Yet Another Article on Formation Flying

What up peeps.  I know there’s a lot of articles that have been written on formation flying but a lot of them are pretty dated since lists with 5+ ships have been pretty rare for the last 1-2 years.  I’ve also never really done anything comprehensive in terms of my traditional lists and I’ve been meaning to put something out there for awhile so I’m gonna do one about the list I flew at the Boise Regional and Endor Open.  The list is

B-Wing : Blue Squadron Pilot – Fire Control System

B-Wing: Blue Squadron Pilot – Fire Control System

Z95: Bandit Squadron Pilot – XX-23 S-Thread Tracers – Guidance Chips

Z95: Bandit Squadron Pilot – XX-23 S-Thread Tracers – Guidance Chips

Y Wing: Gold Squadron Pilot – Twin Laser Turret – BTL-A4 Title – R3-A2

For those that care, I’ll go into a little history about how I created this.  If you don’t care and only wanna learn a few tips on formation flying feel free to skip this I won’t get offended.  The first list I’d ever had any kind of sustained success with was Dash and Corran.  For any of you that remember the old ELO rankings for vassal most of my games were with this.  The more I played with it though, the more I felt like the skill ceiling for it was kinda lower tier and I was more just getting by on the efficiency of the elements in it.  I’d always been a fan of b-wings, thanks Paul, and I wanted to create a list that allowed me to get five ships into a list.  The original conception was!s!44:36,-1,-1,-1:-1:-1:;44:36,-1,-1,-1:-1:-1:;44:36,-1,-1,-1:-1:-1:;32:72:-1:-1:;65:-1:-1:-1:&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

So first remember, or understand if this was before you got into the game, that this was back in wave 5 when swarms were still pretty popular.  It was also before crackshot so typical swarms were usually a mix of a couple academies, obsidians and maybe a black squad or Backstabber or Dark Curse.  BBBBZ was also fairly popular as well.  Thus, the idea was having a prototype that could not only jam a list up but also serve as a good blocker for the fat turrets that were very popular at that time.  The fcs’ likewise were great against any ship that was gonna hang around a long time and I couldn’t really think of any way to fit 6 better points into it.  But I found that as aces began to get more and more popular, the list was really susceptible to arc-dodging.  The stresshog at this point was relatively new and kind of a niche ship but I liked the idea behind it and saw that I could reasonably slip it into the list by only dropping one blue and the tala to a bandit.  This list I absolutely loved.  I went on a great run with it in the Reddit Raider Cup, losing a brutal game in the semis that I felt like I should’ve won.  But as is with X-Wing the meta shifts and Wave 7 brought a card that had as great an effect as almost any card ever, the Twin Laser Turret.  This card spelled what, for most players anyway, was the beginning of the end for my beloved B-Wing.  With their kiting ability it was very hard for a Blue to get in close or dodge any of their shots.  Overnight it went from being one of the most popular ships to one of the least.  I really struggled at the onset of that wave but through my play testing I found that through a few tweaks my old Rebel Swarm was still pretty viable.

I, very begrudgingly, decided to drop the fcs’.  It really killed me to do it but with TLT’s and crack swarms becoming a thing it meant that there were a lot more lists out there that could kill a b-wing in one turn.  The problem of b-wings being able to close distance I found could be mitigated somewhat by simply putting autothrusters on my proto.  With this, I was very effectively able to essentially have him screen for the rest of my list by putting him out in front of it.  This forced my opponents into making difficult decisions as to whether they would go slow to try to get shots into the Blue or speed up to try to keep it off them.  This worked very well as if they went fast it meant usually my list would be out of range  of their shots but also it sped them to the board edge even faster which meant usually in 2-3 turns they’d be out of room to run and I could then close to effective firing range.  I also discovered that by upgrading my ion turret to a TLT my Y-Wing became not only more effective overall due to the increase in range but also in itself was a strong counter to TLT’s as it got an additional shot.  So, as you may have read in my previous post the list I ultimately settled on to take to the 2015 Worlds was!s!44:-1,-1,-1,-1:-1:-1:;44:-1,-1,-1,-1:-1:-1:;32:72:-1:15:;65:-1:-1:-1:;9:135,-1,-1,69:-1:-1:&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=.

