Having been unable to come up with a satisfactory definition of an ace when discussing overlooked aces in a recent podcast, two weeks ago we put out a survey polling what you, the X-Wing community considered an “ace”. To forgo some of the hemming and hawing, we limited the scope to the initiative 5 and 6 pilots with no upgrades attached. Certainly, upgrades can make a pilot an ace, but all the “what if this pilot took this upgrade” complicates the question considerably. So we chose a simple question, “Without upgrades, are these pilots aces?”
We received 251 responses answering yes or no. In some cases, survey responders did not answer a question or didn’t fill out the entire questionnaire, so the numbers don’t often add up to 251 (typically closer to the 240 mark). 240 responses still seems a large enough pool to gauge the beliefs of the community. Anything greater than 50% “yes” votes will be considered an ace, obviously making anything less than 50% not an ace. So without further ado, let’s get to the data. (The link to the full data is at the end of the blog.)
Despite having only six ships currently, the First Order has 9 total I5 and I6 pilots. Of those 9 pilots, 4 of them were voted aces. To no one’s surprise, Kylo takes top dog at 240 “yes” votes, opposing 3 votes from people that are clearly crazy. Notably two I6 pilots, Quickdraw and Midnight, are not aces, while their First Edition counterparts would have likely leaned more towards ace than their Second Edition versions.
Imperial Aces has been an X-Wing archetype for longer than most have played the game, so there is no surprise that the Empire has a decent contingent of pilots to “ace” with. Most notably, Ace of Legend Soontir Fel holds true to his nickname, being the only pilot in this questionnaire to receive unanimous “yes” votes. Grand Inquisitor interestingly is considered more of an ace than Whisper and even the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader. Redline is one of the cases where the upgrades truly make the pilot. Without munitions or Advanced Sensors, we feel he really falters in the ace department, and the community agreed.
High initiative, double reposition Jedi, even without their configurations, are still considered aces. Anakin piloting the Y-Wing proves that simply having a high initiative and passive mods is not what makes an ace. The only non-Jedi to made the grade is unsurprisingly Ric Olie. And also to no one’s surprise, Odd Ball is not an ace.
With so few high initiative pilots, Separatists are barely worth making a chart for. Curiously, Ensare-less Sun Fac makes the grade, but Ensnare-less Berwer Kret does not, proving that initiative 6 without an ability means something to folks. Despite having force for passive mods, access to reposition, and a decent dial, Maul does not qualify. This will be a trend that continues for large based ships.
The Rebels see the lion’s share of initiative 5 and 6 pilots at 16, but they falter at providing aces at only 3 pilots. The X-Wing community does not have a lot of faith in the ace-iness of the Rebellion’s high initiative pilots, with Luke receiving the highest vote at 62%. None of the YT-1300 pilots were voted to be aces, despite having access to double mods, passive mods, and reposition. Han Solo came the closest with 44.8% of respondents affirming his ace-iness while 55.2% said “no”. Corran Horn and Wedge Antilles eke out ace ratings both with right around 54% “yes” votes.
Known for their cheap initiative 5 pilots, Resistance can count a cool 50% of their high initiative pilots as aces. Every RZ-2 A-Wing pilot makes the grade, even without the normally stapled on upgrades of Heroic and Advanced Optics. Nien Numb makes it, just barely, into ace territory with 53.3% “yes” votes, despite lacking his Pattern Analyzer upgrade. Curiously, Ello Asty does not make it despite being very similar to Nien when he doesn’t have Pattern Analyzer. And, much like Rebels, the Falcon pilots do not make the cut, again affirming that double mods, passive mods, and reposition do not make an ace on a big base ship.
Scum and Villainy
No surprises in Scum and Villainy for who is an ace and who isn’t. Fearless-less Fenn Rau and Sensor-less Guri make the grade. Old Teroch also qualifies as an ace to many, curiously receiving a full 20% more votes than Boba Fett. Boba got fewer than expected “yes” votes at 58.8% perhaps because he is missing his tool belt full of upgrades, but he still qualifies himself as the only non-small-base ace pilot. Similar to Redline, Dengar might have qualified if he had upgrades, but that still seems unlikely considering no other large base is considered an ace.
