28 May 2013

Tournament Lists- 4 X-Wings

Standard X-Wing Miniatures List Discussion Disclaimer- The most important element you can bring with you to any X-Wing Tournament is your own experience with the game. You can take the nastiest, meanest, and most bestest internet list with you to a Tournament, but if you don't know how to manage Pilot Skill, Actions, and Maneuvers, you are going to get sent home with an donut for your W's. 

I can't stress this enough- this game is not 40k where you plop down the most points-optimized net list from the latest codex, push it forward the max amount, then win. Your list is important, but you need to be familiar with the game and you need to be familiar with playing the list you're using if you want to consistently compete at a high level. 

When it comes to this 4 X-Wing list, there are several specific permutations that crop up fairly often (which I'll talk about later), but they all basically play the same way and have the same strengths and weaknesses in a general sense. 

4 X-Wings 
Total Attack Dice at Range 2: 12
Total Hull: 12
Total Shields: 8
Total: Hit Points (Hull + Shields): 20

Looking at just the stock ship cold data we see that Attack number and it looks pretty nice, right? That's the firepower of 6 TIE Fighters and is the equal, at least in dice, to three YTs. It's a good amount of damage to trot out, which is a big reason why this list performs well time and again. Obviously that number climbs to 16 if you can get all four of them in Range 1, which isn't the craziest notion in the world since X-Wings are fairly maneuverable ships compared to most anything but an Interceptor, A-Wing, or TIE Fighter, and have a little meat on their bones to take some shots back.  

Recall too that X-Wings have a fairly handy maneuver dial. While you lose some flexibility lacking 1 Turns or a 5 Straight, and only having a single K-Turn on your wheel, you do gain a slight contextual advantage over most Imperial opposition in that you've got a 1 straight at your disposal. 

The list is fairly hearty too with 20 HP total with nearly half of that being shields that are going to keep you from dealing with face up Damage cards

Me personally, I think this is the most accessible (read: easiest to fly) list available to the Rebel tournament player that still will yield some solid results if used correctly. If you're still kind of new to the game, or mainly play Imperials but have decided to switch Factions, or have played a bunch of different builds and aren't particularly great at any one of them, this is probably the build for you. 

It isn't without it's drawbacks, of course. A 4 X-Wing list doesn't have the points for a lot of upgrades and named pilots. It's going to play fairly basically. It's going to be somewhat predictable in that nothing you do will surprise anybody. It's also a list that's been used since the very beginning, so a lot of people have flown against it and have probably developed their own methods of beating it. 

All that said, it's still a very versatile list. It ain't sexy by any definition, but If you're smart with deployment, you can divide all that firepower up so it can be applied where you think you'll need it most. You've got the firepower and the staying power to win against Swarms, you've got the guns and number of ships to hedge bets with firing arcs to play against smaller, more specialized lists, and even against some of the more exploitative big ships lists, you've got options to play decently well at any Range, so while they're trying to close or stay away, you can fly at any distance and still be pretty dangerous. 

With four ships in your list, you can flub a maneuver or two and not lose all of your shots or Actions for a turn the way you can with a two or three ship list. Conversely, it's much easier to manage maneuvers with 4 X-Wings than a 6-7 ship TIE Swarm because you've got less ships to move about and keep from knocking into stuff. Now, if you're aces at maneuvers and can't remember the last time you bonked into an asteroid or one of your own, this isn't as important, but again- the case I'm making is that the 4 X-Wing list is probably the easiest Tournament list to run while still being pretty viable. 

Third, there are a lot of options to build into a 4 X-Wing list, so you can mitigate your own shortcomings to a certain extent by adding (or removing) Named Pilots, Droids, Modifications, and even Proton Torpedoes. This of course segues nicely into the part where I talk about some...

Sample 100 points 4 X-Wing Lists-  

Luke and Friends
Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot w/ Swarm Tactics
Red Squadron Pilot w/ R2-D2
Rookie Pilot w/ R5 Astromech
Rookie Pilot

This basic core list of Luke and Friends can be tailored a bunch of different ways depending on what you need it to do or not do. The list above is the one I ran a lot just after the Kessel Run and before Wave 2 dropped, so it's tailored a bit to me and my meta (Swarms). Take that for what it's worth. 

Basically, I would do my 4-ship split deployment with Luke and the upgrade-less Rookie on one side of the board, Red and the R5 Rookie on the other side. Luke would rely on his Focus-lite ability to survive being the lead ship in, pushing his Pilot Skill of 8 to the trailing Rookie X-Wing. On the other side, Red would lean on R2-D2 to keep him alive, usually flying straight at the enemy, firing his shots, then continuing on for a turn or two with various greens to replenish shields before turning around to take another run at things. R5 Rookie would trail Red and finish off anything he didn't kill with a one-shot, and also run a little interference while Red healed shields. The R5 Astro helps with that last part. 

