By Jon Conley
What is Arc-Dodging?
Arcdodging is simply the art of not getting shot by dodging arcs (read: boost and/or barrel roll out). Expert arcdodgers maintain shots themselves, all while keeping out of other’s arcs!
The best arcdodgers in the game at their most basic:
- Soontir Fel + PTL (the reigning king)
- Darth Vader + VI + EU
- Corran Horn + PTL + EU
- Poe Dameron + BB8
- Jake Farrell + PTL
- Rear Admiral Chiraneau + EU (WHAT?!?! Yes! Large based ships make great arcdodgers too!)
- Dengar + PTL + EU
- Boba Fett + EU +VI
- Han Solo + VI + EU
- Dash Rendar + PTL + EU + Kanan
What do they all have in common? HIGH PS and mobility after the move! 2 actions is always best for arcdodgers with boost and barrel roll. And arcdodging at its finest leaves your opponent without a shot, and you with one. So all of the above facilitate that in one way or another. Even those large based ships do great with boost!
What doesn’t make a great arc dodger?
- Guri + PTL + EU + AS
- Green Squadron Pilot
- Anything without boost or barrel roll (T65 X-Wing)
And the reason? They just simply aren’t high enough pilot skill or don’t have the maneuvering options to consistently arc dodge. So we have HIGH PS, HIGHLY MOBILE ships as being in this category of “arcdodgers”
Next up we have the “unpredictables”. These are the ships that you can fly unpredictably to emulate an arcdodging effect:
- Whisper/Echo + VI + ACD
- IG88C+D + AS + PTL
- Anything with Intelligence Agent that has barrel roll or boost
Unpredictable ships are capable of keeping shots against lower pilot skill ships like arcdodgers do, but have so many options you just may never know where they will hit you from. They are similar, but not to be confused with arcdodgers – sort of a secondary category of pseudo-arc-dodgers that do so through “shenanigans” rather than traditional methods.
What Can Arc-Dodgers Do?
User Randolph on the FFG forums came up with this post, leading to a website:
“Echolocation” is a tool that you can use to visualize
Take for instance the hawk, with only its base maneuvers:
This is the exact opposite of an arc dodger. Predictable, limited movement. Now lets look at a brobot (IG-88), with Advanced Sensors and PTL:
Much better right?! Well how about our friend Echo, in strictly decloaking maneuvers:
Add in regular maneuvers and the option of a barrel roll and voila:
NOW things are messy! Which is why Echo is probably the MOST unpredictable ship out there. Combinations of decloaks, maneuvers, and actions lead to Echo being almost any place, facing almost any direction. Just for silliness, let’s add advanced sensors, push the limit, and engine upgrade:
Despite this configuration of Advanced Sensors, Push the Limit and Engine Upgrade generally being viewed as sub-optimal on a Phantom, the fact remains that even without them, Echo can be almost anywhere, facing any direction, at will!
Okay, okay, one last ship. The reigning king Soontir Fel. Lets say you’re approaching Soontir from his right. Here are his regular moves either straight or to the right:
Now, with boost, barrel roll, and push the limit:
However, we know Soontir, and odds are he’s going to be stressed the turn before. So lets cut out all those white maneuvers:
You’ll notice that its not a whole lot different from the previous picture with all the white maneuvers added in. Soontir, after the move, can be almost anywhere in that sector! Now THAT’S arcdodging!
I recommend you check it out for yourselves, both on the website and on the game board before we get to our last topic of discussion. One of the keys to effectively flying an arc-dodger is being intimately familiar with where your ship can go, and deciding where it should go based on the board state.
Non-Standard Deployments to Benefit Arc-Dodging
Nonstandard deployments you will very rarely see. Most of the time the only experience people get with this is when they bump a ship and have to fly at weird angles to the rest of their fleet. When people start playing the game of xwing they become accustomed to deploying ships at regular, right angles. The movement templates sure work really good with the edge of that 3×3, yah? Some view this as a limitation on your movement, and a limitation on your unpredictability. We don’t want our opponent to know what we’re doing, right? After all, this is as much a bluffing poker game as it is a miniatures war combat game. So one thing I’ve set to master myself is the non-standard deployment. Ages ago I played Star Trek Attack Wing, and on BoardgameGeek there was a guy that wrote the Armchair Admiral series. Given movement being a great thing in X-Wing, you should take the time to read his post:
Most of the time, I will deploy my ships at 22.5 degrees to the board edge:
Why? Well because I think it gives me options for advantages in the game of course! Like this one:
If you deploy at non-standard angles, there will be opportunities for you to barrel roll and/or boost and your ship will have a shot, and theirs won’t. If you are parallel to their ships, you either will both have a shot, or neither will have a shot. Enter arcdodgers. Up above we have the reigning king Fel with a shot on Whisper. Why? Because of the combination of initiative choice, arcdodging, and non-standard deployment angles.
But what happens if we still want to fly straight at our opponent while maintaining non-standard angles, doesn’t this give up position early on? Most would say yes, however I believe this still works:
Just as Will wrote in his armchair admiral post, bank maneuvers are like straight maneuvers of +1 for positioning going forward. On the left, Soontir does a 4 straight. On the right, Whisper does a 3 bank while deployed at 22.5 degrees. They both move almost the same distance forward (rule of 11 is still working here), ruler used to show how close those are to directly forward maneuvers.
Some may say that this does in effect give your opponent the exact same opportunities that you have, just in the opposite way. The difference here is you will be more skilled at this than they at this, having practiced it.
Another place this helps greatly: adjusting your position with regard to range. With banks, turns, boosts, and barrel rolls you can simply adjust your position better. Such as this situation that happened in a game last weekend:
You’ll notice Fel was in range 1, in arc, on a ghost. However, with a strategic barrel roll, we are now outside arc, outside autoblaster range, and still have a clear shot on the ghost with many options for next turn! A regular deployment might have sufficed here. But I think the advantage is in the turn after. Fel is aimed better this turn, and having just played my opponent for 30 minutes I can more accurately predict where he will go, and better position Fel for the same situation the next turn. Moving straight with the ship? I would be limited to 2 and 3 bank next turn for movement. Angled like I am? ALL straights and banks are now available with options for boost and barrel roll. More options is always a good thing!
Same thing with positioning in the asteroid field. Different lanes show up depending on your angles. Standard deployment on the left, nonstandard on the right:
Ultimately, its just one more way of looking at things.
Thank you, Jon Conley, for a great article! For more information, listen to Episode 14 of the Back to Dials Podcast, where Jon comes on live to discuss the subject at length!