Welcome to Darksaber's X-Wing Station
Table of Contents
Part 1a: Evading Lasers

Half the battle is knowing when to turn around and head for the hills, and in X-Wing this is a big truth. Mastering a few basics on evasive maneuvering can save your ass many times, and thus, the asses of your escorts as well. Seriously, this is a big deal.

Let me start by explaining why these tactics work. While the enemy logic and AI (artificial intelligence) in X-Wing is very impressive, it isn't perfect. Simply put, the enemy can lead, but not predict. This means that enemy fighters and starships have a deadly knack for watching your current heading and laying down lasers that will intersect with your course moments later. Not a difficult concept... everyone who played Wing Commander 2 will remember the "targeting leads" your computer put in front of enemy ships for you to fire at. This is basically what the enemy algorithms in X-Wing do. And everyone who played WC2 will also remember that those lead targets didn't always work. Especially when the enemy ship was in the process of changing course.

So the drawback to the enemy logic in X-Wing is that it cannot predict course changes like a human can. I'm sure this is just around the corner, programming wise, but it hasn't been seen in commercial simulations yet. If you're pulling back on the stick and doing a constant loop, chances are really slim you'll take much laser damage (notice I said _laser_ damage... more on that later). The constant course changes throw the enemy's leads off. They'll still fire, but they'll expect you to continue on a straight line, so they'll miss. This all sounds great, but when you're pulling a constant loop, you're unable to get much work done. There's a couple things you can do to help shake laser fire and still get somewhere. They are designed to get you away from a vessel in the quickest manner without taking much (if any) damage.

- "Box" evasion: Pick a point ahead of you in space and trace a four-point "box" around it. At each point, pause for a moment. The size of the box and the length of the pauses should vary with your distance from the attacker. If you're close, trace a larger box with very small pauses. If you're farther away, a slightly smaller box should work, with longer pauses.

- "Circle" evasion: This is identical to the Box method, but it is a little more difficult to master. It's more effective because you are constantly moving (in a circle around a chosen point instead of a box). The reason it's harder is because it's easier to "drift" off of your point and end up facing the enemy again. Again, the further you are from the baddies, the slower the circle should be. If you're too fast, you may end up getting tagged by shots fired at you on the last pass.

These are pretty simple, actually, but can be very effective at times. When fleeing your attacker using these techniques, be sure to keep him centered in your rear radar scope (or forward scope if you're attacking). You should rarely have need to look at your main view once you get the hand of this. It also helps to have a friendly starship or nebula to keep as your focus point ahead to help prevent drifting.

The main advantage to using these methods instead of just jinking around like crazy, is you can still attack something in front of you while you're evading incoming fire. When approaching the enemy instead of fleeing, you'll probably have to widen your "box" or "circle" slightly. Pause every now and then and get a couple good shots off and you'll be fine.

Don't get me wrong, you'll get damaged allright. These aren't foolproof methods, and there's always fighters off to your left or right making things even more interesting. So keep an eye on those shields and take breaks to charge up now and then (_especially_ when attacking the Star Destroyers... you'll need to take _many_ such breaks... more on those later).
Top
Part 1b: Evading Missiles

I've seen a lot of discussion about this on the 'net. Missiles in X-Wing may seem hard to shake at first, but once you get the hang of it it's almost fun (*gasp!*).

Enemies who fire missiles at you (TIE Bombers or Assault Gunboats) are rarely very close to you. This will almost always give you a few seconds to prepare.

- When you get the warning that a missile has been fired (from your R2 unit or a wingman) immediately find the amber dot on your radar (the missile, of course) and turn so it's in your forward scope.

- At this point the missile should essentially be coming right for you and it shouldn't be changing course too much. Put the dot on the very outskirts of your front scope (see SCREENSHOT #1) and wait. By taking this approach, it is _very_ difficult for the missile(s) to "cut the angle" and hit you on the first pass.

- If all goes well, the missile will pass you and end up in the center of your rear scope. Now, spin around and put the missile right in front of you (you should be able to see it as a red and orange streak on your main view).

- By following the missile around, keeping it right in your sights, you're once again preventing it from turning sharp enough to catch you. Don't bother shooting at it, you _won't_ hit it. Follow it around until it runs out of gas, and bingo! You're home free.

With a little practice, this becomes very easy. I've only had about five in a hundred reach me, and that's usually because the bogey was unusually close when he fired, or there were several missiles inbound. With a little fancy flying, you'll soon be able to get two or three missiles in front of you like this, trying in vain to reach you.

