Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Set S-Foils in Attack Position! A Beginner's Guide to the T-70 X-Wing




I'm pretty certain that, with the new Force Awakens core set landing in so many new players hands over Christmas, I'm not the only person out there itching to get behind the control stick of the brand new T-70 X-Wing.

With that in mind it's what I'm going to be talking about in this blog - the strengths and weaknesses of the T-70 vs other ships, and popular ways of loading up a T-70 and their key aces, like Poe Dameron.  Finally I'm going to leave you with the triple T-70 list that I'm enjoying playing at the moment.




THE MAKING OF A T-70 X-WING

First off, let's go to the shop and build us a T-70 X-Wing to fly!  Now it turns out that's pretty much all you'll need is the shell of an old T-65 X-Wing and a few common spare parts that you've probably got lying around the place...


Albert Einstein would have you believe that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, but that's not true for the T-70 because you get 29pts worth of ship for only 24 pts - that's a 17% improvement in efficiency over the starfighter that destroyed the first Death Star!  

There's a strong argument that, over time as new Waves of ships have been released, the humble X-Wing has been left behind a little by the newer toys available to players and so it's not actually that hard to be better than the Rookie Pilot.  There's truth in that but the T-70's statline is clearly an impressive upgrade on a ship that's still seeing tournament play in the form of Wedge and Biggs.


And in fact the T-70 X-Wing is better even than that, because not only do you get a bargain extra Shield and the useful Boost action for just 3pts but the T-70 also has the option to attach a Tech upgrade (a limited choice at the moment, but better than no choice at all) and a better maneuver dial than the classic X-Wing, with a green 3 Forwards (which is actually very useful, as I'll discuss later) and the unique Tallon Roll maneuver.



All told there's really no mistaking that the T-70 X-Wing is a top notch ship that clearly outperforms the original X-Wing for very little extra in the way of points.  The T-70 also compares favourably to similar all-rounder starfighters like the TIE Defender and E-Wing, bringing you comparable stats & abilities and a better maneuver dial, all for fewer points.  If the T-65 X-Wing was looking a bit tired and dated, the T-70 is right at the cutting edge.

"I always wanted to fly one of these things!"
- Poe Dameron 
(about a TIE Fighter, but whatever...)


The great strength of the T-70 X-Wing is precisely that cost-effective blend of being quite fast, and quite agile, and quite tough and dealing quite a lot of damage.  That all-rounder ability might also be its greatest weakness, however, as while the T-70 is quite good at everything there isn't really any one thing that it's great at.  There are ships out there that are tougher, or hit harder, or fly faster, and if your opponent can manage to play to his squad's strengths then your T-70s are likely to get outmatched.  

As we'll also see, it's possible to fine-tune your T-70s to become experts in a chosen field if you really want, but to my mind the secret to the success of T-70s is therefore to be the one driving the mismatches.  Don't go head to head with a tougher ship so try to outmaneuver them, but also don't try to outmaneuver the faster ship and instead try and trade blows straight-up.  If you can play to your opponent's weaknesses then the T-70s will live up the task of exploiting those shortcomings and give you the win.

To my mind, and maybe to yours as well, there's a better reason to be flying a T-70 X-Wing, though: that the game is called X-Wing.  It's right there on the box!  Do you know many kids who begged to be allowed to be Gold Leader instead of Luke Skywalker or Biggs Darklighter?  I didn't.  

"When I grow up I want to be a K-Wing pilot"... said NOBODY EVER!

Right now it seems like a lot of tournament loadouts are centered around turrets, ion cannons and Lambda shuttles.  I'm sure they're fantastically effective but I didn't start playing this game because I was excited about the idea of flying in a straight line and attritively removing shields with a low-powered Twin Laser Turret.  No, I started playing this game so that I could swoop in behind a TIE Fighter with superior piloting and blow them out of the sky!  


The T-70 really delivers on that style of play, as I'm about to try and convince you.



POPULAR T-70 ACES

Poe Dameron

The finest pilot in the Resistance, Poe Dameron is the poster child for budding T-70 X-Wing pilots everywhere.  He's also the pilot that you're most likely to see in X-Wing tournaments, with Poe featuring in nothing less than the 2015 World Championship winning squad, piloted by Paul Heaver!  The configuration that Heaver played has become known as 'Standard Poe'.


'Standard Poe' is a good all-round brawler, and actually his primary advantage is that with his pilot ability, Autothrusters and R2-D2 he's very tough to kill.  Poe's pilot ability (turning Focus icons into Hit or Dodge icons without actually spending a Focus token) means that Poe can get extra Dodge results against multiple attackers, his Autothrusters make him strong against turrets and at long range, while R2-D2 will repair any lost shields he might suffer.  A slight variation on this 'Standard Poe' is that R2-D2's shield repair function is often replaced with that of R5-P9, who has good synergy with the fact that Poe doesn't need to spend his Focus tokens.


