Monday, June 29, 2015

Begging Experimentation - My Thoughts of the K-wing Preview

                I don't normally do day-of articles but this exception is for a good reason. My two favorite parts of the X-wing Miniatures Game, Ordnance and Turrets, are receiving a buff from the K-wing Expansion Pack. You can read the article and see these upgrades for yourself here. The biggest thing that stood out to me was when they said: "In the end, the K-wing almost begs experimentation." As someone who tries to think about things differently I immediately started applying these new upgrades to the strategies and tactics that I love. So here are my thoughts on how to apply these new aspects and how the meta will change because of them.

The Twin Laser Turret will be popular because it is new but will stay because it works
                 When the TLT was leaked early by Spanish Distributors I saw a lot of negativity, mainly that it is too expensive and is too weak. But FFG doesn't release something in their games without hours of play testing beforehand. And I am of the optimistic mindset that a game is more fun when we focus on making things work rather than complaining that they don't.
                  The Twin Laser Turret is the first turret upgrade to reach Range 3. This means ships with it can now stay out at range 3, not give a defensive dice to their opponent, and receive the defensive dice for themselves. And since this turret isn't limited in faction it means that both Rebel and Scum Warthogs can use it. This creates Y-wings that can shoot three times at range 2-3 for a possible total of 4 damage, which is the same as a Heavy Laser Cannon.
                Taking things in a different direction, we can look at the turret paired with pilot abilities. The K-wing article talks about how well the TLT works with Miranda. What they didn't mention though is that with her ability she can more easily break through autothruster ships. In fact, not only is she a good counter to autothrusters, she actually costs the same to build as the legendary Soontir Fel. That's a fight I would pick any day. Another pilot that works really well with the TLT is Horton Salm. Give him this turret and the R7-T1 droid and you have a Y-wing that can be both evasive and hit hard. Finally, all Rebel Hawks equipped with the TLT can both fire and use abilities out at range 3. Because of this we can be sure to see an return of Rebel Hawks in the meta game and I am excited for that.
                The TLT it is also the only turret upgrade that isn't severely hindered in its use. It doesn't need heavy action economy to be efficient like the Blaster Turret. It can give double the damage output as the Ion Turret. And it has wonderful range unlike the Autoblaster Turret. What about the range 1 blind spot? The K-wing itself doesn't have it with its natural primary turret. But the Y-wing can take a bomb upgrade and enemy ships will be hesitant to try to get behind it.
                So yes, the Twin Laser Turret will be the most expensive turret out there. But I am confident that people will catch on quickly to how powerful it is, either when they fly it or fly against it. I can't wait to try out all of these new builds.

Y-wing w/ Thug - 26 Points
                Twin Laser Turret
                R4 Agromech
                BTL-A4 Title

Y-wing w/ Horton - 36 Points
                Twin Laser Turret
                R7-T1 Astromech
                Ion Bomb

K-wing w/ Miranda - 35 Points
                Twin Laser Turret
Tie Interceptor w/ Soontir - 35 Points
                Push the Limit
                Royal Guard Title
                Hull Upgrade

Plasma Torpedoes will become the new Flechette Torpedoes
                No seriously. Forget about the shield damage part and just look at the point cost. If you can convince yourself that 2 points is cheap for a torpedo then 3 points won't be a hard transition. Moreover, for that one additional point you get an additional attack dice, a fair cost.  In my opinion it is so cheap that I actually will now consider putting ordnance on low PS ships like Rookies, Golds, and Scimitars.
                But it doesn't end there. Ordnance has always been fun because of the extra goodies each missile brings: clusters get two attacks, flechettes give stress, etc. It is icing on top of the cake that Plasma Torpedoes give an additional shield damage if they hit. Honestly, this is the exact opposite of a Proton Torpedo; one used against heavily shielded enemies and the other to give early criticals to un-shielded targets.
                The applications of this ability are far reaching. A Rookie with a Plasma Torpedo has a strong chance of burning through the shields of a Decimator in one hit. A B-wing or Bomber with both Plasma Torpedo and Extra Munitions has the potential to do more damage to shielded targets in an alpha strike than a ship with a Heavy Laser Cannon. It is more of a risk but it's a good one because both Rebels and Scum rely heavily on shields for defense. Also, when facing a Chewbacca crew upgrade, a Plasma Torpedo can nullify the shield recharge ability. Your opponent will use Chewbacca to discard a damage you gave him and then recharge a shield. But now that the damage has been dealt the Plasma Torpedoes again activates and will take off that shield. This means your opponent has to use Chewy inefficiently or not at all against your missile. And those applications are just the tip of the iceberg.
                Just as a side note, the Plasma Torpedoes now make the PT shorthand useless for Proton Torpedoes. What would you use for shorthand? Let me know in the comments.

X-wing w/ Rookie - 24 Points
                Plasma Torpedoes

B-wing w/ Blue - 27 Points
                Plasma Torpedoes
                Extra Munitions

B-wing w/ Blue - 29 Points

Bomber w/ Scimitar - 21 Points
                Plasma Torpedoes
                Extra Munitions

There will be a decline in 2-Ship Arc-Dodging Builds
                I will admit that my experience with this type of squad was limited before my last tournament. But ever since then I have been following regionals and games online and I feel I have a better grasp of how they work. Usually in the X-wing game you have to choose between defensive, offensive, or movement bonuses. But there are certain ships that can do all three. An Outrider with Corran Horn or a Decimator with Soontir Fel are the classic examples of a 2-ship build that can move into good position and have offensive and defensive strengths as well. One ship is the bait and hits the enemy from afar while running and the other waits in the background until it is safe enough to join in for the mop-up. It is clean and efficient.
                However, I won't say that these builds are over powered because well, they aren't. If I picked up a 2-ship build right now and tried to fly it in a tournament I would lose horrendously. This is because you must fly your squad so carefully and intelligently that one mistake can ruin it for you. That is the main reason why this type of build appeals to advanced and tournament players.
                But all of this changes with the K-wing and Punisher expansions. These two ships are actually fast enough to circle around a moving 2-ship build and flank it. Plus, they have the upgrade capability to carrying multiple Conner Nets. This creates a scenario that even Dash Rendar can't escape from: a running ship that has to either fly into a dropped Conner Net, hit the blocking bomber itself, or turn to face a chasing swarm.
                This leads me to believe that the meta will change, that most 2 ships builds will evolve so that they have a bit more supportive firepower. Paul Heaver's 2014 Fat Han & Talas squad is a perfect example of this. I am sure that many players will still be skilled enough to use a 2-ship build to take on a flanking bomber and so it will still be a part of the meta. But I believe this change is enough to prevent the 2-ship build from dominating the meta like is does right now. We'll see what happens.

                All in all, I am very excited for the new changes to the X-wing game. My predictions might be horribly off but that isn't important. What is important is that I, and many other players, will have plenty of fun with the new ordnance and turret toys. So, what are you going to do with the new wave expansions? Have fun and fly casual.

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