Good morning, PGP fans. This week I am happy to present part 3 of my article thread discussing some of the more advanced X-wing Miniature aspects. Click here if you'd like to review Part 1 and Part 2. Today's article will cover the use of Subterfuge & Mind Games. First, we'll look at how subterfuge applies to X-wing game play. Then we'll discuss how to use it in both squad building and facing your opponent. I hope by the end that you will have a couple new ideas on how to add some flavor to your game play and how to catch unsuspecting opponents flat-footed.
X-wing is not overtly a game of subterfuge. If it were then you would be able to hide your cards from your opponent and both of you would have to enter the battlefield blind and cautious. While hiding your cards would make for some hilarious casual play, it is against the rules to do so in competitive play. But here's the catch. This doesn't mean you have to tell your opponent exactly how you plan on using your cards. I've said it before and I'll say it again: subterfuge in X-wing is being able to pull a fast one on your opponent even after they have seen all of your cards.
Some tactics are straightforward and that is both their strength and weakness. For example, if you take Assault Missiles then it is very clear that you want splash damage. Your opponent will know this and will have to split up his formations or suffer the consequences. But other upgrade cards are a little more...sneaky. What do you plan on doing with that Proximity Mine? Lock down a lane between asteroids? Dump it on the face of a higher PS enemy? Or trap a chaser trying to flank you? To be subversive, you want to take upgrades that can fulfill multiple roles.
TIE Bomber w/ Scimitar Pilot - 21 points
I really like the pilot Serissu. This Bothan has somewhat become my Scum Champion as the Gray Squadron Pilot became my Rebel Champion. There are so many interesting ways to build her ship. I've talked about her with Juke, a combo where she can be both evasive and deadly. I've talked about her with Expert Handling so that she can get the most out of her barrel rolls and be a slippery target.
But now let's look at her with Veteran Instincts. We have a PS 10 Scyk Interceptor that actually can fulfill an Arc Dodger role. However, that role is in stark contrast to her pilot ability. She can't be coming in on a wide, flanking vector and also protect an allied squad at the same time. But let's capitalize off of this fact. If you put her in the back of a squad formation then she will blend in. VI will look like a cheap upgrade to make sure she gets to attack first. But when the alpha strike comes you can split your formation. That way your ships can cover more area with your firing arcs and Serissu can get to a safe place off to the side. Then the next turn she can move into position behind an enemy ship and start to chase it. And it is the same on the reverse side. You can put Serissu far away from your Scum swarm, which 'tells' your opponent you picked her for high Pilot Skill and not her ability. Then when the alpha strike comes you can trick your opponent by cutting her flanking vector short. Instead, fly her right into the fray and she now can provide protection for her allies. Your opponent now has to chose between shooting at their original target or switching entirely to take care of Serissu first. And this can be especially devastating if enemy ships now have taken Target Locks on the wrong ship.
Scyk w/ Serissu - 24 points
Versatile strategy that can't be predicted by your opponent draws heavily from the use of overlapping Ship Pillars. Let's use the example of my favorite B-wing build. I really can't stand flying un-upgraded B-wings. Every time it feels like my ships just sit there, relatively speaking, waiting to be outflown by enemy aces. But I absolutely love them when they are equipped with Advanced Sensors. I don't pair the two together because I'm afraid of bumping. Advanced Sesnors in conjunction with the Barrel Roll action is so powerful that it frees up the B's very slow dial. But it also does more than that. It lets the ship fulfill Arc Dodger roles, which is crazy because the ships is very much a Jouster in the mind of the meta. In an Escalation Tournament, I flew my favorite Advanced Ion Strafe B-wing and its movement dial was strong enough allow me to keep it out of arc of an enemy Whisper.
B-wing w/ Blue Pilot - 28 points
The main point of having a versatile squadron is that you have more options. You want to be able to react to what your opponent has brought to the table, rather than just stubbornly going ahead with what you already planned. And if you play your squad correctly - as well as your tells - then you can convince your opponent you are flying rigidly when instead you are fluid and can catch them off guard.
And this brings us to the second main point of subterfuge: playing mind games. If you can get into your opponent's head then you gain the advantage and use it to win.
Let's start off by discussing one-shot items. These upgrades are some of the best for mind games. The reason for this is that even though you only get to use it once, it is always a threat while you still have it. If you equip Adrenaline Rush then your opponent knows that you will be making a surprise red move at sometime. But when? Since they don't know they have to answer a question: is it safe to fly aggressively and hope for the best, or should I be more conservative until the one-shot is used?
You can build a whole squad around the premise of wanting your opponent to act a certain way. For example, flying a Talonbane Cobra with Crackshot (or Carnor Jax for that matter) can make your opponent reconsider putting evade tokens next to their ships. Why would they waste their action since you could just bypass them? But that is the trap because now your supporting squad of Headhunters or Y-wings have a much higher chance of punching through the enemy defenses. By forcing your opponent into a lose-lose choice right at the beginning of the game, you can turn the tide of an alpha strike into your favor.
And the same can be said of Lightning Reflexes, Advanced Homing Missiles, Boba Fett crew, and many others. Use them to strike fear into the heart of your enemy! Find a combo that appeals to your tastes and gives you an advantage in-game. Then practice it long and hard so you are confident you can pull it off in the competitive scene.
A-wing w/ Tycho Celchu - 28 points
A-wing Test Pilot
The next part of playing mind games is doing things that make your opponent work harder. If we put a Targeting Astromech on Hobbie then we have a powerful combo. But it is quite easy for your opponent to guess that Hobbie will pick K-turns and so they will plan accordingly. To get some subterfuge going we need to create combos that really make our opponents think.
Let's use the example of Poe Dameron with Wired. This combo requires your opponent to put some thought into guessing your moves. Poe's ability means you want to get the focus token but Wired means that you want to pick red moves. Which will you go for in the heat of battle? Let's just make it a little crazier by giving also equipping R2-D2. Now your T-70 wants to go for the green moves as well, making a ship that desires three different things! Poe's movement and actions are now things that your opponent will have to question on each and every turn. And hopefully when they are using precious brain power to deliberate this, they aren't making as strong choices in other aspects of the game.
T-70 w/ Poe - 38 points
Whichever way you go about it, whether in the way you fly or the upgrades you pick, mind games can really thrown other players. The name of the game of X-wing is to outmaneuver enemy ships. But more often than not that process starts by you first outwitting your opponent.
A small caveat before I finish. Playing mind games in X-wing does not mean that you rudely hinder your opponent, for example by rushing them. This kind of conduct is expressly stated in X-wing rules as both cheating and unsportsmanlike conduct. If your opponent makes a mistake it should be from their own error. Perhaps they are nervous in a game and forget to use an ability in its designated time window. That's fine. But players shouldn't push the game forward with the intention of rushing opponents past time windows. Remember to be competitive but to ultimately fly casual!
As I've said before, it is important to remember that advanced skills, like subterfuge, are minor compared to essentials ones like ship flying and squad building. If you are just starting out, make sure to get your head square on your shoulders with the basics and then try branching out. Once you do, these subtle mind games can add a great fun and flavor to your X-wing matches. It is one of the main reasons why I keep playing. What are some of your greatest moments of pulling a fast one on your opponent? Let me know in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this article and have a great week of flying!