U-Wing – Preview Thoughts

Last Monday gave us a preview for the first of the two new ships added to Star Wars canon by Rogue One.  The U-Wing is a troop transport and gunship that brings some firepower and new faces to the Rebel Alliance.

The Dial

The U-wing has been cited as the Rebel equivalent to the Imperial’s Lambda Shuttle, but its dial is a big step up from the Lambda. With white 2 turns, green straights and banks at speeds 1 and 2, and a white 4 forwards, it’s a much faster and more mobile ship. Like the Lambda Shuttle and YV-666, the U-Wing has a red 0 stop move on its dial, allowing it to come to a halt in the otherwise constantly moving gameplay that is X-Wing. There’s no K-turn, S-loop, or Talon Roll on the dial, but thanks to the Pivot Wing title it’s got a trick up its sleeve. (See below.)

It is still a large base ship, so it’s not going to be competing with most snubfighters for the ability to dodge through a dense asteroid field or turn on a dime, but overall the dial compares pretty darn favourably to other comparible ships, and that’s before we get to the U-Wing’s party trick…

Title – Pivot Wing

The second dual upgrade card in the game, Pivot Wing makes the most of the mechanic by allowing you to flip the card in play. (Adaptability was a great addition to the game, but didn’t feel like it really did much with the new design space created by a double-sided card.) This isn’t a new reveal, having been included in the original announcment article for the Rogue One ships, but it’s certainly something that needs to be discussed in any discussion about the U-Wing.

The card is likely to default to the “Pivot Wing – Attack” side, boosting the U-Wing’s agility to 2, giving it a quite impressive stat line for its points cost as effectively a B-Wing with an extra point of Agility and a somewhat worse dial. After you execute a maneuver, you can flip this card to its other side.

The “Pivot Wing – Landing” side doesn’t have the Agility boost, but does allow you to flip 180 degrees when you reveal a 0 stop. An effective 0 K-turn is a first for X-Wing, and having the choice to do it when you reveal the dial means you can react to a changing situation if a lower PS enemy ship doesn’t go quite where you were expecting. The downside is that you are flagging your intention by flipping to the Landing side of the title, which can let your opponent dodge out of your arc more easily, but equally it potentially opens up some interesting bluffs. As with the Landing side, you can flip this card after you execute a naneuver.

The Pivot Wing title combines with the dial to make the U-Wing a much more mobile ship than the Lambda Shuttle, and able to bring itself back into the fight far more quickly. The extra point of Agility from the Attack side of the title certainly doesn’t hurt either, making the U-Wing slightly more durable than a B-Wing, no bad thing in the current meta.

Crew

There’s quite a few upgrades in the U-Wing pack, but several of them are reprints of existing upgrades (Flechette Torpedoes, Sensor Jammer, Stealth Device). There’s also a new EPT that hasn’t been revealed, and a new crew member. What this preview does give us however is a wealth of new crew options for the Rebel Alliance.

Baze Malbus

Clocking in at 3 points, if you perform an attack that doesn’t hit, Baze lets you perform a primary weapon attack against a different ship. He’s effectively a budget Gunner where you can’t attack the same ship with your secondary attack.

I’m going to be honest, Baze seems like a pretty underwhelming upgrade. For two points more, Gunner gives you more utility, particularly in terms of forcing your target to spend their defensive tokens on the first shot so you can then hit them with the second. It might have some use combined with R3-A2 on an ARC, or with Tactican on the U-Wing or another two crew slot ship to dish stress around multiple targets, but you don’t get the option to double stress a single target. You can combine it with Captain Rex for a focus token on the second shot, but I’m not sure that’s much better than the unrestricted second shot from Gunner. Overall, it feels like you’d be better off freeing up the points of get the strictly superior Gunner rather than compromsising by taking Baze.

I’m hoping that there’s some utility to Baze I haven’t spotted yet, but for the time being my instinct is he’s not going to make it out of the card folder much…

Bodhi Rook

When you acquire a target lock, you can lock onto an enemy ship at Range 1-3 of any friendly ship. At just 1 point, Bodhi has a neat if slightly niche ability in his crew version.

