So, I’ve had some buddies get into the game recently and have also encountered newer players. One of the most most common questions I get “What’s a good list? What should I run?” That’s not such an easy question. Good X-Wing lists not only have to be effective and efficient, but like a wizard’s wand, it has to match you as a person. A good list not only depends on your playstyle and preferences, but the size of your collection, your comfort with rules and maneuvers, and the state of your local “meta.”
Instead of analysing every person’s individual situation, here’s a short-ish list of some builds that either consistently do well, or have strongly defined the state of the game. Take a peek and hopefully you see something you like (or hate, but can easily destroy!).
And before we get started, I wanted to give a quick shout out to (Yet Another) X-Wing Squad Builder! It’s my preferred desktop squad builder and the one I’ve used for all of these lists. Each will be represented with a picture, but if you want to see it in detail, there will be a link under each list as well!
UPDATE: As of the 3/17/17 FAQ, Manaroo’s ability is limited to Range 1 and Zuckuss cannot be used if you are stressed. The anti-syngergy of Manaroo and Lone Wolf now means this list is likely retired.
Dengaroo is the newest hotness…it seems unbeatably gross, but it could just be a matter of finding the weak spot in the armor.. General idea: Dengar is your one and only, keep Manaroo out of combat (or at least away from Dengar). With the Lone Wolf rerolls, infinite focus from Manaroo+Overclocked, and Zuckuss to mess up evade rolls, Dengar’s dice are beyond consistent. To top if off, he doesn’t need actions, generally immune to stress, can pop Countermeasures to mess with ordnance, and he gets his 2-pop ability. Brutal. If Manaroo does need to enter combat, she’s got plenty of tricks as well. Most of the time, she will use Push the Limit for Gonk + Focus action so by the time you get to her, she has a healthy stockpile of shields ready to regen. Also, watch out for blocks; if she has an open path in front of her, she can deny you the attack, hit you with Feedback Array, then do a 4-Straight + Boost out of range, giving her time to regen shields. (Note, clarified that Manaroo cannot use PTL to double Gonk).
How to kill it?
Well…haha….good question. There’s a few ways to go about it: overwhelm Dengar with attack dice, lockdown Manaroo and kill her first, or find a way to deny Dengar the use of his tokens. All easier said than done.
Overwhelming with with dice is risky, as he’s also going to be chucking lots of dice, especially if you end up Range 1 in arc. Though, 9 health won’t last forever. If you can chuck 4 or 5 dice at a time and avoid his arc or avoid getting shot by bumping, you’d could have a chance. HLC’s, Torpedoes, multiple attacks (Corran, another Dengar) or guaranteed damage from Crack Shot or bombs could help here. These same tricks can be used on Manaroo to take her out quickly, because if you don’t she’s just going to run and regen.
Denying tokens is a bit trickier, but probably more effective. Wes Jansen, Carnor Jax, Palob Godhali, Omega Leader, 4-LOM crew; these abilities can shut down use of his focus. Just remember Glitterstim can’t be blocked and he can always pop his Countermeasures at a key moment.
This isn’t the only Brobots variant that can still hang, but is probably the most efficient. Brobots definitely aren’t as popular as they once were, but they still pack a punch, not to mention dodge a few. Once the game gets started, triple-ish actions on both is the norm: free TL from the previous attack, perform a boost, then get a free evade. Offensively, this is the type of firepower Admiral Ackbar has nightmares about. 4 dice every round backed by Crack Shot and a built-in Gunner effect which can get fully modified by FCS and Glitterstim.
How to kill it?
Luckily, ‘bots have no green hard turns. If you can double stress them or better, you can negate the boost/evade combo. You’ll be forcing them to choose between clearing their stress or maintaining arc. Avoid their arcs at all costs…even while stressed, they can still use FCS every round as well that dimebag of G-Stim they carry (oh yeah, so potent even Robots get high!). Don’t be afraid of taking small damage; if you can spend all your tokens and tricks to block an HLC attack, don’t forget IG88B’s ability. It might be better to hold on to a focus or evade token and let a single damage sneak through. If you completely block the attack and you’re token-less, he might hit you again for a full 4 damage. Guaranteed damage mechanics (bombs, Feedback Array, etc) are also good ways of getting through their high agility, especially if you can combo it by forcing them onto asteroids with low PS blockers.
