Friday, April 14, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Factions: Scum

This series describes the strengths and weaknesses of the factions in X-Wing, with this article covering the Scum and Villainy faction. Rather than general statements like "Rebels are more supportive and Imperials are more self-sufficient" (which isn't even true), I'll highlight the factions' strongest pilots and upgrades as well as some of its weaknesses. This can help you choose which factions you want to play and which expansions to prioritize.

For the other two factions, check out the links below:

1. Attanni Mindlink

Every faction has special ways to get extra actions. Rebels have regeneration through R2-D2 and evades through C-3PO. Imperials have pilots and ships with extra actions, and many of its ships have enough green maneuvers to use Push the Limit. The Attanni Mindlink elite pilot talent is Scum's faction-defining way of generating extra actions. You need three or four ships with Attanni Mindlink for it to shine. You'll usually want a cheap Attanni Mindlink carrier, a strong ship, and either another strong ship or two generics. Ideally, at least one ship will have a turret or a mobile arc. Attanni Mindlink prevents you from performing red maneuvers with multiple ships in the same round, so you may have a hard time turning the list around.

These ships are often used as the heavy lifters in a Mindlink list.
  • Fenn Rau or Old Teroch (pilot; Protectorate Starfighter) [1][2]. With 3 attack dice and 3 defense dice, Protectorate Starfighters crave extra actions and Attanni Mindlink gives them just that. Fenn Rau is the more common of the two. He's very strong in close range and has higher pilot skill. Old Teroch provides extra disruption and counters lists which rely on focus tokens.
  • Asajj Ventress (pilot; Shadow Caster) [1]. Asajj Ventress can be extremely tanky with an extra action thanks to Latts Razzi crew and her evade action. Besides being a solid jouster, she adds some disruption with her ability to stress enemy ships. Asajj is also great in an Attanni Mindlink list because her mobile arc reduces her reliance on K-Turns. Extra points are usually best spent on the Gyroscopic Targeting modification or on illicit upgrades like Black Market Slicer Tools.
  • Generic Jousters (Mist Hunter or M3-A Interceptor) [1][2]. These pilots function as efficient damage-dealers with a medium pilot skill. Unlike most other generic jousters, they have action economy thanks to Attanni Mindlink. They use it for more consistent offense with Target Lock or better defense with Evade.
  • Guri (pilot; StarViper) [1]. The StarViper isn't very efficient and you're almost always better off with the cheaper and stronger Fenn Rau. That said, Guri's ability can be especially useful in a Mindlink list. It provides some insurance against bumps, and it lets all of your ships take a different action instead of focus.

Usually, you'll also want to bring one of these as a cheap extra ship. Besides taking the focus for your other ships, they can also be quite disruptive.
  • Contracted Scout (pilot; Punishing One) [1][2][3]. The Contracted Scout makes for a cheap third Attanni Mindlink. Its durability and maneuverability makes it a good blocker, and its attack is good enough at close range. You can run it with just Attanni Mindlink, add R4 Agromech to improve its attack, or add Intelligence Agent and/or Rigged Cargo Chute to improve its disruptive capabilities.
  • Manaroo (pilot; Punishing One) [1][2]. Manaroo is a strong option for a third Attanni Mindlink, even after the errata which limits her ability to range 1. She'll usually give another ship a focus token while regaining a focus for herself. She can also take and pass a target lock to improve your other ship's offense. If you have more points, you can add to her damage output with Anti-Pursuit Lasers and R5-P8.
  • Kaa'to Leeachos (Z-95 Headhunter pilot; Most Wanted) [1]. Coming in at 16 points, Kaa'to Leeachos is the cheapest way to get a ship with Attanni Mindlink. He's otherwise unimpressive, and you may want to keep him out of the fight for a while so he can continue buffing the rest of your squad with focus tokens. If you have extra points, Concussion Missile and Guidance Chips gives him a bit more damage output.
  • Palob Godalhi (HWK-290 pilot; Most Wanted) [1][2]. Palob is interesting in an Attanni Mindlink list. Not only does he remove a focus token from the opponent, he can also use his ability to get a focus token for the Mindlink. This can come in handy if all of your ships bumped or otherwise needed to take a different action. He's pretty fragile, so you can either run him light or use Cloaking Device to mitigate his squishiness. Dengar crew is also helpful since it applies to both of the Twin Laser Turret attacks.

2. Jumpmaster 5000

If you were bummed out that you need to buy two copies of the Jumpmaster 5000 expansion for a full set of Attanni Mindlinks, cheer up! The Jumpmaster 5000 is an incredibly strong ship and you can easily have two in one squad. It features a relatively low cost, enough defense to survive a turn of shooting against all but the strongest alpha strikes, unparalleled mobility thanks to its excellent dial and barrel roll, and a vast array of upgrade slots. All four of its pilots have been played to high finishes in Premier-level tournaments.

