In this guide, we’ll look at all the ordnance cards in X-Wing, their history, and their use.
Torpedoes and missiles have been part of X-Wing since Wave I, where both Rebel Ships (the X-Wing and Y-Wing) were able to carry Proton Torpedoes and the Tie-Advanced was able to carry the short range Cluster Missiles and the longer range Concussion Missiles.
Each costing 4 points, these secondary weapons offered increased firepower for one shot and offered abilities like changing focus results to crits, changing blanks to hits, and attacking twice in a turn. These awesome abilities allow for some game changing moments like slamming a shieldless Tie with a critical hit in the opening rounds.
And yet, they went unused in competitive play.
Why? Why would such cool weapons go unused? Why does nearly every new player list critique include the words “get rid of the missiles/torps”?
While thematic, ordnance cards have three problems when it comes to using them in the game.
- Action requirements. Every piece of early ordnance required a target lock to fire. This means using an action to acquire said target lock. This not only means you are using an action to fire the weapon, you are also forgoing any action that can help your offensive rolls (like a focus token) or your defensive abilities (like a focus token or barrel rolling out of the way). While Target Locks help your attack rolls by allowing you to re-roll dice, here they are only being used to fire your ordnance. Which brings us to the next problem…
- They are unreliable. By requiring the ordnance user to discard the Target Lock, this meant there was no way to re-roll your blanks. Furthermore, if you fired this weapon early, you wouldn’t have focus tokens to change any focus results you rolled. With no way to modify the dice, ordnance cards became a gamble. While two of the Wave 1 ordnance cards had ways to modify the dice in some way to combat this weakness, it wasn’t enough to make the weapon worth it because…
- They were overpriced. 4 points is a third of a Tie Fighter. For the points, players would rather upgrade ship Pilot Skills or get named pilots than put points into an unreliable shot.
Looking at these problems, we can assess the original ordnance cards.
The granddaddy of all ordnance. It has some dice mitigation properties but is otherwise still difficult to use reliably. Requiring a target lock to be discarded sealed this card’s fate as underused.
This ordnance also has some dice mitigation in the form of counting a blank as a hit. However, it too requires a TL discard and doesn’t see a lot of play.
While having no dice mitigation at all, these missiles were the first time a ship was able to attack twice. However, with no ability to modify dice on the outset, it remains largely unused. With the prevalence of low agility ships now though, they have seen a slight increase in usability recently.
Even since Wave 1, ordnance has been largely ignored in competitive play. The next wave sought to solve the unpopularity of ordnance (and some other problems) by introducing new types of missiles and new missile carriers.
Here we have a card designed to combat the incredibly powerful Tie Swarm. For 5 points, this card can do a lot of damage. Unfortunately, it still suffers from all three problems listed above and is even more expensive. While good in theory, it still goes unused.
This card is also more expensive but addresses problem 2. You don’t have to spend your Target Lock and can re-roll your dice for this attack. This made the Homing Missile able to get an average of 3 hits with only a TL whereas the Concussion could only average 2.75.
By contrast, these secondary weapons had to compete with the new Cannon upgrade on the Firespray. Weapons like the Heavy Laser Cannon, which gave 4 attack dice that didn’t require additional actions and could be used multiple times, were just a better deal for the points and have none of the problems of ordnance.
Wave 3 introduced two new ordnance carriers and a new torpedo.
Advanced Proton Torpedoes
The Advanced Proton Torpedo solves problem 2. It is an incredibly reliable shot…as long as you have a focus token. The Range 1 restriction is there to help facilitate this as you grab the Target Lock in one round, then close in on the next. However, it is still expensive and is still taking more actions to shoot reliably.
At this point, ordnance was still relatively unpopular (apart from the odd Jonus supported squad) because no ordnance could address all the problems of action loss, unreliability, and cost.
Enter the Rebel Transport and Wave 4. Wave 3.5 and 4 introduced 2 new ordnance cards, a new modification, and 3 new ordnance carriers.
First of the new ordnance, this Torpedo addressed all 3 problems of ordnance. They are cheap; only being 2 points meant it wasn’t much of a sacrifice to bring them along. Both reliability and action economy were addressed by the Flechette Torpedo’s special ability “After you perform this attack, the defender receives 1 stress token if its hull value is 4 or lower.” It doesn’t matter if you hit the target. For a Target Lock action you could stress 11 out of the 16 ships on your attack. This weapon had versatility and it doesn’t feel like a waste when targeting a smaller ship.
Ion Pulse Missiles
This is another ordnance card that does not require you to spend your target lock. It may not pack as much punch as its homing missile cousin, but has enough attack dice to completely ionize any large ship in 1 attack. You can use the Target Lock for the Ion Pulse Missile’s shot or you can keep it for your next shot (since, if you hit, you know exactly where your target will be). Again, these missiles are versatile, reliable, and cheap.
In an attempt to address the “wasted points” problem of all ordnance, this modification was introduced. For 1 point you can keep any ordnance that doesn’t hit. While comboing well with Flechette Torpedoes, Munitions Failsafe is largely a sucker bet when it comes to protecting your ordnance. It may have some use with the upcoming Hot Shot Blaster, however.
Finally, in Wave 4.5 (Rebel Aces) and 5, two more ordnance cards were introduced.
This ordnance is what all other ordnance cards should aspire to be. It addresses all the problems: it’s cheaper, you can modify your dice, and it only takes one action. While most effective on ships like the A-Wing and the Tie Advanced, it has some use on 2 agility missile carriers like bombers and the Outrider.
Kind of a step backwards in terms of making ordnance better, this Torpedo has some niche applications in breaking up formations or tagging an otherwise more nimble ship with an Ion Token. It is still expensive and has no ability to easily modify dice but is the only ion weapon that can do more than one damage and can pass out a lot of ion tokens.
When looking at ordnance you want to bring, keep in mind the action requirements, the reliability, and the cost. Most likely you’ll easily find room for Flechette Torpedoes, Ion Pulse Missiles, and Proton Rockets. The other ordnance cards have their uses; it just takes a little more effort to make them worth it.
Next time we’ll talk about the pilots and ships that can make the most out of ordnance.
PCGamerPirate has been playing X-Wing since just before Wave III. An avid boardgamer for 5 years, X-Wing grabbed him with its simple rules but incredible depth and, let’s face it, Star Wars.