Arc-Dodging 101

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
Soontir Fel, the reigning arc-dodging king!

Soontir Fel, the reigning arc-dodging king!

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:

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/111042echolocationdecloakingmovementvisualizer/

http://randolphw.github.io/echolocation/

“Echolocation” is a tool that you can use to visualize

Take for instance the hawk, with only its base maneuvers:

Widely considered the worst dial in the game, the HWK-290 is quite limited in its options.

Widely considered the worst dial in the game, the HWK-290 is quite limited in its options.

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:

An Agressor, especially with Advanced Sensors, can have a large and unpreedictable range of movement... but you haven't seen anything yet!

An Aggressor, especially with Advanced Sensors, can have a large and unpredictable range of movement… but you haven’t seen anything yet!

Much better right?!  Well how about our friend Echo, in strictly decloaking maneuvers:

What is happening

What is happening

Add in regular maneuvers and the option of a barrel roll and voila:

Help please my brain is on fire

Help please my brain is on fire

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:

We regret to inform you that the editor of this article has died of brain-explosion

We regret to inform you that the editor of this article has died of brain-explosion

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:

Seems pretty tame for now. What's all the fuss about?

Seems pretty tame for now. What’s all the fuss about?

 

Now, with boost, barrel roll, and push the limit:

Ah. I see now! Even with only one side of Soontir's dial open, he can still be facing a huge amount of directions! And don't forget about that ability, giving him a token as well!

Ah. I see now! Even with only one side of Soontir’s dial open, he can still be facing a huge amount of directions! And don’t forget about that ability, giving him a token as well!

However, we know Soontir, and odds are he’s going to be stressed the turn before.  So lets cut out all those white maneuvers:

When flying Soontir, your opponent likely knows about the green movement restriction - so look for other ways to get into the position you want! There are a lot of options...

When flying Soontir, your opponent likely knows about the green movement restriction – so look for other ways to get into the position you want! There are a lot of options…

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!

Read that last sentence in a high, whiny voice to see what it feels like to be a Sith Lord!

Read that last sentence in a high, whiny voice to see what it feels like to be a Sith Lord!

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:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1077564/armchairadmiral112aimandweave

Most of the time, I will deploy my ships at 22.5 degrees to the board edge:

22.5 degrees seems rather specific, don't you think?

22.5 degrees seems rather specific, don’t you think?

 

Why?  Well because I think it gives me options for advantages in the game of course!  Like this one:

Good roll, Jon, good roll... If only Soontir could do a 1-bank!

Good roll, Jon, good roll!

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:

It's like someone took a straight maneuver template and bent it with a hydraulic press.

It’s like someone took a straight maneuver template and bent it with a hydraulic press.

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.

It really is that close!

It really is that close!

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:

Suck it, Autoblaster Turret!

Suck it, Autoblaster Turret!

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:

Whisper often has a problem with decloak lanes in an asteroid field, but at an angle, there is so much room for activities!

Whisper often has a problem with decloak lanes in an asteroid field, but at an angle, there is so much room for activities!

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! 

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