Probably the most common other way of flying Poe is to give him his trusty astromech unit BB-8 and combine that with Push The Limit to create a very different type of proposition to 'Standard Poe'.  The strength of the 'BB-8 Poe' is speed and maneuverability, as BB-8 combines with Push The Limit to allow Poe to barrel roll & boost at will before he executes his normal move, and still gain the all-important Focus token after it!  This all comes at the cost of losing R2-D2/R5-P9's extra shields, and the extra pilot skill of Veteran Instincts to help him avoid the likes of Soontir Fel.

'BB-8 Poe' is my weapon of choice because I'm just so attracted to the unique moves that it allows you to pull off.  With BB-8 and Push The Limit you can combine to move your T-70 well out of position between REVEALING your green maneuver and actually EXECUTING that maneuver.

I'll show you some examples...

In the "Dameron Dash" you reveal a straight 3 Forward move (which is green for the T-70 X-Wing, remember?) but when you find that this would put you into the line of fire you can switch it up.  It's a green move so you can trigger BB-8 to barrel-roll away to the right, then Push The Limit after BB-8 to boost right as well.  Push The Limit gives you a stress, but now you execute that 3 Forward move and clear the stress after finishing a green move, and Poe can now Focus as well.

The "Dameron Dash" in action...
In the staged example above (based on how it actually worked in a real game) Poe ducks inside two TIE escorts and gets right in on the Lambda Shuttle.

No other move than the "Dameron Dash" could put your ship where it ends up... and all off a 3 Forward!  Now although I named it after Poe Dameron the "Dameron Dash" is not unique to Poe, but it is unique to a T-70 X-Wing with BB-8 and Push The Limit, which means there's only a couple of pilots who can use it!

The "Dameron Dash" is awesome but in fact the BB-8/PTL combination is very flexible, and this is a two-part example of how differently you can fly with a simple 1 Bank Left maneuver you reveal.  In the first version Poe goes on the offense, with a Barrel Roll/Boost to the right before banking back in to get a shot on the TIE Interceptor, now safely out of arc of return fire.


In the second version, with the same move from the same starting position, a barrel roll and Boost in the opposite direction means the revealed bank maneuver gets Poe out to Range 3.  That gives him an extra green dice, and in my build also triggers his Autothrusters so he's pretty safe.


I believe that the "BB-8 Poe" is a very strong Ace to field, even if he is vulnerable compared to the "Standard Poe" version.  It's definitely a much more exciting version as well, as Poe can speed around the table doing whatever he wants... a real blast to play!


Ello Asty

You'll need to pick up the T-70 Expansion Pack to use Ello Asty, but he brings something utterly unique to the table - a white Tallon Roll.  The Tallon Roll, a combination of sharp turn and a K-Turn, is a move that only T-70 X-Wings can pull off but for most pilots it's a red maneuver that severely limits their options after it's been executed.  Not only can they not perform an action like Focus or Target Lock, but they'll need to pick a green maneuver next turn to clear the stress.  

But not Ello Asty, who can T-Roll in his sleep, and often does... even if it often means him flipping himself out of bed and onto the floor.  

When Ello Asty gets into his X-Wing at the start of the day he T-Rolls across the bonnet and into the chair.  

When he needs to grab a drink from the fridge? T-Roll.   

Surprised by a loud noise? T-Roll.

TL;DR - Ello Asty T-Rolls.  A lot.

What's even more exciting than a white T-Roll is the potential of combining it with a Boost action to reposition yourself coming out of that Tallon Roll, which is something that currently only Ello Asty can manage... and it's a very powerful talent to have!  Just like how the BB-8/PTL combination gives you a lot of options from the same maneuver, so the white T-Roll/Boost can make unique moves.


In this example Ello Asty follows his T-Roll with a Boost left.  This move is basically impossible for anybody else - to flip 135 degrees like that while barely moving across the table is incredibly powerful.

And below is an example of flipping that Boost the other way - now your ship has basically slipped sideways rather than travelling forwards, and still flipped around 135 degrees in the other direction!


I like Ello Asty a lot, and unlike Poe or the other aces he doesn't really need a specific loadout to use his party trick.  The one thing I think he is lacking is something to give him a bit more 'bite', especially when he's using a Boost after his T-Roll and so cannot Target Lock or Focus.  An ability like Outmaneuver or Predator might sit well with Ello Asty as it adds to his damage output without requiring you to spend an action.


"Red Ace"

If the "Standard Poe" list was about making Poe a tough guy to kill then Red Ace arguably goes even further if you choose to put his Evade tokens front & center in your build for him.  Whenever Red Ace takes a hit to his shields he gains an Evade token that effectively replaces it (instead of a Shield soaking a hit, you Evade the hit), and with a Comm Relay equipped on his X-Wing he can then carry than Evade token through into later rounds until he needs it.  Then add R2-D2's shield-repairing skills into the equation on top and it means that Red Ace is virtually immortal unless you can hit him with a ton of firepower in a short period of time!


