Thursday, March 30, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Factions: Rebels

This series describes the strengths and weaknesses of the factions in X-Wing, with this article covering the Rebel faction. Rather than general statements like "Rebels are more supportive and Imperials are more self-sufficient" (which isn't even true), I'll highlight the factions' strongest pilots and upgrades as well as some of its weaknesses. This can help you choose which factions you want to play and which expansions to prioritize.

For the other two factions, check out the links below:
Imperials
Scum

1. Regeneration


Rebels have the best ways of recovering shields in the game. Regeneration effectively mitigates 1 damage every round. It's better than an evade action since it can recover damage taken on previous rounds. Combined with other defensive abilities, these ships can be extremely hard to kill, especially in the end-game. If focused early, a common strategy is to run the damaged ship away and bring it back into the fight at full shields.
  • R2-D2 (astromech; Red Core Set) [1][2][3][4]. One of the best cards in the game. It single-handedly makes some of the more expensive Rebel ships viable. R2-D2 is the most reliable regeneration card since it'll always work after doing a green maneuver.
  • Miranda Doni (pilot; K-Wing) [1][2][3]. Twin Laser Turret has special synergy with her pilot ability, since she can recover a shield on the first shot and take the second shot with the full 3 dice. Unfortunately, running away to regenerate with Miranda is more difficult since she needs to shoot to regenerate. Twin Laser Turret doesn't work at range 1, but she can spend a shield to make a 4-dice primary attack instead.
  • R5-P9 (astromech; Rebel Transport epic) [1][2]. This isn't seen nearly as often as R2-D2 since the focus token is a large cost, but it works with some ships. The main selling point is the ability to use both R5-P9 and R2-D2 in the same squad. It has special synergy with Poe Dameron since he usually won't have to spend his focus token. It lets him regenerate while doing white maneuvers and is a point cheaper than R2-D2, but it does make him more vulnerable to bumping and stress.



2. Stress control


Stress is a strong counter to ships which rely on their actions. Not only do Rebels have the cheapest options for stressing enemy ships, they have the best ways of giving enemy ships two stress in one turn. A ship with one stress can do a green maneuver and still take an action next turn, but a ship with two stress will almost never get an action next turn.
  • R3-A2 (astromech; Rebel Transport epic) [1][2]. Both of these example ships can shoot twice in one turn and stress the target with each shot. Note the Stresshog only stresses their opponent with the primary attack and the first shot of the Twin Laser Turret, and doesn't stress a third time on the second Twin Laser Turret shot. Braylen wants to miss with the first attack, and you can make it easier by not to adding the extra attack dice from the title for that attack.


3. Biggs


Despite flying a weaker ship, Biggs Darklighter is one of the most powerful pilots in the game. Rebels have many ships which are vulnerable to focus fire. Biggs prevents your opponent from killing those more powerful ships first, and those extra turns can make all the difference.

  • Biggs Darklighter (X-Wing; Red Core Set) [1][2]. I like to keep Biggs cheap since he will die quickly, but sometimes you can get value out of R2-D2. Biggs is sometimes seen with a different astromech like R3-A2 or M9-G8 to provide utility.


4. Tanky 1-agility ships

The C-3PO crew greatly improves the tankiness of ships with 1-agility. By guessing 0 evades, it guarantees a ship with 1 agility will get at least one evade result every round. It's strongest when combined with other defensive measures like the evade action and/or regeneration. Ships with C-3PO and another source of damage mitigation are very hard to take down in a 1v1 endgame.

  • C-3PO (crew; Tantive IV epic and promo) [1][2]. Han mitigates two damage per round by taking the evade action, and Norra can mitigate three damage a round thanks to her ability and regeneration.


5. Bombs


Bombs are interesting because they let you deal damage without having to get through defense dice. Rebels get the best use out of bombs thanks to Sabine Wren (crew; Ghost) and K-Wings with the Advanced SLAM modification. Sabine deals one damage to a nearby ship when a friendly bomb detonates, even if the bomb was dropped by another friendly ship. This often doubles the damage of a bomb and is especially deadly against evasive ships with low health. Furthermore, K-Wings with Advanced SLAM have unparalleled flexibility in where they drop their "action" bombs (see below).

