Basic X-Wing Survival Tips

Tactical Operations Briefing 7

Jeff 'Kallysto' Young, Corsair 11

The topic of discussion for this lecture is 'Basic Heads-Up Tactics', or, 'Words of Wisdom for New Pilots.' These notes will primarily help those of you who are using X-wing; for those of you who have X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, some or all of these may not apply.

Taking the Offensive

  • The Best Defense is a Good Offense

    A lot of missions require you to defend something from the Imperials that doesn't move very fast. Very often the Imperial FRG or ISD will show up about 10 klicks or better, and launch waves of fighters.

    Your best bet to keeping your charge alive is actually to intercept the fighters before they get to what you're defending. This is especially the case when the fighters in question are Tie Bombers.

    Speed is more important than firepower; using ELS settings of 0/50, 0/25 or 0/0 will give you more speed than your wingperson might use in getting there. Stopping a fighter before they get within range of your target gives you one less thing that's shooting at what you're trying to defend.

  • Ion Cannons: The Kinder, Gentler Blaster

    Ion cannons, standard equipment on the Y-wings and B-wings, are an excellent offensive weapon if you know how to use them. For those of you that abhor killing, they're also the best way to thwart the Imps without blowing them back to the Maker.

    Two shots will generally disable any Tie class fighter; the best clue to whether you've disabled it is if it stops maneuvering. Shooting it up too far will cause it to explode before it registers to your IFR as 'disabled.'

    For capital ships, eight shots should suffice to disable most capital ships, but only once its shields are down. Use lasers and torps until its shields fall, then switch to ion cannons and have at it.

    A disabled ship cannot fire or maneuver. Once you've disabled a ship, you can leave it alone and concentrate on other threats at hand, leaving disabled ships for cleanup later.

  • Friendly Fire... Isn't!

    When flying with simulated wingpersons, you'll find that they keep up a continuous barrage of fire as long as they have a target in front of them. If you get between them and their target, they'll keep shooting, resulting in a view of orange blaster bolts whizzing past your viewscreen from behind, and your rear shields getting damaged.

    You have three options:
    1. Get them to attack something else. Remember that Ctrl-A causes your wingpeople to attack the currently selected target, and Ctrl-C causes them to cover you.
    2. Get them to stop attacking. Ctrl-I causes your wingpeople to ignore their target, but they'll chase after something else instead. Ctrl-W makes them wait, but they'll just hang around where they're at, and be sitting ducks.
    3. Go attack something else yourself. Wingpeople make good distractions for fighters, even at Rookie level.

  • 'Hull Dmg' is the Alliance Way of telling the Imperials to Go Home

    Many Imperial fighters (T/F, T/I, T/A, T/B) will bail out of a fight and turn tail, heading home to hide behind their carrier. You can tell if this is the case by holding the kill shot a moment after delivering a shot that renders the Tie as 'hull damaged', and staying on their six. If the Tie turns and makes a beeline for the FRG or ISD, you can safely leave it and choose another target.

    Moreover, if one Tie in a squadron exhibits this behavior, all of them will. This is especially useful in missions where, if you destroy all the members of a squadron, the carrier launches a fresh squad. Having non-fighting but functional members of the squadron hanging around prevents the launch of the relief wave.

    A caveat to this strategy, however, is that on some missions, the Tie will either dock, fly off the board, or be shot down by friendly or incidental fire. Keep watching your info bar for the launch of more Ties.

    True, this strategem may deprive you of some of those valuable TIE kills required for Rogue Squadron, but your primary goal is not how many kills you rack, but more often, how many ships you save.

Defensive, or Self-Preservation

  • The Easiest Shot on a Rebel Pilot Is a Straight Line

    Common sense, but worth saying aloud. Shots in X-wing travel linearly; if provided with a target, enemy pilots and cap ships will fire continuously, laying out tracking fire that zeroes in on your last known position.

    Your fighter is equipped with shields and defensive armor. However, even the stalwart B-wing cannot withstand more than a small number of consecutive shots without taking damage.

    Thusly; it is in your best interests, when an enemy has a fire lock on you, characterized by the sound of shots impacting your shields and either the visible sight of more incoming directly at you, or 'near misses' flying past your viewscreen from behind, to take immediate evasive action. Prudent additional strategy is to quickly rebalance your shields (S three times) and/or charge your shields from your lasers (; multiple times).

  • When you Hear Incoming Missile, you Listen....

    Missiles are the most deadly weapon the Empire has to field against you. They have the capacity to punch through the shields of an A-wing and destroy it instantly, if your shields aren't at full charge. They continue to track for a period of several seconds, homing on your exhaust, and travel at a high rate of speed such that flying at speeds of 180MGLT is not enough to outrun them. Nor is flying slower than 60 MGLT and being evasive very successful.

    A good pilot, when told 'Incoming Missile' generally immediately goes into evasive maneuvers. Self-preservation is more key than protecting your objective.

  • If you Can't Read Your Instruments, It's Time to Go Home

    If enemy fire manages to pierce your shields, your armor is next. Once the armor is damaged, the next thing to go is fighter components. However, a good indication that things are not in good shape is one or more of your instruments becoming destroyed. That indicates there's a hole in your armor on one side, enough to where a shot penetrating your shields may easily destroy you. While most of the things that can be damaged (ELS meter, laser charge meter, shield indicator) are harmless, it is still good practice to abort the mission.

