Profile photo of Zach Bunn By Zach Bunn On April 24, 2013 Posted In X-Wing Miniatures Game

Star Wars X-Wing: Beating the Falcon

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April 24, 2013

One of the very first lists I put together for X-Wing, back when we just had wave 1, was all about moving last and shooting first. The idea is really pretty simple and there are a number of benefits in a list that gets this advantage:

1. You get to see where your opponents ships are before you take your actions
2. On turns where you destroy a ship or cripple it, this happens before they can strike back
3. As an Imperial player, you can generally maneuver in such a way with actions like barrel roll or boost so that you end up being able to target the opponent without them being able to target you, or at the very least they can target you with less ships.
4. You can usually get them to use their focus tokens before they get to attack, meaning you stay around longer.

From wave 1, there is one ship in particular that fits this strategy like a glove: Darth Vader. Because he gets two actions, he can be both offensive and defensive in a single turn. Of course, if he positions well and you aren’t able to return fire, he can be doubly offensive! He forces you to use your focus before attacking and then is still sitting with an evade token himself. As a Vader enthusiast in general, this made me fall in love with this macro-level strategy in this game.

Then wave 2 released… One of my first experiments was with the Firespray. I kept Vader, added in Boba with Veteran Instincts (10 pilot skill mind you) and also added in Soontir. At 99 points, it often meant I was moving second and shooting first all game long. Before too long, the list turned into this:

Darth Vader
– Stealth Device
– Elusiveness
– Proton Torpedoes

Soontir Fel
– Stealth Device
– Elusiveness (I realize that Push the Limit is likely better)

Turr Phennir
– Stealth Device
– Veteran Instincts

This list ended up proving extremely powerful. At the store and online, most players couldn’t figure out a way to knock out my ships faster than I could knock out there ships. Then I learned the biggest lesson in this game since wave 2 released… the Millenium Falcon is a BEAST.

It’s not just the Falcon that is a problem though. What really hurts is when they have the Falcon + Gunner and they also have Wedge. This combo generally sees at least 1, if not 2 of my Stealth Devices dropping off extremely early in the game.

The reasons this list is a problem is that it counters, in a lot of ways, the advantages listed above:

1. The Falcon can often times have the same or higher pilot Skill. Not only that, the big ship can really get in your way and make maneuvering tough.
2. At the start of the game, you sort of are forced to decide to go all in after the Falcon or not. If you do, you don’t get this advantage at all. If you don’t, you have to deal with a full health Falcon at the end of the game, all the while it flies around the board and shoots you regardless of where you ship ends up. It’s tough to destroy their fire power with this list.
3. When before you could barrel roll where they couldn’t hit you, the Falcon totally destroys this advantage. You can’t barrel roll out of it’s firing arc while still being able to shoot them.
4. When you can usually get them to spend their focus before they attack, the Falcon genuinely just doesn’t care. He can take a damage or two without really caring, especially when his shields are up or when they are using Chewbacca.

Regardless of the list you like to use, what is your strategy when you’re going up against some sort of Falcon + X-Wing + 1 other ship? If you were running the 3 ship list I listed above, what would your strategy be?


  1. I am assuming Vader has Concussion Missiles instead of Proton Torpedoes.

    I would gun for the falcon from the beginning. You’re right, it, totally nullifies your maneuverability. If you take him out early, you can deal with the support craft with Boosts and Barrel rolls. Hopefully the support craft will have a couple of turns with no shot while you tango with the freighter, but it isn’t a given.

    This has kind of bothered me about Wave 2. They released the most maneuverable craft to date, and also threw in the YT-1300 which takes that advantage away. I’m trying to stick to the X- and Y-wing to see how they fair, but it’s looking like the best answer to a freighter is another large ship.

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  2. I honestly have no clue how to deal with the Falcon. It’s a tough ship that hits hard, with a maneuver dial that is better than an X-wing, and a turret that makes it pretty much impossible to not to have a shot with it. And that’s before you add the Gunners, which I’m quickly coming to feel is the best upgrade in the game.

    The thing just has no weaknesses. You can’t ever shoot it while it can’t shoot back at you. Blocking it with action denial has little effect because Gunner means it still hits like a freight train. They’ve all got solid PS, but shooting before it won’t affect it anyway because you’re not going to kill it before it fires back, but if you’re on the short end you’re still losing firepower before it shoots.

    The Firespray is a good ship too, but since it still has arcs it feels like you can at least do something about it. But the Falcon… I keep waiting for a strategy that’s more than just “Throw more dice at it and pray” but I have yet to see one.

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    1. the YT does have a weakness, the 1agi. Most damage will go through to the shields and hull (which the falcon does have in abundance) but it’s only 13 hp. If you can concentrate on the Falcon and Kill it in 2 rounds you have a good shot. @theorist ‘s Stealth Wing (found here: it’s the first list in the article.) build comes to mind a a list that had a very decent shot at killing a yt in two turns while only losing biggs.