It's a pretty simple list- no complicated synergy to manage (or be denied) really, the main thing it has trouble with is a post-Wave 2 list with a bunch of Pilot Skill 9 stuff (namely a Fel- Vader list with Turd Ferguson either being the beneficiary of Swarm Tactics or Veteran Instincts to boost him up to Pilot Skill 9 as well). 

One thing I kinda found out the hard way is Astromechs in general often aren't the panacea they appear to be for an X-Wing. Your mileage may vary, but really think long and hard about the points you sink into your backseat drivers. 

Also, if you're absolutely desperate for 2 more points, you can downgrade that Red to a Rookie. Personally, I like having Red in there to stay ahead of the average TIEs once whoever inevitably has Swarm Tactics has been dealt with, but some folks might see that as two wasted points. 

Wedge and Biggs and Co.
Wedge Antillies
Biggs Darklighter w/ R2-F2
Rookie X-Wing
Rookie X-Wing

This core configuration of Wedge, Biggs, Rookie, Rookie is arguably the most popular 4 X-Wing list, and for good reason- Wedge is nasty, Biggs is fairly easy to get the hang of and use, and the Rookie X-Wing is still a pretty formidable ship.

I see Wedge flying around with no upgrades because the combination of his card text and Biggs is good enough to keep him out of trouble a lot of times. Biggs on the other hand, I see upgraded with all kinds of stuff to help keep him alive- R2-F2, R2-D2, or Shield Upgrade being the most common. I like R2-F2 better than R2-D2 on Biggs because Biggs has to survive the current round for R2-D2 to benefit him (he also has to pull a green) and Shield Upgrade is only going to work once, really. You can debate this with me all day, and the answer will depend largely on your own playstyle, but for me, I see Biggs taking multiple shots per Combat Round while he screens for Wedge, so I want something that's going to be "kicked on" the entire time, not after the fact and not just once. Just be careful not to bump him into anybody as he's gotta have an Action to turn on R2-F2 and you don't have the points for Wedge to sport a Squad Leader upgrade.  

I don't know how well this list would fly in a split deployment- I've never tried it that way. Usually this list sets up in a loose formation more on one side of the board than the other. Wedge tries to fly in close to get that extra Attack die which almost virtually assures him 4 damage on the intended target, while Biggs pulls the shots that should be hitting Wedge away. The Rookies fly interference and can be peeled off to engage whatever target you had Biggs firing on and probably not killing. 

The key to using one of these lists is being able to run Biggs effectively. His ability can be both a benefit and a curse. I'd say the main thing to watch out for is having Biggs pull shots from anyone besides Wedge- namely the two Rooks. Let those guys take their lumps. Once Biggs is out of the picture, Wedge is still as dangerous as he always was, but has to play a little more conservatively as he's going to be taking fire and also because he has zero upgrades. Playing as this list though, if you can manage to keep Biggs alive through the initial storm and into the middle innings of your match, you're likely going to come out ahead at the end if/ when you do lose him.

The New Guys
Rookie X-Wing w/ Proton Torpedoes OR Shield Upgrade
Rookie X-Wing w/ Proton Torpedoes OR Shield Upgrade
Rookie X-Wing w/ Proton Torpedoes OR Shield Upgrade
Rookie X-Wing w/ Proton Torpedoes OR Shield Upgrade

I see The New Guys in basically two different forms- the Wave 1 form was with each of them sporting Proton Torpedoes, the Wave 2 version has Shield Upgrades. Were I to use this list in a tournament setting, I'd likely hedge my bets and do both- 2 with PTs, 2 with Shields. Of course, I'm a bet hedger from way back, so your mileage may vary.

I'd also probably do my split deployment, let the PT Rookies lead initially, then have the Shield Rookies fly past them and take their spots. If I was lucky enough to Target Lock with the PT Rookies, I'd sit on that lock for another turn, let the Shields that flew on by them take a few shots, hang back and get a Focus token on the PT Rooks, then hopefully let the Torps fly at what's most likely Range 2. 

The thing about a list with all the pilots at the same Pilot Skill is it gets you a lot of options. You can maneuver (and choose Actions) and fire in any order you want. Now, that may not sound like that big of a deal, but it does allow for some tactical flexibility. It also kind of makes a waste of points for anyone who spent on Swarm Tactics or Veteran Instincts or higher Pilot Skill Common Pilots. 

The Shield Upgrade version of this list is probably the more viable of the two simply because you add to the already good durability of the X-Wing while also adding an upgrade that directly helps mitigate the downside of flying a list with such low Pilot Skill; namely that just about everyone is going to shoot at you before you can shoot at them. Only reason I say I'd probably go half and half is to deal with big ships at range if at all possible. 

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