Monday, November 28, 2016

[List] The Peasant Swarm

Once upon a time, an X-Wing player longed to fly TIE Swarms. Flying TIE Swarms was a noble pursuit, and the X-Wing player knew it'd be a long journey of fun practice and hilarious mistakes before they'd become a TIE Swarm guru.

Sadly, the X-Wing player didn't think they'd ever fly a TIE swarm, much less become a TIE Swarm guru. Without any duplicate expansions, they only had five TIE Fighters and three Crack Shots. They could not build the popular TIE Swarms or crack the defenses of skilled ace pilots. Their dream of becoming a TIE swarm guru would stay a dream.

But one day, the X-Wing player had a realization which filled them with hope. "Omega Leader with Juke and Comm Relay works like Crack Shot," they thought. "I can use Omega Leader to take down ace pilots!" And so, the Peasant Swarm was born, and the X-Wing player started down the path of fun practice and hilarious mistakes in pursuit of one day becoming a TIE Swarm guru.

Don't let your dreams be dreams. Fly the Peasant Swarm.

The Peasant Swarm
  • (19pts) TIE Fighter, "Howlrunner": Crack Shot
  • (26pts) TIE/fo Fighter, "Omega Leader": Juke, Comm Relay
  • 2x (15pts) TIE Fighter, Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot
  • 2x (12pts) TIE Fighter, Academy Pilot
  • 1 point unspent

More seriously 🙂, being a TIE Swarm guru isn't exactly my goal in X-Wing, but I think TIE Swarms are fun and instructive lists to fly. I built this list to fly a Crack Swarm while only having five TIE Fighters and three Crack Shots. If you want to try out a Crack Swarm but you're not ready to splurge on that full set of TIE Fighters and Crack Shots, this is a good place to start.

The Peasant Swarm gets its name because unlike most Crack Swarms, it doesn't require duplicate expansions. You can run this list with one of each of these expansions:
  • Red Core Set
  • TIE Fighter
  • Imperial Assault Carrier
  • Imperial Veterans
  • Hound's Tooth
  • Kihraxz Fighter
Most of these expansions are useful for other strong squads; only the TIE Fighter and the Kihraxz Fighter have limited uses outside the Crack Swarm. (I'm so sorry, Kihraxz fans. It's alright, I'm sure your day will come soonTM.) To reduce the cost of fielding this list, the Imperial Assault Carrier can be replaced by the Sabine's TIE expansion (you have extra generic pilot cards/bases) and an extra TIE Fighter expansion. The Imperial Assault Carrier can also be steeply discounted during sales.

The Peasant Swarm is a great low-commitment option, but how does it stack up against other TIE swarms? If you have the ships and upgrades, should you fly the Peasant Swarm over these more common lists? Honestly, I don't have the experience to give a good answer to this question, but I'll try to compare this with other Crack Swarms. I'd love it if more experienced TIE swarm players can share their knowledge.

Here's a few TIE swarms which have been successful:

  • (19pts) TIE Fighter, "Howlrunner": Crack Shot
  • 2x (18pts) TIE/fo Fighter, "Omega Squadron Pilot": Crack Shot
  • 3x (15pts) TIE Fighter, Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot

6-Ship Crack Swarm (PS7 TIEs)
  • (19pts) TIE Fighter, "Howlrunner": Crack Shot
  • (18pts) TIE Fighter, "Mauler Mithel": Crack Shot
  • (18pts) TIE Fighter, "Scourge": Crack Shot
  • 3x (15pts) TIE Fighter, Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot

  • (19pts) TIE Fighter, "Howlrunner": Crack Shot
  • (21pts) TIE/fo Fighter, "Zeta Leader": Crack Shot
  • 4x (15pts) TIE Fighter, Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot

The Pattiswarm (7-Ship Crack Swarm)
  • (19pts) TIE Fighter, "Howlrunner": Crack Shot
  • 3x (15pts) TIE Fighter, Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot
  • 3x (12pts) TIE Fighter, Academy Pilot

  • (26pts) TIE/fo Fighter, "Omega Leader": Juke, Comm Relay
  • 4x (15pts) TIE Fighter, Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot
  • (14pts) TIE Fighter, "Wampa"

The Slaughterhouse (article)
  • (19pts) TIE Fighter, "Howlrunner": Crack Shot
  • (26pts) TIE/fo Fighter, "Omega Leader": Juke, Comm Relay
  • (21pts) TIE/fo Fighter, "Zeta Leader": Crack Shot
  • (18pts) TIE Fighter, "Scourge": Crack Shot
  • (16pts) TIE Fighter, "Youngster": Crack Shot

The Peasant Swarm is unique in that it has six ships with both Omega Leader and Howlrunner. Omega Leader gives you a strong closer and is especially useful in a meta where evasive ships like the x7 Defender are common. Howlrunner provides consistent dice on offense. She improves your chance of rolling 2 hits on 2 dice from 56% to 84% with focus, and from 25% to 50% if you don't have focus. If you've read my other articles, you know I like to build lists which don't have an easy first target. Having both Omega Leader and Howlrunner in this list forces opponents to decide which to kill first.

The Peasant Swarm has two more subtle advantages. First, its PS1 Academy Pilots can block low-PS ships that move before the PS4 Black Squadron Pilots. This lets you block Rebel jousters, other TIE swarms, and generic Jumpmasters. Second, the Peasant Swarm has a 1 point initiative bid to potentially take initiative against other PS1 blockers and PS4 alpha strikes, or to potentially give initiative to arc-dodging PS8 aces like the Inquisitor and Carnor Jax.

The Peasant Swarm's biggest weakness is its weaker alpha strike. On average, you're losing around 1 damage in the initial engagement with fewer Crack Shots, fewer ships, and/or lower pilot skill. Your damage output is more reliant on Howlrunner because you don't have the extra Crack Shots as backup consistent damage. You can compensate for these weaknesses by taking defensive actions with Howlrunner and by setting up for a strong follow-up to the initial engagement. I find this list rarely wins or loses on the initial engagement, but more commonly on what happened in the round afterwards.

The Peasant Swarm has a high skill cap. Besides the tactical decisions, there's a lot of strategic possibilities. I've always deployed Omega Leader in formation (see the Beginner's Guide to Deploying Tight Formations), but there may be matchups where deploying Omega Leader away from your formation is optimal. There may be other matchups where you'd benefit from deploying an Academy Pilot away from your formation.

Overall, I don't feel like the Peasant Swarm is the strongest list I've flown, but I'm not sure if it's because of my inexperience with swarms or if it's because the list has less potential. Maybe more experienced TIE Swarm players can try this out and let us know 😊. A similar list made the top 32 in the 2016 UK Regionals. Regardless, it's a great low-commitment entry point if you want to fly a Crack Swarm.

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