So, you’re like me, and you love to fly A-Wings! Congratulations, pilot, you’re off to a smashing start. You may have realized that the humble Prototype Pilot, at 17 points before upgrades (and 15 with the Chardaan Refit), works as excellent filler for Rebel lists if you have the points for them over Z-95s. A-Wings are like TIE fighters in that sometimes, they just will NOT die, and even if they have a bad roll, they have a couple shields and an extra hitpoint to carry them through. And my god, that dial! I maintain that it is one of, if not the, best in the game on a small-base ship. The high-PS aces are already somewhat of a known quantity, their effectiveness well-explored with definite places in the meta as slippery, fairly cheap arc-dodgers. Green Squadron Pilots, too, have a litany of new options as new, cheap EPTs like Crack Shot and Wired let them fully exploit their ability to take double EPTs. The A-Wing Ace series of articles will focus on this little ship and some of the ways that you can exploit their unique options for full effectiveness. This first article will explore some of the ways that the Prototype Pilot’s maneuverability and low pilot skill can be used for great positional advantage.
First, of course, the A-Wing is a ship, with a gun, that can attack. Often, the best use of it is simply getting guns on target. Even though an A-Wing only has an attack of 2, the Prototypes make efficient use of those 2 dice, taking advantage of their excellent dial to be in places that the opponent might not anticipate, able to turn themselves quickly without being stressed if you are in the right position. As an interceptor, the A-Wing can quickly reposition to where its firepower is needed, using the green 5-straight and boost to cover slightly more than the entire length of the range ruler in one lightning maneuver.
Of course, at Pilot Skill 1, the Prototype A-Wing can excel at blocking. Although it lacks the barrel roll, the boost action can provide a similar amount of maneuverability if you approach from the right angle. Though the Prototype is more expensive than the PS2 Z-95, as a filler/blocker, it has a few distinct advantages: First, it is decidedly more survivable than either the Z-95 or the Alpha Squadron TIE Interceptor. Though it has the same amount of hitpoints as the Z-95, those 2 Hull and 2 Shields are behind one more agility and the Evade action, making it more durable, especially when combined with the excellent Autothrusters. I have had A-Wings survive on 1 hull where the Interceptor would be destroyed and the Z-95 would have been vaporized long ago. This excellent survivability, combined with the unexpected positions that the A-Wing can end up in, can lead the opponent to sometimes ignore the little A-Wing until it’s too late and its unexpected utility has given you the upper hand.
Both of these main roles, however, revolve around using its dial and excellent maneuverability to full advantage, and that’s what I will talk about here: An opening using Prototype (Or Green Squadron, or any lower PS) A-Wings to set yourself up for an excellent opening position and leverage the full effectiveness of your little A-Wings! When blocking, the Boost action if most effective if you approach from an angle, as it gives you a great range of lateral movement. Similarly, it is easier to turn around when approaching at an angle as opposed to straight on – a hard turn can get your arc moved quickly and you rarely have to resort to stressing yourself and losing actions with a K-Turn. In any situation, I generally try to fit at least two of the Prototypes into my list. Being able to pincer the enemy between two A-Wings and the rest of your list can really gum up the enemy maneuvers and multiply the effectiveness of the rest of your squadron!
The Korriban Criss-Cross
Allow me to take you on a journey of imagination and whimsy: Picture, if you will, you are sitting across from an opponent, and in your list are two prototype A-Wings and… something else! (For example, my Top-4 Tacticon list incorporates Miranda Doni, Jake Farrell and two Protos, or the first winning List Head-to-Head, “The Cute.“) Being PS1, you have no information as to where your opponent’s list is deploying, and the A-Wings could be drastically out of position if they deploy in the wrong area. So, what do you do?
I have set up an example above. A dense asteroid field in the center of the board restricts movement significantly for most ships, but not for the venerable A-Wing! Both Prototypes deploy flush with the rear of the board, as swift forward movement is not a problem. They deploy such that they could each travel up the board to either side of the large central asteroid, about Range 1 and 1/4 apart. The particular range is necessary because each has to clear a 1 hard in towards each other, as evidenced in the next step:
The first A-Wing sets a 1-hard turn in towards the second and executes it in the first Activation phase. Then, it can boost away to gain a little more distance. Now, this boost isn’t strictly necessary if both A-Wings can clear the 1-hard towards each other, but in any case, it sets the A-Wings up for wide, quick movement the next turn.
This is the criss-cross. Once you have executed this maneuver, your Prototypes are excellently set up to cover either side of the board, extremely quickly. Below are examples of how your A-Wings can, from the 1-hard+boost outward opening configuration, reach left or right positions on the board, in positions to lend their firepower in two turns as flankers, or, be set up in excellent positions as blockers.
By making the exact same maneuvers with each, but mirrored, you can drive your A-Wings straight up the center too.
Herein lies the power of the maneuver: By coordinating the movements of the “meat” of your squadron (which is likely moving up the side of the board), you can easily set up perfect flanking or blocking positions with your A-Wings in just the two opening turns. It works especially well with a squadron that prefers to “slow-roll” (such as B-Wings or X-Wings) into a joust, where typically, the quick A-wing can’t go slow enough in formation and breaks the cohesiveness of your squad. Now, the A-Wing’s speed is exploited to set up in flanking positions for your jousters. Additionally, you can leverage the ability of the A-Wing to make unexpected maneuvers – going from short maneuvers into 5-straights, for example, and combine that with the unexpected opening of turning two ships right into each other to catch your opponent off guard.
The maneuver requires a fair amount of practice though. Key to its success is coordinating with the rest of your squadron to get all your guns on target on the same area in a maximum of 3 rounds. I would practice by throwing out asteroids in a few different configurations, picking an area on the board where you want the first engagement to take place, and then playing the first two or three rounds with your squad, incorporating the criss-cross, until you find a combination of maneuvers that will engage with your entire squadron at once. Try this with several different asteroid arrangements and engagement locations to get a good feeling for how you can exploit the A-Wing’s dial and boost action to its full effectiveness.
There are of course some dangers to executing this: Foremost is the fact that it can isolate one of your A-Wings from the rest of your squadron for a round or two. A savvy opponent could turn in on it while it is apart and throw a wrench in your plans.
Hopefully, this maneuver will serve you well! If you attempt it with success (or otherwise), the Back to Dials crew always appreciates battle reports! Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on this web site.