Stay On Target – #001: The Rookie Pilot’s Guide to List Building


*Disclaimer: This article is intended for “Rookie Pilots” who are new to X-Wing Miniatures and not necessarily for seasoned veterans of the game. However if you are seasoned you are welcome to read on as you may or may not learn something anyways! Thank you for reading!

 X-Wing Miniatures is a game of interstellar dogfights set in the Star Wars universe! While the game is fairly simple in terms of the basic game mechanics, there is actually a lot of depth in the strategies employed by players. While you obviously have to have a strategy in the movement planning stages of the game, the strategy really begins in the list building aspect of X-Wing.

List building is a term used in miniature war gaming to describe the time you spend creating your “army” and finding synergies between their units. Since X-Wing players don’t field 30+ units like other war games, we build lists in the from of a few ships and then we apply upgrades.

As a rookie pilot seeking to build strong lists to face opponents at your local game store the first thing you should consider is the maximum damage output of your list!

If there is one thing I have learned about X-Wing it is that it is a dice game. And there is a higher probability to roll hits on the attack dice than there is to roll evades on the defense dice. Attack dice have three hit icons, one critical hit icon, two focus icons, and two blank spaces. This means if you take a focus action as your action during the activation phase of the game you have a 75% chance of getting a hit on one die. Most ships have at least two dice on attack not factoring for equipped secondary weapons or range bonuses. The defense dice have three evade icons, two focus icons, and three blank spaces. That means that if you take focus as your action, and don’t use/save it for attacking, you have a 62.5% chance of rolling an evade on one die. Fortune favors the bold, and obviously the advantage goes to the attacker; especially in situations where more dice are being thrown by the attacker than the defender.

With that being said, the percentages are just mathematic probabilities and there are variables that will affect the outcome of the dice rolls so take the percentages with a grain of salt.

The next thing you should consider is the synergies between the abilities of the pilots and the upgrades.

Each ship has multiple pilots that can fly the ship and each pilot has a different ability that affects their rules and how the ship performs. If you choose a pilot like Chewbacca who says, “When you are dealt a faceup damage card, immediately flip it facedown (without resolving its ability)”, it might be a good idea to take an upgrade like the elite pilot talent Draw Their Fire which says, “When a friendly ship at Range 1 is hit by an attack, you may suffer 1 of the uncanceled critical hit results instead of the target ship.” The synergy between these two abilities basically allow you to ignore taking faceup damage to multiple ships assuming you keep your ships in a Range 1 formation.


Another example of a great synergy would be using the B-Wing Pilot Ten Numb whose ability says, “When attacking, 1 of your critical hit results cannot be cancelled by defense dice” and outfitting his B-Wing with the “Mangler” Cannon secondary weapon which reads, “When attacking [with this weapon] you may change 1 of your hit results to a critical hit result.” The synergy between Ten Numb’s pilot ability and the “Mangler” Cannon’s ability guaranties at least one critical hit result that cannot be evaded by defense dice.


Finding synergies between various abilities is the key to winning against your opponent.

Lastly, when list building you should also consider your ships’ ability to withstand attacks from your opponent. The amount of hits they can take is the total of their shield and hull values. In general shields are better than hull points due to the fact that shields negate critical hits. When an opponent rolls critical hits against your ships with shields, rather than taking face up damage you just remove one shield token per un-evaded hit/critical hit. This helps you to avoid those dreaded Direct Hit faceup damage cards!

In addition to negating critical hits, in some cases shields can be restored to your ship via astromech droids like the iconic R2-D2 who’s card reads, “After executing a green maneuver, you may recover 1 shield (up to your shield value). Many rebel pilots will take Biggs Darklighter whose card reads, “Other friendly ships at Range 1 cannot be targeted by attacks if the attacker could target you instead.” This ability when coupled with R2-D2 forces your opponent to target Biggs who has three shields on his X-Wing (four with a shield upgrade) that will regenerate on green maneuvers with the assistance of R2-D2.


As you can see, there are plenty of synergies in the abilities available in this amazing game. All you have to do is be creative and find them. If you haven’t already downloaded the X-Wing Squadron Builder app from the Google Play Store you should do so as soon as possible. This app will aid you in building lists. The app features a full list of ships, pilots, and upgrades. It will keep track of how many points you have built up to in your list as well as save the list for easy access to your squadrons later. It is an amazing app with minimal permissions needed and everyone at our local game store uses it to save his lists and for theory crafting.

I hope this article was a help to all of you reading it. If you have any questions leave comments and we will try to address them, as we are able. It’s a big 3’x3’ galaxy out there so “Stay on target” my friends!


-Sergio P.

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