I’m eying Bodhi up for a seat on a missile or torpedo carrying K-Wing, giving you some of the utility of Long-Range Scanners without the Range 1-2 target lock blind spot and still letting you take Guidance Chips. He combines well with both Heroes of the Resistance Han Solo (who can deploy deep into your opponent’s side of the board), or with the Captured TIE version of Sabine’s TIE, which can race forwards with very little risk of being shot at.

It’s not a crew member I expect to see getting a huge amount of competative use, but Bodhi has a decent amount of utility at a cheap points cost. I’m going to try him out as soon as Wave 10 hits the tables.

Cassian Andor

Previewed in the first announcement article for the Rogue One additions to Wave 10, Cassian Andor has been discussed for a while, but he’s still one of the things I’m most excited about in this wave. Working as a suped up version of the Intelligence Agent, Cassian lets you guess aloud a maneuver on an enemy ship at Range 1-2’s dial, then look at that ship’s dial. If you guessed right, you can change the dial of the ship that Cassian is on to a new maneuver if you choose. Cassian comes in at 2 points, a point more than the standard Intelligence Agent, but brings a lot more with him for that extra point.

Importantly, you don’t want to guess the manuever you think your opponent’s going to do. Plan your dial with that in mind, then guess what you think the second most likely option is. If your original plan was right, you shouldn’t need to change anything, but if your guess at their second choice of move was correct then you can adapt accordingly. This allows you to cover a lot of bases, and makes whatever ship Cassian’s on very effective blocker. I’m not expecting Cassian to be as popular as Sabine crew, but I think he could have a similar effect on Rebel blocking lists to what Sabine has brought to Rebel bombing.

Cassian’s decent on most ships, but particularly good on a K-Wing where he can make the most of the SLAM action. A Warden Squadron loaded with Cassian, Advanced SLAM, and some mines can create a maze of potential bomb token locations for your opponment to navigate.

All told, I’m expecting Cassian to get a decent amount of use by Rebel players, and a decent amount of hate from anyone flying against him…

Inspiring Recruit

The only crew card from the U-Wing expansion with the Rebel only faction restriction, the Imspiring Recruit can join up with Rebels, Imperials, or even Scum. Once per round, when a friendly ship at Range 1-2 removes a stress token, it may remove an additional stress token. Importantly, this isn’t “another friendly ship”, so it does work for the ship carrying the Inspiring Recruit as much as anyone else.

This crew member opens up a lot of interesting options for dealing with stress control lists, which are just starting to come back into the meta. (In equal parts thanks to the demise of the Contracted Scout, the ARC-170’s crew and astromech combination, and Asajj Ventress.) If you can drop two stress a round, the Stresshog Y-Wing trick of double stressing your ships becomes significantly less effective. Equally it potentially gives R3-A2 stress lists a chance to get rid of some of their usually rapidly building pile of stress, giving them more chance at taking actions and so more efficiently contributing to the fight.

It also allows ships to use stress-inducing upgrades more freely. Rage becomes a lot more tempting if you’ve got a reliable way of dropping two stress tokens a turn. (Although there’s very few ships that can take an EPT, crew, and attack more than once a round to make the most of this combination.) Inspiring Recruits conbines well with Kanan Jarrus, letting your ships drop large quantities of stress from almost their entire dial.

Inspiring Recruits might also have a place in Scum lists to mitigate the effects of Zuckuss. I don’t see it having much impact on Dengaroo, but it might find its place on a party bus YV-666, or on a support ship than can afford to fly close by like a HWK. Stress is always a concern for Mindlink lists as well, and having a bit of added insurance on that front might be handy.

My gut instinct is that this is an upgrade we’ll be seeing quite a lot of going forwards, and something that may create some new list building opportunities if you can make the most of it. If nothing else, it’s just 1 point and can potentially benefit multiple ships, making it a decent choice if you find you’ve got a crew slot going spare.

