Welcome to The Academy, Cadet! This series will cover the basics you need to mix it up with the Rebel scum/loathsome Resistance/Imperial bucketheads/First Order thugs/spineless bounty hunters/dirty clankers/Jedi filth. Learn your fundamentals well and you just might not end up floating out in the void next to the scorched wreckage of your ship.
As you may have noticed from my recent posts I've been hooked on the Sequel factions (Resistance and First Order) for the past few months. Today we'll be talking about a valuable and possibly overlooked action that the First Order in particular leverages to great effect.
Electronic warfare (EW) is not a new concept and its value in the real world has been known for some time. From the celebrated use of bombers dropping radar-confusing chaff clouds to create a diversionary ghost fleet at Calais prior to the D-Day landings in Normandy in WWII to current day jamming of communications and spoofing of radar, GPS, and sensors, confusing and confounding the enemy via electronic means has long been an indispensable tactic and must be considered in X-Wing as well. When communication and coordination are vital there is always value in introducing added confusion to a situation.
One of the core concepts of X-Wing is the modification of your dice and control of their inherent unpredictability. Jamming is a helpful and fun way remove that control and disrupt your opponent's carefully crafted plan. Even more directly relevant, now that the most recent points update has made token-stacking ships like the TIE Defender and munitions, specifically Proton Torpedoes, more common, the ability to remove tokens and target locks is increasingly important. You're forcing your opponent to be flexible and if they aren't able to redirect their strategy then you've probably won the engagement.
The Jam Action
The first and most consistent way to jam an opponent's ship is the Jam action, available on some ships' action bars. From the Rules Reference:
A couple of things to note here:
- The range bubble for the Jam action is range 1, however it extends to range 2 in the bullseye arc. Many people forget this. If you use Biohexacrypt Codes then you can jam a ship that you have locked at any range.
- The targeted ship does not need to have a target lock or green token (Focus, Evade, Calculate, Reinforce) to be jammed; your Jam token remains until the enemy ship gains a token of its own and then the effect is applied.
- If the targeted ship has more than one token and you Jam it, YOU ("the player whose effect caused the ship to gain the jam token") get to choose what is removed
- Don't forget that jam tokens are circular and go away at the end of the round if their effect has not been applied (there are a few exceptions to this granted by upgrades or abilities like ISB Slicer or Gamut Key's pilot ability)
- Jamming can be mitigated easily by Force users and some pilots or upgrades allow orange tokens to be removed or shuffled around.
Jamming is great! Just roll up to an enemy ship and say, "I know you planned to fire a torpedo at my shuttle over there but you now no longer have a target lock," or, "that's a nice TIE Defender, would be a shame if something happened to its free evade token."
Below is a list of ships that have the Jam action on their action bar. The First Order's TIE/wi Whisper Modified Interceptor is an exceptionally exciting case in that its free Configuration, Enhanced Jamming Suite, allows you to link virtually any action to a white Jam. Truly optimized jamming.
Jamming Beam, at time of writing, is free to include on any ship with a Cannon slot. While it doesn't do damage, it is worth including on any ship with the slot open just in case. You never know when you might need to jam.
Some Other Ways to Jam (Pilots, Upgrades, etc.)
Agent Terex (Crew)
I wrote an article on Terex last week. Essentially, once Terex has spent his three free calculate tokens, he starts trying to resist his cyborg implants and there's a 50/50 chance he'll jam the ship he is on but then has the opportunity to toss that jam token in the Perform Action Step. If you can stomach the variance of the die roll then this is a fun way to jam outside of the range 1 bubble.
Captain Seevor (Pilot)
Seevor's ability is just annoying. Period.
C1-10P starts face-up and has a relatively simple ability that allows you to spend a non-recurring charge to perform a red Evade action. Once he has spent all charges, however, he turns into an erratic jamming machine. Just be careful, because if there are no enemy ships at range 0-1 you have to assign that jam to one of your own ships, including the one that carries C1-10P. This is pretty powerful as long as you get it right, though, as it happens every turn and doesn't take the place of your action.
Chopper's ability in both the VCX-100 and Gauntlet is super fun and thematic, as in the Rebels show he loves to get himself involved and cause mayhem. 2 jam tokens will cause a lot of problems for just about any ship, especially if they overlapped Chopper and took the red Focus action, ending up jammed with a stress.
Electro-Chaff Missiles (Missile/Device)
One of the more potent electronic warfare tools in the game, the relatively new Electro-Chaff missiles deploy a cloud of chaff in the Systems Phase that sticks around for two rounds. The cloud obstructs attacks like an obstacle and when a ship flies overlaps it it cannot be locked, jammed, or coordinated, and when it flies through the cloud it skips its Perform Action Step, gains a jam token, and breaks all locks on it. As long as you're aware that if you drop a chaff cloud in front of a ship you will lose your own locks on the ship, this is a potent tool for stripping valuable locks or tokens from a formation of ships charging in for a head-on engagement, especially if those ships plan to launch torpedoes at you.
False Transponder Codes (Illicit)
Another way to Jam outside of the range 1/2 restriction of the action, FTC's jam effect is essentially confusing the Identification: Friend or Foe system in the enemy ship's targeting computer. Just remember that it only works once unless you have a sneaky way to replenish it.
K-2SO is a great Crew card for its ability alone. So great, in fact, that some people forget that he also adds a white Jam to your action bar.
Mag-Pulse Warheads (Missile)
Super useful on high-initiative ships, the Mag-Pulse does damage and leaves behind a pair of debilitating tokens. That automatic Critical damage is pretty useful for knocking boxes off in Salvage Mission, too.
The Title upgrade for the Separatist Sith Infiltrator adds red Cloak and white Jam to your action bar as well as a way to Jam in the Systems Phase and still get to perform an action in your activation. Nice!
Seventh Sister (Crew)
Hey there, you just overlapped my VT-49 Decimator and did your red Focus action? Instead of the stress how about you just get a jam token and lose that focus? Super mean, especially if someone forgets about it.
Static Discharge Vanes (Modification)
Probably not all that great, but you can take a damage and stress and pass that jam token right back to the jammer.
Honorable Mention: Ion?
Not exactly jamming, per se, but recent changes to ionization rules now state that when a ship becomes ionized all target locks that it maintains are broken. Could bes useful if you're staring down a Proton Torpedo and have the opportunity to hit the carrier with an Ion Cannon before it fires.
Jamming has always been a useful tool in both X-Wing and real life and one that I've very intentionally been trying to get more familiar with. What is your favorite use of the mighty Jam?