Monday, May 5, 2014

X-Wing Top Gun: How to stay with your wing-man.

by CaulynDarr
No, sorry, this isn't a Top Gun based conversion of the X-Wing rules.  Though, now that I think about it, that should be a thing.
In a given game of X-wing, you are only probably going to make 12-20 attack rolls and get usually as many actions.  Missing out on either a single attack or action can have a large impact on the results of a game.  Too many collisions and being out of arc too often can lead to a loss much quicker than any string of bad rolls.  If you have good spacial visualization abilities you can often fly you ships by the seat-of-your-pants, but it doesn't hurt to know a few tips and tricks to predict exactly where your ships will end up after a maneuver.  

Keeping your ships in a tight formation is a good way to bring multiple attacks to bear on a single target. Formation flying also allows you to get the best efficiency out of the abilities of pilots like Biggs and Howlrunner. 

In doing this, you run some risks, and not just from Assault Missiles and Proximity Mines.  Anyone can keep their ships together flying in a straight line, but once you get into a knife fight with the other player you need options other than just jousting back and forth with K-turns.

For example, lets take two ships side-by-side executing a typical bank maneuver.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

You'll notice a 3 bank on the outside will allow the ships to maintain their formation when the maneuver is complete.  There's a problem with this basic formation though, as shown in the next example.

If you need to make a 90 degree turn to engage some Interceptors trying to out flank you, you can't pull the same trick.  Your outside X-wing just lost his chance for a Target Lock action, greatly degrading its attack efficiency.  The outside X-wing's only viable option, to make a successful maneuver and keep the same bearing as his wing-man, is to execute a shorter turn.

mhmm, exhaust fumes...
It's not a bad option, but it has some side effects.  First, you end up a base length behind your wing man. This could potentially put both ships into separate range bands on a target. Second, this is a worse position to be in than side by side.  Your slower banks will be constricted, and even valid maneuvers will increase your ships' separation further.  It's even worse if the two ships have different Pilot Skills.  A lower PS on the outer ship will cause them to have to leapfrog each other.  This really restricts their short moves as they have to make sure they clear each other's bases.

You could also have the inner ship pull a 1 Turn, and the other ship a 3 Turn.  This is a slightly better choice. but you cover a shorter distance and leave yourself in a bad position to reverse the turn in the next round.

Luckily there's a third option.        

The bank and turn superimposed for brevity.
If you start your ships in a staggered formation of about a half base length, you gain much better maneuver options.  When you bank from this position you're still capable of banking a further 45 degrees on your next maneuver.  If you perform a turn you are alternatively positioned to then bank or turn in the opposite direction.  

The limit of this formation is that your optimal maneuvers are all in the opposite direction of the lead ship.  So in my example, turning right can end with some bad positioning and possibly some bumps.  A good mitigation for this is to anchor your formation to one of the board edges.  In my examples, you would pick the right board edge.  This way you won't even need to make that many right turns.  Plus your opponent will only be able to flank your from one side.

If you do need to change direction, then have the outer ship pull a 1 Forward and the inner select a 2 Forward.  This will reset the formation for a turn in the opposite direction.

Truffle Shuffle.
This formation can also be expanded into the pinwheel formation.

Swing your partner round and round...
This gives you more maneuver options over a basic square.  You'll still have to be careful though, more ships leads to more opportunities to bump.  And keep your higher PS pilots to the back of the formation to avoid leapfrogging.

I'd also recommend checking out the X-wing World Champion's thoughts on formation flying as well.  When FF posts a tactics article, they're usually pretty decent.  Must resist urge to rant about that other game system....  

Knowing where your ships will end up after a maneuver is only part of the equation.  What's equally important is knowing where your opponent is going to be.  I'll try to dig into that in my next post on the topic-whenever that may be.



  1. Awesome! That should really help my flying.

  2. BTW: What did you use to make the graphics?

    1. Figured it had to be something like that. Cool.

  3. Thanks much! Not playing X-wing yet, but very helpful for STAW as well...


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