I likewise really liked this list.  I went 6-2 against some incredibly difficult competition, only losses were to 1st and 2nd place respectively, and continued to have a lot of success with it locally and online.  Even when Jump masters were released it still continued to be pretty effective as I could typically block one or two with my proto denying them shots, I actually made top 4 at the 2016 Tacoma Regional as the only guy in the top 16 running a B-Wing.

Dengaroo on the other hand proved to be a bit too much.  It just goes to show how powerful that list was in that just 1 wave prior I almost always had jousting superiority in my match ups but now literally had no hope to beat this thing, just didn’t have the firepower.  So back to the drawing board I went again.  How could I cram even more firepower into a list that already featured 5 jousters?  I again, very begrudgingly, made a difficult choice and decided I needed to say goodbye to my beloved proto.  Blocking simply wasn’t as good with x7 and Dengaroo being everywhere.  I simply needed more guns.  Again, for most of you who were playing around this time you’d know the xx-23 S-Thread Tracers hadn’t really seen a whole lot of play competitively.  But the more I thought about their potential the more they started to make sense for my z-95’s.  Those guys typically struggled to hit a Defender or Dengar with LW and focus but with 3 dice and guidance chips suddenly they could.  Now granted that did no damage, but with 5 ships including one that fires thrice having Target Locks for them all sent their jousting numbers up enough to make those match ups winnable.

So that brings us to where we are now.  As I write this we’re about 4 weeks into Wave 11 and there’s rumors of a supposed Jump Master nerf on the horizon.  People ask me every time the meta takes a big shift is your list still viable?  If the rumors of the nerf are true I’d say this specific list, as well as all generic jousters are definitely in a better spot than they’ve been over the last few waves.  I think Nym will chase out a lot of the arc-dodging aces that have typically given them problems and not having to worry about being torpedoed off the board before firing is also one more monster gone.  The nerf of mindlink also plays to their favor as their efficiency will now once again be near the top and blocking will also be more effective.

So enough talking about history and what’s good on paper lets put this bitch on the board and see what it can do.

This is almost always my standard opening.  Usually in whichever corner I think gives me a better window to turn into the middle of the board.  I like splitting the Blues off here because if I get into a situation where I want a wide firing arc I have it but if I wanna bring it back in together to maximize firepower they can just br right and we’re right back in a modified pinwheel.

This was the roughly the board state of the Boise Regional top 8.  Against this list, which as you can see was Dash Miranda with the pretty standard load-outs, I actually decided to set up in the middle.  Reason being against kiting lists I typically wanna try to cut the board in half to keep myself out of a situation where I’m chasing one ship all the way across the map.  My opponent opened up slowly but I like my position right here.  One reason I always corner my 3 rocks, apart from the fact that I want to open up the board as much as I can for my swarm, is that it helps me determine range.  If that debris on the bottom left is right on the corner then I know that 2 ship lengths from its outside edge is about range 3 to the board edge.  I.E. that bandit’s arc stretches right about to the edge of the map, therefore I know that I can 1 fwd my hog and he’ll have a tremendously large firing arc that Miranda has no chance to get out even with slamming. Thusly, here my moves are gonna be 1 forward for the Bandits and Gold and 3 forward for the Blues.  If she goes forward she’s gonna be in a bad spot with my entire list firing on her as well as limited options for escape being that she’s on the board edge.  If she turns in then I’ll still have some shots and likewise limited options for escape.  But the big thing is basically don’t put all your eggs in one basket. 

As you can see from this screenshot there’s really no where good for her, even if she slams I’m still gonna get a few shots on her.  But the big thing is not letting her escape from our kill box.  If we make it wide and don’t get all our shots that’s fine, we just need to herd her into a spot where we know she’s very likely not gonna be able to get out of and we can finish her off quickly before Dash can pick off too many of our guys.