So, Fat Han had so many variations that it’s hard to lock a single one down. The spice of the list came in the 2nd crew slot as well as the wingmen; VI, Title, C3P0, and Engine Upgrade formed the core of the list. It came about as a response to Whisper; generally you either force her to cloak or rely on 2 agility + Evade to survive since you out PS her and block her chance of using ACD. Against other threats you can boost out of arc or buckle down with a C3P0 + Evade combo for two guaranteed evade results. With R2D2 crew available, there is even the possibility of regenerating shields.
How to kill it?
Well, nowadays there’s plenty that can take Fat Han (or any Falcon) down. Still, don’t underestimate it, as it’s always going to be a potent list. In general, most counters come in the form of common list building. Zuckuss, Lockdown (that’s Omega Leader, duh), Tactician R3-A2 or any stress giver, heavy ordnance (torps or HLCs) are all things a Falcon doesn’t want to face. On the defensive side, Autothrusters will help keep your arc dodgers alive. Most lists should have a chance against it now, but Fan Han was so meta-defining that it’s important to understand the historical significance. Lots of player-made combos and developer-made content (pilots and upgrades) were influenced by Fat Han. Just keep an eye on it when Heroes of the Resistance drops, as it may see a resurgence…
While not exactly referring to the expansion pack with the same name, it would be foolhardy to deny the influence. Imperial Aces is generally a 3-ship list using High-PS Arc dodgers. While the list featured has Vader, Inquisitor, and Soontir, you could easily swap in Carnor Jax, Colonel Vessery in a TIE Defender, Lockdown, or even Whisper or Turr Phenirr. Each ship basically needs to be self-sufficient; your ships need room to maneuver as well as the ability to hit hard and survive. Synergy is usually discouraged as the ships are fragile; the consequence of losing a ship cannot impact the effectiveness of the others. This is one of those “low-floor, high-ceiling” lists that requires a lot of practice and dedication to fly well. Easy to screw up, but when it’s flown properly…awwww yeah!
How to kill it?
Well, let me approach this the opposite way. Usually, Imp Aces will smoke you by messing with your target priority via hit and run tactics. With their superior speed and agility, they can usually get in close for a good hit, maybe take a maximum of 1 damage in the exchange, zoom away and “turtle up” the next. If you try and focus that guy down, you’ll either miss or just not have a shot at all, as another ace sneaks up next to you and repeats the process.
Stress Stress Stress. In the list I posted, Push The Limit was on two of the three ships. If you can manage to double-up on Soontir or Inquisitor, you shut down their double repositioning and most dice modifications (thought Soontir always gets a focus if you drop a stress on him that turn). Once that happens, just keep shooting…their dice can’t hold out forever and eventually something is going to get through. It can be discouraging but it only takes a couple hits to ruin their day. Additionally, you can mess their tokens and defense dice; Palob, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, Wes Jansen, Homing Missiles…all dangerous for aces.
Palp Aces/Mynock Special
UPDATE: This list is affected by the 3/17/17 FAQ. Palpatine must be declared before he can be used.
So, you’ve probably heard of Palp Aces, but the Mynock Special is
arguably 😉 the most efficient version. It takes similar principles from the previous list but messes with probability. Palp adds a result to anything you roll, but only once per round. Apply that to Whisper or Lockdown…assuming Whisper out PS’s you, she’s going to have focus, evade, a mini-focus if you’ve been Kallus’ed, as well as 4 green dice + a guaranteed result. Even if she rolls all blanks (which is unlikely), she’s going to get at least 2 evade results. Lockdown (Omega Leader) has just as much nastiness…if you’ve been TL’ed you have to get through 3 green dice + the super evade from Comm Relay + the Palp fix. Normally, that wouldn’t be too scary, but the fact that you can’t modify anything makes the chances of you hitting very small. Most Palp Aces use the shuttle as a simple Palp-mobile, put-putting along and taking shots if the opportunity comes up. Adding Captain Yorr to the mix adds some resistance to Stresshogs and Tacticans, as well as opens up unexpected K-Turns and S-Loops. Not to mention, the added firepower never hurts.