Total Ace Counts
Utilizing the ratings generated by you fine folks, we can see that while the First Order, the Rebel Alliance, and Scum and Villainy all have three initiative 6 pilots, only the Galactic Empire has two aces, Vader and Soontir. Every other faction only has 1 I6 ace. And while Rebels again boast a strong count of initiative 5 pilots at a count of 13, the Empire and the Resistance beat them out with 4 aces. Naturally, this means that the Empire fields the most aces at 6 total pilots. The Separatists sit at the bottom of the chart putting forward the worst numbers in every category.
Average Ace Cost
While Empire may have boasted the most aces, they fall into the middle of the pack when we look at their pricing. Excluding the outlier that is the Separatists, the First Order has the cheapest average I6 cost, and share the cheapest average I6 ace cost with Rebels as both Major Vonreg and Wedge Antilles sit at a 55 point cost. Resistance has the highest I6 cost with Poe and Han averaging out to 65 points, and Scum taking the highest I6 ace cost at 68 points for Fenn Rau.
Cheapest average I5 pilots goes to the Republic with Odd Ball and configure-less Jedi creating a low average of 44 points. Cheapest average I5 aces, however, goes to the Resistance rounding out to the same 44 points. Rebels on average pay the most for I5 pilots, but Scum again takes the dubious honor of paying the most for I5 aces at 69 points. Lowest total average ace cost goes to Resistance at 49 points, and Scum, having taken both the highest I6 and highest I5 ace average, rounds up to paying 69 points for an ace.
What Can We Learn
Of the 70 high initiative pilots in the game, only 26 are aces. It is plain to see that base size matters the most when invalidating an ace. If a pilot is a large base, it is not an ace in the community’s mind. Of the five medium base pilots, only Boba Fett is considered an ace. The other 25 aces are small base pilots.
Of the 26 ace pilots, all of them have access to reposition. Boba Fett is the only pilot lacking the barrel roll action if S-Foils were considered baked in for Poe. The S-foils do make some of these conclusions a little muddled for the T-70 and T-65 pilots, since we didn’t think to specify whether they counted as an upgrade or not.
The most potent identifier for separating small/medium base pilots into aces and non-aces is the boost action. Only Duchess, Whisper, Darth Vader, and Sun Fac lack the boost action if Luke and Wedge get the same S-foil treatment as Poe. Duchess, Whisper, and Sun Fac all have some form of non-boost forward reposition that they can use, however. With those considerations, only Vader has no forward reposition capability amongst the aces. The only small/medium base pilots from the non-aces with access to boost are Redline, Ello Asty, and Jan Ors. Thane Kyrell can have access to boost with S-foils, and Berwer Kret has the same pseudo-boost as Sun Fac. This means of the 57 non-large-base pilots, only 5 with boost actions (or boost-like reposition) are not aces in the community’s mind.
With minor exceptions, it seems that double reposition followed by initiative 6 factors greatly in how much people regard you as an ace. Fenn Rau is the only ace in the top half of the ace chart without double reposition (if we count Guri’s bendy barrel roll, Whisper’s decloak, and Duchess’s on/off-switch ailerons as double reposition). Vader and Sun Fac use their I6 to sit on top of the majority of the single reposition ships, also beating out a few double reposition aces.
So what other observations do you see? Are there any oddities or abnormalities that stand out to you? Do you agree that there are no large base aces? Did I goof any of the numbers anywhere? For you nerds out there, here is the link to the google sheet with the charts on one tab and all the responses on the second tab.
For more Midwest Scrub content, you can also find us on our podcast: The Midwest Scrubcast. A more conversational take on X-Wing topics, featuring all the same scrubs, but in your ears!
If you enjoy our content, like and follow us on the Midwest Scrub Facebook Page to keep up with the latest. To support us even further, you could head to our Patreon page, but of course we can’t recommend it in these tough times. Existing patrons who are still with us, a big thank you, and also, you really shouldn’t feel obliged!
For other Arch Alliance content, check out Arch Alliance’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Biophysical’s Starfighter Mafia blog. You’re welcome to reach out to Arch Alliance X-Wing on Facebook if you want to find a virtual game!