Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Explosive Mandalorian Fun - Applying the Sabine Crew to Rebel Bombing Doctrine

              Today, I want to talk about the Sabine crew included in the Ghost expansion. While it is easy to see this card's game-changing potential, it helps to see how deep that change goes. If you wish to delve further into this topic, feel free to look at my previous article discussing Wave 7's expansion of the bomber pillar.
              Before we start, I want to point out an interesting tidbit of information: Sabine appearing in X-wing marks the Mandalorians taking all three sides in X-wing Miniatures. We first had Imperial bounty hunters and then Scum mercenaries, and now Rebels have a piece of the action with their pyromaniac freedom-fighter, Sabine.

              There are two distinct things to note about the card’s wording, the first being the limitation of 'once per round'. It is not viable to build a whole squad of bombers based around Sabine's ability because, while you can drop many bombs each round, you only get one extra damage. Instead, use her in conjunction with 1-2 bombers and dedicate the rest of your squad to another pillar/strategy.
              The second thing to note is the absence of a range requirement. Like Emperor Palpatine, Sabine can activate her ability anywhere on the map. This means that the bomber she is with can drop a mine, get the heck-outta-Dantoonie, and still add the extra damage when the mine is triggered. It also means that Sabine can be placed in a supporting ship and still add power to your bombers.

The Bomb Slot
              In my Advanced Bombing strategy article, I talked about how the Rebel faction has access to 2 bomber ships, the Y-wing and K-wing. When Sabine is added to the mix, this number skyrockets to 11!

Basic Bomber - 1 Bomb Slot
              Before Sabine, Rebels didn't have a basic bombing ship. Now, Sabine gives us the option of placing a few points aside for a big bang on a ship that doesn’t normally carry bombs. These ships include the Hawk, Falcon, Outrider, Attack Shuttle, and stolen TIE Fighter.

Standard Bomber - 1 Bomb Slot + Extra Munitions
              The Rebels already had 1 standard bomber, the Y-wing. Carrying 2 bombs and a turret, this ship build makes an excellent all-game threat. While the Y-wing doesn't have a crew slot, you can still boost it through Sabine on a support ship.
              The Sabine crew creates four additional standard bombers: the Ghost, ARC-170, B-wing, and U-wing. The Ghost and ARC are good for bombing runs because they don’t care about facing forwards, the Ghost having a turret and aft torpedoes, and the ARC having an rear gunner. The B-wing and U-wing, though required to shoot forward, can take bombs to protect against flankers. However, in the current meta, an E2 B-wing with Sabine is overpriced at a base 25 points.

Advanced Bomber - 2 Bomb Slots + Extra Munitions
              Rebels had one advanced bomber, the K-wing, and no new advanced bombers are created with Sabine. Yet, if we add Sabine to a K-wing we get…

Super Bomber - 3 Bomb Slots + Extra Munitions
              A K-wing with Sabine is a unique ship build with 6 bombs that neither Imperials or Scum can match. However, unique doesn’t necessary equate to viable and, in all honestly, a super bomber K-wing doesn’t have the agility or HP to justify its points.
              For a competitive K-wing build, I would suggest taking Miranda Doni with Ion Bombs, Proximity Mines, Extra Munitions, and the Sabine Crew. This creates a bomber that deals high bomb damage, works well against low and high pilot skill, and who can SLAM out of sticky situations and use its primary attack to recharge shields.

K-wing w/ Miranda – 38 points
              Ion Bombs
              Proximity Mines
              Extra Munitions

Crew Ability
              Not only does Sabine’s ability give more options of bombing-class builds, it increases the overall effectiveness of your ordnance. For mines, it guarantees dealing 1 damage to enemy ships and increases your chances of dealing more. Add this to the Cluster Mines newly updated rules and you get some potent ordnance options.

Regular Proximity Mine: 0-3 damage
Sabine Proximity Mine: 1-4 damage
Regular Cluster Mine: 0-2 damage per token
Sabine Cluster Mine: 1-3 damage on the first token

              You also get many benefits for bombs. Ion bombs now do damage in addition to ionizing, giving you destruction power along with utility. Seismic Charges and Thermal Detonators do double damage to a single target, which is great for both finishing off a dying ship or whittling down a high shield value. Proton Bombs also gets a boost by being able to deal both a normal damage and a faceup damage card.

