March we'll still be following the repercussions of the January points cost update, and that's an exciting thing for competitive X-Wing. Just as the results from Toronto have shown, the X-Wing squad builder app is proving to be the instrument of change and balance that it was meant to be—as we stated in our initial look at the Organized Play program for X-Wing Second Edition—and we're going to see even more changes.
Effective immediately, Lieutenant Dormitz has had his squad point value increased to 70 points, and the Hyperspace Tracking Data upgrade has been increased from two points to ten. These changes will impact both the System Open events at Eindhoven and AdeptiCon, as well as the Hyperspace Trials that begin shortly.
While these ships and upgrades didn't blast into the Top 8 at Toronto, they have been effective at previous events—in a way that deemphasizes the game's core focus on careful maneuvering. The triple Upsilon-class shuttle list provided a negative play experience for new players, and Toronto has already proven that the First Order has other viable options for top-level squadrons. This points cost update will not impact the scheduled update for July, and X-Wing players should expect relatively few of these intermittant updates as we remain focused on the two yearly updates in January and July.
In the meantime, the changes to the triple Upsilon list may spur another batch of changes ahead of Eindhoven and AdeptiCon. Start planning your changes, and plan your trip to the System Open by looking for a scheduled event that you can attend!