X-Wing is cool. X-Wing is fun. Some of us just like getting together with our friends and a few beverages to play a round with house rules, others know no greater thrill than making the cut at a major tournament. It’s worth celebrating how many different ways we enjoy collecting and playing with our fully licensed plastic and cardboard. Welcome to the Dice and Cardboard Cantina, where we chat about what makes X-Wing fun and, well, just about everything else!
SPOILER ALERT! This article will include spoilers from Rogue Squadron, Poe Dameron, and Shattered Empire Comics, The Rise of Skywalker, Return of the Jedi, and Battlefront 2. Ye be warned...
I realized while writing this that these examples are almost all Rebels. Oops! Maybe I'll do some theorycrafting for other factions later since I've found I enjoy it. Rebels are rarely if ever in need of more good ships/pilots but since they tend to be the protagonists they get the most screen/page time. Every example in this post involves either a pilot or ship making the move from one faction to another. Of course, this is all just for fun. I hope you enjoy!
In the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron comics (now Legends content), the fearsome Baron Soontir Fel learns that his wife, a famous actress, has been corresponding with none other than Wedge Antilles, who happens to be her brother! By this time Soontir had started to grow disillusioned with the Empire and frustrated by its institutional corruption. He defects to Rogue Squadron and takes the controls of a T-65 X-Wing to fight for the Rebellion alongside his brother in law, Wedge, who vouches for him.
Soontir will remain at Initiative 6 with Wedge (he is the Ace of Legend, after all) but since the X-Wing is not his beloved TIE Interceptor he won't get to bring his ability with him. Instead, X-Wing Soontir gets to be focused whenever he stares down his former comrades and judges them for continuing to serve the Empire. This ability being limited to defending will prevent him from reliably double-tokening or double-modding himself unless he's being shot at by another I6, a challenge he would likely relish, but makes him more survivable now that he has found a cause that he believes in.
Iden Versio, originally the leader of the top secret Inferno Squad before defecting to the Rebel Alliance when her homeworld is targeted by Operation: Cinder, is our second former Imperial at the controls of a T-65. Iden pilots a T-65 in Star Wars: Battlefront so she's a good candidate for our expanded roster of X-Wing pilots.
Iden's pilot ability is similar to her ability in the TIE/ln Fighter except now she can help any Rebel ship and can do it multiple times, like how she flew all over the Battle of Jakku, assisting Rebel units and accomplishing many different missions. She can convert up to to two focus results on defense for friendly ships, keeping teammates alive or allowing them to hold on to their tokens to use in completing their mission.
In The Rise of Skywalker Rey takes the controls of Luke's old T-65 X-Wing, Red 5. While she doesn't fly it in combat we can assume she's just as competent a pilot in it as she is in the Millennium Falcon, especially since we see her fly through challenging conditions while following the Sith Wayfinder to Exegol, so she can keep her Initiative 5.
Where our Episode IX Rey differs from her Falcon version is in her mastery of the Force. Since Rey has learned that she is the granddaughter of Sheev Palpatine, she can just go ahead and have his ability! However, since she has learned use the Force to heal and protect her friends and is aware of the dangers of striking out in anger she can only modify dice on defense. 3 Force may be a lot but you would need to be careful to save some charges for Rey to use herself and, since they only work for other ships on defense, it would hopefully not be too overpowered as sort of an inverse of Vader's ability in the Defender. I see this Rey as an alternative to Flyboy Poe, sort of a starting point for a different sort of squad than you would use with him.
Naboo N-1 Starfighter
In the Shattered Empire limited comic series immediately following the Battle of Endor Leia takes Shara Bey along as her pilot and companion on a mission to Naboo in order to establish contact on behalf of the New Republic. While they visit the planet the Star Destroyer Torment arrives and unleashes the first attack in Operation: Cinder. Queen Sosha Soruna shows Leia and Shara to the old hangar in Theed where several N-1 starfighters are stored in mostly good condition. Leia and Shara volunteer to fly against the climate disruption array and Queen Soruna, having trained as a pilot, joins them. Both Leia and Soruna agree that since Shara has the most recent combat experience she should act as flight lead. I know there's a more recent and high-profile N-1 out there but that one has been done to death so we'll skip it for now.