Another thing I failed to mention in previous lists is the initiative bid. Mynock Special is 99 points…sure, you could squeeze in Tactical Jammer or something on Yorr, but more importantly, you want Whisper to be shooting (and thus, auto-cloaking) against other PS9 lists
How to kill it?
Again, target priority is tough in this match up. It’s possible to damage something, but you’re unlikely to kill it in one round. Go for the shuttle, you’re getting wrecked from the two fighters…go for the fighters, you’re unlikely to hit anything. Generally, you have to practice patience and consistency. Your enemy will want the engagement in front of the shuttle, but don’t fall for it. Take a few shots at whatever is in front of you, juke the shuttle, then re-engage, denying your opponent the extra firepower. Do your best not to divide your damage and focus on a single ship. Even if you might not hit, keep the pressure on. If you have ordnance, try and save it for when you can max out the damage by not having to deal with tokens or obstructions.
The combo of high agility, multiple tokens, and Palpatine push the fighters over a threshold where they’re unlikely to be hit while still maintaining decent offense. Messing with that combo (remove Palp, denying shots/actions, steal/deny tokens) will make one of the two fighters squishy enough to wipe off the board.
Spell it correctly or not, at your leisure. Thug Lyfe is a strange case; it’s effective, but is it respectable? Basically, the tactic involves setting up in a formation, casually choosing a maneuver, focus (since you’re probably out of TL range), then hoping you do 8 damage. A lot of people consider this a cheesy, easy mode list. I mean, for all the skill required to pilot a Soontir Fel, he can get easily murdered. If he gets into R3 of these Y-Wings, failing to dodge three out of eight TLT attacks will do it. It’s somewhat defensive as well…32 combined hull and shields is a lot of chew through.
How to kill it?
Well, if you’re having problems against this list, it could just be a bad match up. It’s another one of those meta-defining lists; if you don’t have a plan vs 4 TLT, your list might not do so well. Still, it’s not impossible to beat. If you can control the first engagement so you’re at Range 3 of a single Y-Wing, ya dun good. Shoot it up, then do your best to zoom into R1; you might still take a few hits, but as long a single ship isn’t in range of all four TLT’s, you should be ok. Just don’t forget that Scum Y’s with Unhinged Astro have green 3-Turns and can still make Range 1, 3-dice primary weapon attacks. Focusing too hard on the turrets tends to have that effect.
Prince of the joust, BBBBZ was amazing in it’s heyday. 14 attack dice backed by 36 health (and mainly shields, at that!). The evolutionary step bridging TIE Swarm and Thug Lyfe (well…sorta…but more about the TIE Swarm later). Some consider BBBBZ somewhat of a cheese list…point and shoot and hope it blows something up.. There aren’t many PS1 ships around anymore, so you don’t really have to worry about out-PS’ing anything. When things get dicey, the so-slow it’s fast maneuverability of the B-Wing allows you can block or anticipate enemy maneuvers decently well.
How to kill it?
So…this can be a rough match up, especially for low-agility large based ships. You need to be good at controlling range, like with Thug Lyfe, try and start the engagement with only a few of the enemy ships in range and focus them down. Then, do your best to get in close. B-Wings can knife fight but it stresses them out (1 hard, 2-K, etc) to do so. Since these are naked ships, stress means no actions or dice mods, so that should go in your favor. As always, focus fire and go for PS kills; a damaged B-Wing can do just as much damage as one with full health.