Like I said, I wouldn't bother shooting at them. It's impossible to hit them from their sides like that when you're following them. I've watched many people claim they shot them down like that, but when in reality, they just fired at the instant it ran out of fuel and exploded. I'm not saying they can't _ever_ be shot down... just not from that angle. I've tried hundreds of times, and the only time I've ever shot one down is when it's just been launched and is heading straight for me. If you can pinpoint it in front of you fast enough and get some laser shots off, you might get lucky (I've managed this only five times).

The only drawback to the above evasion method is the time consumed. It takes a good fifteen-twenty seconds for a missile to run out of juice, and those can be precious seconds sometimes. You have to evaluate whether you can spare the time or you should just take your chances. Strong, two-layered shields can take three or four solid missile hits if you manage your shields right... But if you decide to take your chances and not follow the missile, at least line it up like I described above and let it fly back to your rear before you take off. You'll have a much better chance of eluding it.
Top
Part 2a: Tracking

If you expect to get very far in X-Wing, it's mandatory you learn how each of the enemy vessels (specifically fighters) move. This, along with accuracy with the lasers, are by far the two most important skills to have in this game. When you get some idea where the fighter you're pursuing is about to turn, you can greatly increase you chances of taking him out. Here's a brief summary of the observations I've made about each fighter:

TIE Fighters:

This is an average fighter, all around. It usually runs somewhere between 90-100 kps in combat, and has moderate mobility. Mostly goes side to side, and rarely moves up and down much. When attacking, it basically heads for the target and shoots until out of range. Very simple AI.

TIE Interceptor:

These are a little tougher. They tend to run faster than the Fighters, but have less vertical mobility. From what I've seen, when they're moving sideways, they can only manage about 30 degrees of vertical movement. This is their weakness. They're very tricky when attacking, they tend to swerve sideways into range, pop off two or three quick ones, and continue to swerve off the same side. Be ready for this.

TIE Bomber:

Key word here is SLOW. They run about 70-80 kps, but this can be a real pain. When you haul ass up to a wing of Bombers getting ready to dump their load on your escort, it's hard to brake quick enough to keep from overshooting. 2/3 speed works very well. Once you've matched speed, their easy targets. The Bombers are also exceptionally easy to nail on the first approach (see First Pass under Laser section).

Assault Gunboat:

These guys run about 80-90 kps, and have much greater mobility than the other TIEs. They have no problem with vertical movement and use it excessively. One thing I've noticed is they tend to bank more before turning than other ships, making it easier to predict course changes. They use lasers more than the Bombers, so stay awake.

Advanced TIE:

Nasty, nasty little buggers, seen only in the late missions of Tour 3. They have great mobility in all directions, and hardly _ever_ stop moving around. I found no major weaknesses, but by the time you see these mugs, you should be ready to take anything on. These dudes are the worst!

The bigger ships don't move much, so that's about it. An excellent way to learn about a ships movement is to take some good long camera films of heavy combat. By moving the Camera Position behind an enemy ship, you get a bird's eye view of how it moves around, and it's limits of movement.

Also remember that the Rebel fighters bank when turning side to side. This means that if you're trying to do a 180, don't go straight to one side... you'll never get there. Vertical movement is necessary when you're attempting to reach targets behind you.
Top
Part 2b: Using Lasers

I put tracking and firing under the same category because it's mandatory to learn both at once. You won't get far in X-Wing if you always run ahead of your target, stop, then shoot. In order to take ships out fast enough, you need to be able to make fast, accurate shots while constantly changing course to match your target. I can't emphasize this enough. The Proving Ground is a good place to practice your marksmanship, but combat is the only place to master both tracking and firing. Here are some basic tips for each of the Rebel Starfighters:

X-Wing:

I've think that in the X-Wing Fighter, using the dual-linked shots is best. The S-foils are so far apart, using single shots is almost useless at moderate to close ranges. Save the quad-linked firing for large targets like Freighters or Corvettes... Since you can only get two or so shots at once to land on a fighter, using four is usually a waste of energy. Torps are sparse on the X-Wing, so make 'em count.

A-Wing:

This is my favorite, fast and agile. I keep the speed pretty high unless I'm tailing a Bomber or something that's too slow. The best part of the A-Wing is the concussion missiles. They run faster and can turn tighter then the protons. They're almost as powerful and there's more of them. Can't go wrong.