There are two types of bombs: ones dropped upon revealing your dial ("reveal bombs") and ones dropped as an action ("action bombs"). You'll probably want at least one of each. Reveal bombs are better if you move after your opponent, and action bombs are better if you move before your opponent. You want to drop these bombs directly on enemy ships or when you otherwise know they'll hit. The most popular reveal bombs are Seismic Charges, Ion Bombs, and Thermal Detonators. The most popular action bombs are Cluster Mines, Conner Net, and Proximity Mines. Note a ship can only drop one bomb per turn, no matter what type, and using the SLAM action doesn't let you to drop a reveal bomb since no dial was revealed.

  • Miranda Doni (pilot; K-Wing) [1]. Miranda is used when you want a closer with bombs. Her Twin Laser Turret gives her consistent offense after her bombs are expended, and her pilot ability keeps her healthy. Choose the bombs according to your preference.
  • Warden Squadron Pilot (pilot; K-Wing) [1]. The generic K-Wing pilot lets you run multiple bombers at the cost of a weak attack. You can have up to three if you use cheaper bombs. If you already have Sabine (crew) in your list, they can take Intelligence Agent to make bombing runs easier.
  • Ahsoka Tano (pilot; Sabine's TIE Fighter) [1]. Most lists can't attack Ahsoka until she's your only ship left thanks to the Captured TIE modification. A common strategy against bombing lists is to kill the ship with Sabine first, and the Captured TIE ability makes that strategy impossible for lists who don't have a pilot skill 9+ ship. It also lets her freely run into the enemy formation and generally be a nuisance. Her weakness is requiring a ship to die in close range before she can drop a second bomb.


6. Dash


Dash Rendar can freely move through obstacles and land on debris fields. This makes him incredibly hard to pin down by ships with lower pilot skill. Combined with Push the Limit and Engine Upgrade, he's one of the best arc-dodgers in the game. Thanks to his Heavy Laser Cannon and Outrider title, Dash is also one of the heaviest-hitting large ships with a 360-degree turret.

Dash has a weakness against ships with higher pilot skill, and he only has a pilot skill of 7. Because of his cost and inability to use Gunner, he often uses the Heavy Laser Cannon. This gives him a "donut hole" since he can't shoot ships at Range 1. Ships with higher pilot skill can exploit this weakness by closing in after Dash commits to his position.

  • Dash Rendar (pilot; YT-2400) [1][2][3]. The first build has the best arc-dodging capabilities, and basically has his whole dial available every turn. The second build trades maneuverability for more tokens, but keeps Engine Upgrade. The third build is a cheaper build without Engine Upgrade.


7. Heavy-hitting ships


All faction have heavy-hitting ships, but Rebels have the most access to ships that can throw out 4 or 5 attack dice with consistent dice modification.

  • VCX-100 (ship; Ghost) [1][2][3]. The first build is a relatively cheap support ship with a scary offense and the ability to K-Turn to its heart's content. While expensive, the second and third builds get an extra turret shot at the end of combat and are effectively two ships in one. The second build also gets an extra attack die from Finn, although it's only effective when rerolled with target lock.
  • Dash Rendar (pilot; YT-2400) [1][2][3]. As discussed above, Dash is one of the heaviest-hitting ships with a 360-degree turret.
  • Rey (YT-1300 pilot; Heroes of the Resistance) [1]. Finn synergizes nicely with Rey's ability to give her a consistent 4-dice attack against targets in arc. Expertise helps with Rey's action economy since she craves focus tokens for both offense and defense. The new Millennium Falcon title with Kanan lets Rey turn around without stress so she can keep targets in arc and still get use out of Expertise and focus.
  • Norra Wexley (pilot; ARC-170) [1][2]. Norra's ability adds an extra hit when you have target lock and focus. The first build is the standard tanky build, while the second has some fun repositioning options.
  • Miranda Doni (pilot; K-Wing) [1]. Miranda's back, and this time she uses her ability to make a 5-dice Homing Missile attack with focus and target lock on the first round of combat. If you have extra points, you can add Extra Munitions, bombs, and Sabine Wren, or instead give her C-3PO for more durability.
  • Corran Horn (pilot; E-Wing) [1][2]. Corran doesn't have a 4- or 5-dice attack in the traditional sense, but his double tap ability lets him do incredible burst damage. You usually don't want to use it at Range 3 against an opponent that still has defensive tokens. Instead, you want to use it when you wouldn't have a shot next round anyway, ideally against a target at Range 1 who doesn't have tokens. He's extremely strong in a 1v1 endgame. However, Corran has some weaknesses. He has trouble turning around, he's reliant on green dice, and he's especially vulnerable to effects that deal damage cards through shields.