  • U-Boat Contracted Scout (pilot; Punishing One) [1][2]. The U-Boat uses Attanni Mindlink, R4 Agromech, and Guidance Chips for a 92% chance of a 4-hit result with torpedoes. These ships can get both target lock and focus by either taking the target lock action and getting focus from Attanni Mindlink, or by acquiring the target lock with R4 Agromech the previous round. After spending the target lock to shoot the torpedo, it can spend focus to change any focuses to a hit, reroll any blanks with the new target lock from R4 Agromech, and modify a blank to a hit with Guidance Chips. The first build does an extra damage against shields, and the second build strips an important upgrade from the opponent with Boba Fett. Extra points can be spent on crew like Intelligence Agent or 4-LOM for the first build, and on Extra Munitions for the second build.
  • Bumpmaster Contracted Scout (pilot; Punishing One) [1]. The Bumpmaster abuses the Jumpmaster 5000's excellent dial and barrel roll action to cover most of your opponent's options. Feedback Array and Anti-Pursuit Lasers lets the Bumpmaster deal damage when blocking. Adaptability is usually used to reduce the Bumpmaster's pilot skill to 2, and can be replaced with Attanni Mindlink.
  • Dengar (pilot; Punishing One) [1][2][3]. Dengar's pilot ability gives this expensive ship enough offense to justify his cost. The first build takes advantage of his pilot skill and barrel roll action and enhances his arc-dodging ability. He's similar to Dash Rendar with a much higher pilot skill and the ability to shoot ships at range 1. The second build is slightly cheaper and uses Expertise to modify both of his attacks. The third build is used in alpha strike lists, often paired with Bossk in the YV-666.
  • Manaroo (pilot; Punishing One) [1][2]. As mentioned above, Manaroo is a strong option for a third Attanni Mindlink. Spare points can go towards Anti-Pursuit Lasers, R5-P8, Intelligence Agent, and/or illicit upgrades like Feedback Array, Burnout SLAM, or Black Market Slicer Tools.
  • Tel Trevura (pilot; Punishing One) [1][2]. The least popular Jumpmaster 5000 pilot, Tel Trevura is still a viable option. The first build takes advantage of Tel's pilot ability with Gonk, R5-P8, and Hull Upgrade. The second build is a pilot skill 9 torpedo boat.

3. Disruption

Scum isn't as good as Rebels for denying actions, but they've got some tricks up their sleeves. They have some strong ships which hand out stress and strip tokens from enemy ships. Scum also has the best ways to hand out tractor beam tokens.

  • Asajj Ventress (pilot; Shadow Caster) [1][2][3]. Asajj Ventress is reliable stress control in a great ship. The first two builds are more defensive, while the last adds the Shadow Caster title to also hand out tractor beam tokens.
  • Old Teroch (pilot; Protectorate Starfighter) [1][2][3]. Old Teroch has to put himself at risk to strip tokens, but he's pretty durable as long as he has arc on the enemy ship. There are three good options for the elite pilot talent but otherwise the build is pretty standard.
  • Ketsu Onyo (pilot; Shadow Caster) [1][2]. Ketsu is one of the few ways to assign a tractor beam token without hitting with an attack. The easiest way to trigger Ketsu's ability is to keep her mobile arc forward. She can bump into an enemy small ship, apply the tractor beam and barrel them off, then shoot them with a range 1 attack. She's not usually played as defensively as Asajj, so you'll generally see her with an offensive crew. Veteran Instincts is especially useful with the Shadow Caster title if your other ship(s) has pilot skill 8 or 9.
  • Jakku Gunrunner (pilot; Quadjumper) [1][2]. I usually don't like paying much more than 12 points for 2-attack ships with low health, but Spacetug Tractor Array is amazing. It doesn't require an attack, and it can be used before your opponent moves. You can easily set it up so they have to go over an asteroid twice this turn, or nudge them too close to the board edge. The first build is the barebones setup, but upgrades can make this ship much more effective. Intelligence Agent lets you know exactly how to move the ship (or not move them) to mess them up, and Pattern Analyzer lets the Gunrunner use the tractor beam after a reverse move.
  • Palob Godalhi (HWK-290 pilot; Most Wanted) [1][2]. Palob can't strip as many tokens as Old Teroch, but he does it more reliably. Since he steals tokens instead of just removing them, it encourages your opponent not to take those actions. Sometimes he'll get an entirely squad to change their actions, even though he can't steal more than a single token! The two builds here use Attanni Mindlink. If you're not running a Mindlink build, you should probably choose a 0-cost elite pilot talent since Palob doesn't particularly benefit from any of them.

4. Offensive crew

Scum have the best options for crew which adds offensive dice modification or denies defensive dice modification from your opponents. You've already seen several of these, but they're also useful in other builds.

  • Dengar (crew; Punishing One) [1][2][3][4]. Dengar is one of the strongest crew in the game. Rerolling two dice is almost as good as target lock, and Dengar gives it to you without limiting your maneuvers! You only reroll one die against generic pilots, but that's still on par with Predator and named pilots are much more popular than ships with pilot skill 1 or 2. The last two builds are ships we've seen before, and the first two are other ideas you can consider.
  • K4 Security Droid (crew; Most Wanted or Hound's Tooth) [1][2]. The downside of Dengar crew is it can't be used to shoot missiles and torpedoes, and you can't run it with Dengar. K4 Security Droid grants extra target locks, but requires doing green maneuvers. It's also an extremely strong crew that the other factions would love to have. I've highlighted its main strengths over the Dengar crew in these two builds.
  • 4-LOM (crew; Mist Hunter) [1][2][3]. 4-LOM lets you block a focus or evade token on an important attack. He's best used with large ships since they can use it twice before suffering any penalties.

