Star Wars: X-Wing - Wave 5 Review
on Mar 12, 2015
X-Wing is a fantastic cinematic achievement in gaming that has come a long way since its inception in 2012. It pulls tightly on your heartstrings, touching you deeply and massaging those nostalgic childhood memories of playing with Star Wars toys on your parent's nappy carpet while impersonating John Williams and breathing into a makeshift Solo cup respirator. Yelling "pew-pew" and letting spittle fly from your mouth as you mimic the Death Star's explosion has X-Wing addicts hooked and the best part is that Fantasy Flight is not letting go anytime soon.
Wave five introduces two noteworthy ships that shakeup the battlefield in a couple of interesting ways. The first is the large Imperial juggernaut designated the VT-49 Decimator, whose origin resides in the Star Wars Galaxies massive multiplayer online game. The Rebel ship is the iconic YT-2400 Outrider made famous by Shadows of the Emperor protagonist Dash Rendar, who piloted this freighter and did his best to distance himself from his not-Han Solo characterization. Both of these are large ships that take up a sizeable portion of the physical battlefield as well as your available points in a standard list. They're ships you base a roster around as opposed to the supplementary role often taken by many of the Wave four craft.
The Decimator is a beast. It's the largest non-huge sized physical model with an footprint that spreads beyond the Falcon. It's also the first Imperial ship with a turret, offering a host of new tactical options. The turret is often maligned when talking about X-Wing due to its uncanny effectiveness against newer players; it takes some of the skill out of the game as it de-emphasizes maneuvering for wide firing arcs and this is readily apparent the first time you fly a turreted ship.
Despite the fact that the VT-49 offers a huge firing arc with solid weaponry, it certainly doesn't feel like the Falcon. This ship has 0 agility and can become a magnet for incoming fire from even the weaker offensive ships like the Y-Wing, HWK, or even TIEs. A feeble 1 or 2 dice attack will reliably damage the Decimator which is its ultimate weakness in combination with its poor maneuver dial. It does make up for this by offering an enormous 12 hull points which ensures it will have some staying power. The non-existent defense and high hull also make it a prime target for ordnance and a heavy proton torpedo can really sting.
The most interesting aspect of the Decimator is the fact that it boasts options that allow for ramming and inflicting damage by touching another ship's base. This is very interesting because it's a play style that's not really utilized very often besides wielding TIEs in a swarm formation to clog up lanes and cause enemy ships to lose actions. While ramming full speed ahead is not the most immediately effective strategy it's ultimately interesting and something to keep in mind.
Dash Rendar's YT-2400 operates relatively similarly to the Millenium Falcon filling the heavy freighter role of a somewhat mobile firing platform. It's a large ship with a turret that has some maneuverability that ultimately sells itself on its new upgrade options and interesting pilots. Like the Falcon you're afforded many creative choices and plenty of slots to add weaponry and equipment.
One of the most notable traits of the 2400 is its ability to ignore or reduce the impact of asteroids and obstacles on the field. You are able to fire through obstacles without penalty and potentially move through them without hindrance. This is definitely interesting and worth considering as an option for your force when contemplating the terrain placement on the table. The fact that other ships aren't afforded the same ability makes you have to consider how you will fly this with the rest of your team and whether you will use it to thread through a barrier of asteroids and flank the opposition or as a hammer to push right up the gut and ignore the debris blocking its path.
Another game changer is the Outrider title. This allows the ship to utilize secondary weapons with a 360 degree firing arc. This means you can equip the dreaded heavy laser cannon allowing for four attack dice at range two or three in any direction and possibly through asteroids. At first glance that is downright insane. Therefore, it will likely be one of the first builds you will want to try with this new miniature. This is a harsh setup to use against inexperienced players as it further amplifies the efficiency of turrets and highlights some of the more aggravating design aspects of X-Wing. However, with repeated play and experience you will realize that this title is not entirely problematic- it doesn't allow you to fire your main weapon anymore. What this means is that an adept pilot can maneuver in close inside the minimum range of the heavy laser cannon and deliver the pain while you can't fire back. This of course requires skilled flying from the opponent but it also shifts the metagame and tactical choices in an interesting and new direction.
With each new wave of X-Wing the design team shows a mastery in adapting to the group think that's pervasive in the tournament scene. Wave five introduces two new big ships that will certainly dominate lists early in their lifecycle but players will soon adopt counters and preparation that minimize the obvious advantages of their new technique. Most importantly, Fantasy Flight continues to honor the source material while introducing interesting new strategic options that provide for variety and new experiences. Wave five doesn't tear apart the game or rebuild its purpose; rather it adds well-articulated nuance and compelling new options.