              Whether you are looking for a new bombing strategies, more bomber builds, or more potent bombs, Sabine is an excellent crew member to integrate into your squad. I hope this article gave you some new ideas of how to run Rebel bombing, and be sure to leave a comment of what you plan on trying. I wish you the best of luck with your matches this week, PGP out.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Asteroids Do Not Concern Me - Discussing the Collision Detector

Good morning, readers. School is in full swing for me but I want to continue bringing you healthy doses of X-wing brainstorming. With Wave 9’s release just around the corner, let's take a closer look at the upcoming Collision Detector.

Upon Examination
              This intriguing system comes in two parts. The first is mentioned in FFG’s Special Forces TIE article: the Collision Detector allows you to complete your boost, barrel roll, or decloak even if you overlapped an obstacle. It is important to note that while allowing you to complete your movement action, you lose ability to perform further actions. So, if you are Pushing the Limit, be sure to overlap last. Players in the market for an actual “Anti-Bump Detector” should take Advanced Sensors, allowing action economy before moving.
              The second part of the Collision Detector lets your ship to ignore critical hits when rolling for obstacle damage. Based on the 8 faces of an attack die, here are the numbers on obstacle damage.

Chance of Taking Damage
Extra Effect
Lose Action
Asteroid w/ CD
Lose Action
Debris Cloud
1 Stress Token, Lose Action
Debris Cloud w/ CD
1 Stress Token, Lose Action

              As expected, the Collision Detector improves your chances of dodging damage. However, you still can get hit, hence why it’s a Collision “Detector” and not a Collision “Preventer”. As for debris, the CD makes you immune to damage, but you must deal with the accompanying stress.

When to Equip the Collision Detector
              The Collision Detector provides a subtle change, rather than a game-breaking ability. Since we don't want to squander system slots, we must not think of the CD as an auto-include card. In fact, more often than not, a different system upgrade will serve your squad better. The two types of pilots that get the most out of the CD, and therefore equip it most frequently, are 1) named aces with maneuver actions, and 2) low PS generics who aren’t using their system slot. Let's take a closer look at both.

              The power of movement actions grows in proportion to pilot skill. Since the Collision Detector also adds power to movement actions, this upgrade grows proportionally as well. For example, Keyan Farlander with Veteran Instincts and Advanced Sensors is a decent arc-dodging ship. However, this build is expensive and rather fragile. If we replace AS with the CD, we give power to Keyan’s barrel rolls while saving 3 squad points.

B-wing w/ Keyan – 30 points
              Veteran Instincts
              Collision Detector

              Keyan also exemplifies the fact that many pilots synergize with stress. Our Keyan build loves debris clouds, giving him an “offensive focus” for his action and a 0% chance of collision damage. Another great mashup is 4-Lom with Wired: he gets focus action economy from flying through debris and then can dump the stress on anyone else at range 1.

Mist Hunter w/ 4-Lom – 30 points
              Collision Detector
              Intelligence Agent
              Mist Hunter Title
              Tractor Bean
The CD/stress combo carries over to ship dials. The Special Forces TIE has quite a few red moves, which is supposed to be a hindrance. Overcome this weakness with the Collision Detector and the Twin Ion Engine Mark II. Let’s build Backdraft like this and he becomes a cheap Imperial Ace who arc-dodges, deals well with stress, and bypasses obstacles to line up double shots and/or slip past enemies.

TIE/sf w/ Backdraft – 29 points
              Veteran Instincts
              Collision Detector
              TIE Mk II
              On the opposite end of the dial spectrum is the Aggressor. IG-88’s ship has enough green to easily exploit a CD/stress combo, and he has access to enough action economy that he doesn’t mind taking stress and losing actions. Regrettably, IG-88C can’t boost through an obstacle and get his free evade action.