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  3. I think it’s squad specific. If you have a high potential to kill an escort ship before it fires, do so. One less ship firing at you is a good thing. I will say Lando is a yt I target first almost every time. He’s high damage and a buff… Also consider cluster missiles.

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  4. I don’t know if this counts as a valid strategy and list, as it also includes the falcon, but I’ve had luck with Lando + Nien Nunb + Falcon, Biggs + R2-F2 + Stealth Device, and Gold Squadron Y-Wing + Ion Cannon Turret. You fly the squad tight together around the edge of the board. Lando makes it so that Biggs can both increase his agility and focus every round. Once Biggs dies (which hasn’t always happened), the Y-Wing can have target lock and focus. Because you’re flying along the very edge of the map, the ion cannon is especially deadly as your opponent will have to point their ships towards the edge to close with you. If they come from the front, you get the added fire power of Biggs. If they manage to swing around and come from behind, you’ll have 2 turret weapons of your own to hit with still, though that would be the best way to engage this squad. You could try putting Draw Their Fire on Lando to keep Biggs alive a little longer.

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    1. Hey this sounds familiar….yep, it’s the first squad I lost against with my Bounty Hunter w/ 4 TIE fighters build. Buffing Biggs like that is REALLY good. Even though I knocked Stealth off the first round, Biggs still had Focus + R2-F2 every round after that. And that ion cannon turret is really scary at the edge of the board like that…

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  5. Typically I look at the build on the YT-1300 before I decide whether it is a serious threat — if it doesn’t have Gunner/Luke or isn’t Han + Marksmanship, I ignore the YT for last. If it does, I kill Biggs if I must and any glass cannons (like a soft Wedge) first. It’s a lot of points for 1 gun no matter how you build the YT-1300.

    With your list specifically, Turr’s build is your weak link. You get a PS 9 shot and maybe a useful position shift, but you can’t be hyper offensive and hyper defensive at the same time. Against the YT’s turret, you are are stuck with POW 3 no Focus as that ship’s offense. It’s not terrible but it’s unreliable.

    I’m not a fan of that Soontir build. It’s a Focus for offense and another for defense… the Evade token is how you survive a YT’s Gunner, and you only save 1 point toward other things.

    I would drop Stealth on Vader to change Elusiveness and Veteran Instincts on your interceptors into Push the Limit. He’s a much harder target than the other two because if his health, and after he fires his missile he’s a lower priority target. That will give you a lot more defense on your squishy ships than you currently have.

    If I had to bring your squad “as is”, I think I’d have to play it defensively. Try to deny the opposing squad the ability to concentrate fire with asteroids, keep Focus back on Turr, and pick off the most easily killed guns first while presenting your best tank Vader up front as the slightly closer more central target.

    You are caught in the PS web. You’ve spent a lot of points for a near-sure win on the blind bid to fire first, and the Gunner card is making your squishy trio look bad because of it.

    Vader + 2 interceptors could be built for muscle instead of PS:

    40 Vader w/ PtL + Conc.M. + Engine
    32 Turr w/ PtL + Shield
    28 Saber w/ PtL + Shield

    This could more easily shrug off those deadly hits, fire back at high offense more safely to kill, and has the added capability to dance a bit and boost all your ships in as the opponent’s ships go off attack line to navigate asteroids without losing much offensive/defensive power.

    I’m not saying this build is superior to yours… but it has in it what you give up by going for PS 9/9/9 and preying on low offense ships via Stealth + Elusiveness. I’d say you are targeting a class of ship that already shouldn’t be a problem, at the expense of Gunner eating you alive every time you see it.

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  6. The three Tie build is a lot of fun but does struggle against an optimal Falcon build because it can’t do what it does best against it, stay completely out of it’s opponents arc. It also can’t do enough damage fast enough to take down the Falcon before things go to pot for it.

    My favourite (note the British spelling) version of it is:

    99 points
    33 points Soontir Fel w/Push the Limit, Stealth Device
    29 points Turr Phennir w/Veteran Instincts, Stealth Device
    37 points Darth Vader w/Concussion Missiles, Engine Upgrade

    The 99 points is to ensure Initiative for Turr Phennir’s optimal performance. Against Falcons he can use the Barrel Roll action to move back a range band after firing.

    Now just because this build struggles against Falcons, I don’t think it is a terrible thing. A varied meta is a healthy meta. What is the weakness of the Falcon? It is the 1 Agility of course. Toss enough dice at it in a single round and it just crumples. Tie Swarms (LN & IN) or 4 X builds chew it up pretty good, heck even A&Y swarms can do a number on it.

