Wednesday, March 26, 2014

X-Wing: The finality of Interceptors

Pre-calling it right now.

Alright guys, Imperial Aces is officially upon us and I'm very happy with my set of 4 of each ship.  I'm going to be pretty blunt here, the only thing that I'm happy about is the fact I got better painted ships.  When you look at what the actual set offers you from a competitive standpoint, it's actually quite lackluster.  Out of everything that they give you, you have one viable named pilot in the form of Carnor Jax and the other unnamed being the Royal Guard Tie.  Everything else in the box is loaded with upgrades and that does nothing but increase the cost of a ship that's already considered overpriced.

There, I said it.  I think the Imperial Aces box is a wash compared to what the Rebels got this time around.  When you look at the Rebel Convoy, you'll notice that Rebels got a ton of new tools to play with.  Not only are there more options to field for the X-Wings, but new Droids and missiles that inflict stress as well.  I pointed this out a couple of posts before, but why do I feel that the stress-inducers is a direct counter to Interceptors with Push the Limit.  To make things even more laughable, FFG kindly decided to provide 2x copies of PTL to every box of Imperial Aces.  I think they know deep in their hearts that Interceptors live and die by their actions.  An Interceptor under stress that he cannot shake is as good as dead.  When shooting at said target, you're basically nothing more than a 12 point Academy Pilot, but wait, you're actually a 30+ point elite pilot ship, 1/3 of your list's total firepower and durability.

To make matters slightly worse, when you check out the Rebel Aces box, you can't help but feel jealous. Where the Imperial Aces box is filled with stuff you wouldn't realistically take in a competitive game, you have a box that not only expand your options on A-Wings but B-Wings, but make them better.  A-Wings can get cheaper and you can load them up with double EPTs.  B-Wings get a few options and a new sensor that allows them to move at PS0, making sure they can always take their actions and not get blocked, not even by PS1 Academy Ties.  I just hope that the Imperials get some better upgrades and fast, because Enhanced Scopes, Advanced Sensors, A-Wing Test Pilot and Chardaan Refit was something I hoped Interceptors would get.

Then, you have the people.  Man, some people on the FFG forums and other places on the net seem to have difficulty understanding what we're seeing here.  One of the most popular arguments for these players is: "we'll see how it plays out."  I'm sorry, but when someone uses that argument on me, it's basically telling me you're incapable of logical thought and/or lack the experience to make an accurate projection.  Any experienced player will be able to judge scale, power, weigh the pros and cons, understand cause and effect, just by reading cards and letting their superior experience, game knowledge and skill guide them.  Saying "we'll see how it plays out" is quite simply a pillowfort for lesser players who lack the tools to decipher what's in front of them.

I know that sounds harsh, but it's the truth.  It exists in this game, other games, competitive sports, in business and in other aspects of the real world.  No great leader or successful person ever said "let's wait and see how it plays out".  They analyze, develop theory, critique, and learn all they can from what they have in front of them before they put their actions into motion.  This is what this blog is for and the reason I've built it up is so we can discuss higher-level gaming.

Now let's discuss!


mgalvarez said...

I agree the TIE/In, got the short end of the stick, standard TIEs work better as filler in most list. I love my interceptors, and against other fighters you can outmaneuver them and stay out off their sights, but against 360 degree firing arcs they are just over priced 3 Atk TIEs. I am hoping the Defender adds some good things and I am going to keep working my Interceptors they are one of my favorite ships.

Speare said...

Honestly, in my opinion it looks like Imperials got the short end of the stick, but only because after it was sent to the shop did FFG realise exactly what they could do with this kinda box. It feels like they dipped their toe in the water with Imp Aces, and then seeing the demand explode for it, realised they could go fully nuts and try some stuff out. I hope this means we'll see a second attempt, maybe for the Advanced.

From a gaming/competitive standpoint, I don't think Rebel Aces do much to the field other than, as you say, crap on interceptors. A-Wings, even at -2 points, aren't amazing compared to B's and X's and even the new Headhunter looks to be a cut above. And let's face it, B's were already good regardless.

JadedKnight said...

Mathematically Xwing seems to be a much more straightforward game than say 40k. Guess what's the best points per expected health unit? Tie fighter. What's the best pts per firepower unit? Tie fighter. The interceptor is in the bottom third of health (and that's probably generous) and tied for the Tie in terms of firepower points efficiency. What this suggest is the maneuver dial just isn't that important or at least over valued by FFG.

This is unfortunate because it's the maneuver phase that makes the game interesting, yet the math and tournament results say at a competitive level this aspect of the game doesn't matter that much. Thoughts?

archied said...