Aggressor w/ IG-88B – 43 points
              Flechette Cannon
              Collision Detector

              I cannot stand un-upgraded B-wings. Though powerful and tough, they are too slow to last long, especially in the current metagame. Attaching upgrades to them helps, but you walk a fine line between adding utility and overpricing. Here is where the Collision Detector comes in: adding utility for no cost. Perhaps all your B-wing needs to survive is to successfully dodge through an asteroid cluster. Adding a CD helps out many other generics as well, such as Special Forces Zetas (TIE swarms that don’t care about obstacles), Cutlass Punishers (more lucrative mine placement), Omicron Shuttles (last ditch attempts to save Palpatine), and Lothal Rebels (good synergy with Dash crew).

B-wing w/ Blue Pilot – 22 points
              Collision Detector

Punisher w/ Cutlass Pilot – 27 points
              Proximity Mines
              Extra Munitions
              Collision Detector
              TIE Mark 2

VCX-100 w/ Lothal Rebel – 40 points
              Dorsal Turret
              Collision Detector
              Dash Rendar

              There are two other generics worth mentioning. The first is the Sigma Squadron TIE Phantom. My favorite build for this pilot is an Intelligence Agent and the Stygium Particle Accelerator. It’s cheap, efficient, and fun to fly. When Wave 9 hits the shelves, the Sigma can take a CD for better maneuverability. While you lose the evade action from the SPA, the ability to dodge through asteroids provides greater unpredictability.

Phantom w/ Sigma Pilot - 28 points
              Collision Detector
              Intelligence Agent
              Stygium Particle Accelerator

              The second generic worth noting is the E-wing. While still not fully viable, an E-wing with a CD and R5-X3 is almost tempting enough to take. It would require intense practice to use obstacles in your favor, but it would be fun to pull off. Perhaps if we get an E-wing title fix, it will be a viable build.

E-wing w/ Knave - 28 points
              Collision Detector

              The metagame is always shifting and it can be challenge to continuously adapt. But I hope this small brainstorm session gives you a few ideas on how to solve the challenges you face in X-wing. I wish you luck in navigating those asteroid fields, and have a great week!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Lock S-Foils In Attack Position – Discussing Implications of the Pivot Wing

              Greeting pilots, and Happy 100,000 Views! I am amazed at the response this blog has received and am grateful for every reader. Thank you for making the Poor Grey Pilot great!
              I am excited to talk about the announcement of U-wing starship. I was curious how this ship would be represented in X-wing Miniatures, but when I read about the Pivot Wing upgrade my mind was blown! In today’s article, I want to explore the implications of the Pivot Wing and discuss the possibility of the s-foil.

The S-Foil
              While cleverly titled, the heart of the “pivot wing” ties back to s-foils. Star Wars ships are so dynamic because they transform. Movable wings seem humdrum to veteran Star Wars fans, but we shouldn’t forget the first time we saw an X-wing transform in A New Hope! (A similar moment is when Darth Maul pulled out the first-ever bow lightsaber, another aspect Star Wars fans take for granted nowadays.)
              It makes sense why s-foils weren’t included at the beginning of X-wing; it helps keep an already complicated game simple. But we are witnesses to a great move in X-wing Miniature mechanics, one that started back in Wave 8. The G-1A Starfighter introduced the first Dual Card, and Wave 10 is bringing another. Like connecting three dots to make a straight line, I predict the next major move for X-wing Miniatures is to create an s-foil mechanic. The Dual Card provides the perfect platform for dictating the mechanic and the Pivot Wing pioneers the effect.
              The benefits I see for an S-Foil Dual Card are twofold: First, it would provide a much-needed fix to the T-65 X-wing, making it more viable and fun to fly. It would be amazing to open and close s-foils, giving you utility to switch between firepower and mobility. Secondly, an S-Foil Dual Card would provide strength to faction identity. Most X-wing Miniature ships with s-foils are Rebel. This means that s-foil mechanics would make factions more distinct, providing necessary individually in the game. Furthermore, it would give a lift to Rebel metagame, which has had to overly rely on expensive aces and clunky ships.

Widespread S-Foil Application
              However, the T-65 isn’t the only ship that both needs an upgrade and can make use of s-foils. Let’s take a look at each one.

