Monday, May 8, 2017

My Take on the Worlds 2017 X-Wing Meta

Worlds 2017 featured some surprisingly-successful lists on day 1 and one of the more exciting finals matches I've seen recently. But unfortunately, it's pretty clear from the results that the state of the meta is not healthy. The top 16 was 11 Mindlink lists, one double-Jumpmaster list, two Rebel jousting lists with Biggs and Jess, a Dash-Miranda, and RAC-Whisper. Let's explore why Rebels and Imperials aren't showing up more, and what FFG might look at changing to address this problem.


At first glance, Rebels have many different options available to them. They have various 3-to-5-ship jousting lists, two-ship options like Dash-Miranda, and even "one-ship" options like Kanan-Biggs. However, it quickly becomes clear these all face a common weakness in extremely accurate torpedoes. For example, a Rebel jousting list facing Triple Contracted Scouts often has its most important ship crippled in the first round of shooting. The two-ship and one-ship lists suffer even more, especially because Boba Fett can often nullify a loaded ship without killing it.

That's not to say Rebel jousting lists can't beat alpha strike lists. For instance, a list with two ARCs and Jess won the Stele Open after beating several Jumpmaster lists. Still, these wins don't seem to be consistent. They seem to require favorable asteroid placement and a favorable approach, which you can't consistently get against strong players.


In the old days of Jumpmaster alpha strikes, Imperial lists like Palp Aces and the TIE Swarm were king. Why haven't they returned?

The TIE Swarm might still be reasonably viable, since its lack of success might be partially due to its difficulty and lack of popularity. It has a horrible matchup against popular Rebel pilots like Miranda and Dash, and also has a bad matchup against Dengar and high-PS alpha strikes.

Other Imperial options have fared much worse. Most Imperial ships rely on actions and green dice to survive. They've suffered the double-whammy of new counters along with nerfs to their own options. The stressbot (R3-A2) is still very common in Rebel lists, usually in the Y-Wing but now also showing up on Jess or Braylen. Scum now has its own tier-1 stress control options in Asajj Ventress and the Rigged Cargo Chute on a slooping Jumpmaster. There are also many ways to deal damage without going through green dice, including Sabine'd bombs, Feedback Array and Anti-Pursuit Lasers on Jumpmasters, and the ever-lurking Black Market Slicer Tools. Finally, there are an increasing number of ways to dish out reliable 4- or 5-hit attacks which are very difficult to evade.

Imperials have moved towards strong jousters of their own like Quickdraw and the TIE/D Vessery. Unfortunately, these ships suffer from alpha strikes much like Rebel ships do.

What can be done?

I think these results strongly suggest that the Jumpmaster 5000 and Attanni Mindlink are too strong. The Jumpmaster 5000 has consistently shown up at the top tables even through several nerfs. They're almost impossible to kill in one turn, have a fantastic dial that makes them very slippery and hard to get away from, and have a versatile set of upgrade slots. A 2- or 3-point increase in their cost would probably bring them in line with other ships.

Alpha strikes would be reigned in if the Jumpmaster 5000 gets nerfed, especially if Attanni Mindlink also takes a hit. Other options to look at include the K4 Security Droid (which should get the /x7 treatment and not trigger if the ship bumps or is stressed) and Guidance Chips.

Nerfing alpha strikes might be enough to bring back Rebels, but Imperials need more help. Stress control should also be nerfed. R3-A2 should probably be once per turn and/or have a range limitation, and Asajj's ability should probably only trigger in Range 1. This would also improve the viability of big ships like Rey which need their actions. Imperials could also use a cheap counter to automatic damage which gets around their green dice or a nerf to Sabine crew, but this probably wouldn't be required if stress was nerfed.

Finally, I'm not sure whether Attanni Mindlink should be nerfed. Attanni Mindlink is definitely cheap for its value. If they were 2 points each, it'd probably be a bit worse than Push the Limit. Both are 3 points per extra action, but Push the Limit is more versatile, doesn't get worse when you lose ships, and doesn't limit your list-building as much. Attanni Mindlink does have some advantages in that it is less vulnerable to blocking and stress, doesn't limit your dial as much, and lets you take two focus tokens. On the other hand, nerfs to its strongest ships could make it merely an efficient option in the Scum arsenal rather than something that dominates the meta.

One potential option is to make Attanni Mindlink require Pilot Skill 4 or higher. This would specifically nerf the Contracted Scout alpha strike lists and Paratanni (which often uses the Contracted Scout). Unfortunately, I'm not sure this is enough. The winner of Worlds used a Dengar/Tel alpha strike list without Contracted Scouts or Attanni Mindlink. The Jumpmaster 5000 would remain as a ticking time bomb. The platform would still be strong enough to break once another good Elite Pilot Talent gets released.

I wouldn't be surprised to see some changes in an upcoming FAQ, but it's hard to say what they'd look like. FFG has shown itself to be very reluctant to touch points or base statistics in X-Wing, but that is something they've done in Imperial Assault. It's hard to see good ways of nerfing some of these problematic cards without changing points.


  1. Good article... I DO think you might be overly generous saying a 2-3 point increase would bring the Jumpmasters in line with the others... I'm leaning more toward a 10 point increase, which I think MIGHT be a bit too much, but the 25 point "base model" comes with an ETP, Crew, Illicit and Astromech on a ship with an excellent dial and great action bar. 2-3 points and you are at the level of the "base" (and have you ever actually SEEN anyone play these?) YT-1300 or YT-2400. No EPT or Mech option. Just a bit TOO good still, so somewhere in the 5+ range OR lost the EPT/Mech option. Looking like they might have learned with the Skurrg and the title removing Crew for the Mech and Illicit slots...

  2. Agree with alot of this. I think you need to go a bit more drastic on the jumps because right now they cost the same as X-Wing except come with 8x the upgrade options, 2x the health, a better dial and a 360 degree turret. The stress control stuff I don't mind as much as far as Imperials go, simply because we have ways to fight that (like arc-dodging which aces are good at, and the addition of Inspiring Recruit). Attani i feel is more a symptom of there being so many undercosted Scum Ships that are really fucking good at what they do. Start with jumps and go from there and see what happens.

  3. Agree Jumpmaster is too cheap and the barrel roll should have been on the title, like the G1 A.