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Ship Spotlight: K-Wing

Introduction

K-Wings hold a special place in my heart. My youngest brother Zach introduced us to X-Wing back in October of 2016. He, our middle brother, and myself headed to our local gaming store to begin the journey that we’re on now. Full confession, I’d done no research prior to showing up and buying. I knew that I needed a Core Set, but I wanted something else to go with my Rebel T-70 X-Wing. I scanned the shelves and simply thought the K-Wing looked *cool*. Day one purchase made, I proceeded to lose with the K-Wing ten or more times before shelving the “bad ship” for a period of months.

In the wake of Worlds, Miranda and Corran finishing second piqued my interest in the ship again. I dusted off both ships (my collection had grown substantially since that fateful day in October) and I began running the same list popularized by Kevin Leintz. I had some mixed success. Bombs proved to be very fun, but Corran just couldn’t keep up with my local family meta chalk full of PS 9 aces. That’s mostly on me. I’m not a great pilot now, but I was a worse pilot then. Heading into Christmas 2016, Miranda sat back on my shelf where she stayed until my introduction to the Kel Special.

Some of what follows will be a repeat of the content from our Kel Special article. There I detailed how Miranda fit into the list alongside the Ghost, and some of the basic techniques around SLAMing. I decided to start with that as the foundation and unpack from there. Let’s get to it.

The Ship

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the K-Wing’s stats or its dial. 5 Hull and 4 Shield is significantly tanky for a small base ship, but that buffer is offset by a single Agility. The lack of any 4 and 5 speed maneuvers appears to be a hindrance at first blush, but the K-Wing can move deceptively fast with its SLAM action. Finally, having access to the trifecta of Torpedo, Missile, and Bomb slots gives the K-Wing an unparalleled ordinance toolkit at its disposal. More on that later.

It does bear noting in this section that the K-Wing packs what is arguably the best pilot in the Rebel arsenal: Miranda Doni. She’s good at 38 points fitting something as simple as C-3PO and TLT. She scales all the way up to awesome at 52 points loaded with another paragraph worth of modifications (as seen in Kevin Leintz’s list). In the Kel Special, Miranda clocks in at 46 points. That’s a lot of points to invest into a small-base ship. Yep. But she’s worth it.

The Mods

Let’s  talk about critical mods you should be thinking about for the K-Wing. What you’ll find is that K-Wings can be kitted out in a variety of ways. They’re properly viewed as a Toolbox ship that can fill many different roles and necessary with a couple modifications to their fitting. Pared down with just C-3PO and TLT. Bombs, Extra Munitions, and Advanced SLAM. Missiles, Extra Munitions, and Long-Range Sensors. All of the above. Based off what you’re wanting your Toolbox K-Wing to do, different modifications can easily steal the show as your MVP. Let’s highlight a few of the interactions below:

Usual Includes

  • The Twin Laser Turret is a highly accurate, relatively low damage attack. You might as well think of this as your K-Wing’s primary weapon. You will use it most rounds that you aren’t SLAMing, especially with Miranda at the controls. With it you both deal damage, and interact in cool ways with Miranda’s pilot ability. Most of the time, especially if she is under fire, you’ll want to roll one fewer die on one of the two attacks you get to regenerate a shield. Hint: this should be your second attack, not the first. Force them to spent their tokens defending against the first attack by rolling all three dice, then roll one fewer on the second attack against softer defenses. Of course, sometimes you really want to push that extra damage through. Again, same rule applies, roll a normal three dice on your first attack to soften them up, then spend a shield and roll four dice on the second attack to go for an easier hit. Unless you are running the Galaxy Note 7 list popularized by Sable Gryphon, your K-Wing should be outfitted with a TLT.
  • Extra Munitions came out in Wave 7 on both the K-Wing and the TIE Punisher. This mod single-handedly changed the perception of ordinance builds. Before, you had one shot to make your Homing Missile, Plasma Torpedo, etc… count. Miss and you just had wasted points, unless taking up a very valuable upgrade slot with Munitions Failsafe. With the release of Extra Munitions you not only had a second chance to push through damage on your opponent, Bomb builds suddenly became viable. Two Conner Nets before might cost 8 points. With Extra Munitions? 6. And the more ordinance you cram onto your ships, the most cost effective the upgrade becomes. Take Kevin Leintz’s Miranda build: Conner Net (4), Ion Bombs (2), Homing Missiles (5). Extra Munitions gives Kevin’s list a whopping 11 points of extra “stuff” for the small cost of 2 Squad Upgrade points. Totally worth it. If you’re running even a single piece of expendable ordinance, give this upgrade some serious consideration.