T-70 X-wing
              While this ship is already well priced, I want to address a concern some players have expressed in comparing the T-70 to the TIE/sf. For one point cheaper, the TIE/sf features far more bells and whistles. Providing the T-70 with dynamic s-foils would allow it to continue to remain viable in the metagame.

              When talking about s-foils for the X-wing, I favor an attack/maneuverability mechanic. For the B-wing, however, I feel that it could benefit more if treated like the U-wing. An agility/maneuverability dual card would help make sure B-wings aren’t just sitting ducks waiting to be blown up. Plus, it would give me an excuse to further mod my B-wing miniatures.

Attack Shuttle
              As I see it, the Attack Shuttle has two roles. It either stays docked in the Ghost as long as possible, thus giving you combined firepower and protection for your fragile fighter. The second role I’ve seen is taking Zeb with Chewbacca as crew to create a powerful pseudo-X-wing. (For those of you wondering why there isn’t a generic Attack Shuttle, this is why.) A dual card would allow the Attack Shuttle freedom to fulfill more roles, such as a more viable arc-dodging Hera.

              This situation is a lot like the T-70’s. Both the ARC-170 and TIE/sf introduced new types of auxiliary firing arcs, but the abilities of the TIE/sf appear to outstrip that of the ARC’s. Perhaps when designing Wave 9, FFG purposefully left some room for a future dual card.

Lambda Shuttle
              These shuttles aren’t small and maneuverable like U-wings, but imagine a space-cow that can perform a stop maneuver to spin 180 degrees! This would keep the Lambda viable, even with the Upsilon on the way.

TIE Advanced Prototype
              Although only shown using s-foils during landing, the Advanced Prototype could benefit from a dual card. It would give the TAP a more distinct feel from its brother, the TIE/x1. It would also provide a healthy cross-faction exception, like Sabine’s TIE.

Star Viper
              Finally, the last ship that could benefit from an s-foil dual card is the Star Viper. While I would still prefer a Viper/Scyk Scum Ace fix, I’d love an s-foil fix. Dynamic wings would pay tribute to the mobility of the space-butterfly as players switch between speed and maneuverability. This would help fix the Viper’s bad pricing and make it even more of a blast to fly on the tabletop.

Further Possibilities
              The U-wing and the TIE Striker are just two concrete examples of the many possibilities of ships we could get in Rogue One. I personally hope we get a few T-65s. That would be a great throwback to the Original Trilogy as well as the comics, like with Nera Dantels and Red Squadron.
I don’t know how a s-foil card would be limited to specific ships, but FFG could find a way. Perhaps, if the movie has X-wings, FFG would have reason to release one final X-wing expansion, with title-specific dual cards for all ships. A crazy rumor going around is whether we could get a Rogue One Starter Set. My fellow-writer Mike Sweetman discusses the possibility over at Be A Healthy Geek, so be sure to check it out!
Thanks for joining me in this fun discussion of what-ifs. Let me know in the comments how you think X-wing Miniatures will be affected by Pivot Wings. I hope you have a great week of gaming, and remember to fly casual!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Clear Chrome Plating - Astromechs, Part 4

                I was getting my sorry butt handed to me on the Elite War setting of Heroes and Generals, and decided to peruse Reddit in order to break up the monotony of my ridiculously frequent spawn times. It was during this time that I came across the discussion of the ARC-170 expansion for X-wing Miniatures and was saddened by what I found: not much love for the R3 Astromech. I've been taking a hiatus from X-wing analytical articles, due to a combination of school and branching out to other games, but I've been reminded of something. There'll always be game aspects that are passed over by popular trains of thought and, therefore, need a hint of nurturing to have their true potential shine. Thus, I give you a long overdue Poor Grey Pilot article, heaven knows you deserve it. Let's discuss the possibilities of the R3 Astromech.
                I am eager to see the retrofitted ARC-170 join this game, especially since it adds to the X-wing ship bloodline, but it was the R3 Astromech that most intrigued me from the Wave 9 teaser. The R3 Astromech has four main aspects attributing to its strength: it provides protection against dice fails, it increases action economy, its generic, and (like the FFG article said) it synergizes well with Rebel builds.