I considered bumping Shara up to Initiative 5 since she has just gotten the experience of the Battle of Endor under her belt and is flying special missions for the Skywalkers, but I decided to leave her at 4 since this would be an unfamiliar ship. Shara's ship ability, like her A-Wing ability, is a bit complicated to use and refers to dialogue from the comics. In this case, it refers to the panels where she gives Leia advice on clearing up an issue with the N-1s engine. I added the clause at the end that makes the ability more beneficial with other N-1s to encourage using these pilots together and add a bit of Naboo Handmaiden flavor to the ship, as Shara sort of plays that role for Leia in this story.
Leia will fly at Initiative 3 in her mother's old ship since at this point she has begun to focus more on her diplomatic duties and will keep the single Force charge since she has not yet begun her Jedi training with Luke. I decided to give her the same ability that she has in the Millennium Falcon because, well, it's good! It also pairs nicely with the other N-1s in this temporary squadron since the chassis struggles to turn around and get back in the fight without using red maneuvers.
Queen Soruna is an Initiative 3 for a similar reason as Leia: she's a pilot but may be a little rusty. Since in the story Soruna pursued and destroyed most of the climate disruption satellite arrays I gave her an ability that is accuracy-based but kept it tame enough that she can be the cheapest, points-wise, of our three Rebel N-1s. If Sosha attacks a target in her bullseye after a red maneuver she can keep Tallon-Rolling indefinitely with Focus actions enabled by Leia or pick from any maneuver on her dial next turn to move on to the next target.
Before he was a member of The Resistance and Poe Dameron's Black Squadron, Uncle L'ulo flew with Poe's mother, Shara, as a member of Starlight Squadron after the Battle of Hoth and as Green Two at the Battle of Endor. Fun fact for those who haven't read the Poe Dameron comics: L'ulo L'ampar preferred the RZ-1 to the RZ-2. When he joined The Resistance they let him keep flying his red and white RZ-1. So go ahead and swap out that mini the next time you put him on the table!
L'ulo was already an accomplished Rebel fighter pilot when we met him in the comics, earning the respect of Wedge and Shara, so he can keep the Initiative 5 from the Resistance version. Plenty of I4 A-Wings, anyway, and only one other 5. I see L'ulo as a more cost-effective A-Wing pocket ace compared to the full investment that Ahsoka represents. L'ulo's ability in The Resistance is appropriate for that stage in his life: he has learned how to push himself to the limit and sometimes flies a bit recklessly, knowing that his illustrious career is nearing its end. Rebel L'ulo, by comparison, is an attentive, loyal wingmate and leader. After the Battle of Endor, when Arvel Crynyd's death makes L'ulo acting group commander, he recognizes that Shara Bey and Kes Dameron have given their whole lives to the Rebellion, sometimes at the expense of their family, and he encourages them to pass the torch to a new generation of fighters and survive to raise Poe. I created his ability to show his deep care for his friends and fellow Rebels; he watches their backs and helps them out of a tough spot when they've gotten in too deep. In case you can't tell...I love L'ulo.
Lambda Class T-4A
The Lambda Class T-4A is wayyyyy overdue for a "black box" re-release to add it to the Standard format and get it back on the table for the Empire. What if, in order to spruce the old girl up a bit, we got a few new goodies like Rebel pilots to fly stolen versions of the shuttle? Han and Chewie flew it in Return of the Jedi, we could maybe get the Rebel Pathfinder as a non-limited pilot, and even Luke and Shara (yes, Shara again) fly a stolen Lambda in a canon comic.
Let's focus on the most notorious stolen Imperial command shuttle, the shuttle Tydirium. Chewie will get a sneaky special ability for the stolen craft that's akin to False Transponder Codes but a bit less powerful. 2 recurring charges let you shrug off a lock every two turns (it's an older code, sir, but it checks out), but only if you aren't stressed (you have to fly casual). It doesn't protect you from multiple locks, however, as at that point the enemy is looking a little too closely and can see through your ruse. Use the ability carefully; many Bothans died to bring us this information.