So that’s all I got for this time.  This is the first in what I hope will be a series of articles where I discuss how you can cut the monster lists down to size with stuff most competitive players consider obsolete.  Season 5 of Vassal league will be starting up soon and I’ve got a number of lists up my sleeve that I’m ready to break out so should create some good opportunities for discussion.  If anyone has any requests feel free to let me know I’ll do what I can do get them in next time.

5 thoughts on “Yet Another Article on Formation Flying”

  1. Blair – I’ve been toying around with tweaks to your latest list (BBZZY) and was considering something like Jess Pava in place of the stress hog. Do you feel the control from stress trumps the possible offensive or defense boost from Jess?

  2. A number of people have asked me about this. I really need to try out Jess more as she’s clearly been proven as a reliable ship. I just always have a hard time trying to find a good reason to leave the stress hog at home. Lets look at the differences in the two. Jess lovers will argue she’s more survivable, has a better dial, and hits just as if not as hard as the hog. The first two I’d certainly agree with but the latter is debatable, especially in this squad. Jess’s offensive re-rolls aren’t as valuable in this list because of the tracers. Now, the tracers won’t hit every time, sometimes your opponent will burn their tokens to dodge in which case Jess’ ability will pay dividend but I’ve found in the meta now usually at least 1 will connect. The counter to that is that even with two tracers that’s only two turns of full mods while Jess can get them much longer. Also true but then you also have to factor in how long your squad will stay in formation which can also vary greatly game to game. On the whole I’d say offensively the stress hog is better at least in this list because of the ability to fire first, strip shields, and then let all your focus+tl shots come in and deal crits.
    That said, lets talk about the real reason people bring that Gold Squadron pilot, gunner and trusty droid. Even at Endor and Worlds where half my games were against mindlink and I was rarely activating R3-A2 I still felt like it earned its pay. The threat alone made people be vary cautious with Fenn and often didn’t dive him in as they would against a normal list.
    But that was half a meta ago. We have some brand new boogie-man lists and there’s also a rumored nerf coming. If the nerf to jumps and mindlink is true I’d say Hog gets even better. There will be less alpha strike lists, lists can’t rely as much on other ship’s actions to get them tokens and a double stressed ace will once again become very vulnerable. Hog doesn’t do much to FSR but, again I think I’d still rather have it than Jess because of the triple shot+full mods for the first two, critical turns. Nym’s gonna hate seeing the hog, lots of hp and the threat to completely shut down what makes him most scary. With adv. slam also supposedly getting killed off we’re also likely to see a resurgence in the Imperial Aces of old that preyed on slow jousters so hog’s gonna be great in those match ups as well.
    So all in all for my money I’d still take the hog but to each their own.

    1. Thanks for the reply! That all makes complete sense.

      Now the next question…people talk about the Auzituck as a “better” B-Wing. Is it, though? The reinforce action definitely make them tougher, but then you’re stuck with slow turns and no barrel roll. To replace the B’s in your list with Auzitucks, they’d either have to be naked or you could throw Wookie Commandos on both, but have to lose the thread tracers.

      Any thoughts on the the Auzituck?

      1. Anything is better than a b-wing at this point haha. Seriously though it’s pretty hard to argue that either the Auzituck or the Scurgg isn’t way better than a b-wing. Comparing the lowest generics they each cost 2 points more and have 1 lower ps. The Scurgg has a better dial, upgrade bar and 2 more hp. The Auzituck has 1 more hp, the upgrade bar isn’t clear cut better but but the dial surely is. The lack of a 2k is fine cause with a 180 arc you rarely even need to turn around to get shots and it has white 3 banks and 4 forward which are red for a B-Wing. Granted the Auz doesn’t have barrel roll but again the 180 arc makes up for that pretty easily as it’s easier to line up shots. The reinforce doesn’t do a whole lot for a ship in a swarm in my opinion cause they’ll just shoot the other ships and you’ll lose offense but yeah this wave has once and for all closed the door on my beloved blue squadron.

  3. Hey Blair – excellent article! We need more love for swarms, especially now in the Harpoons era, and articles like these are solid gold.
    Flying a formation of low-PS arc-locked ships has never been harder, especially for Rebel players (the only faction without the sub-20 points ship with 3 red dice).
    Save us Blair, you’re our only hope! 🙂

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