05 April 2013

Named Pilots- Chewbacca

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Chewbacca (42)
Card Text: When you are dealt a faceup Damage card, immediately flip it facedown (without resolving its ability).

Usage in game: Critical Damage effect mitigation.
Breakdown: I've mentioned it several times on here previously, and I'm going to elaborate on the subject very soon in a Bikini Battle Basics article I've been working on here and there for the past few days, but I think as time passes folks are going to find that Critical Damage plays a much more significant role, both dealing and mitigating or minimizing, in X-Wing Miniatures in Wave 2 and beyond than it ever did in Wave 1.

Former Imperial players are largely drooling over Han Solo lists because of his card text and high Pilot Skill, while the stalwart Rebel players immediately went for Lando when they opened their Falcon boxes because of his Free Action passing ability. Chewbacca seems to have been largely overlooked, or at best, is being taken as a Draw Their Fire pin cushion for Han in some of the two ship lists I've been noticing here and there online.

Naturally, this makes me want to take a closer look at him and see if there's something we're missing out on as it seems he's kind of being ignored.

Examining his card text for any loopholes that would allow a Critical through, I'm not seeing any. It does exactly what you think it does- Chewbacca's not taking any face up cards when he's flying. Again, how big of a deal that is kind of depends on your stance about the importance of Criticals in general. Here's the thing though- no matter how you slice it, Chewbacca's effectiveness is not going to decrease at any point in the game from the first turn to the turn he's destroyed because of that card text. 

To put this another way, you know how a lot of people complain that Crits have the same effect on shields as hits? Well, Chewbacca takes that a step further and applies it to the hull too. Did that get your attention? Cool!

So what's that mean? It means if you're flying against him, you're not going to get lucky and sting him with the "Take 2 Hull Damage" card- you really are going to have to eat through those 13 combined points (5 shields and 8 hull standard) to get rid of him. You won't give him some setback he can try to remove by wasting an Action, or permanently reduce his Pilot Skill or limit his movement or whatever. His ship and upgrades are all going to be in full effect until the bitter end. To me, that's worth something. He's still taking a face-down Damage card when he gets dinged with an uncancelled unfilled explosion symbol die result, but it's staying face down.

As scary as some of the Han lists are, once you burn through those 5 shields, you at least have a chance to put some Critical Damage on him and reduce his effectiveness; with Chewie, you don't.

Now, I'm not necessarily saying that Chewie is a better selection than Han, but I am saying this isn't some no-brainer decision to never take Chewbacca in a competitive setting. How well the two pilots fare is going to depend a lot on your playstyle. Han's obviously going to make more of an offensive impact, Chewie's likely to benefit a player who isn't the greatest at keeping his ships alive.

So with that in mind, what are some good Elite Pilot Skills to consider here?

Well, let's first eliminate the ones that aren't so good- Determination is redundant still works on Chewie as Bikini Aficionado Buhallin brought to my attention in the Comments for this article- Determination gets rid of a face-up, Pilot-centric Damage card entirely, as in it doesn't even stick, it gets discarded, whereas Chewie's card text just turns it face down. Chewie's Pilot Skill 5 isn't really worth passing on via Swarm Tactics and probably won't benefit much via Squad Leader. Marksmanship has some potential as I think Chewbacca has staying power and survival pretty well nailed down and could do with a little more offensive punch, not to mention it gives you a pretty decent chance at scoring a Critical, which again- on a big ship is totally worth it. Expert Handling? I don't know, the meta kind of trends towards only Vader and the Slave I pilots being Imperials with Target Locks, although a barrel rolling Falcon does seem like a fun thing to try out in a friendly though. I'd suggest taking Nien Nunb as a Crew Member if you're doing that though- he's only 1 point and the Falcon only has 4 green maneuvers to mitigate Stress.

Draw Their Fire is probably the best pairing with Chewie's card text and works really, really well if you plan on having another ship in your list running Expose a lot or just taking heat in general, like a Biggs with R2-D2 or R2-F2 for example. It also pairs up pretty nicely with an X-Wing or Y-Wing using R5-D8- Chewie takes any Crits coming his way and if a regular Damage manages to stick, he can attempt to drop it via the droid's ability. Not bad.

