Hi my name is Matija, and I am a Resistance addict. In addition to that, I suffer from a fixation on efficiency, an unrequited love of spreadsheets, and an annoying competitive streak. I have struggled with it for the better part of my adult life. Last Sunday, I won a 64 player X-Wing tournament called Women of Star Wars, a charity event with a custom list building requirement of having a minimum of two female pilots in the list. If at this point you are asking yourself why you should care, you really shouldn’t. Events of that size have become a monthly occurrence in the online X-Wing community with us all being stuck at home all day with nothing better to do. What this win has given me is a soapbox and a chance to tell you all about arguably the overall worst faction currently in the game and why you should fly it.
Now that we have continued the grand tradition of all food bloggers and made sure the intro is meandering and irrelevant we can jump straight into it. My intent for this article is to break down the list I used pilot by pilot, and tie them into some general thoughts on the ever underperforming Resistance faction. Unfortunately, I have not taken any pictures of the tournament, but you can watch the Top8 and the Final streams here.
78: Poe Dameron (62), Heroic (1), R4 Astromech (2), Overdrive Thruster(8), Advanced Proton Torpedo (5), Integrated S-Foils(0)
70: Rey (68), Rey’s Millennium Falcon (2)
47: Zizi Tlo (41), Heroic (2), Cluster Missiles (4)
Obstacles: Three biggest rocks
Poe Dameron (Trigger-Happy Flyboy)
If there ever was a pilot to represent the faction as a whole it has to be Poe, no other card exemplifies the issue of Resistance more than its premier ace. There is a very simple reason Soontir Fel has been and will forever remain a meta relevant ship, even in these times of cheap Agility 3 spam, and it’s the same reason Poe will never be a true meta powerhouse barring some catastrophic points misjudgment. X-Wing has always existed as a game of two halves, being played on the kitchen table and at the final table of Worlds, for better or worse it has to be a game balanced for both, and Poe cannot be competitive at the final table without being oppressive at the kitchen table.
Soontir Fel has the benefit of his points cost being tied directly to his ace role. He has no shields without spending a Modification Slot, no way to gain regeneration, no way of carrying secondary weapons or anything else to influence his flying, so his point cost is tied directly to your ability to fly him and not die. Consequently a Soontir Fel cost with the assumption of a high level player skill set would never see a kitchen table.
Poe Dameron has 3 Shields, 7 health, access to some of the strongest cards and combos in the game, and a plethora of options in how to build him. And he is paying through the nose for it. He’s an ace that wants to play like a Soontir but has to pay for the privilege of having 3 Shields. Costing Poe to be competitive at the final table would result in kitchen tables across the world suffering as someone’s Poe just tears apart entire lists.
This, in general, is an issue for the Resistance as a faction, the ships they have are too good for the designers to give them good abilities at competitive prices. It’s why most of their Crew and Gunners never see play, it’s why there’s half a dozen T-70 Pilots that will never be taken to a tournament, and why most chassis are borderline single chassis ships, Cova and Vennie being the prime examples.
With all that being said, I do think Poe is a great pilot and can be used to great effect, as long as you understand his role in the list. I have had the privilege of chatting to some top tier Poe players, mainly Mark Myers of Confessions of a Midwest Scrub and Oli Pocknell of, you know, being the World Champion and all. With the recent release of Overdrive Thrusters, Poe has finally found that spot. And that is being a coward, staying at range far away from the enemy yelling Come At Me Bro until he finally musters the courage for one fast hit and run.
In general, I find that upgrades work best when they lean on the pilot’s strength instead of trying to cover their weaknesses. So you build Poe with the intention of baiting for 75 minutes and make sure that the times he does shoot are valuable. You give him R4 to open up his dial to help his ability, you give him Overdrive Thrusters so he can almost never be trapped, you give him Heroic because it’s the best card in the game, and finally you give him Advanced Proton Torpedoes because he’s all-but-guaranteed to half point a full ship or delete a halved ship in the turn it is used.
Finally, you lean hard into the fact that he has 7 health. If you are paying for those shields, use them! A game where Poe ends with his shields intact is a game where he did not draw enough attention from the enemy. The goal is to always end the game on 4 Hull. Losing three shields means the opponent probably spent a lot of resources chasing him and was awarded zero points for it.
Rey is another great pilot to showcase a problem Resistance has. The standard Death or Thicc Rey or whatever name you prefer is probably one of the most hated builds in the game. Now ask yourself how many final tables has Rey been to, how many tournaments has she won, how many defining meta moments were hers? Almost zero. She is hated because she rolls a lot of dice, rolls a lot of hits and deletes a lot of ships on the kitchen table. She’s also close to half of your list, dies almost just as fast as a Rey without a single upgrade, and on a day where your dice are hot you might as well not have brought anything.
