Monday, January 4, 2016

Wired - An Action Economy Niche

          One of the most exciting aspects of the X-wing Miniatures game is knowing the right choices to make. No matter the luck of the dice or which ships you fly, if you don't make good choices in movement and actions then you won't be having much success. There are many upgrades that can help remove some of the hurt of wrong choices. And probably the most powerful of these are the ones that give you better action economy. From the R4 Agromech to the Experimental Interface, there are tons of upgrades that can help make it easier to choose an action. The best Action Economy Upgrades are the Elite Pilot Talents, hence the name. So when I opened The Force Awakens Core Set I was excited to see the Wired upgrade included. I am always on the lookout for good upgrades that are low cost and a 1 point Action Economy EPT really intrigued me.
          Here's the big question: Does Wired's low cost make it a steal-of-a-deal or just another underwhelming card? Since I learn well by comparison I took a look at Wired and three other action-giving EPTs.

Action Economy EPTs
          Push the Limit is the first EPT I looked at. It is the most popular talent and for a good reason. The upgrade is powerful, versatile, and well-costed for what it can do. In-game you only need to take a stress token and you can double up on actions. And having the freedom to chose which actions means that you can get the upgrades you need the most in the moment. You can take an evade and focus to turtle up on defense. Or you could take a target lock and a focus for a powerful attack. You can even take movement actions and still take a focus for dice modification. The only thing you need to worry about is taking care of your own stress and watching out for stress-control enemies.
          Predator was the next one. This upgrade is strong because it is a passive ability and you don't have to fulfill special circumstances to activate it. However, its passiveness also means it is not versatile. It is essentially a Push the Limit where you don't get a stress token but you always have to take a partial target lock for your second action. Normally this is fine since the name of the game is destroying your enemy! But the effectiveness of the upgrade drops to half power when firing at Pilot Skill 3 or higher. And when the tide of a match changes and you need to go on the defensive, the upgrade can't switch with you to help your defense dice.
          Number three is Lone Wolf. This upgrade is cheaper than Push the Limit but it still has the same flexibility to help both offense and defense. The downside, though, is that it has a very hard set of parameters to fill. If you aren't at Range 3+ of your allies then you can't get the bonus. However, from practicing strict flying - or by being your last ship on the board - you can get strong action economy. You reroll a blank on your attack as well as a blank on each defense.
          And finally we come to Wired. After my comparing and playtesting I realized why this EPT only costs 1 point. It requires a parameter to be fulfilled, that you be stressed, but afterwards it only lets you reroll your focus results. While Push the Limit gives the strongest action economy, Wired's reroll ability is actually the weakest.
          Here is my final ranking:

Offense - 1) Push the Limit, 2) Predator, 3) Lone Wolf, 4) Wired.
Defense - 1) Push the Limit, 2) Lone Wolf, 3) Wired, 4) Predator.

          My ranking was based on the assumption that you can fulfill all parameters. And while it is true that a strong offense is a good defense, my defensive ranking is based off giving power to defensive dice.
          In most situations Push the Limit or Predator is going to be your best choice. However, that doesn't mean that there is never a time to take Wired. Even if the ability is the weakest niche of Action Economy EPTs, it is still a niche. Before Wired was introduced, you had to either pick an expensive one or not pick one at all. Furthermore, there are certain select builds out there that are already planning on being stressed. So Wired is an upgrade you can take to complement the build and bring more power for a cheap cost. Finally, Wired is an ability that gives incentive to make red moves. Let's delve into each of these points in more detail.

Squad Points & Budget Players
                Wired brings the option of a cheap action economy EPT. This means that when you are working on the last ship of your squad and you are low on squad points you don't have to take away from your other ships. It also means that you can take a cheaper EPT to make sure an Ace build doesn't become overcosted. And in that same style it is a good EPT for middle PS generics with talents because it keeps them cheap.
          But more importantly, Wired is the cheapest of these four EPTs when it comes to your wallet. It comes in one of the two Core Sets which means it will be a part of most players' collections. To get the others you have to buy the specific expansions and that is no fun for players on a budget. I love the Predator upgrade but I have never had a strong enough desire to get a TIE Defender or a Kihraxz Fighter. My budget was always going towards other ships I wanted more. The Ghost set is the first one that I want to buy that has Predator in it. So if you are a budget player, try out Wired and be patient for the others as you build your collection.