1) Protection Against Dice Fails
                Repositioning power has always been the strongest aspect of X-wing Miniatures, but there is no point getting into the right position if the dice fail. This pitfall was overcome by the basic blueprint of arc-dodging ships introduced with Imperial Aces. You attach Push The Limit to a high PS Ace, in a ship fast enough to deal with the stress tokens, and you now have enough action economy to reposition and prevent dice failure.
                However, Rebels have a hard time reproducing the arc-dodging success seen with Imperials, whether its because of the A-wing's 2 attack dice, the E-wing's high cost, or the T-65's lack of mobility. This struggle can be seen in the development of how I've run Wedge Antilles. Previous ship building standards in X-wing dictated that a solid Wedge build look something like this:

X-wing w/ Wedge - 40 points
                Engine Upgrade

                This X-wing gets repositioning power from an EU, but the lack of an evade action means that you can't get much use out of Push the Limit, therefore requiring expensive upgrades to protect against dice failure on both offense and defense. This leads to a powerful, albeit expensive, Wedge that absolutely needs to be protected by Biggs in order to make it to the late game, and with that you've already spent 65 squad points. So I experimented to see if I could find a cheaper alternative that gave similar power. This led me to my creation of Stay on Target Wedge.

X-wing w/ Wedge - 33 points
                Stay On Target
                Targeting Astromech
                Integrated Astromech

                This clever combo gives Wedge both repositioning and a target lock, allowing you to get into the right place and make sure your attack doesn't fail. We've used the astromech slot and can no longer take shield regeneration, yet this is compensated by the IA and a 7 point savings. But, there is still a fundamental problem that hasn't been fixed, which is that Wedge overly relies on devastating offenses and can't modify defense dice. This weakness can be solved with the R3 Astromech.

X-wing w/ Wedge - 35 points
                Lone Wolf
                R3 Astromech
                Vectored Thrusters

                We now have a well-rounded Rebel Ace costing the same as Soontir Fel, but who doesn't need to self stress. Wedge uses his PS 9 and barrel rolls to get behind enemies. He then attacks with 4 dice, rerolling a blank, and converting a focus result into a precious evade token. We have successfully given Wedge repositioning, protection against any dice fails, and a decent cost.

2) Gives Action Economy
                As seen by my final Wedge build, the R3 Astromech and Vectored Thrusters were made for each other. Together, these two upgrades provide cheap action economy to ships that can't properly use PTL. This breathes new life into X-wing Aces, who now have action economy that jives well with their ship. Wes Janson doesn't mind as much if his attack misses, he generally wants to soften targets for allies. Use him to strip enemy tokens, then take an evade to turtle up. Consider giving him Veteran Instincts to make more use of his barrel rolls, or equipping Juke for even more action denial. If you are in the market for something tankier, take Luke instead. His pilot ability synergizes well to make a more durable X-wing arc-dodging ace.

X-wing w/ Wes - 33 points
                R3 Astromech
                Vectored Thrusters

X-wing w/ Luke - 34 points
                Lone Wolf
                R3 Astromech
                Vectored Thrusters

                Another great application of action economy is the E-wing. With R3 and the Fire Control System, we have a Corran Horn that can barrel roll, target lock, and evade. Moreover, Corran can use his double tap in a similar fashion to Miranda Doni. He dives on his first attack, using R3 to get an evade, and FCS to get a TL. Then, during the end phase, his pilot ability activates and he can hit hard and dodge away next turn. Another thing to note is that R3's wording says you assign an evade token, rather than perform a free evade action. This allows the possibility of double evades and we can use R3 to replace R2-D2 + Sensor Jammer on Etahn A'baht, a 5 point savings, with a freed systems slot.