The Bomber
Role: Short range damage and/or control.

The Bomber is a K-Wing that eschews Missile and Torpedo Upgrades (besides Extra Munitions) and packs themselves full of Bombs. Conner Nets, Cluster Mines, and Ion Bombs are commonly employed. If running a single Bomber such as Miranda, you might also use TLT. If running two or more Bombers TLT will often be left off to make room for the necessary ordinance. Consider a list like Sable Gryphon’s Galaxy Note 7, triple K-Wings with Bombs, Bombs, and more Bombs.

  • The Advanced SLAM modification takes a good ordinance carrier and makes it *great* when those expendables are bombs. It is the MVP of a Bomber’s loadout, as this is what lets you use bombs aggressively. Moving, SLAMing, and then dropping a Conner Net on someone is a level of fun reserved for few things in X-Wing. But the ability has other uses too. If you have to SLAM to get out of a Range 1 Whisper’s firing arc (Intelligence Agent, yay!), you might as well get some value out of that action, right? Taking a Focus or a Target Lock so that your next turn’s attacks are modified is always a good thing. This is just such a good ability, and well worth the 2 point investment. Unless you are absolutely strapped for points, you should be taking Advanced SLAM when running bombs on your K-Wing.
  • Conner Net, oh how I love thee. I first fell in love with Conner Net when playing Miranda/Corran against my youngest brother’s Modified Palp Aces. After spending round, after round, after round, after round (you get the picture) attacking with normal or TLT attacks and missing over, and over, and over again, I needed something different to hit Soontir Fel. Enter the Conner Net. Two guaranteed damage (see Sabine below), no dice rolling, AND a control effect making the Interceptor’s movements predictable? Yes, all the yes. While Advanced SLAM is the foundation for bombing success, Conner Nets are one third of your damage + control combination, primarily (but not solely) focused on hitting ships higher Pilot Skill than you.
  • Ion Bombs are the “other Conner Net.” Reveal Bombs are awesome for ships that move before you. While not viable on the PS 2 Warden Pilot, Miranda is in a nice spot at PS 8. Lots of ships move before her. You get to watch them land close behind your ship, smile, and let loose the little ionizers of doom. With Sabine in the list you have the added bonus that one ship hit will also be taking a damage, but mass ionization is really the name of the game here. This is the second piece of your damage + control combination, focused mainly on hitting ships lower Pilot Skill than you.
  • Intelligence Agent is the final piece to your bomb combination, letting you see where those PS 9-11 aces are going to land at the beginning of the Activation phase. Intelligence Agent should really be renamed, “All The Options.” It lets you reliably choose when to make use of your Reveal Bombs against higher pilot skill pilots, but also informs your choice on SLAMing. Not SLAMing can be just as bad as SLAMing when you don’t need to. Intelligence Agent helps cut the variability down by letting you know exactly what is coming.
  • If you’re not running Intelligence Agent on your Bomber, you are running Sabine. Sabine is awesome. Sabine is love. Sabine is life. Sabine lets your bombs go from annoyances to threats. She’s a great include that also ups the number of bomb slots you have on your ship. While you likely won’t take advantage of the last on the K-Wing, that can be useful for other Crew + Torpedo Upgrade Slot ships like the Ghost, letting Sabine ride in a higher health ship that can take advantage of Extra Munitions. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the more devilish things to do with Sabine. Her ability triggers when a friendly bomb token is removed. The enemy ship you *want* to deal the one damage to does not need to be the one that hits the bomb token. You can hit it, take the normal damage, and deal the one damage to the enemy ship at Range 1 you’re keen on killing. Soontir fell sitting on one health and expertly avoided your Conner Net or Cluster Mines? Plow through one with any of your ships. Bye bye Soontir. Expect anger.

