Welcome to The Hangar, pilot! In this series we talk about starfighters, freighters, shuttles, racers, bombers, gunships, and everything else in between. This is the chance to look "under the hood," as it were, and explore what makes our favorite ships great.
The Incom Corporation's T-65 X-Wing is a powerful multi-role starfighter with a design that emphasizes a balance of firepower and survivability. The Rebel Alliance didn't have the bottomless resources of the Empire so instead of fielding massed wings of disposable, specialized TIE variants they depended on the flexible and reliable T-65. Quality over quantity is the X-Wing's selling point in canon and in-game.
It's no surprise that the namesake of the game is pretty good! As we would expect based on its design the X-Wing trades agility for durability and firepower. A three-red primary attack is quite powerful and most pilots have the ability to add munitions on top of that. 2 agility isn't the best, but with a token to modify dice it is enough to at least minimize damage if not evade it completely, and 4 hull and 2 shields can withstand some punishment if you find yourself taking shots.
The maneuver dial is unremarkable but flexible and is often the standard by which we evaluate others. You have the option to fly slowly, provided you don't need to make sharp turns, or go relatively quickly with no stress penalties for any of the basic maneuvers and enough blue maneuver options to shed stress if you pick it up. Adding R4 Astromech if you have space and don't need to use another droid is a great idea. Sure, it only turns two maneuvers (the speed 2 hard turns) blue but having a turn option to clear stress after a red maneuver is really helpful. Having two speed options and three directions for the advanced maneuvers to turn around is valuable for a classic X-Wing tactic that we'll discuss later: if the enemy wants to place a ship to block the maneuver after a head-on engagement they have three options that they need to plan for. The T-65 has a fairly standard action bar, with Focus, Target Lock (to set up your secondary weapons), and Barrel Roll.
Don't forget about the flippable Configuration upgrade, Servomotor S-Foils, that allows you to travel faster with a Boost or Focus linked to red Boost at the cost of one primary attack die (with the foils closed your laser cannons can't cool as effectively).
Strategy and Tactics
X-Wings, like most Rebel ships, work best in concert with their wingmates and can play many roles within your squad depending on its composition and individual pilot abilities.
Use multiple powerful three-die attack arcs to focus on one high-value enemy ship or to spread no-fly zones across the table. Use the support ships in your Rebel squad to further improve that attack by passing locks or tokens to the X-Wing pilots as they will likely be the most reliable heavy-hitters. If your X-Wings are carrying munitions you'll want to control range on that initial engagement so that you can launch torpedoes at range 3 where the enemy won't get a range bonus, then close for a range 1 or 2 shot before taking a Koiogran Turn or Tallon Roll behind the enemy squad to start attacking from behind. Sure, that's a textbook, predictable X-Wing engagement, but that's because it works if your opponent will let you do it. If the threat of the X-Wing's guns prevents them from facing you head-on then you have just bought some space to chase down enemy ships or score objective points from a more advantageous position. Just be careful not to let an opponent sneak around onto your flank. X-Wings really need to hit hard early in the game to take enemy guns off the board so they don't need to rely on their middling agility to survive.
With two agility an X-Wing can escape from some damage and soak up what's left but a lone T-65 will crash and burn quickly under focused fire from multiple enemies. Use friendly ships to discourage your opponent from concentrating fire on your X-Wing and don't be afraid to Barrel Roll to decrease the number of enemy arcs pointed at you or even close the S-Foils to Boost out of a dangerous situation so you can come back around for another pass.
At the moment there are a few ways to acquire pilots for the T-65 (T-65 X-Wing Expansion, X-Wing 2nd Edition Core Set, Rebel Alliance Conversion Kit, Saw's Renegades) so I'll put the source of each pilot in parentheses next to the name.
As much as I love writing about lore and biographical info for the individual pilots, that content is the domain of The Briefing Room series, so I'll link names to those articles if one exists.
When considering upgrades, remember the usually free Servomotor S-Foils and what I said earlier about R4 Astromech. I and many others also currently advocate for Proton Torpedoes on X-Wings if you have the Loadout Value available.