5. Closers

Scum doesn't have the same selection of cheap closers Imperials do, but they have some strong options. Unlike Imperials, several of these are large ships which either get very tanky or deal lots of damage. We've seen many of these pilots before, but it's worth noting them here again. I won't list the Attanni Mindlink version of their builds since Mindlink isn't very helpful when you're down to your last ship.

  • Fenn Rau (pilot; Protectorate Starfighter) [1]. Despite the similarities, the lack of an evade action and the Concord Dawn title means Fenn Rau flies very differently from Imperial arc-dodgers. Without evade, he can explode with one or two bad rolls. Still, his offensive and defensive abilities and high pilot skill make him a strong closer. He's most effective if you can stay out of range 2.
  • Asajj Ventress (pilot; Shadow Caster) [1]. As mentioned earlier, Asajj is very tanky when she can take focus and evade every turn. Combined with Latts Razzi, she's guaranteed to mitigate 2 damage every round and will mitigate a third thanks to her green dice.
  • Dengar (pilot; Punishing One) [1]. We've seen Dengar before. He's a great closer thanks to his mobility and high pilot skill, and because his double-tap ability is very strong in a 1v1. He can be very difficult for small-ship closers to pin down. The downside is he is somewhat squishy for his cost, and he suffers against turrets.

6. Brobots

The Aggressor is an interesting ship because their pilots share each others' abilities. They're quite durable thanks to their 3 green dice and ability to equip Autothrusters, and they can put out good damage with a Heavy Laser Cannon and IG-88B's ability. Their main downside is they're a big-base ship that can't shoot out of its arc. They rely on sloops and K-turns to have shots on their target, so they have a hard time getting action economy. The most common pilots are IG-88B and IG-88C.

  • IG-88B or IG-88C (pilot; IG-2000) [1][2]. The first build is the standard heavy-hitting build. Fire-Control Systems with IG-88B's pilot ability means you'll rarely go a round without dealing damage, and Crack Shot can be used to push a key damage through. The second build uses Push the Limit with Advanced Sensors to stay free of stress so red maneuvers stay as options. It also highly maneuverable since it can boost before executing its maneuver. The downside with the second build is the Heavy Laser Cannon version costs 51 points, so one has to use the Mangler Cannon instead.
  • IG-88D (crew; IG-2000) [1]. The IG-88D crew lets another ship benefit from your Aggressor pilot's ability. Usually, you'll see IG-88D on a ship with a cannon paired with the IG-88B pilot. You can do this with any YV-666 build, but I decided to highlight a bit of a cheesy build. This build tries to miss with its first attack to then make two attacks: one with IG-88B's ability, and one with Gunner. This works because both are triggered once the first attack misses (even if IG-88B ability's cannon shot hits), and IG-88B's ability doesn't prevent further attacks.

7. Efficient damage dealers

Scum have a couple options for efficient damage dealers.

  • Syndicate Thug (Y-Wing pilot; Most Wanted) [1]. Just like its Rebel cousin, the Y-Wing with Twin Laser Turret is a cheap and efficient damage dealer. Unhinged Astromech and R4 Agromech are popular upgrades with extra points.
  • Cartel Spacer (pilot; M3-A Interceptor) [1]. The Cartel Spacer is an option for a cheap damage dealer thanks to the errata which adds 1 hull to the Heavy Scyk title. It should survive 2 shots from a 3-attack ship with one offensive dice mod, but it'll die quickly against stronger attacks or if it suffers from bad dice luck.

Scum Weaknesses

Scum is a flexible faction, but it has a couple weaknesses. Many of its small ships are awkwardly positioned. The Protectorate Starfighter wants to fill the role of a closer, but it's fragile and prone to exploding before the endgame. The StarViper is positioned as a heavy-hitting arc-dodger, but it doesn't have the greens or the dice modification to support that role. The Kihraxz Fighter is positioned as a jouster, but doesn't have a 1 straight. The M3-A Interceptor is in a better spot after the Heavy Scyk errata, but it's very dependent on green dice and also has trouble getting action economy to support its dice.

Some of these action economy concerns can be fixed with Attanni Mindlink, but that introduces also introduces problems. Since the Mindlink gets weaker with each ship lost, you ideally want to bring durable ships or keep a fragile one out of the fight. That's either very expensive, or makes some of these fragile ships less suitable for a Mindlink list.

Scum lists can be a bit light on offense. Many of Scum's strongest ships are big ships that sit best around 45 points and up, and it lacks options for damage dealers under 30 points. Scum ships with heavy offense can be a bit awkward to use, like requiring target locks for torpedoes, being fragile, or being hard to maneuver.

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