Proximity Alerts (or, 'If Your Screen is Grey-white, You're Too Close to the ISD')

  • Don't Shoot a Disabled Ship With Your Sidearm

    Ships which are disabled by ion cannons are effectively dead in space; they don't shoot or maneuver. It has been the mistake of many a green pilot, including myself, to park up next to the disabled ship, within .20 klicks, in order to rub in the free shots at its reactor prior to destroying it. However, upon its destruction, all ships go through a 'death spin', rolling over in place before exploding.
    While the explosion does no harm, being hit by a rolling capital ship will. I once made the mistake of sitting between the cargo booms of a freighter I'd disabled in a Y-wing, and realizing far too late that I was dead as the ship started rolling over on top of me.

    Your safest bet for disposing of a disabled ship is to shoot it from a safe distance, at least .75 klicks out in the case of an ISD.

  • That Ugly Crunching Sound May Be Your Armor

    While shields are rechargeable, armor is not. There is a distinctive audio difference between the sounds of shields being ionized and the sound of hull plating being vaporized. Learn the difference, and take appropriate measures to save yourself if you are hearing the latter noise.

  • Kallysto's Axiom: Yield Right of Way to All Space Objects Larger Than Debris

    Your shields are not armor. Neither is the paint on your fighter. A collision with another craft of any size from a mine up to an ISD will directly damage your fighter; the smaller fightercraft have decent chances of being destroyed in this fashion. Whenever possible, maintain a distance of not less than .10 klicks, especially if that object is something swift moving, like a fighter.

  • Never Tailgate a GUN or Transport...

    ...they have the annoying habit of braking suddenly when you put too many shots up their reactors.

    In actuality, the GUN and Transport (TRN) craft are peskily annoying to fight, because they're slow-moving, and once destroyed, send debris off in a random direction at high velocity, instead of exploding cleanly.

    A good amount of time it can be directly back at you. Following too close can be lethal, as a destroyed ship still counts as solid until it explodes.

Observations From The Tac Ops Platform

  • Invincible ... Isn't.

    Tour I pits you against the ISD Invincible. If you know how to destroy an ISD, you are well advised to give it a try on any mission where you complete your mission objectives easily and have a full or near-full complement of torpedoes or missiles remaining.

    The Tac Ops mission on Destroying Star Destroyers explains this capital ship-destroying strategem far more eloquently than I can; but what I'm saying is, that the ISD presented in this tour can be fairly easily destroyed when alone, even for novice pilots.

  • Don't Eject When You Can Hyper Out

    Ejecting is like hitchiking. You never know who's going to pick you up.

    Sometimes, your ejection light may come on. It is in your best interests to do one better, that being to repair your hyperdrive, if damaged, and get the heck out of there. You should never voluntarily eject unless trapped in a deadly crossfire, or stuck on a course with flight control locked. (A trick; sometimes the 'H'yperspace key will get you to change course even when your flight systems are out.)

  • Clockwatchers Earn No Overtime Kills

    Unlike Historical and Maze missions, real Tour Missions have no real mission clock. A mission only ends when you hyper out; you can take advantage of the fact that the flight continues even after the clock reads 0:00 to clean up any leftover Ties or cap ships sitting around.

    This is especially important in missions where an objective must be met, but you might not have triggered the rescue flight or whatever in time; sometimes the ships leaving the area may take longer than the time limit 'allowed' to complete the mission.

  • ELS 0/0 May Be Fast, But You Still Can't Pull a Move-through

    Even at top speed, ramming another space object does nothing for you; starcraft are delicate things, so do not even consider ramming as an attack option.

  • Don't Be The Red Dot Special

    The Empire can throw far more starcraft into a battle theatre than the Alliance can; you will often find yourself outnumbered. Some missions contain a carrier craft that will launch multiple waves of fighters based on whether you're hanging around; one mission that comes to mind launches 6 T/Is and 10 T/Bs if you shoot the ISD even once.

    Essentially, if your screen is full of red dots, you might want to consider bailing out, if they're mostly fightercraft.

    Corollary Green dots are good. Red dots are bad. Lots of yellow dots (torpedoes) are generally very bad.

  • You Aren't Invincible Unless You Set Yourself That Way

    The simulator has a setting, 'You are Vulnerable', accessed when you hit the Escape key. Clicking on that setting turns it to 'You are Invincible' -- effectively, you cannot be destroyed, but you cannot advance past that mission, either. What this is good for, however, is scouting; some missions have you ID'ing a specific shuttle or freighter or TRN among a flock of them. Once found, the craft will always be in the same position in the IFF log. You can then reset the Invinciblity setting, restart the mission, and complete it knowing exactly what to gun for.

  • Shields from the Twilight Zone

    A little known trick that allows you to pour on the speed in a mission is known as the Twilight Zone shields trick.
    At the beginning of a mission, switch your shields to all back or all front (S once or twice) and then set your ELS to 0/0. You'll get full speed, and your front (or back) shields will drain, but the other set of shields will remain fully charged. You can rebalance this when you arrive at your destination, so as not to be completely defenseless.
That is all. Good luck, and good hunting.