The TIE Swarm has been compared to a shark…there might be slight variations species to species, but as a whole, this is the X-Wing list that doesn’t need to evolve. While it has always been strong, Crack Shot made the swarm even better. In this variation, the swarm has a significant PS advantage over most generic ships. The general strategy has always been the same; stay in formation for as long as possible, protect Howlrunner, and focus fire. If BBBBZ is the prince of the joust, the TIE Swarm is king. While BBBBZ chucks more dice, Crack Swarms throw better dice; higher PS, higher agility, Howlrunner re-rolls, focus actions, and the ability to cancel evades. Mathematically (so I hear, don’t ask me to prove it!) Crack Swarms are sound choices and a very efficient use of points. There are lots of little variations; TIE/fo’s or T.A.P’s have made their way in, some trade out pilots, there’s even a Rage Swarm variant that uses Youngster. Once the formation no longer serves a purpose, the swarm can break off, switching to more blocking and hit and run tactics.
How to kill it?
Generally, Brobots are a hard counter to swarms, or anything with high PS, maneuverability, and agility. Swarms usually telegraph their position and thus their approach upon set up; depending on the obstacle placement, there are only so many routes the swarm can take and remain in formation. Try it sometime and you’ll understand the difficulty of using bank and turn maneuvers. Use this to your advantage and try to control range, picking off a TIE or two at a time. While Howlrunner (or whatever lynchpin they’re using) is a juicy target, don’t take bad shots at her if you have a better shot on another TIE, especially if it hasn’t fired yet. You never know…hit crit could equal *POOF* for an unlucky Black Squadron, or you could get lucky and deal a Weapons Failure or Blinded Pilot. Just don’t joust it…
This was the beginning of successful two ship lists. I remember some fellow Mynocks playing a Dash vs Whisper match when it first came out. Turn 2, Dash blocked Whisper after a couple Boost + Barrel Rolls (this was before the change in large based barrel rolls, mind you). Most players weren’t prepared for a super maneuverable, large-based ship that could not only double-reposition, but do it off of obstacles. This list is another that really messes with your target priority. Dash is probably the biggest threat, but Corran can be just as difficult to take down. If he manages to get into Range 1, he can toss 8 dice at you over two attacks (modified, too, with FCS). With his high agility, he generally survives a round of combat. However, he’s got enough green on his dial that he can run, regen a shield with R2D2, then barrel roll out of arc or take an evade action. Now you’ve got a problem…chase Corran and get pounded on by Dash with fully modified attacks, or let him go and regen all the damage you did to him?
How to kill it?
So, Dash doesn’t show up at the top tables much these days; Corran even less. It’s definitely not a bad list, but there’s a lot more content out there that can help you deal with it. First off, try taking out Dash first. Corran is dangerous, but savvy players will dangle him in front of you if Dash takes too much heat. It’s a trap…unless you’re positive you can lay serious fire into him for the next couple turns, he’ll get away and fix all the damage you just did. Even if you block a green move, R2D2 will still trigger and cost you a shot. Dash is vulnerable in his “donut hole”, as the HLC only works Range 2-3 and he has no primary weapon. As long as he has actions he can keep you at distance, so try and double stress him. At the very least, if you force him to double reposition, he won’t be able to get Target Locks, so keep the pressure on. When Dash is gone, keep an intermediate distance from Corran. He’ll own you at Range 1 and he’s hard to hit at Range 3, so try and maintain a distance that ensures you can shoot him every round. He’s a good candidate to spend Crack Shots and Zuckuss rerolls on, so plan accordingly.
Triple Scouts/U-Boats/Wolfpack (no longer possible)
Update: Deadeye is now FAQ’ed as “Small Ship Only” and this list, in it’s current form, anyway, is no longer possible. However, it was such a menace, I’m leaving this up for posterity.
Three names for the same thing; the ships are shaped like the letter U and use torpedoes like German U-Boats, and groups of German U-Boats were called “Wolfpacks” in WWII. Triple Jumpmaster lists are arguably the best ordnance carriers in the game. Normally, spamming ordnance carriers was a bad idea; either you couldn’t get the Target Lock you needed to fire, you got PS killed, or the ships couldn’t guarantee enough damage for how pricey they were. Jumpmasters, however, are: relatively cheap, have an exceptional, but asymmetrical dial, durable, and have access to the perfect storm of upgrades: R4 Agromech, Deadeye, and Guidance Chips. Now, a recent FAQ update nerfed R4 Agromech a bit (no TL if you use Deadeye, as there is no “defender yet”) but they’re still very potent ships. A barrage of two Plasma torpedoes and a Proton torpedo is enough to cripple most ships, if they’re even on the board at all. The worst part is…next turn, they’ll just do it again! Even if they spend all their ordnance, they still have Primary Weapon Turrets (PWT).
