In the first part, we discussed several construction spectra and looked at a few builds based on each type. This is half the battle, for sure, but the other half is actually using what you’ve designed. Undoubtedly, you will have selected one or more sides of these spectra, so let’s look a little closer at them now (with the exception of the Empire/Rebel line … because reasons).
When playing a classic swarm, you have to be able to keep them in formation to make them effective. This is easier if all the ships use the same maneuver dial, such as the TIE swarm. This allows you to fly them together in a cluster. The downside here is that your maneuvers become more predictable. Also, you have a tactical hole in that the cluster breaks down if rammed (one well-placed opponent’s ship can deny actions for much of your force through a cluster of collisions.
For 75% or more of your matches, staying together in a tight formation will win you the game. When you meet that 25% opponent who maneuvers to your flank or sends in an expendable blocker, though, that same tight block will work against you. Be prepared to split into two smaller groups, even if this means only one gets to benefit for Howlrunner’s ability. You can also peel off a couple pairs of ships to flank your opposition or set up counter-attacks. The best swarm players will be willing and able to break the block apart when they need to.
These swarms won’t have quite as many ships as the Classic Swarm, nor will they all have the same maneuver dial (usually). Their advantage is that they will have one or more ships with variable capabilities. It is possible to fly them together, but they will be even more limited and predictable than a Classic Swarm. Ideally, you will fly them in a couple lines, or waves, moving with a little distance between. A Neoclassic Swarm must be more prepared to break ranks, and this is frequently an evolution for players. On the downside, losses weigh slightly heavier.
These builds rely heavily on the interaction between ships. They usually must fly close to each other to form that synergy. Each piece benefits others, and these builds are devastating on the alpha strike. Your challenge is keeping the key pieces functional throughout the game. Target selection and attack optimization will be critical to remove enemy models as quickly as possible. To break this build, target everything on the lynchpin. Sometimes, due to Biggs Darklighter or something else, you can’t do that straight away, but once the synergy begins to unravel the force’s power drops very quickly.
With an individualistic build, every ship can function on its own, and while these are good in the long game and can become more and more powerful and unpredictable if you have numerical superiority, they lack a definitive alpha strike punch. Outwardly, this type of build is one that most of us have made, especially early on. Like a mono red deck in Magic: The Gathering, it is straightforward. The rookie mistake is to fly them apart, with no regard for grouping fire arcs or mutually supporting each other. This is easy to beat, as you essentially only have to group up and pick on the lone wolves.
On the other hand, much like that mono red deck, when constructed and played correctly it can be brutal and scheming. With no real “leader”, these builds are tough for an opponent to decide target priority, and it leads to ships being damaged but not destroyed because every target is of equal priority.
The outwardly rookie appearance of this type of build can be used to your advantage, too. By lining up the ships spaced far apart, you can get a gauge for who your opponent values, and with an immediate turn you can force them into the center where your ships can converge from different directions.
Achilles and the Myrmidons
With one hero and a handful of goons, these builds are usually pretty easy to build and fly, but they are also susceptible to target priority eliminating the hero quickly. You can fly the goons ahead to protect and harass, or you can use the fact that the hero will be a target to make sure you know from where attacks will come.
To beat them, take out the hero. Simple enough, but sometimes you need to be able to react and take out goons when you can. Be prepared to attack when and who you can, with preference for the named character.
Band of Brothers
Much like the Individuality build style (above) this type can appear to be amateurish, hokey, and simple. To play them well let your opponent think that, and punish him for it. Show him that four X-Wings is a tough nut, even if none of them really stand out. Keep them together, use combined fire when you can, and don’t be afraid to adopt a new strategy when you have to, because that’s this builds big advantage – flexibility.
I fly maneuverable squadrons a lot, and I have joked that I need to have a stress token tattooed on myself for it. They can be nerve-wracking for the player, because you must successfully predict where your enemies will be with a very fine margin of error. When flown correctly, they are lethal, but if caught in crossfire they are shredded quickly. By optimizing fire arcs and reducing the chances your opponent has to attack you, success will be yours, even with sub-standard dice.
One the other hand, if you find yourself facing off against these, split your lines so you have a main wave and a follow up at least 2 range bands behind, so you can continue to throw attack dice.
If you can take a beating, like with a durable build, you don’t have to be too afraid of taking some attacks, but don’t get too comfortable. Those hits do, eventually, add up. You must be mindful to use your (probably) superior weaponry to get in close and make it interesting. You’re not looking for long range, you want a brawl. A range 1 attack against a B-Wing can hurt, against a TIE Interceptor it is likely lethal.
But don’t let maneuverability get the best of you. If your adversary can get behind or beside you and deny your shots, it won’t matter how many shields and hull points you have, you’ll watch them fall away in desperate and disgusting fashion.
Summary and Conclusion
If I’ve done a good job, and you’ve paid attention, you will now have an understanding of the basic build methodologies, you’ve seen what makes the different methods tick and how to play them and play against them.
Have fun with different builds, try new things. As always, Fly Casual.