Star Wars: X-Wing - Wave 7
on Oct 29, 2015
Three years is a heck of a long time in the board game spectrum. Games burst onto the scene riding waves of hype and flare out like a star gone supernova. X-Wing has endured this long span with gusto, ushering in a huge range of spacecraft and filling niches on the battlefield we didn't even know existed. At this point the original trilogy is so far in the rearview mirror that one would think the Fantasy Flight design team would be at the end of their rope of enthusiasm and creativity. You would be wrong.
Out of the four new ships three of them are solely seen in the off-screen expanded universe and chances are you've never heard of them. Bossk's Hound's Tooth is the most readily identifiable with at least its primary pilot getting the spotlight for about the length of time it takes to move through the Chick-Fil-A drive through. None of this really matters because the capabilities and function of these new entries manage to feel fresh and interesting despite the odds.
This wave is ultimately Scum heavy as the faction still has a ways to catch up to their counterparts. The Kihraxz fighter is probably the least assuming of the group as it appears puny when lined up next to all of these large new ships. This fighter is a solid bird that offers a load-out and role similar to that of an X-Wing. It's sturdy and can hit hard but is not altogether remarkable in most respects. Like the Headhunter and Scyk, it offers a filler craft to bulk out your list and provides a cheap punch. Its maneuver dial isn't fantastic but it's not poor either. Very middle of the road in regards to the hodgepodge fleet.
The YV-666 (yes this is actually its designation) is the ship of this wave. I can just picture the tall lizard throwing up the horns and rocking out to Slayer in the cockpit.
It's enormous, bulky, and packs a hell of a punch. In true Scum fashion you can outfit this thing with an endless supply of upgrades and cannonry, adopting the beast to your needs and taste. It can take punches like an elephant and throw back carnage in volume. This faction desperately needed another bulky option to form the backbone of a 100 point list and now they have it.
In addition to a myriad of interesting pilots, the YV-666 has perhaps the most enticing title in the game. The Hound's Tooth ability allows the ship to eject a Z-95 Headhunter from its belly after it receives its death blow, extending the life and abilities of your pilot into the final stretch of the match. This is a pretty crazy ability in that it changes up the feel mid-game. It can take you by surprise as this lumbering brute shifts into a nimble outdated snubfighter.
The Z-95 of course is one of the weakest ships in the universe and this power feels more awesome than impactful; but man is it awesome. Its presence is even stronger in an Epic match where you may carve out some maneuvering space and keep the ship alive into the extended rounds. Psychologically it imparts a sense of hot-dogging, flying by the seat of your pants style as you don't really care if you lose the virtually free bonus fighter.
While the Hound's Tooth is the flagship of this release cycle, the two robust bombers will garner a great deal of attention. The TIE Punisher is the more straightforward of the two, functioning as a Bomber that's been hit with the secret of the ooze and turned into Super Shredder. It can carry a far more lenient assortment of ordnance and can take a beating.
The real game-changer here is that FFG have extended their invisible hand to realign balance by including the new Extra Munitions upgrade. This new card adds tokens to bombs, missiles, and torpedos you've equipped which you may discard instead of the weapon to perform additional shots. This allows you to take advantage of all of those juicy Punisher explosive slots at minimal point cost. More importantly it smooths the boom or bust quality of ordnance. It's a step beyond failsafe munitions and it's glorious.
All of the sudden you'll find lists full of bombs and missiles and you'll be flying through hailstorms of shrapnel. The game really comes alive with such a small yet impactful change. It will shakeup your local meta and people will be doing crazy stuff like flying a list full of multiple bombers without heavy laser cannon support.
The K-Wing fits into this paradigm neatly. It's an awkward looking Rebel missile-carrier that comes across as an A-10 Warthog capable of hitting the NOS and jumping erratically to high speeds. It owes this boost-like capability to the new SLAM action it solely possesses.
The SLAM is an oddball. As an action it lets you perform a second maneuver on your dial of the same speed as your previous move. This means you can pull off back-to-back hard two speed turns and really gain ground with a strong loop wide in a single turn. It feels like the boost action cranked to 11 and it allows for this wily ship to feel completely different from anything we've seen on the field.
The catch here is that the SLAM maneuver stops you from firing in the same turn you use it. This nullifies the natural turret on board and means it's best used to get the hell out of dodge after making a jousting run through the TIE hailstorm at mid-table. What is slightly frustrating is that the ship doesn't possess a K-turn and has a tough time getting back into the fray to deliver follow up blows. This also means it's highly susceptible to ion weapons which will prolong its second attack run even farther.
Note â this will be the only wave seven review you read that doesnât feature a K-turn joke. Youâre welcome.
Much like the Houndâs Tooth title, I've personally found the K-wing more interesting than effective and favor the Punisher for its more nimble maneuver set, including a proper boost on its action bar. It seems like a ship that I spend more time trying to make work than actually reaping results. Our notable slices of after action reports include one being barraged with ion fire before being run over by an Imperial Raider, another looping lazily across the far end of the battlefield while its B-Wing escorts took out the Imperial horde, and a third being completely ignored by Interceptors as they cut up the escorts. The telling fact here is that this doesn't mean I won't field one in my next list.
If you can overlook the sexiness of huge ordnance lists, it's worth exploring the new twin laser turret that comes bundled with the K-Wing. This turret allows you to attack twice with three dice at 2-3 range, but if you hit it only deals one damage. It's basically an ion turret that trades the ion token for a second attack. What's particularly awesome here is that this turret gives another boost to Y-Wings, which is always welcome. This has shaken up the meta by allowing another range of tactics to be employed and I think it fills a solid secondary weapon role.
X-Wing would make Darwin proud. It's constantly changing and always throwing curves. It's nearly impossible to get a handle on the meta as it shifts with each release, and the game promotes a friendly state of "come as you are" in casual play. You can experiment endlessly and the game always proves fun and evocative of its source. X-Wing as a whole is utterly fantastic and wave seven is absolutely a noteworthy slice of that whole.