Y-Wing:

Slow, but tough. The big advantage is the close proximity of the two laser cannons. When using dual-linked firing, it's really rare to see one hit and the other miss. If you need to disable something in a big hurry (an all too common occurrence in the Tours), knock its shields down with torps or lasers first, then tap on it with the ion cannons. Much faster. (also see note about Gunboats & ions in the Tips & Hints section).

Attack Tips for All Rebel Fighters:

First Pass: When you've got an incoming flight of fighters/bombers you need to take out quickly, try to do it on the first pass. This is not as hard as it sounds, especially if they're coming straight at you. Get the nearest one targeted before they're in range. When the red dot appears in front of you, center the targeting reticle as accurately as you can. As soon as you get in range and the reticle starts flashing and beeping, let go with three or four laser bursts (or a missile). There are always a few seconds to fire at them before their lasers reach you. As soon as you see the glimmer of yellow in the distance, get ready to move to avoid the incoming lasers. This long-distance attacking is a skill worth practicing. On several occasions I've been able to knock out all three TIE Bombers in a flight before they've even made the first pass.

Just remember, when using lasers, most of your attention should be spent in following your target and anticipating his moves... staying one step ahead. Firing should be an afterthought.
Top
Part 2c: Using Missiles

Missiles can be a real waste of time if you're not patient. Just because you've got a lock on the fighter you're tailing doesn't mean it's going to hit it. If you're gunning for a fighter (or one of the bombers), wait until it hesitates and is flying relatively straight away from you. This is obvious, of course, but the missiles (especially the slower torpedoes) have a hard time playing catch-up after an initial miss.

Unlike Wing Commander, once you have a target locked, you can stray away from it to some degree and the missiles will still remained locked. Once you've gotten the lock buzz going in your ears, you should be able to swerve away from the target thirty or forty degrees. Even though the buzz stops, the missiles will still find the target. This is of _great_ benefit when you're attacking a capital ship that's firing at you steadily. Once you get lock, you can still jink around a bit and avoid some of the fire while getting good shots off.

Study the dynamics of the proton torpedoes vs. the concussion missiles... they're very different. Watching some recorded missile shots helps.
Top
Part 3: Tips & Hints

This section is just for miscellaneous hints and pointers I've come up with. Some of these tactics are obvious, some aren't, so take them for what their worth.

Ion Cannons:

Like mentioned earlier, if you've got a strong bogey to disable (i.e. Corvette, Frigate), use missiles & lasers on until the shields fall, then hit it with the wimpy ions. Saves time.

The Gunboat Ploy:


You guys will love this one. There are at least three or four missions where you pilot a Y-Wing against one or more Assault Gunboat flights (among other types as well). If you find yourself getting maimed by the Gunboats then DISABLE THEM! The Assault Gunboats are the only Imperial Fighters strong enough to get disabled with ion cannons without blowing up. Once you've disabled one, use SHIFT-I to tell your wingmen to ignore it. Voila! The SOB just sits there, unable to do anything. The best part of this is, if you keep most of the disabled Gunboats around, no new ones will show up! This makes the mission just a wee-bit easier to deal with. When you've completed the mission goals, just tool around and scrape up the kills! Like shooting ducks in a barrel.

Full-Screen Notes:

Use full-screen mode! Once you've gotten used to the controls of the starfighters, there's no real reason to keep the cockpit view around. The only instrument not available at all is the missile lock indicator (the one for you). If there's a lot of missile-laden bogies out there, you might want to keep the cockpit view. Otherwise, the full-screen view gives you a much greater angle and perspective to the battle. Much easier.

Star Destroyers:

As mentioned in Tour 2, mission 10 when (and if) you attack any Star Destroyers, go for the shield generators first (the two towers on the bridge section). This is mandatory. After that, try hitting the half- sphere on the underside of the Star Destroyer, this appeared to me to be it's primary weak spot.

Occasionally you can find a "dead spot" around a Star Destroyer where you are safe from its turbolaser batteries. The only places I've found them are behind the STD, near the engine exhausts (see SCREENSHOT #2). These spots vary according to the number of other rebels in the area the STD has to deal with, but they're worth finding. After clearing out most of the escorts, I was able to take down the Intrepid with help of the dead spots.

Cloned Wingmen:

This borders on cheating, but if you find that your wingmen can't cut the protoplasm, try this one. Go into the XWING directory and make several copies of your .PLT pilot file. Call them WING1.PLT, WING2.PLT, etc. or another whatever name you want. Then when you're at the flight prep room (the one with the pilot's mug shots), assign the generic pilots to the other flights in the mission. Because they are have your skills, the computer will do its best to emulate your statistics, making your wingmen MUCH more effective. Seriously, it makes a big improvement. Don't forget to update their .PLT's occassionally as your skills grow.

