Saturday, May 23, 2015

A World Without Autothrusters - Other Viable Anti-Turret Builds

The start of 2015 marked a great change for the X-wing Miniatures game. The Phantom's decloak change brought it back into balance and the new pirate ships brought us our third game faction. However, probably the biggest change at this time is the meta game switching over to autothrusters, a card included in the Star Viper expansion.
                This upgrade is quite self-explanatory: you slap it on and it starts doing its job giving you a guaranteed evade at range 3 or when outside an enemy ship's forward attack arc, all for 2 points. If you can't imgaine right off how powerful this is, try flying a turrted ship against against Soontir Fel with Push the Limit and autothrusters, it's nuts! And in my opinion, it isn't overpowered because the card can only be attached to ships that can boost: the A-wing, Tie Interceptor, Tie Punisher, Star Vipers, and Aggressor. This allows greater flanking power from these ships and decreases the effect of turrets. So watch out Fat Han and Super Dash.
                Whether you are a starting player looking to expand or a seasoned veteran wanting to keep up with the meta game, turreted ships are something you need to learn to fly with or against. Autothrusters is a great choice of an upgrade. And if you aren't a Scum & Villany type of player then don't worry about getting a Star Viper. You can purchase individual upgrade cards on the Team Covenant website. But what if you don't want autothrusters? Me personally, I don't want to have to have an autothruster A-wing or Tie Interceptor included into every one of my builds just to deal with the turreted ship meta. This post will delve into other viable options to solving this problem. After all, if there was only one way to do things, it wouldn't be a very interesting game, now would it? Here are a few strategies and examples I have found that help deal with the power of turrets.

Range 3 flying:
                The turret cards that Y-wings and Hawks can equip are only range 1-2. Hit these ships at range three and you won't receive turret return fire. Then split your vulnerable ships off to evade while more agile ships move in for the range one shot. Y-wings' low agility and Hawks' low shields make them very vulnerable to focused fire. Because you want to move away from the ship your are targeting, ships with barrel roll rather than boost are going to help you. Practice your barrel rolls and make amble use of them to stay out at range 3. Since other turret ships like the Falcon fire at range 3, flying out that far isn't going to help as much except give you the additional defense dice.

Examples: B-wing, E-Wing, Any Tie, Star Vipers, M3-A Interceptors, or even Expert Handling

                Controlling where the turreted ship moves helps make your flying decisions easier, allowing you stay away or move in for the kill. It also allows for easier movement prediction of higher pilot skill ships. One way of control is to give stress. If you can give offensive stress every turn, the turreted ship will be forced to do green maneuvers or risk having the stresses build up. You will control the pace of the game.

Examples: Rebel Transport, Tactician Crew, R3-A2 Stress Droid

                Another way to control ship's movement is ionization, that way you always know where their next move will be. B-wings are exceptional with ion cannons and outrange ion turrets. Defenders with ion cannons are a bit more expensive but are much better than B's at dodging returning turret fire. Z-95 Headhunters are cheaper and more maneuverable than turreted ships making them effective ion missile boats. 
                Note however that large ships require 2 ion tokens before it gets a movement restriction. This can be overcome by flying multiple ion shooters or with ion missiles, the later giving 2 tokens on a hit. Turreted ships with 1 agility are fairly easy to ionize, especially because secondary weapons don't give them the extra range 3 die.

Examples: Ion Cannon, Ion Pulse Missiles, Ion Torpedoes

Action Economy & Synergy:
            When you are flying against turreted ships, you can't flank them. And with a 360 degree firing arc, turrets provide no option for an escape route once you engage them. So your only option of survival will be to kill them before they kill you. And this presents a hard choice to make: do you go full offensive with your action and just take the return fire or do you take defensive actions and hope your attack dice get lucky? Perhaps there is a better solution. You don't have to ever ask this question if you have good action economy. You can pick action giving pilots like Dutch Vander or Colonel Jendon and have a synergy based squad. Or you can pick from a wide variety of upgrades that can give you more actions or provide no-action-needed benefits for your ships. But whichever ones you pick, the strategy is the same. You want to have multiple actions for your ships so you can both hit hard and stay evasive.

Pilot Examples: Darth Vader, Dutch, Guri, Vessery, Jendon, Kyle Katarn

Upgrade Examples: Outmaneuver, Accuracy Corrector, Advanced Sensors, Fire Control System, Predator, R7 Astromech

Action Taking:
            On the other hand of actions, you could consider a path of taking away enemy tokens. Removing action modifications is quite a nice counter versus any enemy ship. But it is devastating against a Y-wing or Hawk with a Blaster Turret.

Examples: Toryn Farr, Wes Janson, Palob Godalhi

            In conclusion, there are ample ways besides autothrusters to punish turreted ships. Learn your own playing style and find which of these strategies appeals the most to you. Then be sure to study expansions carefully and collect the ships, pilots, and upgrades you want. In the afterwards I will give some alternate ships builds that are effective versus turreted ships. Be sure to keep thinking of those creative solutions and have fun.

            It is important to note that most alternate builds cost more points than autothruster ships. Yes, autothrusters can give you the cheapest anti-turret build but that really is all it is good for. If you aren't fighting turreted ships then your autothrusters only help you at range 3. On the other hand, these alternates can handle a diverse number of situations. I mean, you can stress or ion any ship you like!

A-wing w/ Prototype Pilot- 17 points
                    Chardaan Refit
Tie Interceptor w/ Alpha Squad Pilot - 20 points
Star Viper w/ Black Sun Enforcer - 27 points

Stressing Alternates:
X-wing w/ Hobbie - 30 points
                   Flechette Torpedoes
                   R3-A2 droid
                   Munitions Failsafe
Rebel Transport - 34 points
                   w/ Frequency Jammer
Phantom w/ Sigma Squad Pilot - 29 points
                   Stygium Accelerator

Ion Alternates:
Headhunter w/ Bandit Squad Pilot - 15 points
                    Ion Missiles
M3-A Interceptor w/ Cartel Spacer - 19 points
                   Heavy Scyk Title
                   Ion Cannon
Defender w/ Delta Squad Pilot - 33 points
                   Ion Cannon
B-wing w/ Blue Squad Pilot - 28 points
                   Advanced Sensors
                   Ion Cannon

Action Economy Alternates:
Star Viper w/ Guri - 34 points
                   Virago Title
                   Accuracy Correctors
Rebel Transport - 40 points
                   w/ Toyrn Farr
                   Comms booster
Defender w/ Vessery - 38 points
E-wing w/ Blackmoon Squad Pilot - 33 points
                   Push the Limit
                   R2 droid
E-wing w/ Corran - 40 points
                   Veteran Instincts
                   Fire Control System
                   R7 droid
Hawk w/ Palob - 27 points
                   Blaster Turret
                   Recon Specialist

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