8. Cheap damage-dealers


Rebels have several options for ships with 3 attack and enough health to survive a turn of being shot at an affordable cost.

  • Gold Squadron Pilot (pilot; Y-Wing) [1]. The Twin Laser Turret is the most efficient turret in the game, and putting it on a Y-Wing makes for a cheap and efficient damage dealer.
  • Blue Squadron Pilot (pilot; B-Wing and Rebel Aces) [1][2]. The Blue Squadron Pilot is cheap and efficient by itself. Adding Fire-Control System is a strong option that greatly improves its offense assuming it can keep shooting the same target.
  • Blue Squadron Pathfinder (pilot; U-Wing) [1][2]. The U-Wing costs 1 point more than the B-Wing and trades a more awkward flight pattern for 1 more agility die. Like the B-Wing, it can be run with or without Fire-Control System. You should strongly consider adding Hera Syndulla (crew) to this ship so it can stay in place forever.


Rebel weaknesses


There are two things Rebels don't do well. First, its closers tend to be more expensive, starting at 37 points with strong reasons to go even higher. The other two factions have closers under 35 points. These extra points make a big difference when building lists.

Second, Rebels don't have a full-featured small-base arc-dodging ace. The A-Wing almost fits this profile, but its 2-dice attack means it can't reliably provide enough offense to justify spending ~30 points on it. Some small-base Rebel arc-dodging ships exist, but they tend to be too fragile for their cost. Imperials have many options, and Scum have the Protectorate Starfighter. That means most small-base Rebel ships want to fly at the enemy ships, and have limited options if they are outgunned.

9 comments:

  1. We live in sad times when not even Corran Horn is enough to get the E-Wing a mention.

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    1. He's the third build under R2-D2 :p.

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    2. We live in slightly more bearable but still sad times when Corran Horn is only enough to get the E-Wings a small footnote.

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    3. That's a good point, I've included him under the list of "heavy-hitting ships". He probably deserves more of a mention than just under R2-D2 :).

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  2. Hey Bohan. Good stuff. As an avid Rebel pilot, I enjoyed your take on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the faction. The "closers" at or above 37 points, minimum, is indeed one of the things that Rebels deal with that Soontir and Fenn pilots don't have to think about.

    Could you email me at mike@smithfamilywriters.com? I'd like to chat with you some more.

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    1. Oh man, the smith family blog meets the spaceowl blog...

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  3. Well written up review of the Faction... Locally we DO see Jake Ferrell paired with Kyle Katarn a fair bit for the odd Arc Dodger/potential Proton Rocket carrier. B-Wings are almost never seen these days. Y's are TLT carriers or Stress Hogs. But the 1 Agility ships just die too easily to the Imperial builds, especially pre-Nerf TIE-Defenders...

    One note about your Kanan Ghost... It is EXTREMELY vulnerable to bumping. Locally seeing Hera more frequently as the Pilot with Navigator to have the very open dial on reveal.

    But just what I see and my opinions per usual, YMMV :-)

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  4. I LOVE you articles. Please keep up the good work.

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