Shield Tips:

Learn how to manage your shields. This is more important than laser and engine management put together. My general rule: every time I get hit more than two or three times (or once with a missile) I hit "S" three times quickly. This evens out your fore and aft shields, helping to keep any "weak spots" out. After awhile you'll be able to guess pretty accurately how your shields are holding up without looking, even from full-screen mode. It's a pretty obvious tip, but definitely make a habit of it if you're a beginner.

If you've got any dead time in a mission at all (like waiting for an escort or another enemy wing to appear), throw all the power you can into charging your shields. Every spare moment should be spent doing this... never know when you'll need it. And don't forget... you can hit ['] to get extra shield boosts from your laser reserves in dire situations.

Train, Train, Train:

Seriously, if you plan to advance out of mediocrity in X-Wing, you must train. Go through ALL of the Proving Grounds (see Appendix), get your badges, and move on to the Historical Missions. These are invaluable in teaching you the hundred aspects of combat fighting.
Top
Appendix: Pilot Proving Grounds

The Maze Made Simple

When I started doing the maze, I was so bad I thought I would never get my flight badges. I was wrong.... As of this writing, I have made it to level 10 in all 3 starfighters. I have learned some tactics that should help everyone.

1.) You can make it thru all levels with your speed set to 70-80 KPS. Energy can be reconfigured around this "base". If you can go faster, that is of course better.

2.) Set your shields to 1 notch below normal charging. Use the ['] to shift power from lasers shields as needed. Lasers should be set to increased charging or full charging.

3.) Missing one of the gates is NOT a disaster. You may even be able to miss 2 of them and still complete the level.

4.) Crashing into a platform is much preferable to missing a gate . I have crashed many times and still completed levels. When you crash, use that time to blast the laser boxes on that platform. Coming to a complete stop (crashing) and blasting the boxes while I was accelerating, was much better than missing a gate.

5.) On levels 1-7 set your shields to double front. Not much will shoot at you from behind on these levels.

6.) Any time saved thru one level will not be added to the time alotted on the next level. Finishing a level with more time remaining will affect your score though.

7.) For the higher levels, work on destroying the boxes on a platform at the greatest distance possible. As you exit one platform start targeting the next platforms' boxes.

You should keep ALL this in mind as you fly the maze. Level 3 is by far the hardest. You only have 3 minutes, forcing you to blast more boxes than you might otherwise. (Each laser box blasted adds 2 seconds) When I completed level 3 for the X-wing, I had 15 seconds left, with 13 gates to go. I thought this was impossible. All of these final platforms are loaded with boxes. I shot enough of them to keep my time at 15 seconds; and I completed this level. It was a pretty bizarre feeling. I actually shot enough boxes so the warning beeper stopped! Once you get past level 3, concentrate on flying cleanly thru all the gates. Blast boxes if you can, as they now shoot at you more accurately. You don't need to blast them for time, as much as to prevent them from draining your shields. You will now get from 5.5 to 4.5 minutes per level.

I noticed some things that were particular to the different starfighers.

X-Wing: The lasers are spaced just the right distance apart. This allows you to fly right at a gate, and blast both boxes without much correcting.

Y-Wing: Much more power is able to be transferred to the shields. This is due to the ION guns storing energy. ION guns were not that effective for shooting boxes.

A-Wing: Much of each level can be completed with a speed over 100 KPS. This gives much less time to target and destroy boxes. Reducing your speed to 80-90 KPS gives you more time to destroy boxes. Aiming in the A-wing is more difficult than with the other starfighters. The boxes pretty much have to be in the middle of the targeting reticle.

Completing level 8 is how you get your flight badge. These have laser boxes behind the gates. They shoot at you after you fly thru the gate. These can be destroyed by shooting thru the base of the gate before you fly thru. After all, the gates are holographic projections. Destroying these boxes is not a problem, since you are using the FORCE anyway!
Top
All trademarks herein are acknowledged as the property of their respective owners. Star Wars is a registered trademark of © Lucasfilm Ltd.
Star Wars and all related names are all registered trademarks of © LucasArts Entertainment Company LEC. © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM or ® as indicated.
Website Established November 1999
Webpage Design 1999 by Tony Denton.