E-wing w/ Corran - 39 points
                Fire Control System
                R3 Astromech

E-wing w/ Etahn - 39 points
                Push The Limit
                Fire Control System
                R3 Astromech

Lore Break
                Here we will pause to take a refreshing lore break. The R3 astromech, in the Star Wars universe, was designed to hold a powerful sensor array, and a stronger battery to power it. To prevent sensor interference, the regular astromech dome of the R2 was replaced with a clear one, the telling feature that distinguishes between the two models. This lore is reflected in R3-A2, who uses its sensors as electronic warfare to stress the systems of enemy fighters. It is also seen in the Salvaged R3 Astromech, whose strong power source provides the equivalent of a shield token to Scum ships. Since shield and evade tokens are quite similar, mechanics-wise, we find that the R3 Astromech does a job like that of its Scum counterpart. However, it is far more powerful for the same point cost. All you need is for one evade token to block a hit and you've matched the power of the Salvaged R3, plus you don't need to wait for a Ship-based critical to activate.

3) Generic Droid
                Our third aspect of strength is that the R3 is an unnamed droid. While you won't be fielding multiple R3s in all your squads, the option to do so if both powerful and liberating for squad building. You could have fun with a list of 3 Juke Red Vet X-wings. Or perhaps you want to capitalize off the cheap action economy and field an all ace list, such as Wedge, Wes, and Luke. Since R3 activates after your ship shoots, you'll want it on higher PS pilots, so low PS squads won't get much use from this droid. Yet, even then, it might be worth the risk so you can laugh as generics TIE Fighter or Headhunter swarms futilely try to break your defenses.

T-70 w/ Red Vet - 33 points
                R3 Astromech
                Comms Relay
                Integrated Astromech

4) Rebel Ability Synergy
                FFG claims that the ARC-170 is well priced. If it is indeed, it won't suffer the same defect as the E-wing, namely players overrelying on shield-recharge droids to protect their high point investment. This scenario led to the sad result that R7 droids are rarely used on the ship they were intended for. Let's hope the same won't happen to the ARC-170 because the R3 synergizes so well with it. You can put an R3 on Shara Bey, thus allowing her to survive longer to help her allies. And it is a perfect fit for Norra Wexley. Her ability, when combined with an R3, allows her to turn her target lock action into the evade action. If you then slap on Veteran Instincts, you optimize the benefit of your droid and keep Norra's cost low.

ARC w/ Norra - 34
                Veteran Instincts
                R3 Astromech
                Alliance Refit
                Vectored Thrusters

                Another great pilot with R3 synergy is Horton Salm. This Y-wing Ace who has always been plagued by focus results on his attacks. I played with this combo for awhile but almost gave up since R3 doesn't work with turrets, but then I remembered an old project of mine: the "Hort-hog". It was a silly attempt to justify putting the BTL-A3 Title on Horton, but I never found a combo that worked. Now, with R3, it actually makes sense. This build is about timing. At range 3, you play conservatively, but at the opportune moment, you slip into range 1-2 and blast away! For one more point, you could try replacing the Dorsal Turret and Vectored Thrusters with a Twin Laser Turret.

Y-wing w/ Horton - 32 points
                Dorsal Turret
                R3 Astromech
                BTL-A3 Title
                Vectored Thrusters

                Whether its offering alternative action economy or strong Rebel synergy, there are many applications of the R3 Astromech. I hope that this article gave you some new ideas and I wish you the best in your squad building. Happy Flying!

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Five Main Game Stages - Advanced X-wing Miniatures Aspects - Part 4

                Good day, pilots. I wish to express thanks for your patience. These last few weeks have been busy as I've been getting ready for school. I am also dedicating more writing towards editing as I am working on possibly making a Poor Grey Pilot book.  So we'll see how that goes, wish me luck.

                In today's article, I want to cover the game stages of X-wing Miniatures. I am not referring to phases of each round, but rather the stages a game of X-wing goes through, start to finish. While I'm not the sole proprietor of X-wing terminology, I have yet to find an FFG guide that states official stage names. So please allow me creative license to explain this topic. I do not wish for my terminology to become canon, only for my thoughts to be properly understood.
                There are five main stages of an X-wing match: Pre, Early, Mid, Late, and Post. In this analysis we will break down the stages, find out what they contain, and look at which upgrades are strong in each.