How to kill it?
So, while tough, Jumpmasters still have their vulnerabilities and require a combination of counters. Firstly, exercise some range control. Spread out your obstacles to not allow any wide lanes for them to group up. Since they’re lower PS, you should have an advantage when setting up. Don’t joust, but try to isolate one on the initial engagement. You probably can’t avoid that first torpedo, but since they need that focus to fire it, you know they’ll take some serious damage before spending it on defense. If they come in too fast, you can zoom into Range 1 and deny the torpedo shot but…ehh…that’s still 7-9 dice coming at you so depending on your list, that might not be the best choice. Plus they’ll S-Loop past you or one will block while the other two get to torpedo range. If you can stress them, take advantage of their dial. 3-turn isn’t on their dial and their only green moves are straight or to the left. It’ll never be easy, but against heavy attacks or accurate attacks (like TLT or something with Crack Shot) their 9 total health won’t last forever.
Soontir or Whisper are both excellent wingmen/wingwomen, but we’ve kinda covered them already. Besides, Rear Admiral Chiraneau, or RAC, is the key to this list. The only difference in his loadout is the presence of Rebel Captive in the Soontir list. Basically, the list gives you a lot of options. Primary Weapon Turret, mini-focus at Range 1-2, Engine Upgrade to arc dodge/close range, and Gunner in case the attack flubs. It plays similar to the Super Dash list; while you can’t move as fast, you don’t have to worry about the Donut Hole. However, the reason I didn’t make this a footnote in the Super Dash section is the Vader and Gunner combo. Let’s say you’re fighting a high value, high agility enemy ace, like Jake Farrell or Whisper in a mirror match. Even if it’s a bad shot, Range 3 obstructed with an evade token, it’s worth it. Hitting or missing isn’t really important. You’ll do at least 2 damage either way (Miss, Vader, Gunner, Miss, Vader). Sure, you’ll suffer four damage, but if you do it again next turn, Whisper is yours.
How to kill it?
So, if you’re running aces, this match up is a bit of a cold war…there’s an element of mutually assured destruction. Unless you can dip in and out of Range 3 from RAC (unlikely, especially with Engine Upgrade), you’re going to have to trade somebody to take him down. Do as much damage as you can as fast as you can so he’s not able to Vader your whole list to death. Just watch out for that Rebel Captive.
If you’re not running aces, your options open up a bit. RAC doesn’t have to use Vader. At only 3 points it’s not a huge waste of points so he may engage you conventionally. Depending on how the opening engagement goes, take out whoever you have the best shots on. Whisper/Soontir are rough to take on late game and almost anybody can hit RAC. Then again, 16 hull is a lot of get through, especially when it’s at PS10, can boost, and can modify it’s dice at Range 1-2 even while stressed. Use your best judgement, but whatever you do, don’t split your fire!
Rebel Regen + Stresshog
Generally, these are two different lists, but they can show up together and do well in the right situation. Rebel Regen usually means ships that can take Astromechs. We’ve seen Corran already, but Poe and Ello Asty make good candidates as well. R5-D8, R2-D2, R5-P9 can all regen health, though R5-D8 fixes hull instead of shields and isn’t guaranteed to work. Miranda Doni also falls into this category as she has a regen ability natively.
A Stresshog fits into a lot of lists. With the ability to make multiple attacks and inflict two stress a turn, Stresshogs are great at shutting down action-dependent ships as long as they’re in it’s firing arc.
Putting Rebel Regen and a Stresshog together is a strong combo because the regen ships can afford to put themselves in a dangerous situation for a turn, then take off and recover shields. Stressing out enemy ships prevents them from K-Turning, barrel rolling, or boosting to give chase. Just like with Imperial Aces, Poe and Ello can trade off attacking a target while the Stresshog keeps it actionless. Normally, R5-P9 complements Poe’s pilot ability, but R2-D2 triggers even if he gets blocked or stressed. Ello also likes doing his White Tallon Rolls instead of green moves, so R5-P9 is a better choice for him.
