It Aint like Dustin’ Crops…

With the drop of Wave 2 in the UK came new points for the Resistance and First Order, along with (somewhat of a clarification) of what Hyperspace may entail. In this article, I explore the new format and what it might mean for competitive X-Wing.

What’s worse?? I start writing an article about the merits of Hyperspace versus. Extended and then Phil GC goes and publishes his thoughts on it first. And I feel all like

Punch it!

Sad Face. Heavy Sigh. Phil’s article actually covers everything you need to know, even If I do wish I had got there first. Go read it.

Where was I? What is this Hyperspace business anyway? We now have two competitive formats to play in: Extended and Hyperspace. While some of the details may still be a bit sketchy, this still helps:

It seems that Seasonal kits will be Extended – that’s everything in your conversion packs including the old faithful A-Wings, Jyn Erso crew and those damn Punishers. Whereas the Deluxe Wave kits will likely be exclusive to the particular 2.0 wave they come with and those prior to it. Generally, the right hand side of the pyramid will be Hyperspace, whereas the left hand side will be Extended. Whilst stores might not have stuck with this over the last few months, making most events Extended, I can easily see how with the release of the Separatists and Republic some time next year that stores might well make these events more wave specific as intended.

What does this even mean? Any of this?

If you are a veteran and you have earned your wings, glory or not, you may be a bit like

You want to play with all of the toys and you’ve been waiting to make Punishers viable and now is your day in the sun but someone’s gone and put a big Death Star in the way.

Be honest with yourself, did you really think that the unlimited power, and potentially negative play experience, of the Punishers would last? Or fuckwiffery that is Palob and 4-Lom?

Some moof-milker put a compressor on the ignition line

There are two things that really excite me about Hyperspace: the idea that having a limited pool of resources gives us more creative outcomes and perhaps the opportunity for a clearer identity for Rebels and Resistance to emerge. With Wave 1, Lando’s Falcon seemed to secure the idea that Scum still had the interesting (or is it unfair?) toys that limited your opponent’s dice modification and agency. Wave 1 Imperials are caught somewhere in the timeline between Scarif and Yavin with the Reaper and the Tie Advanced. Although The Force ability is yet to really make an impact if you look at competitive stats, lists like Rasta’s Darth Vader and Rexler are proving that the Imperials still have some strength. Rebels? Other than heavy hitting Torps and 1 forward? Where are they going? 

The debate of faction identity has been discussed quite frequently since the launch of 2.0, and now with two new factions on the horizon, it feels like the discussion is more important than ever.  Why do I stick with Rebels/Resistance again and again? It’s because I identify with these factions the most. The Empire, to me at least, is a symbol of colonisation and uniformity. 

I look at an image like this and I see no place for identity. I see conscription and fear. I don’t want that power. It makes perfect sense to me that the epitome of the Galactic Empire in X-Wing is the Tie Swarm, where each of the parts represent a greater whole but become weaker as the ships are chipped away. The strength there is in the numbers, the ships are canon fodder.

I agree with Jesper and David Sutcliffe on the last 186th Podcast, it feels like the Rebels from Wave 1 have been completely lacking in identity, but if anything it’s the players that keep the faction alive. Choosing to play Rebels, although uninspiring for many, was a chance for me to stick with X-Wings as basic ships and focus on prioritising my play and how I might think about the board state, obstacle placement and my opponent more. 

There are some arguments to be made for not taking T-65s to competitive tournaments based on stats alone. Take a look at the Mynock Open (data taken from listfortress)

  •  43 out of 160 lists were Rebels, that’s only 27%
  •  Wedge appeared in 24 of the 43 Rebel lists
  •  Luke appeared in 22 lists
  •  12 Rebel lists in the top 64
  •  of those 12 lists, only 5 had Wedge
  •  of those 12 lists, only 6 had Luke pilot
  • Only 1 Rebel list made it into the top 16 (Luke, Sabine, Blount and Norra flown by Daniel Lim)

Unfortunately, Listfortress does not display ships alone, but we can already see that X-Wings appeared in at least 24 of the 43 Rebel lists, with a maximum of 6 of those lists making it into the top 64. There was only one X-Wing in the Top 16 and none in the top 8.

There were only two triple X-Wing lists in the top 64 and the highest one ranked 23rd.

How about looking at NerfHerder III with a Vengeance, Britain’s biggest X-Wing charity event (data taken from Firstearth).

  • 29% of the 132 lists were Rebels (but still ranking more than Imperials at 28%). That’s 39 lists altogether
  • 13 of those lists made the top 64
  • The T-65 was the most popular Rebel ship
  • Wedge appeared in 16 lists, 13 of those made it into the top 64, 5 into the top 32 and only 1 of those made it into the top 16
  • Luke Skywalker Pilot appeared in 15 lists overall, 8 of those made it into the top 64, 4 into the top 32 and 1 in the top 16
  • There were 5 lists that took the archetype of triple X-Wing, only 2 made it into the top 64, 1 in the top 16

So what is it? Why do the Rebels seem to drop off at the cut so dramatically? 

Is it perhaps the reliance on Proton torpedoes and therefore variance? looking at Nerfherder, the Proton Torps upgrade was used 72 times. 33 of those were in Rebel lists. 14 of those were in the top 64. That’s 9 separate lists out of the 13 Rebels in the top 64 that took Proton Torps.

How does this compare to Mynock? 12 Rebel lists in the top 64, 8 of them took Proton Torps.

What is it that is lacking in consistency for them? Does the faction have an identity that can drive them forward? If players began to utilise a possible faction identity, would that give their lists more direction?

The Rebels that we meet in A New Hope are the remains of a bigger alliance after the battle of Scarif. Some of them must be untrained, some of them are veteran heroes, one of them is a plucky flyboy with something special about him (even if he does whinge a lot).

