|Stay on Target
Preview the Wave V Upgrade Designed by 2013 World Champion Paul Heaver
|X-Wing | Published 29 July 2014|
“Stay on target!”
–Gold Five, Star Wars: A New Hope
Recently, we revealed that the fifth wave of starship expansions for X-Wing™ consists of two heavily shielded, large-base starships designed to blast through enemy fighters with their powerful turret weapons: the YT-2400 and the VT-49 Decimator.
In upcoming previews, we’ll look more closely at these starships and the various pilots available to fly them. We’ll also look at the news ways that they can interact with enemy ships and obstacles, including the expansions’ new debris cloud tokens. Today, however, we’ll begin our previews with a closer look at the Rebel Alliance’s YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack, focusing on its introduction of the upgrade card designed by 2013 World Champion Paul Heaver, Stay on Target.
Paul Heaver on Designing an X-Wing Upgrade
As part of my reward for winning the World Championships last year, I earned the opportunity to help design a card, and shortly after the event FFG contacted me to ask if I had given any thought as to what I’d want as my card. Like almost everyone who plays X-Wing, I had a bunch of ideas! Hoping something would stick, I threw them all at FFG, but I noticed that there was a theme to that initial push: ensuring advantages over ships with lower Pilot Skill than your own.
At Worlds, I had noticed that few of the top players were making much use of unique pilots. Some pilots, like Biggs Darklighter or “Howlrunner,” were essential to the squads they enhanced, but the majority of the lists flown at the top tables seemed to rely upon non-unique pilots. After I watched a Rebel Swarm list fly in the Top 8, and after I saw all of the Academy Pilots, Rookie Pilots, and Blue Squadron Pilots in the event, I knew I wanted something that rewarded lists that fielded highly skilled, unique pilots.
FFG had similar ideas, though, and they already had a card for offense (Predator) and another for defense (Flight Instructor). Both of those cards would be useful against highly skilled pilots, but more useful against those with lower Pilot Skills. On the other hand, I wanted my card to be extremely strong against weaker pilots, and pretty much useless against stronger ones. I also wanted it to have a different focus than attack or defense, so I looked into movement. FFG and I bounced ideas back and forth a few times, hashed out the card text that was sent to playtesting, and I’m very happy with the resulting card.
Stay On Target is a two-cost elite pilot talent, coming in at one squad-building point under Push the Limit, Outmaneuver, and Predator. It reads, “When you reveal a maneuver, you may rotate your dial to another maneuver with the same speed. Treat that maneuver as a red maneuver.”
Using Stay on Target in Your Rebel Squad
First things first, you can’t use a basic R2 Astromech to turn the maneuver you take with Stay on Target into a green maneuver. The game’s FAQ (pdf, 9.4 MB) makes that clear. Instead, it’s best to think of Stay on Target as a great insurance card. If your Wedge Antilles is tailing an Academy Pilot, and that Imperial breaks left when you expected him to go right, you can just have Wedge take a stress and swap directions to stay behind him.
After the Academy Pilot surprises Wedge Antilles by going left when Wedge expected him to go right, Wedge uses Stay on Target to switch his two-speed right bank (red) to a two-speed left bank (green), allowing him to stay on the Academy Pilot’s tail and take a lethal shot at Range “1.”
Or if you were going to do a two-speed Koiogran-turn with your B-wing, but an enemy ship moves to block you, you can turn to the side instead. In these ways, Stay on Target prevents you from ending up in bad situations, but there are a lot of other uses for this card.
What about ships that can deal with the stress easily? The Rebel Transport Expansion Pack gave us X-wings pilots who can clear their own stress. For example, Jek Porkins can use Stay on Target to swap his maneuver at the cost of potentially taking a point of damage. Considering how bad a wrong turn can be in this game, a single point of damage can be a pretty small cost!
Meanwhile, Stay on Target also works well on ships that can use Advanced Sensors, such as B-wings, E-wings, and the TIE phantom. If you take your action before changing the dial, then you won’t lose it when you perform a red maneuver. As an example, consider the options you get on Corran Horn with Advanced Sensors and Stay On Target: You select a three-speed turn, but you change your mind after your opponent moves most of his force, barrel roll out of the way with Advanced Sensors, and swap to your three-speed Koiogran-turn.
Once Corran Horn realizes where the trio of Academy Pilots are headed, he quickly changes his plans, using his Advanced Sensors to barrel roll before using Stay on Target to convert his three-speed left turn (red) to a three-speed Koiogran-turn (green).
For Corran Horn and others, Stay on Target will be a great tool for keeping out of the firing arcs of enemy pilots with lower pilot skills!
By far, my favorite Rebel use of this card is on Keyan Farlander, who is coming soon in the Rebel Aces Expansion Pack. Every turn, you can place your dial at two Koiogran-turn, use your Advanced Sensors to Target Lock or Barrel Roll, and then spin the dial to whichever two-speed maneuver you need when he activates. Then, Keyan can spend his stress token when he fires. Then, you can repeat this round after round. Keyan Farlander may not be able to use this trick to lock onto slippery TIE phantom aces with Veteran Instincts, but his maneuvers and shots will terrify all the non-unique pilots he faces!
Using Stay on Target in Your Imperial Squad
Speaking of phantoms, Stay on Target isn’t just for Rebels.
There are many times a phantom ace may have to decide whether to decloak left and turn right, or decloak right and turn left. If you choose the wrong plan and your opponent aims his squads laser cannons at the spot where you were going to end up, you have to decloak in a different direction and follow through with your selected maneuver. This may prevent your expensive phantom from getting shot, but it will usually also prevent you from taking a shot of your own.
Without Stay on Target, if a Rookie Pilot were to catch “Whisper” by surprise after she had committed to performing a two-speed right turn after decloaking, “Whisper” would have only two options, neither of them good. The Rookie has blocked the forward decloak, so “Whisper” can decloak left and turn right (red), ending up in the Rookie’s sights at Range “1,” or she can decloak right and turn right (yellow), escaping the Rookie’s firing arc, but leaving herself stranded outside of combat with no shot in the round.
Now, if you accept the idea of taking stress and turning off your Advanced Cloaking Device for a turn, you can still face your opponents and blast away with your four attack dice, regardless of where they guessed you’d go.
However, if “Whisper” has Stay on Target equipped and is willing to accept the stress token, she can swap out her two-speed right turn for a two-speed right bank. The resulting decloak and maneuver not only gets her outside of the Rookie’s firing arc but allows her to line up her own shot at point-blank range!
It was an honor to help design an upgrade for X-Wing, and I can’t wait to use it. I hope you enjoy using it, too!
With its large ships, turret weapons, unique pilot abilities, debris cloud obstacle tokens, and upgrades like Stay on Target, the fifth wave of starship expansions for X-Wing is going to have a profound impact upon how players fly their squads across the battlefield. Will it also increase the impact that some of the game’s ace pilots make upon the tournament scene? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, keep your eyes open for more Wave V previews, including a look at the new upgrade card designed by 2012 World Champion Doug Kinney!
X-Wing is a tactical ship-to-ship combat game in which players take control of powerful rebel X-wings and nimble Imperial TIE Fighters, facing them against each other in fast-paced space combat. Featuring stunningly detailed and painted miniatures, X-Wing recreates Star Wars’ exciting space battles. Select your crew, plan your maneuvers, and complete your mission!