The Missile Boat
Role: Long range alpha strike damage.

Contrary to The Bomber, The Missile Boat K-Wings embrace their long range ordinance. They are likely to have Homing Missiles or Concussion Missiles equipped alongside Extra Munitions and TLT. They want to engage at Range 3, and might spend a good portion of the match time setting up the proper engage. What do they normally come equipped with, outside of the Usual Includes from above?

  • Long-Range Sensors are a modification that people swear by when running Missiles. I’ll confess that I haven’t had any success here. Turn one, take a Target Lock from across the mat. Then, when entering engagement range, take a focus. Assuming you have Homing Missiles (see below), you now have a fully modified attack. That all sounds great! What doesn’t sound great is your inability to take locks at Range 1-2. My Miranda does a lot of combat with TLT at Range 2. My Miranda likes Target Locks, giving her plenty of flexibility when spending shields/regenning while still pushing damage through. Your mileage may vary.
  • Homing Missiles. You know a Missile great when it does not include the words, “Spend your target lock…” That omission alone would make Homing Missiles a nice include if you have five points to spare and are running Extra Munitions. “The defender cannot spend evade tokens during this attack,” is just the icing on the cake. Tokened up Defenders are suddenly quite a bit easier to hit when throwing Homing Missiles their way. And as was the case with Twin Laser Turret earlier, Miranda has some cool interaction here. Assuming you have the shield to spare, think about opening up combat with a 5 dice Homing Missile instead of the regular 4 dice. Spend the target lock as necessary to ensure a good roll. If you are making use of the Long-Range Sensors modification detailed above, you should also have a Focus for full modification. Odds of 5 hits/crits are high. Similar odds on your opponent looking crestfallen.
  • C-3PO is to The Missile Boat that Intelligence Agent and/or Sabine is for The Bomber. There’s not another crew that provides the kind of value that C-3PO does for a ship who wants to regen often and has only one Agility die to protect themselves with. I’m sure all of the readers are already aware of the “common” 3PO useage, but I certainly wasn’t back in the day so it bears mentioning: One a one agility ship, before you roll your green die, guess “zero.” If you roll a Blank or a Focus, you get the free Evade from guessing correctly. If you roll an Evade, you still have the Evade. Guaranteed one point of damage mitigation every round on a ship that can regen through dealing damage to others. Win and win!

SLAMing

Your ability to SLAM is one of the things that distinguishes good K-Wing pilots from the bad. The ability is fun, but takes quite a bit of practice to get right. SLAM correctly and you punish your opponent or save your ship. SLAM wrong and your K-Wing explodes early and often. In the next section, we are going to discuss the Good and the Bad SLAMs and how to tell the difference between them. But before we get there, a SLAM is a maneuver. You don’t get to “measure to see if you can SLAM” ala when you Boost. Once you declare it, you’re locked in, even if you bump or run afoul of an asteroid.

The Good SLAM
SLAMing is an art. When it goes well, it is truly a thing of beauty. It lets your “slow” K-Wing suddenly dash forward unpredictably to dodge arc, get behind someone, or drop a bomb.

advancedslamsuccess

When SLAMing, it is important to keep in mind just how far you can go. Let’s setup the above picture: On turn one Vessery did a 4 forward. Miranda did a 3 forward. Given the above, we knew without having to measure that they were not in range. 4+1+3+1 = 9 ship lengths toward each other, 2 ship lengths outside of Target Lock range (assuming we lined up across from each other, we didn’t).

