If you’ve dipped into any X-Wing chatter in the past week or so you will have come across a certain aspect of the game; fortressing. Fortressing is where a player sets up their squad so that they will not move with certain maneuvers, prolonging the time before engagement.
Now, I definitely have my own opinions on it but I’m not sharing them here and it isn’t what this is for. What this is for is to briefly understand why a player would choose to do it and then discuss how to play against it.
As you all know by now I’m not the greatest player (a shock I know) but I know people that are. So I asked Oli Pocknell and Julian Hood their thoughts on this and I’ll share them below.
Why do players fortress?
Normally it’s because they have a jousting list that is very bad at maneuvering and doesn’t want to play the ‘ace’ game. So instead, they engineer it so the other player has to come to them.
How do you counter a fortress?
There are two ways to beat a fortress.
1. Beat it in list building. Have a list that will out joust the fortress every time, therefore there is no point in the fortress and your opponent needs to find another tactic to win so probably won’t fortress in the first place
2. Bait. People will break the fortress if they think they have a good engagement, so you need to bait with one ship (normally in an aces list) and put it in a position where your opponent THINKS they can get a good engagement on it. Then you escape and leverage the weakness that is being behind their list. This is hard to do and takes practice, which is why people are moaning; because the reality is they don’t understand this is an option and hate losing to a fortress that they perceive is unbeatable.
The real problem is when your opponent also understands that this is what you are trying to do. It makes your life a lot more difficult.
There is technically a third way to beat a fortress; engage in the final turn and half one of your opponent’s ships (classic Oli!). This is risky but possible if you are patient and your range control is on point. Ideally, you want to set it up that all of your ships are in range of only one of theirs.
It’s worth noting that HMP and Starvipers can make a kind of mobile fortress by stalling in a corner and pointing arcs at you. You can apply all of these tactics to the mobile fortress too.
Oli’s semi-final against Mitchell Raab is a good example of him dealing with a mobile fortress. You can watch that here.
Good players with a fortress understand when to break out of it to get a good engagement. The onus is on you to catch them out and make the wrong call; then the fortress is broken and the game can start. If you can shoot a portion of their list with all of yours you’re gonna do okay. Suggestion: pick four ships that joust with double mods. You can do this with any faction. Stalling is legit but should be a temporary measure to improve the game state, not a be-all-end-all tactic.
A big thanks to Oli and Jules for chatting with me about this. It’s not supposed to be exhaustive by any means but these are well-known players in the community and know what they’re talking about. It’s been a hot topic and I’m sure it will come up again. Just know there are things you can do if you think you might encounter it.