Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Beginner's Guide to Budget Lists Without Proxies (Updated for FAQ v4.3.0)

My previous post covered good expansions to start with if you can proxy upgrade cards. I got a lot of requests for first purchases if proxies aren't allowed, and also for more context on how the ships are used. This article covers that by providing strong lists you can build with a small collection. These lists are limited to a budget of 150 USD pre-tax with a mandatory Core Set (180 USD for Scum), paying the MRSP on FFG's website.

To make this interesting, I'm going to set some limits:
  • Avoid "weak" lists. I don't like running weak lists, so I have a relatively high bar for what lists I'll recommend here. I don't think these can win any tournaments, but they should have the potential to go 50/50 or better in a small tournament with good flying.
  • Avoid lists which have a missing "fix" upgrade (e.g. X-Wings without Integrated Astromech, TIE Interceptor aces without Autothrusters).
  • Avoid buying multiples of the same expansion (with a couple exceptions for upgrade cards and Scum). This is mostly to exclude stuff like 4 B-Wings and a Z-95. It's hard to expand your collection from that.
I was surprised by how many good lists you can make on a modest budget with these limitations. Most of these lists will give you a good base from which you can expand your options.

Let's set some expectations. No proxies means much less flexibility in lists you can build. You may only be able to build one strong list (although playing only one list at first helps you learn the game faster). The list you have may not be the most optimal version. You'll need some patience because once you have that starting point, expanding your options becomes much cheaper and easier. It also means you'll have to buy some ships which aren't very useful and may be better suited for the display case than the table (e.g. StarViper, second Interceptor in Imperial Aces, second Millenium Falcon).

Quick Word on Core Sets
I assume you need to buy a core set to play the game, and some lists don't care which core set you buy. The Red (Original) Core Set has more useful ships and upgrades out of the box. The Blue (The Force Awakens) Core Set needs Veteran Instincts, R2-D2, and Autothrusters for Poe to really shine.

That said, the old damage deck in the Red Core Set has some truly awful critical hits, including one which removes your pilot ability and Elite Pilot Talent and one which discards your secondary weapon. You should get both core sets eventually, but for now, you need to decide whether you want more list-building flexibility in the Red Core Set or if you want the more balanced damage deck in the Blue Core Set.

Rebels have many good options to start with, and it has big ship and small ship options. Most of these lists are forgiving with turrets and lots of health.

($90) Budget Han Miranda: Either Core Set ($40), Millennium Falcon ($30), K-Wing ($20)

($105) Budget 4-Ship Miranda (turrets): Either Core Set ($40), Rebel Aces ($30), K-Wing ($20), Y-Wing ($15)

($135/$120) Budget 4-Ship Norra (no turrets): Red Core Set ($40), ARC-170 ($20), Rebel Aces ($30), B-Wing ($15), Imperial Aces ($30) or A-Wing ($15)

($135) Budget Rebel Regen: Red Core Set ($40), Heroes of the Resistance ($40), K-Wing ($20), StarViper ($20), Y-Wing ($15)
(Note: Don't stress too much about using Trick Shot, it's free and this is the cheapest way to get a high-PS Poe. I'd prefer Veteran Instincts on the PS8 Poe from the Blue Core Set, but that costs more money.)

($145/$120) Budget Kanan Biggs: Red Core Set ($40), Ghost ($50), TIE Phantom ($15), Heroes of the Resistance ($40) or T-70 X-Wing ($15)

($145) Budget Rey Ghost: Either Core Set ($40), Ghost ($50), Heroes of the Resistance ($40), TIE Phantom ($15) or B-Wing ($15)

($145) Less Budget Han Miranda: Either Core Set ($40), Millennium Falcon ($30), K-Wing ($20), Heroes of the Resistance ($40), TIE Defender ($15) or Kihraxz Fighter ($15)

I suggest starting with a Defenders list to smooth the learning curve. Push the Limit and Autothrusters are important upgrades, so you'll see Imperial Aces and StarViper in most lists.

Important errata in FAQ v4.3.0: The TIE/x7 title now only triggers if you didn't overlap obstacles or ships, and is now a free evade action so you don't get it while stressed.