It's not a very aggressive list, but you could pair this up with the 'Standard Poe' (using R5-P9) to fly two extremely resilient ships and simply grind your opponent down by refusing to take damage!


"Blue Ace"

While Red Ace is like a mini version of 'Standard Poe' the Blue Ace is maybe more like the 'BB-8 Poe' in bringing a unique Boost effect to the table.  The biggest shame here is that Blue Ace doesn't come with an Elite Pilot Talent native to his action bar for you to give him the BB-8/Push The Limit combination, as adding hard Boost turns into the options that Poe has would give you some really crazy movement options!



One of the most attractive ways to use Blue Ace is to give him that Elite Pilot Talent through pairing him with R2-D6, which cuts you off from the BB-8 barrel roll trickery, but works wonderfully well with Integrated Astromech as one of the cheapest ways to add that extra resilience to your T-70.  With R2-D6 on board the options for Blue Ace open up a lot more and you can add Elite Pilot Talents like Outmaneuver, or cheat a second 'Boost' by playing Daredevil!  The addition of Daredevil again allows some unique maneuvers - effectively you can either 'wiggle' in an S-shape at the end of any move, or pull a sharp U-turn, giving you a lot of fine-tuning control at the end of any move.


The R2-D6/Daredevil plan helps the Blue Ace move quickly but it's a pricey selection of kit!  Much more cheaply the Blue Ace can steal Poe's astromech and attach BB-8.  With BB-8's barrel roll on board the Blue Ace becomes a very tight-turning starfighter, ideal for close quarters dogfighting.

Much like with Poe you can reveal something simple like a shallow 1 Left turn then use BB-8s barrel roll and the special tight Boost turns to put your ship almost anywhere you want, facing almost any direction you want!  If BB-8 isn't following Poe Dameron around then there's a lot worse things you can do than stick him with Blue Ace instead.

Edit: it's been mentioned to me that Redditor SeijiTataki had explored the potential for Blue Ace long before I started playing, and if you'd like some more ideas for how to use Blue Ace then check this out.


AND FINALLY

If I've not convinced you to give your T-70 X-Wing a try by now then I probably never will, which leaves me with just one more task.  At the top of the blog I said I'd share with you the squad that I've been playing recently.  So here it is...


I'm running 3x T-70, with a fully-loaded Poe Dameron leading the charge.  Backing him up I initially gave Ello Asty a disposable Integrated R2 Astromech to help him keep flying, and also loaded him up with Weapons Guidance (I think I've improved on this since, btw).  Rounding out the points I took the basic Blue Squadron Novice, handing him a Targeting Astromech (good coming out of T-Rolls and K-Turns) which was also Integrated to help him survive.

I played this list in my first casual tournament (and actually did very well!) and I'm going to tell you how that went next time!

12 comments:

  1. Nice article, good example photos too!

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  2. These new x wings feel like a big step in power creep compared to the old. Not only in raw stats, but in maneuverability and in special actions and gear. While I get that they are 30 years more advanced, they should have a points value to match that higher tech, so that they are still playable with older versions.

    This effectively makes the t65's obsolete unless they get a points downgrade.

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    1. The powerful pilot abilities like Wedge/Biggs are not repeatable with the T-70 so there's still room for those guys, but I agree that the T-70 is effectively a straight power upgrade on the old T-65.

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  3. Actually you got it wrong... your BB-8 POE is not correct... BB-8 will give you free barrel roll, an action, so you cannot trigger push the limit... you do not have advaced sensors... so the correct timing will be, reveal green manuver, do the barrel from BB-8, than to your manever, than perform normal action, and than free action from push the limit...

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    1. I believe it does work. BB-8 gives you a Barrel Roll action, and Push the Limit says "after you perform an action..." so there's no reason why you can't trigger Push the Limit off the Barrel Roll.

      It's been discussed by many players, not just me. It works.

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  4. Really nice write up and blog. Glad I stumbled upon it. Keep up the great work.

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  5. Great article! I love T-70s. What would you change (if anything) to your list after using it?

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    1. This is how I flew it at a local casual tournament:
      http://stayontheleader.blogspot.com/2016/02/dont-let-these-thugs-scare-you-into.html

      I did change the list a lot before my Store Championship,though, which I'm going to talk about next.

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  6. Contents of this website are good and appreciative.

    Sekolah Pilot

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  7. I love this blog. I've learned a ton about the game. I was wondering if you could do an addendum to this article now that Heroes of the Resistance is out and we have some new T-70 pilots as well as a shiny new Poe? Please and thanks.

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