If you look at the nature of what Resistance pilots and crew cards do and how they affect the game, you start to see a common theme. Think of Resistance shenanigans. Pattern Analyzer Nien, Heroic Finn, Rose, Death Rey, Death Vennie what kind of shenanigans do they do? They all make their individual ship better and it’s mostly about offensive/defensive capability and/or action economy. It’s making sure that all dice you are rolling are coming up hits/evades, and it’s making sure you always have an action or two extra. But it’s still playing baseline X-Wing, it’s just making you better at it.
Now compare that to the usual Scum lists and how they affect the game. They use control while Resistance uses variance mitigation. Ask yourself which of those two has to be costed extra for the kitchen table? Would a newer player find Death Rey more oppressive compared to something as simple as Torkil Mux which, if not combined and flown correctly, is all but irrelevant on the kitchen table? Once again the faction is dragged down by needing to be balanced on both tables.
With all that being said, I decided to bring Rey without any of her usual upgrades bar the title, because she is still an initiative 5 pilot with a great ability, two force points, and a turret arc. That means she can point her arc sideways and just go around the table in circles. Her job in the list is very simple, she needs to be the bait and take 71 points with her if she dies. Most people love to chase her, and she still hits like a ton of bricks even without her usual combo. All this combined makes her an excellent bait.
With her and Poe both serving as bait the spine of the list is starting to form, a list reliant on stretching the opponent’s resources to chase and damage ships designed to be irritating or cost inefficient to kill. And spoiler alert, Resistance has the Queen of irritating and cost inefficient to kill.
I can’t think of a pilot in the faction and even wider that has such a great ability, such a great toolset, an incredibly high performance potential – and at the same time a pilot that will make 90% of the lists she is in worse for having her. As usual, this is a great segway into a wider issue with Resistance. Most of their pilots are great in a vacuum and stuck in a faction that doesn’t benefit them. Heralds of Hope Temmin Wexley has an ability to hand out passive mods to X-Wing in the one faction that has a million ways to passively modify its X-Wings. Chewbacca has a great ability and no quality cheap ships to spam to use it. The list goes on.
Zizi is an incredible points fortress and without a major player mistake is all but impossible to kill, stuck in a faction that almost cannot build her a proper triple ace home to share with two other unkillable aces, the list presented here being a rare exception. Until recently, the general consensus for building Zizi was to slap Heroic, Advanced Optics and Proton Rockets on her and call it a day. That is until the wonderful mind of Tom Fieldsend misfired for the third time that week and realized that Zizi is one of the rare pilots in the game that can modify both her Cluster Missile shots. A great example of that can be found in the final stream linked above, you use the approach to grab a Target Lock on a desired pilot and prepare to fire both missiles next turn, netting a double modified Cluster missile followed up with a single modified shot due to her ability.
Finally the decision to drop Advanced Optics from her build was a very cynical one. She is without a doubt the best carrier of them in the game, but going from 200 to 195 meant the list would be moving after both of the most relevant lists in a meta designed to accommodate female pilots, namely Jango Zam, which normally has 199 points, and Rey Wings, which normally starts at 196 points.
And the list is formed, three pilots which are designed to be hard to catch, irritating to kill, and can punish you for choosing to ignore any three of them. Do I think it is the best Resistance list currently available? Not by a long shot. That title squarely belongs to Alessandro Mazzi’s JessMazzi list, as well as the title for the best Resistance player currently playing with the faction. Having personally run that list for an extended period of time, culminating with a Top32 performance at
Worlds 2020 (Gold Squadron Podcast Galaxies™), I am of the opinion that it’s the single strongest Swiss performer in the faction and probably wider, and also one of the weakest performers in the cut for a top meta list. Sooner or later that list hits an insurmountable obstacle in the form of some kind of Scum control list or an extremely well flown triple aces list, and you are stuck there wondering what to do with the rest of your now free Sunday. More importantly it becomes a boring chore to go one forward and wait for the inevitable mistake from the opponent that seals the win in your favor – and that stops being fun after a while.
So why should you fly Resistance if it’s a deeply flawed underperforming faction? Because Moneyball is the best sports movie ever made. Because there’s no fun in being a Manchester City fan. Because it’s easy to root for Ferrari. Because it’s much more interesting to imagine Sisyphus as being happy. Breaking down and reassembling lists to understand why they work the way they do, trying to find that one unpolished gem amongst a mountain of coal, extracting the last little drop of juice from a chassis to me has always been much more interesting than just taking the next meta thing and running with it. Winning the last game of the season is to me a much more rewarding experience if you are coming in as the underdog. At the end of the day this is a hobby where grown people spend too much of their free time thinking about a game that brings them joy, and as such finding something that makes you happy to fly is as big a motivator as any.