They’re not the fundamentalists of Saw Gerrara’s militia but they are nonetheless fighting for freedom and to survive. I don’t really get that when I play Rebels, but I’m unsure you could really convey that through character abilities.

The T-65 X-Wings are stronger than they were in 1.0, but their fragility is probably the only real thematic thing about them. Their ships are meant to be salvaged from wherever they could or bought in some sort of back end deal. Their pilots are largely made of Imperial defectors that have become disillusioned with the influence of the Galactic Empire. Wedge, even before Rebels reinvented his timeline, had previously been an Imperial Pilot, Biggs too. Jek and Garven have similar stories of their home planets being imperialised and joining a defence league that would later become part of the Rebel Alliance. Even Thane Kyrell had history as an officer who made his way up the ranks of the Imperial command but then slowly became a deserter after seeing the devastation of the Death Star on Alderaan.

Despite this rich history of underdogs and triumph over adversity, it feels very much like Extended has not really helped this faction find its way. In fact, I’m unsure Extended has really helped the game progress into second edition. 

If you position the Rebels as partisans who must be dependent upon each other, abilities like Garven, Biggs and Dutch seem to reinforce what is needed for the direction of the faction. The Tubes brothers are such a great partnership, but at the cost of 45 points on Edrio in the T-65 and 47 on Benthic in the U-Wing, they feel that little bit too expensive for initiative 2. Especially if you want to optimise Benthic with Perceptive co-pilot at 10 points. That’s 102 points.

Still it makes sense that Scum takes away the toys but Rebels should be able to pass around the love.

As a simple comparison of why you might not want to take Hyperspace legal lists to an Extended gunfight, how about this:

If I combine Palob with Moldy Crow and 4-Lom with Advanced Sensors and the Mist Hunter title, that’s 109 points. That’s so much more agro for your opponent to deal with and both ships are initiative 3, why wouldn’t you take that in comparison to the Tubes Brothers? 

The Wave 2 launch party at Warboar, Bromley (on the outskirts of Greater London) saw a real mishmash of what happens when Extended and Hyperspace collide. The top six places went to players who had chosen to bring old faithful lists they had been honing for three months (with the exception of European Champion Ben Lee’s Father, who came second with a Scum list too). Those who had brought The Resistance or First Order ended up with maybe two or three wins tops.

The two formats need to be looked upon as different beasts, at least until the point changes happen in January.

With Extended, the Rebels have had no real chance to grow because they have had to compete with the likes of Deathrain, Redline, Plob and Flom. With Hyperspace, there just might be a chance that their faction identity might be allowed to emerge, instead of having to find ships that you think might well be hard hitters and chucking them on the mat.

Stay on Target

On a final note, the theory of a time-line for the game seems to look quite positive for the future of the Rebel faction.

The Pax Unplugged in Philadelphia saw two B-Wing lists make the top 16:
 – Craig Ferguson made top 8, going 6 and 0 in Swiss with Ten Numb, Braylen Stramm, Wedge and Dutch, each with minimal upgrades;
 – Zac Cody made top 16, going 5 and 1 in Swiss with 4 B-Wings (that’s Two Blue Squadron pilots wit Advanced Sensors, Braylen and Ten Numb).

With the films, B-Wings and A-Wings originally emerged in Return of the Jedi and it has been mentioned before that FFG intends to re-launch each ship as the waves continue. How long will it be before B-Wings and A-Wings are tidied up, remoulded and made Hyperspace legal? Perhaps the truth evolution of 2.0 is the idea that, like Standard format in Magic, the ships released in Waves will be the ones you want to play more and more and what we really need is patience for when iconic ships are given more balanced abilities and price points in comparison to their competing factions.

The Australian Nationals at the end of November saw a breakdown of the following in the top 16:
 – 4 Rebels (25 %)
 – 6 Imperials (37.5%)
 – 6 Scum (37.5%)

That’s a small growth in comparison to the tournaments mentioned earlier, but more significantly, two of those four Rebel lists made it to the top 4

Of course, only the T-65s here are Hyperspace legal, but there is no doubt that the ingredient the other ship brings is something to enhance the overall action economy of the list. This could be replaced with Garven, or Dutch. Ian Courtney, Big Papa Zombie, has written an article about Wedge and I agree with him completely that Biggs is well worth exploring as something to help keep your ships alive.

Something like this:

Here is what the Rebel faction embody when we meet them in Episode IV: they depend on each other for support, they have to be cautious because their ships are likely stolen or salvaged; squadrons that have seen action and are unified by a cause.

Each ship is worth roughly 1/4 of your list. Biggs wants to stay at range 3 so that he might maximise the range bonus of defence dice. Dutch and Garven want to be roughly range 2. Wedge wants to be cautious until his opportunity arises. with Biggs and Dutch both able to take Selfless, you can help to keep the other two alive and spread the damage. 

The list doesn’t stray far from the 1 forward Rebel Dance, but it is a little less predictable, if still reactive to your opponent. At 198 points, you could swap Dutch for Norra if you wanted to have more of a tank, but you would lose the action efficiency that Dutch brings.

Other possible options in this point range are perhaps taking Saw Gerrara or Benthic in the U-Wing

Both offer opportunities to support the other ships. Saw would take you to 200 points total so there would be no room for Selfless, but you can still use his Red Co-ordinate action. At 47 points, Benthic would give you 6 points spare to play with. His native ability means that you can pass a token to anybody at range 1-2 and this would give you room for Swarm Tactics on Wedge and Selfless on Garven.

Something to consider.

Fly casual y’all!

Faction specific points and Hyperspace legality can be found in the following links
Rebel Alliance
Galactic Empire
Scum & Villainy
First Order
Generic Upgrades

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