In the X-Wing Miniatures game, every unit gets to take a single action during its activation step (except when it doesn’t). This article will discuss some common actions, and some action optimization as well as action denial tactics.
Each unit, in ascending order by Pilot Skill, will activate. During activation it will reveal its maneuver dial and take the appropriate maneuver. If it has completed its full movement and it is not stressed or affected by an obstacle, it can take a single action listed on its action bar.
Reasons that a unit can lose its action include: executing a red maneuver and becoming stressed, failure to remove the stress that is currently in effect, and bumping another ship or obstacle. Losing the opportunity to take an action is not the end of the world, but you can see if from there.
Actions are important as they can greatly increase the odds of performing successful dice rolls. Lets look at the X-Wing fighter, for instance. It has only two actions available, Focus and Target Lock. Focus allows the unit to exchange the focus token to turn all die rolls marked “eyeball” into hits, or into evades as appropriate. The Target Lock allows the ship to reroll any or all of the dice in the attack, but has no effect on defensive die rolls. In the case of attacks, lets see what the dice say.
An attack (red) die has eight sides. Three are “hit”, one is “critical hit”, two are “eyeball”, and the final two faces are blank. If a single red die is rolled, with no action, the chance of scoring a hit or a critical hit is 50% (4 of 8 faces). If the attack has target lock, any misses have another 50% chance of becoming a hit, for a net 75% chance of hit or critical hit. If the attacker has focus, his chance of rolling a hit, crit, or eyeball is 75% (6 of 8 faces) outright. If the pilot has both focus and target lock, the chance of a success hit or crit becomes an astounding 94%! You can see that by denying actions, you can cut your opponent’s chance of hitting by at least 25% just by denying focus.
The common actions that you will find on an action bar are as follows:
- Focus: the eyeball – this is a very versatile action that can aid attacking and defending, but each use removes the token. Many players feel that focus is the “default” action and should be taken even if you don’t think anything will happen (such as the first turn, as the joust is being set up). Almost every ship in the game can take focus.
- Target Lock: the cross-hairs – this action places a target lock token on your ship and one enemy within range 3. This target lock token remains until it is used or moved to another ship with a subsequent target lock action. These counters persist, and can be attached to targets that are outside the firing arc of the ship taking the action. Target Locks are most often used to fire ordnance, such as missiles and torpedoes, but if they aren’t they can be used to improve the accuracy of a shot by allowing failed dice to be re-rolled. Any ship that can carry launched ordnance will have the Target Lock action, and the Targeting Computer modification can add it to others.
- Evade: the dodgy arrow – this token can be used to avoid a single attack die, just as if an additional green defensive die were rolled and came up an evade. Very darty craft such as TIE fighters can evade. Its guaranteed effect is, in some cases, better than a focus, and when used in conjunction with focus (a tactic known as turtling) the craft becomes able to shirk off all kinds of damage.
- Boost: the three headed arrow – introduced with A-Wings and TIE Interceptors, the Boost action allows the craft to move either 1 forward or 1 bank in either forward direction. This can take a ship out of an opponent’s fire arc or improve his own shot as needed.
- Barrel Roll: the looping arrow – this is another staple of very maneuverable craft, and it will allow the ship to move laterally to port or starboard to evade fire arcs or obstacles. Combined with Boost, it can give a lot of freedom to arc dodge.
- Cloak: the mystery arrow – I will write a whole article at a later date on how to use this one, there is too much to discuss right now. Like Target Lock, this places a counter that does not go away automatically at the end of the round.
What you will notice is some actions work particularly well when combined with others. If a ship can only take a single action, how do we set up combinations?
Some pilots, such as Darth Vader, can take more than one action during the activation step. The elite pilot talent “Push The Limit” will allow the ship to take an extra action after it takes one – at the cost of having to receive a stress token.
The important consideration is as follows: actions cannot be taken if the ship has bumped another, struck an obstacle, or is stressed.
Another consideration is that any action may only be taken once. So, Darth Vader is in a TIE Advanced, which has a barrel roll action, but he cannot take two barrel rolls in a single turn, even if they are free actions.
But, a ship may have tokens assigned to it any number of times. The synergistic builds frequently incorporate ways to assign tokens to friendly ships in a given range.
So, what should I do?
Simply put, do your best to take an action every turn, even if it is merely a focus action. This means flying clean, being mindful of where your other ships will end up, while trying to guess where your opponent will go. The dice are random, for sure, but they are less random when taken the right action.
On the other hand, you can use your low pilot skill ships to block your opponent, which takes a bit of guesswork. By denying actions to your opponent, no matter how good, the probability curve begins to swing in the wrong direction for him.
In a later article we will discus just that – how to fly in formation and use those formations to deny your opponent actions.