Jyn Erso

The main character from Rogue One, Jyn Erso brings hope to her comrades in arms when they’re in a tough spot. As an action, a ship with Jyn on board can assign a focus token to a friendly ship at Range 1-2 for each enemy ship inside its firing arc (up to a maximum of 3 focus tokens). Again, this is “a friendly ship”, so this covers the ship carrying Jyn as well as its allies.

At 2 points, Jyn is cheaper than a Recon Specialist, but will often be able to have at least as much effect. The ability to hand out focus tokens can hugely help ships in a tough spot stay alive, and it potentially synergises well with other Rebel pilot abilities like Poe Dameron, Jake Farrel, or Garven Dreis. Jyn also gets a bit of a boost from ships with additional firing arcs, making both the ARC-170 and VCX-100 good choices to put her on. Thane Kyrell in particular can make some very good use of her, as adding addition action options to him really helps to make the most of his pilot ability.

Jyn continues the theme of focus synergy being a big part of the Rebel’s identity in the game, and is a strong choice of crew for a support ship like the U-Wing. I’m fully expecting her to pop up in a few Rebel lists, and I’m really curious to try combining her with Jan Ors for as many token options as possible.

Pilots

Blue Squadron Pathfinder

Our standard single generic for a support ship, the Blue Squadron Pathfinder comes in at 23 points for Pilot Skill 2, 3 Attack, 1 Agility, 4 Shields, and 4 Hull. A point more expensive than the Blue Squadron B-Wing for an almost identical stat line, the Pathfinder has the advantage of the Pivot Wing title (effectively boosting its Agility to 2 for a decent amount of the game) and a strong selection of upgrade slots with a Sensor and two Crew slots.

This is by far the cheapest option for Rebels to get a double Crew slot ship, with the closest alternatives being the Lothal Rebel at 35 points or the Resistance Sympathizer at 38 points. (There is also the Outer Rim Smuggler at 27 points, but pretty much every analysis suggests that’s the weakest ship in the game, so it’s not really worth considering.) If you need to bring a selection of support crew as cheaply as possible, the U-Wing is the ship for you. And the Rebels have quite a few options on this front – in addition to the new crew that come with the U-Wing, there’s Jan Ors and Kanan Jarrus, or generic options like the Intelligence Agent. There’s also no shortage of crew to boost the Pathfinder’s own capabilities – 32 points gets you a Pathfinder with Gunner, Captain Rex, and a Fire Control System, for when you really need to push fully modified attack through on a hard to hit opponent. A Blue Squadron Pathfinder with Cassian Andor is potentailly a very annoying PS 2 large base blocker for only 25 points.

There’s one other member of crew worthy of a special mention in the context of the U-Wing – Sabine Wren. With a torpedo slot avaiable, you can outfit it with Extra Muntions, a bomb (thanks to Sabine), and potentially create some unique bombing opportunities with a 0 stop and 0 K-turn available to you. Add in Chopper, and as long as you don’t mind soaking up a bit of damage you can drop action mines when you stop or K-turn…

The Blue Squadron Pathfinder is a well-costed generic that brings something new to the Rebel fleet. I’m going to be making use of it, and it may well prove to be a competitively viable ship as a slight upgrade on the B-Wing.

Heff Tobber

At PS 3, Heff Tobber is just one point more than the Pathfinder, and comes with an interesting pilot ability. When an enemy ship overlaps Heff, Heff can take a free action.

Clearly he’s set up with being a blocker in mind, making Cassian Andor a strong crew choice. Zeb Orrelios is going to work with him as well, as he’ll let you set up a block while still being able to take a fully modified shot against the overlapping ship who’s likely to be fairly tokenless in return.