Pregame - Plan & Prepare
                While not part of the actual match, the pregame stage is nonetheless important. X-wing Miniatures isn't a game of pickup basketball. Before you break out the playmat, I hope you've taken the time to find or create a squad based on your likes. Squad creation is the first part of every game. When playing competitively, research the meta game and plan appropriate counters to what most people fly.
                Then comes the (not so) secret of the Pregame: practice! It can be an alluring to think you know your squad well enough, but if there is one thing I've seen the top level players do, it's beat their squads to death with practice! Know your ships inside and out. That way, you won't forget ability time windows and won't self-bump.
                The final parts of the pregame are when you meet your opponent and see their list. You want to understand the cards your opponent brings and hopefully glean their overall strategy. The pregame finishes when you roll for initiative. Remember to fly causal.

Early game - Set Up & Jockeying
                A mistake newer players make is misinterpreting when an X-wing game has truly "started". It's easy to think that it begins when you enter combat. After all, that is where the excitement resides! However, this mindset places no value on all the things before that moment. The game has truly started the moment the first asteroid is placed. If you haven't put thought into this part of the game, then you're already at a disadvantage. Instead, have a plan for game set up and make adjustments as needed, giving you the chance for better board positioning.
                We start with obstacle placement. Part of your pregame was picking your obstacles and obstacle deployment plan. Learn which obstacle deployments favor you and hurt your opponent. Then you set up ships. Here, you construct ship formations and mentally plot out initial vectors across the board.
                However, initial placement isn't as important as the next part of the early game: jockeying for position. Select your maneuvers and the mental battle is on! You must walk a fine line of guessing correctly what your opponent will do while not giving away hints of your strategy. It is common in the first few rounds for squads to move out cautiously, allowing more time to get an idea of enemy movement. Remember to keep your formations tight and don't self-bump.
                There are also several strategies for the early game. The first is stalling. Ships with 1 forward maneuvers and barrel rolls excel at this. Stalling helps you keep good positions, forcing enemies to come to you. Another tactic is Fortressing, where run ships headfirst into each other to prevent movement. This sacrifices your action economy but there is good chance you won't need it that early.
                Stalling also allowing you to charge upgrade batteries. A battery is an ability that stockpiles actions for later use. This can be Kyle in the Moldy Crow or Dengar with his Gonk Droid. It can even be Keyan Farlander with the Hera crew. The longer you can stall in the early game, the bigger your battery can get. Once things get crazy in combat, you won't have as many chances to charge.
                Another strong early game upgrade is mines. Bomber ships like K-wings and Punishers are mobile enough to traverse the map before combat, allowing you to lay mines and optimize board position for your squad. A well-placed mine forces enemies into less-favorable positions.  

Midgame - The Alpha Strike & The Joust
                The early game immediately ends when you enter combat range, the point of no return. Jockeying is over and now action economy and dice take control of the game. The first part of the midgame is the alpha strike, defined as the initial pass the sides will make.
                There are 3 main things that determine alpha strike strength: positioning, formation, and action economy. The first two are determined by the early game. If you out-guessed your opponent movement, then you will be in good firing position. If you didn't bump your own ships, or asteroids, then you will still have good formation, allowing you to reduce your squad's size while centralizing its firepower. (Exceptions are large-based and Scum ships, which dislike flying in formation). Enough of the alpha strike is affected by the early game that it can cause a snowballing effect. If your opponent lost the early game, then they can easily lose the midgame and spiral quickly to defeat.
                However, one aspect of the alpha strike that is determined right then: action economy. The ability to modify dice removes some bad luck from the game and makes ship performance more consistent, hence why midgame action-economy upgrades are powerful. Cards like Push the Limit and Experimental Interface give you the dice modification needed to keep ships alive. Certain pilots, like Howlrunner and Biggs, are influential because of their ability to shape the alpha strike.
                The next part of the midgame is the joust stage. When the alpha strike ends, all good planning goes to mush. Your starships dance in circles, continuously closing in for the kill. However, don't think that the joust is only for jousting-class ships. These ships are called Jousters because they excel during this stage, but all ship classes take part in the joust. Arc-Dodgers and Bombers cut tight circles and rely heavily on movement actions for positioning. Jousters love K-turns, S-loops, and T-rolls to keep enemies in sight. Turrets fly on wide, sweeping vectors to remain evasive while firing outside of arc. Support ships fly on easily-predicted patterns based off the parameters of their abilities. Concentrated firepower is much harder to achieve during the joust and players must coordinate what's left of their squad.
                One more aspect of jousting that requires attention: blocking. Positioning and dice modification are crucial at this stage of the game, meaning it is devastating to have a ship blocked and action-less. Here, low-skilled pilots shine if you can get them in the correct places to block enemy ships.
                There are many upgrades to chose for the midgame. I've already mentioned action economy, but other strong abilities include ones that shirk damage, such as Determination, the R7 Astromech, and the Sensor Jammer. Or, perhaps you like guaranteed results with Palpatine, Feedback Array, and Autothrusters. There are plenty of others, so be sure to explore!

