The Empire Strikes Back – a buyers guide to X-Wing

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Baron Soontir Fel

Nestled in the Brak Sector, the Aramand Cluster, operatives Ors & Katarn rendezvous with their smuggler escort, Roark Garnet. The three ship convoy skirts around the edges of inhabited space, bringing the the encrypted data codes stolen from the Imperial Holonet. On entering the planet Orma’s orbit, scanners start to pick up a lone ship.

Within minutes, the trio of ships have a visual, enhancing with their com systems, they identify the squad markings on the sleek, fast craft, with this many kill markings, it could only be one man. The journey seemed almost too easy, now stuck in the gravity well of Orma and its moons, the operatives detect 2 more vessels approaching from the solar glare of the nearest star, a Lambda Class Shuttle fitted with heavy weaponry and the formidable Firespray patrol craft. As the net closes, the Rebels know they must fight or be caught in Baron Fel’s trap …

As promised, this is the second instalment of X-Wing content on Corehammer, if you’ve missed the first article/love letter to Fantasy Flight Games, you can find it here. So let’s get to it…

This is fucking cool, what should I buy next? A common question for the new X-Wing player, well I’m hoping this article will help out with your Greedo blues.

If you are saying this, I’m going to assume that you have bought or are about to buy a core X-Wing starter set and you want to know where you should be putting your money next to maximise your enjoyment from X-Wing. Well in my finite wisdom, of which there is not much, I’ll do my best to advise you in which direction to barrel roll in the asteroid field that is the modern day retail environment and allow you to get the most attack dice for your hard earned credits.

The first (and best) piece of advice I would tell everyone is to just go and buy a second starter box. This may sound crazy, but hear me out. Obviously the starter set is a balanced box set, so by adding another one, you’ll be growing your game size while still maintaining balance, getting to grip with the rules and flying your ships. Trust me, there is a big difference to flying 2 Tie Fighters to flying 4, every time I see a new player with more ships, I see a new traffic jam in the middle of the board. As well as doubling up on ships, you’ll also be getting an extra set of dice which come in really handy. Sometimes you’ll be rolling and re-rolling 4 to 5 dice and when you only have 3 dice, it becomes a pain in the arse to keep track. Don’t forget that having a spare set of movement templates and damage deck is always nice to have as well.

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With a few purchases, your games could be looking like this – Pic by Jonny Olliff-Lee from the Fly Casual tournament held in North London – July 2014

So if you are just looking to just build up your forces equally for games when mates come round or just don’t want to favour one side over another then this is for you. From my experience, these are the ships that match roughly in points & would be roughly balanced (and fun) in a game against each other.

Side note: If you want to be competitive, you’ll at some point need at least one of most of these ships (sometimes just for the upgrade cards that come with them), but before that point, you’ll need to know how you fly, what you are good at and what you are not. So in a game where one list does not rule them all, it’s best to get some hours in flying a multitude of ships, so don’t jump the gun, grow that collection, find out what your play style is and remember, that no purchase is a waste when it’s an X-Wing miniature (also, remember that the cards are always a bonus too).

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X-Wing vs Tie Advance
Both super iconic, one great (X-Wing) and one poorly pointed (Tie Advanced). You might not get much use from the TA but you do get Vader, so if you want a game with a cinematic flavour, it’s definitely worth picking up one. The X-Wing is an essential purchase, you get a few extra pilots as well as some more droids, basically this makes you existing X-Wing even better. 2 X-Wings vs 2 Ties and a Tie Advanced is a fun even fight.

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Z-95 Headhunter vs Tie Fighter
Both ranging in points from 12 to 18 (Ties) and 19 (Z-95), these are the components of both factions swarms. If you are interested in swarms or just getting a lot of ships on the table, then I recommend buying a few of these each and just going toe to toe.

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Y-Wing / B-Wing vs Tie Bomber
These are the bruisers of the fleets, taking up a roll more suited to loading up on ordnance and unleashing it on your opponent. All 3 are a little slower and less manoeuvrable, but make up for it with the number of hit points. B-Wings are more commonly seen than the Y-Wings, however the Y does come with Astromech cards, another purchase that improves upon your existing X-Wing(s). Tie Bombers can add a heavier punch to a Tie Swarm and they can also drop bombs, a mechanic that is not available to the Rebels. These can work well as a single ship in your list or add a few for more of a bomber squadron feel.

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A-Wing vs Tie Interceptors
Want some super agile ships, then this is where you look. The Tie Interceptors are my favourite ship to fly in the game, I now own 5. If you are looking to pick up some, I would recommend the Imperial Aces boxed set which contains 2 ships as well as 4 named and then multiples of 2 un-named pilots. This is not say that the Interceptor expansion is not worth buying, grab one of these and you get Soontir Fel & Turr Phennir, 2 rewarding pilots, although I would leave these pilots out until you and your friends have become more experienced players. The A-Wings other the Rebels something which they don’t have in abundance, and that is manoeuvrability, almost Tie Fighter like but with the option for missiles, these seem like Marmite for some players, it’s worth picking one up and having a go to see if it is your flavour. If you don’t have a B-Wing, waiting until the Rebel Aces box comes out (which will contain both an A-Wing and a B-Wing).

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E-Wing vs Tie Defenders / Tie Phantom
So the above was the meat & potatoes ships, now we get to the spicy ships. These (along with the Z-95) made up Wave 4, the latest release of ships, so people are still trying to figure out how these fit into list. One thing we do know is that they are quite expensive basic and once you start putting in elite pilots, upgrading & modifying the ship, you will be flying around a large part of your squadron in one ship. Great if you want an elite squadron or don’t want to buy too many models straight off the bat, pick up one for either side and they will easily take up half of your force if you deck them out with toys.

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YT-1300 (the Millennium Falcon) vs Firespray (Slave 1)
Let’s face it, once you bought the core, you already had your eye on one or both of these ships. They look great on the table and what would Star Wars be without the Falcon & Slave 1. These are great ships for a beginner as you can make the points up pretty quick with these to get to 100 point games as well as the YT-1300 having a turret and the Firespray being able to shoot to the front and back (also being the other ship that can drop bombs), allowing for a little wiggle room with manoeuvring mistakes (EG, forgetting that the opponent will also be moving, so you fly straight past them, don’t worry, we’ve all done it).

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HWK & Lambda Class Shuttle
The odd ones out are the HWK & the Lambda Class Shuttle, both offer advantages to your squad, yet don’t match up so well against each other in a straight fight. The HWK is there to essentially buff your squad up, hand out focus or increase your pilot skill. The shuttle, after the Tie Interceptor is my second favourite ship, very different with a cheap base cost, but with a multitude of options for customisation (check out this article on the FFG website for some inspiration).

Well, that’s all the existing ships covered (I missed out the Epic ships, but I don’t own them yet and the chances of new players needing them in a game is pretty much nil). Fear not, I’ve still got more X-Wing content barrel-rolling around in my brain, so be patient because… Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Now enjoy this top tune from everyone’s favourite Jawa fronted band, Suuns.


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4 thoughts on “The Empire Strikes Back – a buyers guide to X-Wing

  1. Thank you for the informative and well written guide. I’ve been collecting and playing this game since the release of the starter set and I still learned a thing or two reading this. I’ve been buying around 3 of every expansion ship so far with a “Gotta catch them all” Pokemon attitude. I think that I’ll switch my tactics a little and follow your excellent advice.

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