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    1. Ah. So basically EVERYTHING. I’m at a loss for builds that don’t deal with a YT well enough, except for maybe 3 small quality ships? That’s actually the scariest build to attempt period. No surprise it would continue to be scary vs a YT centered squad.

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      1. As long as you can keep the guns pointed the right way. I forgot to mention, Firesprays as well can beat on the Falcon too. LOL. But keeping the guns firing at the Falcon that does it, of course, because every round it is firing of course. 3 fragile Ties is just that, not enough fire power. The 13375 It does a number on everything else, so it So yes, I suppose my point is everything but a 3 Tie build has a good chance against a Falcon build.

  7. As we were discussing a few days ago, Zach, the big ships create issues with game balance due to the standard “focus fire” principle. Even if your 4 ships are technically equal to 2 Falcons, once you lose one, you lose firepower (making it even harder to kill the Falcon). A Falcon that has taken an equal amount of damage doesn’t lose firepower. So it goes downhill pretty quick after you lose even one ship.

    I’m not sure if this can be remedied with the current set of upgrades/pilots/ships. It’s a core issue that must be handled carefully.

    1. ” So it goes downhill quickly once you lose even one ship.”

      So far, this assertion has been entirely false in games I have played/watched. I will admit that small ships die more easily than big ships, but the logic doesn’t even make sense. I’ll prove it.

      The game starts out with 4 guns against 3 guns. The BEST CASE scenario for the 3 guns is to kill an opposing ship before it fires, making it 3 guns vs 3 guns to start the game. Even then, they have taken 3 shots from the enemy without putting any damage on the remaining 3 enemy ships. Stack those 3 hits on a small ship, and it just became 3 guns vs 2 guns next turn. Stack those hits on the large ship, and it just became 3 guns vs 3 guns with the high-point ship in jeopardy of perishing during the second exchange.

      The only way that a list could repeatedly falter against a YT/Firespray + 2 small ships is if it:

      — …built only 3 small ships, with none built to beat a large ship. I have found myself on turbo-Luke facing large ships and beaten them, because he has what it takes to defeat one. It most certainly can be done. Whether you build a small or large ship, you can build it to be great or build it to suck. Han with no cards to ramp his offense is a low offense target of a ship. Chewie w/ Draw Their Fire is close to noncombatant compared to other builds for him.

      –…built 4 ships, but built all 4 of them AND the squad in general to be incapable of fighting against ships with high health values. This is actually harder to do, but it could be done. x4 Greens w/ PtL + Stealth comes to mind — 25 point ships, but not high enough in offense to necessarily threaten a large ship. And even then, I think they could do it with some in your face shooting.

      The more realistic scenario is that both squads trade small ships at a near-equal rate — with a slight edge going to the squad that brought more guns. It ends with 2 relatively healthy small ships vs 1 hurt large ship, and the superior number of guns/health is the usual winner. Or it ends with 1 healthy ship and 1 near-dead ship against 1 hurt large ship, and if the large ship can quickly make it 1 vs 1 it can sometimes win.

      I haven’t seen anything approaching large ship dominance.

      If anything, I’d say the dominant squads are x4 POW 3 ships. I’ve had my last 2 games in a row with x4 Interceptor that ran over 2 Firesprays and 1 TIE Fighter without much of a scratch on my squad. I’ve had no loss with that squad yet. My x4 X-wing squad has had only 1 loss (to Kelvan or Will…I forget) — that had an endgame of x2 Rookies (3 health and 2 health) vs Luke (2 health + R2 + PtL). The rolls went that Luke used PS to kill a Rookie, survived at 1 health left vs the other Rookie, then landed a surprise 3 damage kill-shot a split second before that Rookie was about to hit him with a point blank POW 4 shot.

      That’s not a brag because it wasn’t particularly clever play by me in any game yet. It’s been all muscle, raw firepower just out-killing the enemy squad if it dares just meet me head on. It’s the squads that are doing the work. When I bring a YT or Firespray, I have to be very clever and not just walk into the enemy squad. I never win as decisively, and I have some losses there.

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      1. *raises hand* that was me. I got a little lucky, about the only thing I did that I’ll take credit for as skill was make a loop around an asteroid that you weren’t expecting at the end there.

      2. I was expecting fully expecting it as really your only good attack line. The applicable bit I did expect (but didn’t think through) was to move 2 instead of 1 with the 2 hull Rookie — I put myself at range 1 on purpose, then realized I needed to survive your shot to get my own. His following move would have been a k-turn, putting him right behind you as you dealt 3 to the other Rookie. I think, had you survived POW 4 no focus, either you follow that with a k-turn and we exchange fire 1 last time or I chase you down for a long time. I had it all set up and just chose poorly going in.