Complementing Self-stress Builds
          The dichotomy of the Wired talent is that it requires you to be stressed but it takes up your EPT slot, the upgrade slot with some of the best self-stressing abilities. Of course this isn't a problem for A-wing Test Pilots and that means they really love Wired. Since Tycho is already going to be stressed, Wired will help him focus and keep his cost low. Or perhaps you don't like the A-wing's low attack. Running Green Squad Pilots with Opportunist and higher PS allies can give you a very strong offensive. And with Wired they can get more action economy to go with their extra die. This makes a 22 point ship that can be as powerful as a B-wing but trades high shields for high agility and a good dial.

A-wing w/ Green Pilot - 22 points
                Chardaan Refit
                A-wing Test Pilot
                Wired
                Opportunist

                But apart from EPTs, the next best way to self-stress is pilot abilities. Wired is very powerful when paired with Jan Ors or Dace Bonearm. Their pilot abilities will make sure that Wired will be activated. And the Hawk is a ship you really want to keep cheap on squad points. Wired gives constant focus modification for offense and defense and that makes it a weaker, but cheaper, Moldy Crow title.


Hawk w/ Dace - 30 points
                Wired
                Ion Cannon Turret
                Inertial Dampeners

          Another pilot that I love pairing with Wired is Zeta Leader. By self-stressing, this First Order pilot can attack as hard as an Interceptor for a much cheaper cost. And Wired means you can take a barrel roll or evade and still have dice modification.

TIE/fo w/ Zeta Leader - 22 points
                Wired
                TIE Mk. II

          Next is Hera Syndulla in the Attack Shuttle. This Twi'lek Ace has a built-in Stay On Target ability when performing red moves, yet there is a catch. Getting into the right position won't help if you don't have dice modification and your dice fail. But Hera's ability doesn't synergize with Push the Limit. Predator, on the other hand, is a great choice and comes in the same expansion as the Attack Shuttle. However, you have to be very careful with a Predator build because you can easily make the little ship cost too much. The Attack Shuttle is only a bit more durable than a Z-95 Headhunter. Since Hera wants to use her ability on red moves, Wired can give her action economy as well as low squad cost.

Attack Shuttle w/ Hera - 24 points
                Wired
                Intelligence Agent

          Wired also benefits players that love Stress Control Lists. In the past, Luke with Veteran Instincts, R3-A2, and an Engine Upgrade made a strong ship that could hunt and stress enemy Aces. While expensive, he has high PS and a strong pilot ability to make him very powerful. With Wired we have another option. Luke himself doesn't pair well with Wired but we don't need him anymore. Consider taking a Red Squadron Veteran with Wired and R3-A2. Not only is this pilot build much cheaper, he already has the boost action and so can replace an Engine Upgrade with an Integrated Astromech. And T-70s have a green 3 forward which will make clearing the stress much easier. The only problem is the pilot skill. So in the rest of your squad building you need a crew slot filled by an Intelligence Agent. That way your Red Veteran can lock down on the right lanes with his boost action. Finally, Wired tops of this combo by giving your X-wing attack modification and similar defense modification to Luke.

T-70 w/ Red Veteran - 29 points
                Wired
                R3-A2
                Integrated Astromech

          The last stress combo I want to talk about is the Fleet Officer. Normally this card is placed on a Decimator or Shuttle to be a large-based support ship. And Wired would benefit the former since the ship has pilots with the EPT slot. But now we have a new option with the announcement of Imperial Veterans. The TIE Bomber can be turned into a TIE Shuttle. This made me take a look back at the supportive Bomber pilot, Jonus. I love flying Captain Jonus as support to my other ordnance ships but I never liked putting missiles on him. He doesn't get help from his own ability. But now we can make Jonus a TIE Shuttle and he can better fulfill the supportive role. Give him a Fleet Officer and he can give out focus tokens as well as rerolls for friendly secondary attacks. Since he will already be stressed, Wired can make sure he gets dice modification for himself. And then we finish off the combo with the new Twin Ion Engine Mk II to help him clear the stress. I don't fly many Imperial lists but I love the TIE Bomber and can't wait for the new Imperial Veterans pack.