($120) Crazy 8's Aces: Red Core Set ($40), Imperial Aces ($30), Inquisitor's TIE ($15), TIE/fo Fighter ($15), StarViper ($20)
(Note: This is not a budget list and makes no sacrifices for budget. Be warned, this is not a beginner list! It's unforgiving and hard to fly. Don't let me stop you from using this as your first "casual competitive" list though :). My head exploded the first time I ran it, but I got the general idea after a couple games.)

($130) Budget Whisper Defenders: Either Core Set ($40), Imperial Veterans ($30), TIE Defender ($15), TIE Phantom ($15), Millennium Falcon ($30) or Slave I ($30)

($135) Budget Jax Defenders: Either Core Set ($40), Imperial Veterans ($30), TIE Defender ($15), Imperial Aces ($30), StarViper ($20)

($135) Budget Jax Inquisitor Defender: Either Core Set ($40), Imperial Veterans ($30), Imperial Aces ($30), Inquisitor's TIE ($15), StarViper ($20)

($140/$125) Budget 5-TIE Swarm: Red Core Set ($40), Blue Core Set ($40), TIE Fighter ($15), TIE/fo Fighter ($15), Imperial Veterans ($30) or Kihraxz Fighter ($15) or Kihraxz Fighter x2 ($30)
(Note: If you bought two Kihraxz Fighters, drop Weapons Guidance to add a Crack Shot on Howlrunner.)

($140/$125) Budget 6-TIE Swarm: Red Core Set ($40), Blue Core Set ($40), TIE Fighter ($15), TIE/fo Fighter ($15), Imperial Veterans ($30) or Kihraxz Fighter ($15)

($150) Vessery Ryad Lockdown: Either Core Set ($40), Imperial Veterans ($30), TIE Defender ($15), TIE/fo Fighter x2 ($30), TIE Punisher ($20), A-Wing ($15)
(Note: This is not a budget list. I'd prefer Imperial Aces over the A-Wing, but that puts us $15 over budget. Two copies of the TIE/fo Fighter is unfortunate, but the second copy of Juke and Comm Relay are nice to have.)

Scum and Villainy
Scum's much harder to start with. Besides the general lack of good workhorse ships, few Scum ships come with most/all of the upgrades they need to be their best, and good Scum expansions tend to be more expensive than Rebel or Imperial expansions. I expanded the budget to $180 for Scum, but there are some more affordable options.

Important errata in FAQ v4.3.0: Manaroo's ability now only works at Range 1.

($130) Budget Scum Jank: Either Core Set ($40), Most Wanted ($40), HWK-290 ($15), Mist Hunter ($15), K-Wing ($20)

($150) Budget Manaroo Aces: Either Core Set ($40), Punishing One x2 ($60), Protectorate Starfighter x2 ($30), StarViper ($20)
(Note: After the FAQ, this list has become much harder to fly. It's still powerful in the hands of a good player.)

($155) Budget Asajj + 2 TLT: Either Core Set ($40), Shadow Caster ($40), Most Wanted ($40), HWK-290 ($15), K-Wing ($20)

($165) Budget Dengar Bossk: Either Core Set ($40), Punishing One ($30), Hound's Tooth ($40), Most Wanted ($40), A-Wing ($15)

($175) Paratanni: Either Core Set ($40), Punishing One x2 ($60), Protectorate Starfighter ($15), Shadow Caster ($40), StarViper ($20)
(Note: named after "OldPara", its creator. Don't be fooled by its simplicity, this is not a budget list. Before the Manaroo errata, this was maybe the strongest list in the game and it won several large tournaments. Many people think it's still strong after the errata.)

($180) Budget Brobots: Either Core Set ($40), IG-2000 x2 ($60), Imperial Aces ($30), StarViper ($20), TIE Phantom ($15), B-Wing ($15)

($180) Budget Dengar Asajj: Either Core Set ($40), Punishing One ($30), Shadow Caster ($40), Most Wanted ($40), Imperial Aces ($30)
(Note: You'll want to drop the Illicit upgrades for Engine Upgrade on Dengar ASAP.)