How to kill it?
Regen lists excel when they can take off to safely recover their shields for a turn or two. Generally, in this type of list, the two X-Wings would get in close to dogfight and the Stresshog would hang back to either double stress one target or single stress two targets. Overwhelming a regen target with ordnance or heavy weapons from intermediate range is usually the best way to take them down; if you get in too close, you might not be able keep them in arc to finish them off, especially if you lack repositioning abilities. If you’re too far out, you’ll have to deal with their Autothrusters. Never spend a Crack Shot or Vader yourself when attacking a regen ship unless you’re causing hull damage or you have wingmen with good follow up shots.
When dealing with a Stresshog, you need to do you best to arc dodge it, especially with action-dependent aces. It shouldn’t be too difficult if you can double reposition. However, Range 2-3 is hard to avoid and if you find yourself in the Stresshog’s arc, don’t be afraid to just take the stress and zoom past it. The Stresshog turns like a bus, so it should be much easier to avoid or kill when you’re behind it.
Chihuahua A-Wing Swarm
I feel this one has been a long time coming. Players have often attempted alternative swarms with limited success. Now that Crack Shot, Autothrusters, and Adaptability have come out, the aptly named Chihuahua Swarm has been making a strong showing. This list doesn’t really benefit by staying in formation, as you need to mess with your opponents target priorities and go for blocks and out of arc attacks. A chaotic battlefield is in this list’s favor. I feel it’s more of a true swarm, where as the other lists may as well be called TIE Block or TIE Unit. There are other options in this list, such as dropping Autothrusters and Adaptability for Juke or Intimidation, but so far this seems to be the standard.
How to Kill it?
Well…just shoot it? At the start of the game, no single ship is more dangerous than another. As Crack Shots get spent, things start to change a bit. An ideal situation for the swarm pilot would force you to choose between damaged A-Wings with spent Crack Shots and full health A-Wings with active Crack Shots and shots in arc. Personally, unless you have a VERY strong chance of PS killing someone who is about the Crack Shot you, I would focus fire and stay consistent with your targets. If you can’t do this (due to lack of maneuverability/turret) then just do your best to get shots every turn. Non-PTL A-Wings suffer from lack of actions, so if they boost or take offensive actions, they’re not taking evade actions. Also, don’t be afraid to bump back; if you deny a R1 + Focus + Crack Shot attack from hitting you by bumping into it, that’s not a bad trade. Sure, they can probably just 3-K behind you and shoot again, but now it’s a R2 unmodified shot. They call it the Chihuahua Swarm because it nibbles and chips away at your health bit by bit. It’s easy to discount the weak offense for this reason, but eventually you will get worn down if you don’t avoid arcs, block shots, and drop enemy ships.
So, hopefully you can use this as good foundation for list building as well as dealing with them on the other side of the table. It’s by no means exhaustive. Party Bus, the 86 (it’s a dual Phantom list), Wes + Biggs + Corran, Double Falcon or Decimator, Paul Heaver’s Worlds winning list; there’s all kinds of great lists past and present. It’s good to have all this information in the back of your mind (or at least know where to reference it) so when new releases drop or someone comes up with a crazy good list, you can tweak the strong archetypes to adapt to new threats.
A good source for successful lists is to look up top 8 lists from big tournaments, like this reporting on the 2016 GenCon winners. As far as I know, there’s no place that consolidates all off this information, so it can be a bit tricky to find, especially after the fact. UPDATE! Reddit user “letmegetmyboots” hooked it up with this link http://xwing.miniranker.com/ which shows the compiled results of many separate tournaments! Also, check out X-Wing List Juggler as well!
Hopefully, you’ve noticed a few patterns in terms of upgrades (PTL, Engine, Crack Shot), as well a pilots who have popped in a few times, so it’s not so daunting to figure out what’s hot and what’s not.