The next turn, I had a choice to make. I knew that Vessery (armed with TIE/D and an Ion Cannon) wanted to get in close. He didn’t want to deal with the TLT, and had Vader close by backing him up. However, my opponent thought that I might execute some sort of 2 or 3 maneuver, so split the difference with his own pursuit and dialed in a 2 bank right. Unfortunately, that was a little bit too close. That’s a little bit more than 3 ship lengths forward, putting our combined movement toward each other at 12 (roughly).

Based on where Vessery was the previous turn, I knew I had two choices. I could execute a 2, or 3 maneuver to the left and pull range, or I could dial in a 3 maneuver right and come in fast. Terrified of what an Ion Cannon will do against my 1 agility ship, I thought my only chance of coming out on top was to go hard in. When Vessery executed his 2 bank, I knew that I could SLAM in behind him by SLAMing with a 3 bank left after my maneuver. Conner net away! Vessery was taken out of the match for a good three turns (ionized, K-turn, 5-speed back in), letting Miranda and the Ghost pick on the TIE Shuttle now missing its wingman.

What is the hallmark of the good SLAM here? Proper range control on your opponent. If when SLAMing your ship cannot get past the shortest/slowest maneuver the enemy can execute, do not SLAM toward them. Coming up short is a critical mistake that will get your ship killed without having any recourse to fire back. You want to SLAM past/beyond/beside, not land in front of them at Range 1.

The Bad SLAM
If the above is an excellent case on when to SLAM, what comes next is the exact opposite.

advancedslamfail

In the above, Quickdraw and Echo have not yet activated. I thought that my opponent thought that I’d turn left, and as a result his ships would come screaming in to take advantage of what would have been poor positioning. Rather than executing the 2 turn left or 3 bank left that I should have done, I got stupid. I committed to a 2 turn right, followed by a 2 bank right and a dropped Conner Net. Chopper is looking at Miranda’s positioning with dismay.

advancedslamfail3

My opponent had not brought his ships in hot pursuit of what would have been a great choice on my part. Instead, he committed to the right turn on the off-chance that I acted stupidly (read: I did). In his mind, if I went left and he went straight, the worst that could happen was a single long-range attack from Miranda at Quickdraw. But if I went right, dead Miranda. Weighing the options, he made the best of choices. Yes, Miranda died the first round of combat.

What’s the lesson here? There’s no reason to SLAM toward your opponent if you’re not going to overshoot them, or get a relatively guaranteed arc dodge. At best my guess was 50/50, but a 50% chance of being R1 of two very attack-heavy ships is not a wager that you should regularly go around making. When in doubt, SLAM it out, rather than in. So when should you SLAM? Let’s break SLAMing out into two different categories: the Planned SLAM and the Reactionary SLAM.

The Planned SLAM
The first of the two categories, the Planned SLAM, is when you take a look at the board at the beginning of the Planning Phase and dial in your maneuver with the intention of executing a SLAM action. You either know that you need to dodge an arc and are planning for it in advance (read: you have Intel Agent on speed dial), or you want to drop a bomb on someone whose position is known. The Good SLAM example above is a picture perfect scenario of a Planned SLAM. I knew (roughly) where Vessery and Vader were going to be. I knew that I could clear any maneuver they did, or dodge the arc should they slow roll. Either I got a bomb to land, or I skate by without taking shots from the enemy. Golden.

What you should not do with a Planned SLAM is take a big chance. Refer back to the Bad SLAM example above. A 2 turn followed by any other 2 speed maneuver put me in a very vulnerable spot. Half the maneuvers on both Quickdraw and Echo left Miranda at Range 1, unable to fire back. The other half of their maneuver dials would not have put Miranda in danger, but would not have hit the Conner Net that I dropped earlier in the turn. It was a stupid move, and a good example of what you should not do with a Planned SLAM.