Cavern Angels Zealot (Saw's Renegades)
Just an initiative 1 X-Wing pilot in case that's what you're looking for. Not much reason to use these unless they happen to be costed lower than others. At time of writing the game's developers don't seem to want us using more than 4 T-65s at a time so these are priced the same as the much better limited pilots. Fair enough, I guess.
Edrio Two Tubes (Saw's Renegades)
Edrio is designed specifically to partner with his brood-mate, Benthic in the U-Wing, who passes a Focus token in his activation at the same initiative. It's a cute trick, but a bit niche. If you can pull it off you get a Focus token plus two actions, one before activation and one during, but the X-Wing doesn't have all that many actions to choose from.
Blue Squadron Escort (Expansion, Core Set, Conversion Kit)
Another X-Wing pilot who is only remarkable because they're in an X-Wing. Should do the trick if you run out of limited pilots.
Leevan Tenza (Saw's Renegades)
Leevan is good clean fun at initiative 3 and since he's lesser known he tends to be costed pretty reasonably. He's one of few X-Wings (the only one?) with a built-in way to generate evade tokens. The evade after a reposition makes him pretty fun to fly and surprisingly hard to kill.
If you're getting evade tokens then Juke is a fun option. Sure, at initiative 3 there's always a chance that you'll need to defend against a higher initiative enemy and spend the token but there's always the required Boost or Barrel Roll to try and preposition yourself away from that shot. R4 Astromech is helpful since that Evade is red.
Red Squadron Veteran (Expansion, Core Set, Conversion Kit)
Just a solid X-Wing pilot at initiative 3. Currently non-limited pilots aren't the value buy they used to be but there's always a chance that may change.
Biggs Darklighter (Expansion, Rebel Alliance Conversion Kit)
Biggs, for his mere minutes of screentime in Star Wars, has a storied history in X-Wing that more accurately reflects his impact on Luke Skywalker's life. Bigg's Darklighter's ability to take damage for friendlies is not as powerful as his first edition ability and so he doesn't see quite as much use any more. These days I honestly wouldn't fly Biggs unless his points cost was lower than most other X-Wing pilots (at time of writing he is the same cost as Jek, Garven, and Thane!) or I had a trick up my sleeve.
I guess you could equip Selfless to double down on Biggs' ability. At time of writing he has enough LV to carry Proton Torpedoes but his low initiative may make employment tricky.
Kullbee Sperado (Saw's Renegades)
Kullbee is great fun and something of a fan favorite. His ability allows you to Boost or Focus-Boost and then open your S-Foils to get that third red die back. There are definitely some sneaky combos out there but basically Kullbee is a lot more nimble and flexible than your average initiative 4 X-Wing.
You'll see yourself rocking the Boost-red Focus action a lot so R4 Astromech is a good idea. That way when you need to shed the stress next turn you have a hard turn option. Otherwise, the ability to Boost and still fire a full attack makes it easier to line up a bullseye for Predator or Crack Shot. Since Kullbee is one of Saw Gerrera's Partisans, shunned by the Rebel Alliance for their extremism, he can take Illicit upgrades. A combo I enjoy that makes Rebel aces with Proton Torpedoes or Darth Vader in the X1 or Defender think twice is False Transponder Codes with Notorious. If they lock Kullbee they get the jam and then if they insist on attacking him they end up with a strain for their trouble that he can capitalize on when he fires after them.
Jek Porkins (Core Set)
Jek is an interesting pilot with a fun, thematic ability. Would you be willing to take a 3/8 chance of damage in exchange for ignoring stress? Jek took that chance and ended up in pieces on the surface of the Death Star. Still, it's an interesting option with less downside than you'd think and at initiative 4 he's positioned to take pretty good advantage of it. I would probably not use Jek in most situations if he's priced the same as Thane, Kullbee, or maybe Garven, but if he's in a different points bracket I'd take a good long look at him. Porkins is also very fun in casual formats like Aces High where the downside of his ability doesn't really matter because he'll end up destroyed anyway.
