Wednesday, 30 November 2016

"The Girl I've Heard So Much About" - Introducing 'Super Miranda'

I had my introduction for this article scuppered by a rare black hole in the lore of the Star Wars Universe, which can usually be relied upon to supply any number of inane facts about even the most obscure of bit part characters.  For instance: did you know that "Hobbie" Klivian was a classmate of Wedge Antilles in the Imperial Academy?  That the elite Z-95 pilot N'Dru Suhlak was trained by Porkins and Wes Janson?  That Soontir Fel married Wedge's sister then joined the Alliance, then rejoined the Empire, then created his own Empire... yadda yadda yadda.

There might be the fate of an entire galaxy at stake in the Star Wars universe, but you'd never know from the way that virtually every character we meet is either related to, or a friend of, everybody else - you wouldn't need Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon to get from Carnor Jax to Breylann Stramm!
Just to prove this to myself I did the trail... it turns out you only need five degrees of separation.  Carnor Jax served as a Royal Guard to Emperor Palpatine, who was the Sith master of Anakin Skywalker, who was the father of Princess Leia Organa, who was stationed at Echo Base on Hoth with Adon Fox, who led Blade Squadron with Breylan Stramm as his #2.  Easy!

So anyway, somewhere in this interwoven web of relationships with everyone getting all up in each other's business there turns out to be a complete black hole of information about Miranda Doni.  All that the all-knowing font of wisdom Wookiepedia seems to have on Miranda is a description of the art from her X-Wing pilot card - she flies a K-Wing, at some point she flew that K-Wing over a forest, and she destroyed a TIE Fighter that was following her. That's your lot!

Which is a shame, not just because it forced me to ad-lib this opening to my blog about not having an opening to my blog, but because she's probably the single most important pilot in the Rebellion right now.

Help Us, Miranda Doni, You're Our Only Hope

Miranda Doni has been a stalwart choice for Rebel pilots ever since Wave 7 debuted the K-Wing but at the recent World Championships she emerged in a new and more powerful form, heavily loaded with ordnance.  No longer content to just sit on the sidelines and chip away with her Twin Laser Turret, the Miranda Doni that Kevin Leintz flew to the final of the World Championships was ready to take centre stage and carry the whole galaxy on her shoulders.

Teaming up for some 'girl power' with Sabine Wren this is Miranda costing a hefty 52 points and loaded for war, and it's the version that took Kevin to success at Worlds and also, coincidentally, ended my run in the Top 16 of a Regionals Championship last weekend.  I can't lay claim to this great bit of analysis, but a commentor on Reddit asked the question why Dash Rendar isn't being played very much at the moment and a fellow Redditor, Maert, suggested that it's because Miranda is competing for the same space in Rebel player's lists and that she's better at it.  I think that's pretty much right.

So has 'Super Dash' been usurped by 'Super Miranda'?

Although Dash Rendar's movement abilities are extremely powerful his attack patterns are actually quite predictable and one-dimensional.  He's always going to look to stay at long range, try and get behind you, hide behind rocks, run from a fight.  Although this makes him a formidable foe it's also his undoing against better pilots, and because his build is so specific once you learn how to beat Dash you're going to be able to do it time and time again.

Miranda Doni, on the other hand, threatens in so many different ways that she presents a much more difficult problem to unpick.  Yes, she can stay at range and pick away with her Twin Laser Turret, much the way Dash does. and yes she can duck and run for cover with her Advanced SLAM action much the way Dash can barrel roll and boost through asteroids.  But that's far from the only trick up Miranda's sleeve, as she can launch devastating four & five dice Homing Missile attacks at anyone caught in her front arc, or drop her Ion Bombs and Connor Nets in dozens of potential locations each turn thanks to the Advanced SLAM upgrade.

The example shows how flexible Miranda's bombing runs are.  Here she drops her Connor Net in front of Soontir Fel after performing a SLAM, but she could just have easily dropped an Ion bomb behind her initial start point, or a Connor Net behind her after that first maneuver had been completed.
Connor Nets and Ion Bombs help Miranda to control her enemies as well as damage them, with Ion tokens making their next moves predictable.  This is part of the reason why she's been played so successfully with Corran Horn as her wingman, setting up ionised targets for Corran to sweep in pummel with his 'double tap' ability.  They're also a huge reason why Miranda Doni has become popular here and now, at this moment of TIE Defender resurgence thanks to their /x7 title, because Miranda loves to hunt Defender pilots down.  Not only do the bombs provide a way of ensuring you deal damage to the TIE Defender through all their defences, but an ionised TIE Defender drifts forwards helplessly instead of K-turning with abandon and supported by Evade tokens.  The anti-Defender loadout doesn't stop there, either, with Homing Missiles removing the Defender's ability to use that Evade token and are especially dangerous when Miranda Doni is firing them as she can spend a shield token to hurl an extra dice in her attack.