However, the U-Wing’s action bar is pretty sparse, only offering focus and target lock. The lack of repositional ability limits some of the tricks Heff can pull off, and sadly he’s lacking an EPT slot to open up some more options. (So no Expert Handling alas.) However, other action upgrades are worth looking at. Jyn Erso is a solid crew choice, allowing you to pass focus to other ships in your squadron while denying actions to your opponent if you can pull off a block. Seismic Torpedoes could also prove entertaining, giving your opponent even more to fear from the obstacles while potentially clearing your own path.

Overall, Heff’s probably worth the extra point if you want a dedicated ace blocker, although the extra point of PS is actually a hinderance to the blocking role against generics. Otherwise, the Pathfinder will probably be the go-to option if you’re wanting a cheap and cheerful U-Wing.

Bodhi Rook

Bodhi Rook moves up to PS 4, and costs a point more at 24 points. His pilot ability buffs all of the ships in your squadron, and has some interesting potential for ordnance-focused list. When a friendly ship acquires a target lock, that ship can lock onto an enemy ship at Range 1-3 of any friendly ship.

As with his crew version, he pairs well with HotR Han, or a Captured TIE, but the effect is magnified in Bodhi’s pilot version as it effects everyone in your list. This makes me lean more towards the Captured TIE, as it doesn’t eat up too many points – 19 points gets you VI Ahsoka Tano with Captured TIE, who can then race ahead to set up target lock opportunities for your ordnance carriers while not putting herself at much risk in the process.

Even if your list isn’t focused on missiles and torpedoes, Bodhi is still a useful background ability. If you’ve got a ship that’s out of the fight for a turn or two it can still do something useful with its action if any of your ships are in target lock range. It lets you set up future modification for attacks agaisnt nimble opponents who now need to stay out of target lock range of all of your ships. It’s not going to be a total game changer, but at only 2 points more than the generic Pathfinder I could see myself choosing Bodhi instead just for the added utility.

Cassian Andor

The final U-Wing pilot, Cassian Andor bumps up another 2 points to 27 points, but gets an Elite Pilot talent and a boost to PS 6 in return. He’s also got a strong pilot ability – at the start of the Activation phase you may remove 1 stress token from 1 other friendly ship at Range 1-2.  No picture of Cassian’s pilot card yet, as it’s not strictly speaking been spoiled, but it’s visible on the front of the fan of cards show in the picture of the expansion pack.

So Cassian comes with a better version of Wingman baked in, and all of the options that an EPT brings to the table. Veteran Instincts boost up him up to a solid PS 8. Expert Handling lets Cassian barrel roll, giving him the sizable displacement that a large base barrel roll produces. Even just Adrenaline Rush opens up some interesting options for him when combined with the 0 stop and Pivot Wing title.

On the crew front, Inspiring Recruit is a strong choice, pairing well with Cassian’s pilot ability to pull your ships out of a stressful situation. It doesn’t even have to target the same ship as Cassian’s ability, potentially letting you get two ships out of being double stressed in a turn if they’re both doing green moves. Likewise, Kanan Jarrus gives your ships more ways of ditching stress if you want to go all in on that front.

I’m confident that Cassian will see play. His pilot ability is useful for pretty much any list, and having access to an EPT opens up a lot of options for builds. 27 points is quite a high base point cost for a support ship, but Cassian brings enough with him to make that investment worthwhile.

Final Thoughts

The U-Wing brings a lot to the Rebels. The dial is notably more forgiving than I’d expected, and the Pivot Wing title makes it substantially more nimble than the equivalent ships from other factions. While I’ve talked a lot about the U-Wing’s potential as a support ship here (and it’s very strong on that front), there’s definate room for it to work as a gunship as well. With a marginally better stat line than a B-Wing at only a point more, and some interesting options thanks to the Crew slots, I could see a couple of Blue Squadron Pathfinders finding their way into lists as some durable heavy firepower.

My one reservation is the large base, which can make the ship trickier to fly and certainly harder to navigate through dense asteroid fields, but equally the large base notably increases the area it can cover in a blocking role. I’m keen to get at least one of these into play as soon as they’re released so I can try them out for real. In the meantime, I might just see if I can find some free time to fire up Vassal and take one out for a spin…

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