Like most X-wing players, I like to model-up different (non meta) lists and see whether I can make them work (well – at least “theory-wing” them).  I’m not looking for a ‘meta-breaking’ list – I don’t think I’m that good or experienced to make it work, but sometimes you know better than anyone else what suits your flying style.

To that end, I have been playing around with the post-nerf wolf pack as a squad – with a reasonable degree of success (7/10 wins so far).  To be honest though – the list seems to lack something and I’m not getting as much enjoyment out of flying it as I thought I would.  This led me to a question – were there other weapons platforms that could perform in a similar manner to the wolf pack but be more enjoyable (for me)?

As predominantly an Imperial and Scum player, I looked to the options available here and came back to something I had tried very early in my X-wing adventure … the humble Tie Bomber.

A comparison

Let us look at what makes the wolf pack appealing from a competitive perspective:

  • It can use the EPT: Deadeye to avoid having to take target locks – why is this important?  Three reasons:
    • Due to the lower PS of the Scouts, higher PS ships won’t necessarily be in range when they move – hence an inability to take a target lock (thus the ‘focus to fire’ from deadeye allows munitions to be useful here)
    • Using a focus to fire means that you don’t have to declare the target of your attack before you shoot – i.e. a target lock lets your opponent know that you’re aiming for that ship, whereas you can use the focus to fire at any ship in arc/range
    • Lastly, if you don’t use munitions, you can use the focus for attack or defense.
  • With munitions, you can deliver an alpha-strike that can take out an enemy ship in one turn
  • With other augmentation (i.e. an extra focus from an Overclocked astromech or a Recon specialist) and using the Modification: guidance chips, you give yourself a good chance to get 4 hits on a plasma torpedoes (with an extra for the shield damage) OR 4 hits with proton torpedoes (with the focus to a critical damage ability).
  • You have 360 degree shooting (granted that’s only with 2 dice at ranges 2-3)
  • Total health is reasonably high with 27 (18 hull and 9 shields combined)

If I was to look at how to recreate some of those selling points with bombers, how would I do that?  There seem to be a number of ways:

  • The new Gamma Veteran pilot has an EPT, meaning that you could use Deadeye in this case.  A pure Gamma Veteran Squad could shape up something like this:

Gamma Veteran (Deadeye, Extra Munitions, Plasma torpedoes, Guidance chips) x 4

That would be 100 points exactly, but would suffer from no additional assistance in ordnance post roll modification (like a focus or re-rolls).  It would have 1 more shot than a wolf pack – which makes up for the statistical difference in lacking dice modification.  It also lacks 360 degree shooting and has slightly less health (24 vs 27)

  • Rather than look to have a symmetric build, there may be better options than the Gamma Veteran list above (that doesn’t require you to buy multiple Imperial Veterans packs!).  Something I’ve now played around with is the following:

Bomber Squad

This has a number of benefits over the pure gamma veteran squad but does require some focused flying and cross-ship synergies.

The idea is that the lower PS ships move first (obviously) and take focus tokens as an action.  Lastly, Captain Jonus moves and takes a target lock on the desired target (which is now hopefully in range).  Jonus fires his tracers and passes target locks to the other 3 ships (flying in formation).  These three ships then can shoot their munitions with the Target Lock AND modify the dice through 3 means:

  1. Captain Jonus provides 2 re-rolls when attacking with a secondary weapon (ordnance)
  2. They can use the focus token that they took as part of their action, and
  3. The guidance chips can change 1 result

That guarantees a good result / return from ordnance.

The list also provides a benefit over the gamma veteran’s list in that there is enough space for Cluster Missiles on 2 of the ships – this provides another option when in range 2 and an ordnance option in range 1 (where as the ships would have been limited to their primary weapon).

Blocking is also then an option with the last scimitar pilot when he/she has expended their torpedoes.  One variation of this list has that pilot with Seismics, though now I’d prefer to save those points and upgrade Jonus from Adaptability to Veteran Instincts in his EPT and take a 1 point initiative bid.

An early view on performance

Although yet to face a stern test (i.e. against arc dodgers and aces) the three games so far have produced reasonable results:

Game 1 vs Rebels (Ghost – Lothal Rebel, Phanton – Ezra, B wing – Ten Numb)

Result: Win 100-25

I must admit that going up against a low agility list first up is an easier prospect for the bomber list.  Though the Ghost is a scary beast with a 4 dice attack in arc (5 in range 1) and a LOT of health to chew through in the list (28).  My opponent had also kitted it out with the autoblaster turret to deter range 1 engagements!  The game went pretty much as expected with the ghost trying to take out Jonus and the other bombers then unloading into the ghost.  3 /4 of the bombers were damaged early and Jonus taken out after the Ghost went down (launching the Phantom shuttle) – but in close (R1 & 2), the clusters paid for themselves in taking out the B wing and assisting in downing the attack shuttle too.

Game 2 vs Empire (Defender – Glaive, Bomber – Deathfire, Punisher – Deathrain)

Result: Win 100-0

A very different list to face, but one with my nemesis (a defender).  Knowing what the Glaive pilot could do in the end game to my squad and their “tankiness” with the Tie/x7 title – this was my first objective.  Luckily that went to plan and then it was 4 on 2 … not good odds for the opposition and it went as expected.

Game 3 vs Empire (3 x Punishers: Readline, Deathrain, Cutlass)

Result:Win 100-25

A ‘different’ list again – though one which could hurt me badly if it god a number of shots off first – a distinct possibility with 2 of the punisher pilots having a higher PS.  The opposition did get one good salvo off from one of the Punishers (Assault missiles – meaning that all my ships in formation took damage),but that’s where it turned.  Without taking out one of my ships first and only 1 missile, the bomber squadron returned the favor and  took out the lower PS punisher.  Then it was again a 4 on 2 game, which went to plan with only the loss of Jonus again in the penultimate turn.

Next Steps?

The list really needs to be tested against Aces and Arc dodging archetypes before I can make any assessment – something that I will try to do in the coming weeks to answer my initial question!  I’d assume that an aces list in the hands of a good pilot would make life very hard for this list (still needing target locks) and that I will need to fly much better with the squadron to give me a chance at all – so time will tell.