So, unlike Dash Rendar, Miranda is as much (or more) of a threat when you engage her head-on as she is when she's ducking and diving with her turret at the edge of range 3, and though her Twin Laser Turret has a 'dead zone' at range one like Dash's Heavy Laser Cannon does it's covered by Miranda's primary turret weapon.  And whichever way she chooses to fight you she can either thread her way through your forces dropping bombs as she goes, or leave them in her wake as you try to chase her down.

Oh, and did I mention she regenerates her shields to outlast Dash Rendar into the endgame?  Yeah, she does that too.

The Girl You Love To Hate

This 'Super Miranda', if you want to coin that phrase, is a formidable opponent - one that summarily despatched me from the Regional Championships - but she's an opponent I find hard to hate.

Look at the things that make her great and it's a checklist of game mechanics that were underutilised and people were crying out to use.  Not just Missiles & Torpedoes outside of Contracted Scouts, but Bombs... BOMBS, for crying out loud!  And not just any bombs, but ION bombs - Miranda is actively using Ion tokens to control the board and defeat opponents!

Ion Bombs came second at Worlds.  How bonkers is that?!?

Looking back even a short period of time and this whole scenario seemed utterly implausible.  Miranda and her fellow regenerating Rebels were driven out of the metagame by Contracted Scouts but since they've left and TIE Defenders have surged into the metagame it took somebody like Miranda Doni and the spacious bomb bays of her K-Wing to rise to the challenge of punching through the Empire's new high-tech terrors.
"We're the heavy hitters. When you need a command bridge leveled or a convoy of tanks wiped out, the K-wings get the call." - Miranda Doni
While I've come to loathe playing against 'Super Dash' I can't really complain about 'Super Miranda'.  Something about Dash always felt a bit cheap, as he leaned on the crutch of Push The Limit and that extra power of the geometry of repositioning with a large base ship.  It always felt like you were fighting an uphill battle against his abuse of game mechanics, and as he steadfastly refused to stand up and fight the games against Dash were always hard work as you tried to corral him into a corner.  Win or lose I've rarely (ever?) enjoyed a game against Dash and he's probably the one pilot I hate to see across the table more than any other.

Miranda, by contrast, with her huge range of potential attack vectors, makes for a much more interesting opponent.  She has so many options at her disposal that 'Super Miranda' is something of a pilot's pilot, I feel, really rewarding skillful flying and demanding superb tactical awareness to use her to her fullest. 

Flying against Miranda Doni is also hugely skill-testing - every turn you're facing Miranda you have to plan around the many places she could go, the many areas of the board that she could drop her bombs.  By the time you've managed to work all that out you've then got to try and worry about actually getting shots on her, and did you forget that if you stumble in front of her she'll pummel you with missiles?  Did you plan far enough ahead to avoid your ship flying off the table when it got ionised?  (plot twist: I didn't and it cost me the game)

Han?  Rey?  Dash?  Luke?  Poe?   They may have the glory, the medals and the fame but in dark times for the Rebellion it's Miranda Doni who is guiding the way.  And while she continues to provide such interesting and skillful encounters then long may she reign!


  1. What a lovely write up.
    I'm fairly new to the wonderfull X-Wing game but one of the first ships I piced up was the K-Wing. I was still clueless about PS, upgrades, etc but I kinda fell in love with the easthetics of the bird. It reminds me of one of those A10- Warthogs.
    Anyway, I was looking into a wingman/lady for Miranda for more fun cassaul play. At the moment I'm considering a bumpercar VCX-100 with chopper. Any thought on other viable fun additions to Miranda?
    ps,big fan of the blog.
    Much regards

    1. 48pts left after Miranda is a pretty nice place to be and you've a lot of options.

      2x generics (Y, B, X) or a loaded ace - another K-Wing, or a serious Poe.

      Personally, though, if it's not Corran I would try Chopper, as you said (FCS, Ezra, Hera, Ion Turret) which can buzz about despite stress with some good modified dice to either deal damage or add to the Ion control.

  2. Last weekend in the Regional's final I've faced quite nice Miranda list:
    Miranda + TLT, Ion Bombs, Conner Net, Extra ammo, adv. slam, Sabine crew
    HWK 290 + TLT, Moldy Crow, Chewbacca crew
    Y-wing + TLT.

    List above defeated Super Miranda + Super Corran list in the 1/2 final.

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  4. I dont get the point about the hwk, why this and not another ywing tlt (wich is cheaper)...?

    1. This is Jan's idea. This HWK has effectively (with Chewbacca) 7-8 hit points and thx to Moldy Crow/2 greens both surprisingly hard to kill and way more accurate than standard TLT y-wing.

    2. *Jan = Jan Swirski - Czech/Slovakia National Champion if Polish orgin. He won Nationals with 3 TLT + Dorsal stress hog list, and one of those TLT was exact HWK. It does work.

    3. OK cool, i'll definitly give a try !