This weekend I finally managed to get in some real games of X-wing using some wave 3 ships. Previously I had only managed to play a few intro games using a stock B-wing, and while that was pretty fun just getting used to a new ship and its unique play style (that 2 K-turn is really different) I was just dying to try it out in a proper 100pt dogfight.
This was actually the first week of an X-wing League at Mission. I was late so I only got one game in, but I am really looking forward to the rest of the month. Should be plenty of games in my near future.
I ran a pretty dead simple list, one which I saw make the finals on Team Covenant’s Vassal tournament. The Heavy Fighter list ran by Richard is simply two Rookies and two Blue Squadron B-wings with Heavy Laser Cannons. 100pts on the nose; nothing fancy but a pretty hefty amount of hit points (12 hull and a whopping 14 shields) and some sick firepower to boot. The B-wings are always rolling 4 dice on offense, and the X-wings are solid, well-rounded fighters (as always). Another nice little bonus is having all of your ships at the same pilot skill; this allows you to activate them and shoot in any order you want.
In the game I played, I took the Rookies and Blues up against Captain Jonus with Squad Leader and a Torpedo, and three Scimitars with Cluster Missiles and Torps. The thought of three Cluster Missiles with two re-rolls on each volley made my B-wings more than a little nervous. 1 agility suddenly doesn’t seem like enough!
The basic plan of attack was to have my B-wings hang back a bit and pound away with their HLCs, while the X-wings zoomed up, threw down some point blank firepower and then k-turned to get in behind the bomber group. I was praying that some of the first shots would go into the B-wings, who could probably soak the damage and let the X-wings do their thing.
Things kinda worked according to plan, as I survived the alpha strike with my lead X-wing and he was able to get in behind the enemy formation, blasting away for the rest of the game and causing havoc. The other Rookie didn’t fare so well, as he pulled a K-turn too early and ended up in front of the bombers. Luckily they were focused on the B-wings (target locked, technically) and they were able to soak up an unreasonable amount of firepower, allowing the X-wing to survive and keep contributing in later turns. I’m pretty sure he splashed at least one Bomber…
One B-wing did die fairly early to a massive volley of ordnance, but for the first time ever I remembered to use the simultaneous attack rule to fire back at the Scimitars who finished him off. The B-wing was clearly pissed off about dying, as he laid into the nearest TIE Bomber and stripped 4 hull points in his final blaze of glory. Well done, sir.
At the end of the game the lead X-wing was still alive with one hull, the second B-wing had lost its shields but took no hull damage, and the other X-wing also lost only its shields. Jonus was forced to run away for a few turns to shed all the stress tokens I kept inflicting on him with criticals, but he wasn’t in any mood to turn around and fight with just one hull point remaining vs. three Rebel ships. Rebels win!
The B-wings were very interesting ships to use, their firepower and durability making up for their lack of agility. I am very curious to try them with different builds, as you could do a lot of interesting things if you don’t take the 7 pt HLC upgrade. Ibtisam as a brawler with some defensive upgrades to help her survive being in the thick of combat while the rest of the fleet supports her could potentially be a lot of fun. I may build a list around her next, or maybe try some of the many, many lists I have already made, even if they don’t have shiny new wave 3 ships in them.
On the other hand, TIE Bombers can be a very intimidating list to face, as Jonus with a trio of Cluster Missile toting Scimitars can dump out a huge number of dice with almost all of them eligible for re-rolls. If you have a low agility list, you will be in for some serious pain on the turn where these things are fired off. I got a bit lucky, where the first couple rolls were good but the dice quickly cooled and I was able to avoid the worst of it. If the dice gods were a bit more fair, my lead X-wing would have died before he got in behind the enemy and that would have seriously reduced my firepower for the rest of the game. It really would have been down to the wire.
That being said, TIE Bombers aren’t quite as beefy as they look on paper. 6 hull is great, and makes them look a lot more durable than standard TIEs and Interceptors, but this is also a bit of an illusion. TIEs and Interceptors are usually festooned with defensive upgrades and focus/evade tokens, while the Bombers will almost always be target locking if they pack missiles or torpedoes. Agility 3 (or 4 with Stealth) plus a focus token makes them much, much harder to hit than agility 2 with no bonuses at all. Combined with the fact that they have no shields for negating critical hits on the first exchange, and they definitely are more fragile than I first thought.
Suddenly the Scimitar Squadron Bomber being 16 pts and the Blue Squadron B-wing being 22 makes a lot of sense. Those shields will save you from a lot of critical hits, and having firepower 3 makes up for the drop in agility. Bombers need to be upgraded with ordnance to dish out sufficient damage, while the B-wing can get away without a cannon or torpedo if you don’t have the points, making it a very efficient even without upgrades (just like the X-wing, which is a staple in many lists for a reason!).
In any case, the weekend is over and it’s back to the daily grind. Now with the added bonus of scraping snow/ice off my car every morning! If you want to help cheer me up, give me any opportunity to talk X-wing strategy and I’ll gladly take it. List ideas, tactics, battle reports of your own… post in the comments below or on the Facebook page!