Late Game - Mop Up & Chases
                It is best to look at the early, mid, and late games as best 2 out of 3. If you beat your opponent in the early and mid then you shouldn't have trouble cleaning the board in the late game. Vice versa, if you lost the first two stages. But the late stage can also be a tie breaker if neither player has gained the advantage.
                Here is where we find another mistake that new players make: how long a game of X-wing will last. Players sometimes think that games will have epic dogfights over large sections of the map. While this happens in some games, most games have jousts that burn out quickly and occur over one small spot of the map. This shortness makes set up and the alpha strike that much more important.
                I call the late game the mop up stage because one of two things happen: either the joust finishes with one player eliminated, or else the losing side breaks off and flees. Either way the winner is clearly established.
                The length of the late game depends on whether the match is casual or competitive. When I play casually, I try to be considerate of my opponent's time. If a winner is clearly established, I am fine finishing. That way time is saved, meaning time for additional games!
                But it is different for competitive. The chase stage is actually crucial because of the Margin of Victory. Put simply, the MoV is how many more squad points you destroyed than lost in all your games combined. While a win is a win in a tournament, there is a good chance players will tie in number of wins. Who breaks the tie is determined by the MoV, therefore each point matters. If you're in the joust stage and know you'll lose, it is wise to break. While you may not win the match, you can save some MoV points overall.
                In regards to upgrades, I would advice that you double check yourself before investing in late game squad points. It's usually more beneficial to pick early or midgame upgrades and defeat your opponent there. That being said, there are some good late gmae upgrades that are worth looking at.
                Health regeneration upgrades are very powerful in the late game. Cards like R2-D2, Salvaged Astromech, and the R5 Astromech reverse ship damage, giving you better squad strength while your enemy is crippled. However, this has the liability of drawing enemy attention. If your opponent can destory your ship in the midgame, then your squad points are wasted. Overcome this weakness by complementing your squad with a strong midgame ship, giving your opponent the tough choice of which ship to focus fire on during the midgame.
                Another strong late game investment is pilot skill. When in formation during the early game, pilot skill only helps you kill enemies without return fire. But during the joust and chase stages, high PS lets you slip behind enemies and stay there. Arc-dodging ships excel at this and terrorize low PS ships with bad dials.

Postgame - Pack up and Analyze
                No matter the outcome, its good sportsmanship to thank your opponent. Then, remember to determine the Margin of Victory.
                These things should be obvious, but there is one part of the postgame that many people forget. After a match or tournament is over, it is beneficial to introspectively analyze your performance. Perhaps you like to discuss games with family and friends. For me, I love writing about my games. That way I capture the exciting memories and have a chance to reflect. (And, of course, I can share them online with you!)
                No matter how its done, this analysis is where you grow the most. What went right or wrong with your squad build? With your action economy? With your ability to outmaneuver your opponent? Find answers to these questions and prepare better for the next match.

                These are the five main stages of an X-wing game. I hope you learned a thing or two about the structure of X-wing Miniatures. With that knowledge, you can improve yourself, your gameplay, and your overall X-wing experience. Which stage of the game do you excel at? And are there any stages that I missed? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading and best of luck fighting for the galaxy! Poor Grey Pilot out.