Expansion Plans
If you're a new player, you'd do OK stopping here and playing a few games with your chosen list(s) first. You'll have a better sense of what you want after playing a few games.

When you begin expanding your collection, keep in mind you can always build towards other lists above. You may have noticed there's a lot of overlap in those lists. It'll be much cheaper to add options when you have that starting point.

Besides getting new ships you want to fly, I suggest getting these for their important upgrades:
  • Millennium Falcon (Veteran Instincts, Engine Upgrade): Very popular upgrades. You can instead substitute the Slave 1 or Shadowcaster for Veteran Instincts and Hound's Tooth for Engine Upgrade.
  • Imperial Aces (2x Push the Limit): Very popular upgrades
  • StarViper (2x Autothrusters): If you want to play aces
  • K-Wing (2x Twin Laser Turret): If you want to play ships with turret upgrade slots
  • YT-2400 Freighter or Slave 1 (Gunner): If you want to play big ships

I'll list some other expansions to consider below.

If you're playing Rebels:
  • The YT-2400 Freighter lets you run Dash Rendar (1, 2) if you like nimble big ships.
  • The Blue Core Set gives you PS8 Poe, my favorite Rebel ace.
  • Another ace option is the E-Wing for Corran Horn (1, 2).
  • If you want to run either type of X-Wing, you'll need copies of Integrated Astromech found in the Heroes of the Resistance expansion and the T-70 X-Wing expansion. (T-70 X-Wing aces can use Autothrusters instead.)
  • If you like 1-agility Rebel ships, you might want to buy a C-3PO crew card on the "Star Wars Miniatures Swap and Sell" Facebook group for around $10. This is one of the rare examples where buying the card individually is worthwhile.
  • At some point, you should consider getting the Rebel Transport epic ship (hopefully on sale) for the R3-A2 upgrade, the R5-P9 upgrade, and Wes Janson pilot.
  • If you like bombs, get a K-Wing and a Ghost for the Sabine Wren crew. You should get up to 3 K-Wings if you really love bombs, but those other K-Wings don't have much use outside this one list.
  • If you like the Ghost, you should pick up Most Wanted for the Autoblaster Turret.

If you're playing Imperials:
  • You can continue collecting the aces in those lists.
  • The TIE Interceptor pack has the premier ace Soontir Fel (Stealth Device is optional), although the prevalence of stress control and automatic damage means he isn't as strong today as he once was.
  • You may also want to look at the Lambda-Class Shuttle and the VT-49 Decimator for their different playstyles.
  • Eventually, you should think about the Emperor Palpatine upgrade card (hopefully when the Imperial Raider epic ship is on sale). It'll be expensive, but it's very strong if you like aces. The FAQ v4.3.0 nerfed Emperor Palpatine so you have to use him before rolling dice. He's still strong, but probably not as strong as he used to be.
  • If you like flying TIE Swarms, you should pick up more copies of Crack Shot.
  • You'll need more TIE Fighters (not TIE/fo Fighters). You should consider getting an Imperial Assault Carrier epic ship (hopefully on sale) for its two TIE Fighter models and unique pilots.

If you're playing Scum:
  • I'd continue expanding the collection of ships listed above.
  • Scum is known for their strong crew, including Dengar (Punishing One), Zuckuss and 4-LOM (Mist Hunter), and K4 Security Droid (Most Wanted). These are good ships to pick up for their upgrades.
  • If you want to run an Attanni Mindlink list, you should pick up two copies of the Punishing One expansion. You can also try picking up two copies of Attanni Mindlink on the secondary market if you don't think you'll ever use the second Jumpmaster 5000.
  • After you have Most Wanted, you can consider getting a Slave 1 expansion. They're not fantastic, but unlike the Imperial pilots, the Scum pilots can be useful. I have some example builds here.
  • The "Heavy Scyk" errata means you may want to give the M3-A Interceptor a look.


  1. ($190)Thug life list falls just outside the budget - Core set ($40), 2x Most Wanted ($80), 2x Y-wing ($30), 2x K-wing ($40)

  2. There is a mistake in the Budget Rey Ghost list. Neither of the expansions or core set comes with an Engine Upgrade. Should fix that up.