As for the rest of the Wave 2 Elite Pilot Skills, I don't really rate Veteran Instincts on Chewie, but if you had an open EPS slot and only 1 point left, I wouldn't tell you to not take it- it's always better to go higher in the Combat Phase. Elusiveness I could go either way on- I think there are better EPS for Chewie for the same points, but as the YT-1300 only has one Defense die, it's difficult for me to take a complete hard-line opposition against it, not to mention the result can't get any worse- a hit is a hit, and a crit is a hit when it comes to Chewie, so you could always have your opponent re-roll something that's going to hurt and not worry about it hurting any worse, unlikely though the die result may be. Deadeye is kinda smart if you're going to take some missiles and kinda really dumb if you're not. Push The Limit is more likely to be useful to you with Nien Nunb and the Falcon title than if you're planning on running in any other configuration and is another one of those EPS that isn't the worst idea you've had all day, but is unlikely to be the best either. Daredevil is hard for me to justify on ships with 360 arcs, and well, at times is kinda hard to justify to begin with. 

I see very few YT-1300 named pilot lists that pack missiles for many different reasons, but unless you're just sold on the idea totally and completely, I'd say in this instance do what everyone else is doing and just rely on your stock primary attack weapon. Again, with Chewie's card text, you don't need to worry about it losing an attack die due to a face-up Damage card, and missiles aren't really that much better than it's stats. The one possible exception might be Assault Missiles if your local meta includes a lot of Howlrunner TIE Swarms still. TIE Swarms can be tough on a 3-ship build, even a 3-ship build including a YT-1300 and Assaults can help even up the odds a bit in the right circumstances.

Crew Members are where you're really going to have to decide what you're up to with your ship. A Gunner or Luke Skywalker, Crew Member drastically increase your damage output chances, but word has definitely gotten around about taking a hit to save yourself from a wholesale re-roll, so I think the shine is coming off those guys a bit. Weapons Engineer, coupled up with either of those two guys allows for the trick I outline in the Weapons Engineer article, so if that sounds like fun to you, have at it. All that leaves us with is Nien Nunb, who gives you two more green maneuvers than you had before, which doesn't sound like much until somebody like me says, "You just added 50% more green maneuver options for 1 point" and Mercenary Copilot, who I think sees decidedly less use on a YT-1300 than he does a Firespray because you're way more likely to be flying a YT around at closer ranges.

Ship upgrades are the last thing to look at here, and while I said the Falcon title is a little underwhelming in it's application, I do think it's a must-have for survivability. Between Shield Upgrade, Stealth Device, and Engine Upgrade, the decision is tougher. Me personally, I don't really consider Stealth on a YT-1300 as you're paying 3 points to upgrade to 2 Defense dice and let's be real- that thing's getting shot off second turn, third turn tops. If you like the notion of Boosting a big ship, well Engine Upgrade's for you. I think you'll find the most use in Shield Upgrade, but that's just me.

Get ready, because here I go again with the "accessible" line, but Chewbacca isn't probably the most accessible YT-1300 pilot. For whatever reason, a lot of people look to the YT to be a big time Damage producer and Chewie's not likely to fill that bill, or at least not as easily as Han Solo. I do think he definitely has his place in a war of attrition, play to the time limit and earn a modified win kind of mindset, and for the points, you could tool him up fairly well and still have enough left over for a couple of Y-Wing pals as wingmen. Are you going to table your opponents? Nah, pretty unlikely that, but is every list going to have the Attack dice in numbers necessary to be able to reliably eat through that many shields and hull? Weeeellllll... you tell me- it's 29 points of hull and shields, right? With the potential for 33 (Shield Upgrades all around, my good man). With perhaps Draw Their Fire on there too? Sheesh. Take your pick from the following contextually pertinent movie quotes- "You're gonna need a bigger boat" or "Bring friends. A lot of 'em." Me personally, I'm going to go Cannonball Run on you every single time. I watched that movie like every day when I was a little kid, man. Holy mackerel.

Apologies for not coming correct on the funny today as much as usual. I only got about 2.5 hours of sleep last night being up with the youngest and for whatever reason, the brain is just on all business (which doesn't always happen that way, see also Exhibit A- Maneuvering as a Formation, Part 3). I came very close to just saying to hell with it and going to bed tonight, but decided I didn't want to break the string of updates I've got going just yet. As an act of comedy contrition, please allow me to present a Hanson Brothers greatest hits YouTube clip.

No, not those Hanson Brothers for Christ's sake- these Hanson Brothers.

And to answer your inevitable question, yes, that's the best time I've ever had being choked.


  1. A minor point: Determination is not actually redundant on Chewbacca. Chewie flips the crits down so you basically ignore the critical effect, but it's still damage. Determination discards it completely, so no damage. It limits the damage that Chewie's ability would be used for, but does so by providing an improved effect.

  2. You know something? You're exactly right. That's my bad! Editing now.

    Also, if you don't mind, I'm going to remove your extra duplicate comments, your extra duplicate comments, your extra duplicate comments. :)