Bomber w/ Jonus - 27 points
                Wired
                TIE Shuttle Title
                Fleet Officer
                TIE Mk II

Making Use of Red Moves
                The Wired talent fills a niche in Action Economy EPTs but it also fills another niche: upgrades that give incentive to pick red maneuvers. Keyan Farlander makes such a great B-wing Ace because he isn't limited by his ship's slow dial. He can make a red move and still get an offensive "focus". Ibtisam has a similar ability by using stress to get offensive and defensive rerolls. This style of game mechanic has been expanded with the introduction of the Targeting Astromech and the Wired EPT. The former gives incentive to make red moves because you still get to target lock an enemy. This means that you can K-turn or T-roll and still be able to have a modified attack. And it is the same with Wired. You can take the EPT and not be pressured by bad dials. It can make your ships faster and less predictable, as well as give dice modification while stressed. While Wired is redundant on Keyan or Ibti, it is great on Ten Numb and Nera Dantels.
          I really like Wired on Poe Dameron. True, this means he can't take Veteran Instincts but that is a trade I'm ok with. First, I only have one copy of VI and so I like using it on middle PS pilots in my squad, for example Jake Farrell. Second, Wired relieves some of the pressure of making a wrong move with my Ace. If I do a red move at a bad time then I can mitigate some of the damage. And when flying Poe, movement is even more important. Like R2-D2, Poe wants to fly a certain way to get his bonus. So of course your opponent will think you are going for a focus token. Poe with Wired is much less predictable. He isn't as worried about a lack of focus because he still gets focus rerolls when he performs hard maneuvers. And that will make you less predictable as you switch between your red, green, and white moves.
          Let's return again to Koiogran Turns. This move is normally good because most ships need it to get back into better positioning. However, the maneuver has always been near-useless on Interceptor class ships since they are fast enough to turn around without it. And while I wouldn't put Wired on just any Interceptor, I really like it on a few. For example, Tetran Cowall or Serissu. These ships now K-turn with less risk and can take unsuspecting opponents by surprise.

Interceptor w/ Tetran - 27 points
                Wired
                Autothrusters

Scyk w/ Serissu - 24 points
                Wired
                Stealth Device

          My final thought on red moves is the Y-wing. Rebel Y-wings now have the option of taking a Targeting Astromech or R2-D6 + Wired (both options costing 2 points) in order to get some good use out of their red moves. A Grey Squadron Pilot with Wired and a Twin Laser Turret is unpredictable and fast. And since Wired's reroll is constant you can use it with both shots of the TLT and on defense, unlike a focus token. Horton Salm also is great with this combo. When stressed, he will be able to reroll both blank and focus results, meaning that he gets a constant target lock whenever he shoots. This ability is stronger and more reliable than Predator.

Y-wing w/ Horton - 33 points
                Twin Laser Turret
                R2-D6
                Wired

Conclusion
                Whether you are a budget player just jury-rigging action economy until you get new expansions or someone who loves self-stressing synergy, Wired can be the perfect fit for your squad's needs. It is the cheapest and most accessible of the four main Action Economy EPTs. And it pairs well with so many combos. So give Wired a try and let me know in the comments what kind of crazy things you've done! Have a great day and fly casual!

8 comments:

  1. Hi Brian

    An incredibly well written out and justified article. It makes a fabulous read and I truly hope I can one day create some articles on par with yours.

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback, Jimmy. I'm really glad you enjoyed my article. I got to where I am from playing a fun game and practicing my writing on this blog for 7 months. You can get there too. :)

      Delete
  2. Very nice article. As an addendum:

    I have found wired pairs well with Wes Janson with an R3-A2, Integrated astromech. Wes can take away enemy action tokens, stress the pilot, all while I roll crappy dice (which wired then immediately helps with).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That actually sounds really fun ArchieLuke. I will have to try it out. Maybe with Biggs to protect and one of the Opportunist Green Pilots I put together. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  3. Marvellous writing and an eye opener for beginners. ...thx!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it. Thanks for the feedback.

      Delete
  4. Hi Brian,

    thanks for your article, i really liked it.
    A Combo which I try atm, is Gand Findsman + Zuckuss (Crew) + Wired for 27 pts. Another Combo I thought about is the above setup with 4 LOM as pilot for 30 pts.

    What is your opinion?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Erik,
      Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you liked my article. My opinion of Wired on Scum ships is almost always: yes! There is such great synergy. I like your 4 LOM build because it gives you the option to take 2+ stress, mess with enemy defense dice, then dump a stress on an enemy, all the while getting to reroll focus results. It would be worth it to also give 4 LOM the Mist Hunter title so he has the barrel roll action. Both your builds would absolutely terrorize low PS ships, but they are both also weak against Aces. So be sure to complement the rest of your squad with high PS. Have fun flying!

      Delete