There's a known combo for Jek that works in harmony with his ability: "Chopper" astromech and Elusive. "Chopper" can spend the Elusive charge to repair any damage you may have taken from the roll after the red maneuver and the next red maneuver regenerates the charge, which is technically non-recurring. Lately the developers have capped Jek's LV to restrict this but if it's available I'd recommend giving it a try.
Garven Dreis (Expansion, Rebel Alliance Conversion Kit)
Garven Dreis, Red Leader, says "you'll be all right." Whenever he spends a focus token he can pass it over to a friendly. How nice! Just be aware that Garven can't pass a token if he doesn't spend one and there's a very real chance that you won't roll any focus results. A smart opponent will make a point of not shooting at him to try and deny that opportunity. When using Garven if your goal is to give the token to someone who can then use it to attack you'll want to make sure you have lower-initiative pilots in your squad so that Garven has the chance to shoot and spend the focus. Red Leader is generally used in those weird Rebel token passing squads with pilots like Hera Syndulla, Kyle Katarn, Benthic Two Tubes, and Jake Farrell.
Thane Kyrell (Expansion, Rebel Alliance Conversion Kit)
I like to think that Thane has been an underrated pilot but he has always been pretty good. When he is at a competitive price point compared to Wedge and Luke he can be a good "pocket ace" if you aren't able to fit one or both of them in your squad. Thane's ability turns him into "the executioner" at the end of the game so you'll want to keep him around as long as possible. If you don't need a focus token for defense then Thane can take a target lock each turn, reroll the dice, then spend any remaining focus result to flip a damage card of your choice. Brutal.
Load Thane out however you'd like, honestly. The standard X-Wing upgrade ideas mentioned at the top of this section definitely apply to him. Critical hit generators like Marksmanship are good value and Crack Shot may help push through more damage if you've spent a result to trigger Thane's ability.
Luke Skywalker (Core Set)
Luke is a powerful option in the X-Wing and is probably worth a look at any point cost. Initiative 5 with 2 Force charges and an ability that makes him surprisingly hard to kill makes him one of the few X-Wing pilots who can take on multiple enemies and survive.
When he has enough LV available your loadout for Luke should probably start with Proton Torpedoes. He can take a lock and fire the munition with a lock for rerolls and Force to convert the focus results. Don't worry about saving Force for defense because he'll regenerate one as soon as he becomes the defender. Upgrades beyond the torpedo can really be flavored to taste. I like a defensive build for Luke since his Force allows double modified attacks already and you can capitalize on his staying power. A few options are:
- Brilliant Evasion: leaves you free to spend both Force charges on an attack knowing that you can still regenerate one on defense and be able to convert a double focus result
- Afterburners: helps him get the "double reposition," or boost and barrel roll in the same turn, that can make him more of a bona-fide ace
- R2-D2: getting a shield back after you use Afterburners to disengage seems good if you have time
- Juke: I know, I know...hear me out. The X-Wing doesn't have an Evade action but if you add Jyn Erso crew somewhere in your squad he can get an evade token from the Focus action to trigger Juke. Offensive effect and defensive modification!
Wedge Antilles (Expansion, Rebel Alliance Conversion Kit)
The man, the myth, the legend. Wedge Antilles is good, no doubts there. His ability is just amazing, especially since it applies to munitions like Proton Torpedoes, and his initiative 6 makes him a formidable ace. Wedge will be a centerpiece of your squad and will likely also have a pretty big target on his back because no opponent wants to face him at the end of the game.
Wedge is great with upgrades that either increase his chances of landing hits like Predator or Crack Shot, taking advantage of his high initiative to line up the bullseye, or ones that help him survive like Elusive, Enduring, or Shield Upgrade. You can also double down on his ability and further modify the target's dice with upgrades like Outmaneuver. Build Wedge to suit your squad or your playstyle and chances are he'll always be a potent threat.