Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stating the Obvious: X-Wing Pilot Skill

So as I was first going through the X-Wing game rules, it took me a few moments to understand the value of Pilot Skill.   Higher Pilot skill corresponds to higher model cost with all other stats are the same so it has to have some real value.  First, Higher Pilot skill allows you to shot first which can be important as dead opponents don't shot back but only of so much value in a game where multiple shots are usually required to down an enemy craft.  High pilot skill also has you moving later but as you determine all your moves ahead of time it did not really seem to matter there.  At least that was what I thought after playing the Quick Play rules which does not use actions.  I had seen Actions in my scan of the rules but thought there was an Action phase like a movement and shooting phase.

This is not the case, the actions for each ship is declared after that ship moves so having a high Pilot skill is very important to getting the most out of your actions.  The later moving ships have a much better feel of how the turn will play out so it is easier for them to optimize their action choice between Evade, Focus, Target Lock, Barrel Roll, etc.  For example Barrel Rolling out of someones fire arc is great but will be more effective if the enemy in question has already moved.  Target Lock is even more dependent on Pilot Skill early in the game since you have to be with at least the 3 Range level so as two ships approach each other the one going second due to higher pilot skill will be more likely to be able to get the first target lock.

This is all obvious to anyone who has experience in the game hence the post title but I wanted to make it explicit to other newbies like myself.  Now in this system the fine grade of pilot skills are less important as it is a comparison between you and your opponent to have higher values.  If your opponent is usually using Pilot skill 4 than it does not matter if your pilots are 1 or 3 pilot skill you still move first and shot last.  Almost like a game of chicken to find just the correct value to get the most out of your ships and limited points.


  1. The only down-side to a high pilot skill is the tendency of dogfights to end up as traffic jams. By moving last you sometimes end up with a truncated movement and lost action due to your intended destination being already taken, which can leave you vulnerable.

  2. Good point about the running into other models when you move later as you should not run into models that have not moved yet if you pay at least a little attention.