        Luke is no joke. I rarely see him die early, and when it gets to 1v1 he tends to be the winner.

    2. I agree that one of the strengths of the Falcon is that you don’t lose firepower and your opponent doesn’t gain point, but I’m not sure I agree that it’s a game balance problem.

      Because there’s a substantial counterbalancing force in the amount of damage a Falcon can do. In comparison to two X-wings, a Falcon has half as many attacks, with the same number of actions and dice. Pilot abilities and upgrades are powerful, but can only do so much: against a target with 2 Agility at Range 2, two X-wings with Focus will deal an average of 3.1 damage while Han with Marksmanship and a Gunner deals 1.9.

      So while you do lose firepower at 5 damage with the X-wings but not with Han, you have a lot more to start with when you’re flying the X-wings–about 65% more.

      That’s not to say that Han isn’t worth running over two Rookies. I get back some of the investment I “lose” by using Han because it’s cheaper to get one pilot to PS9 than two; I get some more back because the Chewie crew card is half as expensive as adding one shield each to those X-wings. I get some more back because Han is rarely out of position for a shot, whereas I have to be pretty good to get shots on the same target with both X-wings every round.

      But in terms of mechanics and fundamental design issues, I think the Falcon is at least in the right neighborhood–when you get right down to it, if you take the Falcon you’re paying a lot for at most one successful attack per round.

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  8. I stole this from

    You might have heard about this nasty new list-
    Han, two Rookie X-Wings, and you’ve got the gist.
    So are you gonna win or are you goin’ home pissed?
    Let’s beat ’em. Let’s beat ’em.

    Han Solo Falcon rollin’ at PS nine,
    I know you want him dead, but you ain’t got the time,
    You gotta smoke those Rookies like Snoop Lion smoke a dime,
    You’ll beat ’em. Just run out the time.

    To beat ’em, beat ’em, beat ’em, beat ’em,
    Keep your head and don’t get heated.
    “But Solo’s so scary, where do I begin?”
    Shoot down those Rookies- Modified Win.
    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.
    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.
    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.
    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.

    The key to winning is to focus your fire,
    All guns on one target will make him perspire,
    Play defensive, stay away, play it down to the wire,
    You’ll beat ’em. You’ll beat ’em.

    Two Rookie Pilots come in at around forty-two
    Worry about them, not Han and Gunner Luke.
    If you come in swingin’ hard, then turtle just like Claude Lemieux,
    You’ll beat ’em. Like the Kings swept the Blues.

    To beat ’em, beat ’em, beat ’em, beat ’em,
    Keep your head and don’t get heated.
    “But Solo’s so scary, where do I begin?”
    Shoot down those Rookies- Modified Win.
    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.

    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.
    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.
    You’ll beat ’em. Beat ’em.

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      1. In my experience, YT-1300s melt like tepid ice when exposed to laser fire. They are easy to get in your firing arc (being so large and hard to navigate with), and they are AGI 1. The only YT I would fear would be an elusive and/or turtle YT that also had decent firepower. You should be able to make it 2 1/2 ships vs a YT otherwise.

        It’s very possible to go at the YT first/second if it’s an offensively dangerous ship. You’ll wreck it and lose 1 1/2 ships yourself. If things go to time before the YT dies, I do see the point that it appears an advantage to have large ships. Your opponent spikes points less often. But t the same time, bringing a YT makes you less able to score because you have less offense. It balances out for the YT. Less so for the Firespray, which can come in at 38 as an ultra-deadly tank for the cost of about 1 1/2 ships. I have felt it’s a little on the unfair side in costing, particularly since it has Evade built in to prolong its survival. If it didn’t have that and POW 2 as well, I might be less critical there.

      1. I’m in the camp of “criticals don’t matter.” Or, at least, not enough to lose sleep over. FFG seems to think that Crits are OP and worth points. Pretty much any card that references criticals for or against reflects this.

        Me, I’m perfectly content to roll four dice all day long that won’t crit, so Chewbacca just doesn’t impact my strategy. Dying is the best negative status effect you can inflict.

        Against the Falcon and its cripplingly low agility, the ability to throw more dice against it early on, before I start losing forces, the better. I really like to make sure I can get those body blows in. He can only use Evade on one of them, so more attacks in a turn is to my advantage. And the HLC is a Falcon Slayer–four dice vs one die, you’re almost guaranteed to really connect.

    1. I am with you on this one, Derrick, though I haven’t had a lot of experience against Falcon + 2 X-wings. I like ion cannons, so if we all hammer the Falcon with primary weapons until it’s scrap, then the Y-wing(s) can try to keep the enemy X-wings ionized and pointed in the wrong direction. Using ion cannons on the MF doesn’t usually make sense because of it’s wicked 360 arc, but there are times it could come in handy, too.

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