Here's a strategy article I wrote with the help of Greg Cisko. It will
be appearing in an upcoming issue of Game Bytes, but I thought it would
do good on the net too. Let us know what you think!
- Adam Pletcher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Greg Cisko (email@example.com)
X-WING COMBAT STRATEGY v1.0
by Adam Pletcher
Appendix by Greg Cisko
Table of Contents
Part 1: Evasion
Section 1A: Evading Lasers
Section 1B: Evading Missiles
Part 2: Attacking
Section 2A: Tracking
Section 2B: Using Lasers
Section 2C: Using Missiles
Part 3: Tips & Hints
Appendix: Pilot Proving Grounds:
The Maze Made Simple
>> PART 1: Evasion <<
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.
Section 1A: Evading Lasers
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
Section 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
>> PART 2: Attacking <<
Section 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
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
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
Section 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:
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.
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.
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.
Section 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.
>> 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
- 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
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.
>> APPENDIX: Pilot Proving Grounds <<
by Greg Cisko
X-Wing 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, (3/20/93) 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
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!
This article Copyright (C) 1993 by Adam Pletcher
Appendix Copyright (C) 1993 by Greg Cisko
screenshots Copyright (C) 1993 by LucasArts
This article and its contents may be distributed freely but please
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