The Planned Slam is executed when you have a definitive outcome that you can see in advance that will lead to a quality outcome without placing yourself in a disadvantageous position. You can execute it against lower PS pilots who have already moved and higher PS pilots who have not yet activated. The goal is usually to drop a Bomb (Conner Net or Cluster Mine) or otherwise dodge an arc while taking the opportunity to gain a target lock for a modified engage the following turn.

The Reactionary SLAM
Sometimes your opponent does not do what you expected them to do. You dialed in a 2 turn, but Vessery unexpectedly moved to cover that exact spot and you’re looking at taking 4 red dice to the face. Not a good spot to be in. Yes, you might be able to drop a bomb on Vess because of where you landed, but ending the turn shieldless/in hull is not okay. Discretion is the better part of valor, so a Reactionary SLAM is called for putting you out of arc and leaving your shields/hull intact.

The problem with the Reactionary SLAM is that it leaves Miranda with a weapons disabled token at a time that you weren’t necessarily expecting her to have one. If Miranda is already low shields and she’s having to SLAM to stay out of arc, she isn’t regenerating. There’s only so many times you are going to be able to execute a Reactionary SLAM and remain damage-free from all of the opposing ships. They’ll eventually get you into a killbox that you can’t easily escape from.

Further, it is easy to get into the habit of Reactionary SLAMing. I had a game against a friend from church about a week ago. He’d kitted out specifically to counter the Kel Special by flying Fenn, Talonbane, and Zuckuss. He sent Fenn and Talonbane to take care of the Ghost, and Zuckuss to harass Miranda. After taking heavy damage the first turn (he rolled really great, I blanked, Range 3), I felt I had to SLAM each turn to keep Miranda from taking more damage. As a result, Miranda had full hull but no shields by the time my Ghost died…while Zuckuss sat pretty on full health. It is okay to take some damage with Miranda in particular, as you have the opportunity to negate some of it via regen as a byproduct of dealing damage to your enemy.

If that was a good example of a bad Reactionary SLAM, it should be balanced with a good example of not SLAMing. On Friday night, my youngest brother had Miranda on the ropes. She had a single hull left and two shields. Both Ryad and Vessery had something akin to full hull, 1 shield. With my Ghost wildly out of position, Miranda danced a dance of death in the far corner. The image below is after I activated (had not yet actioned, I took a Focus).

That low on health, a Reactionary SLAM tempted. With a two bank left, I might have been able to clear Range 3 on Vessery and escape without taking any damage. I’d learned my lesson from Fenn/Talonbane/Zuckuss, however. Instead of SLAMing, I took a Focus (for defense). During combat, I TLT’d first rolling three, then rolling two in order to regen a shield. 1 hull, 3 shield prior to Vessery firing back. The first shot managed to clip Vessery, putting him either shieldless but full hull, or landing the first damage on hull. At the very end of the game, that single extra damage meant all the difference in finishing off Vessery before he could both fire and (likely) kill Miranda.

The Reactionary SLAM is executed when your opponent did something unexpected and/or guessed your planned maneuver correctly, with the intention of minimizing damage received. You can execute it against lower PS pilots who have already activated.

Final Salvo

I’m ever-so-glad that I picked up a K-Wing the first day I bought into X-Wing. The K-Wing is a fabulous ship with access to the very best pilot in the Rebel fleet. While I couldn’t fly it well in the beginning, I’m starting to get the hang of the complex maneuvering required to maximize the craft. I hope you found the above helpful. SLAMing in particular has been hard fought lessons against the Aces that the various members of my family love to fly. Let me know if you have additional advice that you’d like to contribute to this Ship Spotlight, or other similar articles in the future.

Fly safe!

About Mike

Christian. Husband. Father. Writer. Gamer. Sports enthusiast. I have many interests that don't naturally overlap, but love to discuss them all.

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