Thursday, 14 January 2016

Flight School 101

When I started playing X-Wing recently I was lucky enough to have a veteran pilot come by and give me some much-needed practice rounds.  They weren't really competitive games as such because I spent as much time bouncing from asteroid to asteroid as I did actually dogfighting with his ships, but in that time he managed to teach me a hell of a lot about the basics of actually flying your squad.

The first thing I'm going to do is try and pass as many of those tips onto you as I possibly can, starting with a piece of information that's staggeringly obvious but very important...

A standard ship base is the length of the 1 Forward ruler

Take a ship base.  Take the 1 Forward ruler.  Put them side by side.  They're the same!

As earth-shattering revelations go, this isn't one.  But that said, the implications of this are many and varied - there are SO many little things that spin off of this that I could probably write a whole blog about just about that... I will!

1) Remember that when you move, your ship goes from front base touching the back of the ruler to the back of your ship base touching touching the front of the ruler.

Yeah, obvious.  So what?  So it means that when you use the 1 Forward ruler you ship is moving forwards TWO ship lengths - the ship length of the ruler and the ship length of the base.  It's a super-simple concept but I can't count the number of times that I smashed asteroids or bumped ships in my first few games because I just couldn't get this into my head.

I'd look at the table, I'd look at the 3 Bank ruler, I'd look at the table, I'd look at the ruler... yeah, that ruler will fit in that space.  Program the maneuver dial.  Come to the activation phase and stone me if I didn't forget that my ship also moved forward a ship length at the end of that ruler, and so smacked right into a rock or bumped another ship.  Be better than me.

And please, PLEASE, remember that this also goes for Barrel Rolls!  You need two ship's-worth of empty space to be able to pull a Barrel Roll, not just one.

2) A 2 Forward move is not twice as fast as a 1 Forward move.

It starts to get a bit counterintuitive here... how is a 2 move not double the speed of a 1 move? 

Well with a 1 Forward move your ship moves forward by two ship lengths (one for the ruler, one for the ship's base) and with a 2 Forward move your ship moves forward by three ship lengths (two for the ruler, one for the ship's base).  

So actually 2 is only 50% more than 1.  And because we're in the mood for destroying mathematics right now, 1+1=4 (a 1 move plus a 1 boost = 4 ship lengths).  Screw you, Euclid!

3) Turns make you go 'faster'.

If you use a piece of string to measure the length of the 2 Forward ruler, and then tried to stretch that string around the arc of a 2 Turn ruler you'd come up short.  What defines the turn rulers isn't how far your ship actually travels, but how far it travels FORWARDS... any lateral movement is additional to this, in terms of how 'fast' your ship is actually moving across the table.

The only difference in how far forward your ship actually travels is that in a forward move your ship's base length is a forward step, while after a turn it's a sideways ship length.  If you notice in the picture above what's actually happening is that the back edge of the 3 Forward template is in line with the back corner of the shallow turn, and the far edge of the sharp turn.  That's another thing that might help you work out where your ship is going to end up without actually measuring it!

4) Big ships are inherently faster than small ships.

Wait, what?  Shouldn't the smaller fighters be faster?  Well, while they might have slower moves on their action dial the big ships are often actually faster than fighters!  

How's that work?  As Meghan Trainor would tell you... it's all about the base.

A large ship, like the Millenium Falcon or IG-88's Aggressor, has a base that is two ship lengths long/wide instead of the standard one ship length.  So when you make any move with those ships you're actually moving TWO extra ship lengths by going front-to-back with the large ship's base edges.  

This means that although the YT-1300 can only pull a 4 Forward move while a TIE Fighter can go 5 Forward... those are actually the same speed (six standard ship lengths).  And if you handed the YT-1300 an Engine Upgrade so it could boost, then it would actually be FASTER than the TIE Fighter...

TIE Fighter
5 Forward = six ship lengths
1 Boost Forward = two ship lengths
Total = Eight ship lengths

4 Forward = six ship lengths
1 Boost Forward = three ship lengths
Total = Nine ship lengths

This fact is actually frequently used in tournament play as part of the "Fat Han" loadout, which sees Rebel players sending a super-tough Millenium Falcon charging forward at full speed to close with the enemy.  The Falcon can then benefit from the 'Lone Wolf' Elite Pilot Trait because it has has outpaced the rest of the Rebel fleet in doing so.

So there you have it - the Millenium Falcon really IS the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!

5) Having a longer ruler can really help

Ooh, a bit of innuendo!  

This isn't a strategy tip as much as one to actually help you play: the fact that the rulers are set out in ship lengths can be really helpful in actually measuring and carrying out your moves.  You've probably had games where you want to make a 2 Forward move but there's another ship physically blocking you from putting the ruler down on the table to make the move.  

Instead of placing a ruler in the front of your base as normal you can place a ruler two longer than the one you're using BY THE SIDE of your ship base.  If you move from having the back of your ship level with the back of the ruler to where the front of your ship is level with the front of your ruler then that's the same move - the two ship lengths of your base (one at the start of the move, one at the end) cancel out using a longer ruler and you move the same distance as a 2 Forward ruler.

6) The rulers are half a ship length wide.

Ok... so why does that matter?

If you're looking to fly your ships in a tight formation, like a TIE Fighter swarm, then using the rulers to space your ships out will give you the tightest formation you can fly without your ships bumping into each other when they try to turn.  You see, you might think you can line up right next each other and fly right forward, but as soon as you try to turn you'll be angling your bases diagonally and that will take up more lateral space (as anyone who tried moving large furniture through a door would know!).  Using your ruler to space out will mean you can give everyone the same maneuver dial and they'll (just) avoid crashing into each other.

There's connected tricks to flying in formation that are a lot to share, but these example show how handing out maneuvers of different speeds can help your team to turn and stay in formation, wheeling your squad rather than switching them around by throwing a hard turn with everyone.

So there you have it, I hope you'll find some of these tips & tricks helpful if you're just starting out and I hope you liked the blog.  On the other hand if you're already an ace pilot and you've got some more knowledge to pass down then please add it in a comment below!

Until then: just fly casual.  And may the green dice be ever in your favour.


  1. Great article, definitely good advice for those new to the game. Look forward to more. Fly casual.

  2. Great stuff. Some of this I had put together on my own, but stuff like using a 3 rules to side measure a 1 move I had not!

  3. Very good website. I liked it very much.

    Sekolah Terbang

  4. Thanks for sharing in detail. Your blog is an inspiration! Apart of really useful tips, it's just really ! This post will be effectively Just about everything looks good displayed.
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  5. I new to the game an I'm planning to try different combinations of TIE, TIE/Fo & TIE/Sf and found this article a great guide to learn how to plan/move your swarms.
    Thanks for the info...

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