I cant disagree with any of this, and its a real shame. The interceptors were always my favourite from the 90s pc games so they were the ship that finally convinced me to get into the miniatures game.
I was looking forward to picking this set up from the moment they announced it, but following all my recent games with 'regular' interceptors being real struggles, and then seeing the rebel aces spoilers days before imp. aces hit my local stores completely killed my enthusiasm for it and so i passed on picking one up.
Hopefully the wave 4 ships for imps will even the balance out a bit, but im slowly starting to realise if you actually want to do okay with the imperials you have to basically ignore the interceptor.

eriochrome said...

Looks fine to me to pick up 1 set of aces. I am not sure what you mean by 4 of each ship (I am assuming that is 2 normal interceptors and 1 aces box not 4 aces boxes). The Interceptor will probably just stuck being a little overpriced and not as good as the new imperial ships coming out next.

I would like to see FFG putting out more story driven/fixed list style missions since those are much easier here than in something like 40k.

ImmateriumPress said...

Damn Disqus ate my post :(

Anyway I will make a long story short: The Aces kit gets you RGP, Jax, Hull Upgrade, and Targeting Computer. Lots of good stuff there. Soontir Fel with PTL and Targeting Computer is going to be a monster.

Rebel Aces will include a lot of love for the A-wing because it doesn't currently play to the strengths of the Rebel faction, and doesn't get any use as a result. A-wings can simply be ignored since they aren't nearly as punchy as other Rebel ships, and not nearly cheap enough to spam. I consider the A-wing to be 1pt overcosted at present, and the Interceptor just right. It's the Advanced that needs a boost at 21 for a PS2 mook.

Anyway, the Interceptor to me is the embodiment of lethal precision in X-wing, similar to the how the Dark Eldar played for the longest time in 40k. In many matchups they are absolutely vicious, but they do have counters and are vulnerable to some bad dice. I think FFG has definitely designed them as a high risk/high reward unit, and they definitely play that way. Assuming any of the wave 4 cards benefit their play style (and I'm pretty sure Predator/Outmaneuver will), Interceptors will still be around in 6 months time.

HERO said...

I'm hoping that Predator and Outmaneuver will be revealed soon. They sound cool, but so did Opportunist and Expose :<

HERO said...

I recently placed 4-0 in a store championship with Vader, Turr and Fel. It's definitely possible to defeat seemingly impossible odds with a 9 HP list, but it takes some serious work and no small degree of luck.

JadedKnight said...

Yea variance is why play testing isn't a good way to determine effectiveness. We tend to forget our good luck and remember the bad. That was a good point your post made. It's also a good chance why 40k is in the sorry state it's in now. Over reliance on play testing.

Also I wonder if at the store level you are really seeing stiff competition? I know my store doesn't offer that. (I don't mean to be offensive to anyone, just analytical)

HERO said...

Sorry for the late reply, but I think 40K is in a sorry state due to lack of actual playtesting. I don't know what kind of junk their designers are smoking, but they don't seem to give a rat's ass about the state of the game. At the store level, there's a good amount of competition. Dallas Parker (2nd place Worlds) played at the tournament and Nick Chavez (2nd place Strategicon) beat me out on strength of schedule. There was also a healthy showing of strong lists at the tournament as well.

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Shadowplayer said...

I know this is a bit of an old post, but with a month of Regional tourneys completed (which include the availability of the new X-Wings, stress droid and stress inducing torpedoes), it's worth revisiting as interceptors are anything but dead. Major Juggler, the guy who compiled stats for the store championship thread has current regional results here:

They are currently third in overall usage, behind just the Tie Fighter and X-wing, and slightly ahead of *gasp* the B-Wing. In terms of non-named ships, they are 4th.

Shadowplayer said...

I know it's an old blog post, but it's worth revisiting as interceptors have proven to be anything but dead in the first month of regionals. The new stuff that had people concerned (stress droid, flechette torps) about the impact they would have on interceptors have been "legal" for use, and aren't seeing much use themselves probably because they are either not cost effective in and of themselves, or aren't effective against a wider range of lists.

MajorJuggler, who compiled the store championship results, is doing something similar for regionals:

Interceptors are currently third in usage among top lists behind Tie Fighters and X-Wings and are slightly ahead of B-Wings. In non-named ship usage, they are third. Maybe imperial aces was a bigger bump, maybe the meta didn't shift to the stress mechanic as anticipated, or maybe people are just getting better at flying interceptors. Either way, interceptors are a more competitive and more used ship than they were in store championships

Shadowplayer said...

(I've tried to post a couple of times but it hasn't gone through for some reason. I'll try one more time...)

I know this post was awhile ago, but it's worth looking at as we're about midway through the regional season. Two of the supposed hard counters to interceptors have been available (flechette and R3-A2) from the start and at this point, have been available for some time.

The current ship usage statistic calculated by Major Juggler are here:

Interceptors have not held steady from the store championships, they are now, in fact, the third most used ship, ahead of B-wings by almost a point.

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