A new FAQ for X-Wing dropped earlier this week, and it’s bringing in some pretty sizeable changes to the game that will probably significantly affect the shape of the meta in the run up to Worlds. I thought it was worth taking a look through, and jotting down some quick thoughts on what these changes are likely to mean.
First up, the big one…
Deadeye has been errataed to include the “Small ship only” restriction. This has a huge impact as the main user of this upgrade, the Contracted Scout (and sometimes other flavours of JumpMaster 5000), is no longer able to take it.
I’ve got some mixed feelings about this decision. While I’ve found Contracted Scouts a tough match-up in the past, I’ve always felt like I’ve been in with a chance against them as long as I could manage the opening approach well. The same cannot always be said for some of the Imperial Aces plus Palpatine matches I’ve had, so it seems like they’ve only focused on one of the potentially overly strong builds around at the moment.
That said, there’s no denying the massive effect the mere existence of the Contracted Scout has had on the larger meta for X-Wing. We’ve seen some previously popular list archetypes pretty much disappear entirely (Rebel regen, TLT Y-Wings, or to be honest any Rebel build without Biggs), and that’s created a quite small subset of lists at the top tiers of play. Specifically, it’s allowed some of the Imperial Ace builds (with or without Palpatine) a relatively easier time, as some of the counters to them, in particularly Rebel stress control, haven’t really seen much play at all of late.
Removing Contracted Scouts as the dominant ordnance ship in the game also potentially opens up space for other ships to come into play to fill that gap, but I’ll be writing a separate post in the next day or two to discuss that in more detail.
Heavy Scyk title
In what’s a first for X-Wing, FFG have just flat out buffed an existing card to make it better. No ifs, not buts, just a flat improvement.
And, to be honest, it’s a much needed one. The M3-A Interceptor, also known as the Scyk, is probably the single ship in X-Wing that’s seen the least play to date. It wasn’t quite cheap enough to be flown like a TIE Fighter or Z-95, didn’t have the dial to work like an A-Wing or TIE Interceptor, and the Heavy Scyk title added a cannon, missile, or torpedo slot at the cost of an extra two points. Given you’re already going to be paying for the weapons you’re putting in that slot, it just made most builds of this ship significantly over-costed for what they could do.
Adding a point of hull into the bargain brings the M3-A much more in line with the other Scum small ships, and means it’s got that little bit extra durability to potentially keep its cannon in the fight a little longer. A basic Cartel Spacer with the Heavy Scyk title and a Mangler cannon clocks in at 20 points, comparing well with the lowest PS generic Kihraxz and Protectorate Starfighters.
Even with this change, I can’t see the Scyk being flown with missiles or torpedoes as it doesn’t have access to Extra Munitions. If only they’d change the wording to be “cannon, torpedo and missile upgrade icons”… Still, I’m not going to complain about a ship that’s always been something of a favourite of mine getting a bit more viable!
If you want to shoot with a weapon that can’t target Biggs for some reason (range, target lock requirements, firing arc, etc.), you’re now free to do so rather than being forced into always shooting Biggs if you’ve got any weapon that can.
This is a reversal of an earlier ruling, and makes Biggs a little weaker, but I can see the reasoning behind it. It does make missiles and torpedoes that need a target lock a little more dangerous for Rebel lists, but interestingly this actually has the potential to make Deadeye a hindrance. Also, to some extent I suspect this isn’t a targeted change at Biggs, but more a clarification of the attack timing chart in general.
All of this said, I still think that the right choice will generally be to get Biggs off the board as quickly as possible. The last thing you want is him surviving until late game and then forcing you to split your fire at a crucial moment.
Simple enough, they do damage on a hit or crit dice result now, rather than just hits. This is a minor but solid change to them, and helps to improve their chances of doing meaningful damage.
I still think Connor Nets are the stronger choice of mine if you’ve got 4 points to spend, but if you’re looking for the potential for some significant damage they’re not bad. Plus they cover a lot of board space if you’re looking for something to use with Sabine crew.
Stress and red maneuvers
The rules for revealing a red maneuver while stressed have notably changed. Rather than handing your opponent your dial and them being free to pick the worst possible (legal) move for your ship, it’s not just a white 2 forwards.
This seems like a good change to me. Letting your opponent set your maneuver was already pretty harsh when it would only come up by accident, but the addition of the Rigged Cargo Chute has made this something that can happen through no fault of your own. In a game as focused on positioning as X-Wing, letting your opponent set your maneuver dial could easily cost you the entire game. The white 2 forward is still bad news (you don’t get to shed stress, leaving you action-less), but it’s not such a huge change to the state of the game.
There’s now rules for how overlapping obstacles outside of executing a maneuver works. With Tractor Beams and Collision Detectors both potentially forcing or allowing ships to barrel roll, boost, or decloak onto or across obstacles, this needed some clarification, as you could have made the argument that Collision Detector allowed to you boost/barrel roll/decloak across obstacles without risking any damage or stress. Not a major thing, but a good bit of consistency.
There’s also a minor buff/clarification to R5-X3 (your shots aren’t obstructed, but any shots coming at you still can be), some clarification for the attack timing chart, Attanni Mindlink, Advanced SLAM, and a few other things, but nothing huge.
So what effect is it all going to have?
Quite a lot. Deadeye Contracted Scouts have been a major part of the X-Wing meta since they were released in March, and they’ve pushed a number of other previously popular lists out of competitive viability (for better or worse).
With their huge alpha strike potential off the board, we’re going to see a lot of the late Wave 7 meta lists coming back into play. I’m fully expecting to see people trying Paul Heaver’s Worlds 2015 list again, although I think regen Poe may still be in trouble with Defenders and Fangs both offering enough firepower to burn through his defences.
For similar reasons, I’m expecting us to see (slightly) less of Biggs, as Rebels don’t need to use him as a shield to make sure their heavy hitters survive the first exchange of fire. This potentially means a bit more variety in Rebel lists, and some counters for other strong lists coming back into favour. Stress control is going to be big, not least thanks to the ARC-170, Asajj Ventress, and Black Market Slicer tools having all arrived in Wave 9.
And while I’m not expecting the M3-A to be a dominant force in the meta any time soon, it’s another weapon in the Scum arsenal. It’s a cheap(ish) ship with some interesting options for heavy firepower, and the potential to be part of an Attanni Mindlink list (thanks to the Tansarii Point Veteran). The extra point of hull takes if from bad to average (or maybe just above) and I’m looking forwards to this little ship getting a bit more table time.