When you first start playing X-Wing, it is easy to waste time attempting to build the perfect squad. Fight this desire! Decide what kind of ships appeal to you, put something together using the principles in this blog, then get it on the table. You will learn more about squad building after playing your first few games than you ever would staring at X-Wing cards!
To start, every second edition ship comes with a ‘quick build’ card (pictured below). A quick build card gives you pre-built versions of every ship. This includes the pilot and a load out of complementary upgrades. For example, on the quick build card above they equip Luke Skywalker with Instinctive Aim, R2-D2, Proton Torpedoes, and Servomotor S-foils.
Along with the pilot and upgrades, you will notice a series of yellow bars. This indicates the ‘threat level’ of the ship. The fastest way to build a squad is to agree with your opponent on the threat level for your game and then pick ‘quick build’ ships totaling the agreed-upon threat level. As long as you are playing at the same threat level, your games should be relatively balanced!
So do that – and get that much needed early game experience!
While the quick build cards are great for getting started, one of the most exciting aspects of X-Wing is how customizable it is. Every pilot and upgrade in X-Wing has a point cost. In a standard game, you build a squad by including up to 200 points worth of pilots and upgrades from your own collection.
The point cost of every card is listed in the X-Wing web app (found here) and phone app (found on your app store) available through Fantasy Flight Games. With several factions, hundreds of pilots, and even more upgrade choices, where do you even start when building your first custom squad? Your favorite pilot!
Whether you want to include a legendary pilot like Darth Vader or squad full of no-name A-Wing pilots, the choice is yours. Having a ship or pilot that acts as your north star will make it much easier to build a squad.
Once you have your favorite pilot picked out, you will want to add two or three more pilots to your squad. As a general rule of thumb, your first few squads should contain three or four ships and you should save about 20 to 30 points for upgrades. With 170-180 points worth of pilots picked out, it is time to turn your attention to upgrades!
When you are using the app, you will notice a set of icons shown next to each pilot. These indicate which upgrades can be equipped to that pilot specifically. While it is recommended that you spread your upgrades across your squad, it is normal to have more upgrades on your main ship.
As you play more games, you will start to learn which ships and upgrades work best together (this is known as synergy). Some synergies in X-Wing are more obvious than others, like the Tube Brothers below. Not only are they related, their abilities work really well together. Most synergies in X-Wing are much more nuanced than this though.
While we cannot cover the immense depth of X-Wing in a single chapter, it is helpful to understand the primary archetypes for ships as you are constructing your first squad.
Joust – When two ships fly directly at each other, k-turn (a stressful maneuver that turns a ship 180 degrees after moving), and repeat, this is known as jousting. Ships that excel at this have solid attack and defense stats paired with a fair amount of shields and hull. These ships tend to be more basic, but they get the job done. Examples of a joust ship are the lower point cost X-Wings and TIE Defenders.
Ace – Where Jousting ships excel at face to face combat, aces have higher agility and initiative paired with better mobility. This lets them avoid enemy firing arcs altogether, but they also tend to cost more points. Examples of ace pilots are Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Some ships, like the X-Wing, can function as a joust ship or an ace depending on the pilot, initiative, and upgrades chosen.
Turret – Turret ships earn their name by having additional firing arcs, making their attacks hard to dodge (even for an ace)! Unlike aces though, they usually have less mobility and lower agility values. They make up for this a bit with an increase in their overall health. Examples of turret ships include the Millennium Falcon and the Y-Wing.
Munition – Like turret ships, munition ships have less agility and maneuverability. Instead of adding a firing arc, they equip upgrade weapons like torpedoes, seismic charges, and other weapons or bombs. Like the Resistance Bomber, the key to using these ships is keeping them on the board long enough to drop their payload.
Ship archetypes will help you understand the general strengths and weaknesses of each. As an example, aces can beat joust ships by avoiding their arcs while they struggle against turret ships that are harder to avoid. If you are running a list of only aces, a squad full of turrets might be naturally difficult for you to beat!
We recommend including ships from at least two archetypes in your initial list. This will give you options for dealing with more ship types and also make you less vulnerable to a single type of ship.
As we mentioned earlier, the best squad is the one that gets you to the table the fastest. You will learn a lot in your first few games and those lessons will help you make your squads better. To recap, we recommend following these steps to build your first squad:
1. Choose your favorite pilot
2. Choose at least two or three other pilots
3. Spend 20 to 30 points upgrading your ships
4. Include at least two different archetypes in your initial squads
If you’re looking for ways to get involved in the X-Wing community or additional content, we cover everything you need to know in the next chapter!
If you want to get a sense for how a full game feels, check out our gameplay video below featuring one of the co-designers of the game!