X-wing Upgrade Guide- Astromechs

X-wing is a game that has been around for a few years now. The number of ships, pilots and upgrades can become a little overwhelming for those that are new or infrequent players. So today we’re going to start going through all the different upgrade types and giving some quick points on how best to use them. For each we’re going to give the following information:

  • Ranking– We’re going to rank each card within an upgrade slot. This is an imperfect ranking as the usefulness of any card is mostly determined by how and where you use it. But it’s an easy number to grasp and can serve as a starting point when trying to pick your upgrades.
  • Combos– What are the best pilots, ships or upgrades to pair with this card

Other Guides

To start out our review of the different upgrade types we’re going to go to the beginning of the alphabet and take a l0ok at Astromechs.

Ships with an Astromech Slot


  • ARC-170
  • E-Wing
  • Sheathipede Shuttle
  • T-70 X-Wing
  • X-Wing
  • Y-Wing

Ranked List

  1. R2-D2
  2. R3-A2
  3. R5-P9
  4. BB-8
  5. R2 Astromech
  6. M9-G8
  7. R2-D6
  8. Targeting Astromech
  9. R5-X3
  10. R4-D6
  11. R5 Astromech
  12. R7-T1
  13. R5-K6
  14. R7 Astromech
  15. R5-D8
  16. R3 Astromech
  17. R2-F2

BB-8 (TFA Core)

When you reveal a green maneuver, you may perform a free barrel roll action.

  • Ranking– 4
  • Combos
    • Ship- T-70 X-wing or ARC-170
      • Despite BB-8 being Poe’s astromech the greater number of green maneuvers on an ARC make it a good choice to equip BB-8. However, T-70’s can boost allowing a ship to barrel roll and boost in the same round giving you lots of choices on where to end up.
    • Pilot- Norra Wexley
      • Because Norra really wants to use PTL to make use of her pilot ability, being able to gain a barrel roll and not be stressed at the end really benefits her a lot.
    • Push the Limits
      • Since BB-8 only happens on green maneuvers and triggers before you move, you can use him to barrel roll, use PTL to take a regular action and gain a stress. Then when you move you’ll clear your newly acquired stress, allowing you to then take your regularly granted action for a total of three actions in a round.
    • Black Leader
      • You need to boost or barrel roll to get a benefit from the title so BB-8 giving you a free one really helps in triggering it.

M9-G8 (Heroes of the Resistance Expansion)

When a ship you have locked is attacking, you may choose 1 attack die. The attacker must reroll that die.

You can acquire target locks on other friendly ships.

  • Ranking– 6
    • Even though this card is unreleased I’ve ranked it pretty high. If you use it on an ally you are giving them Predator. If you use on an enemy you are giving anyone that ship fires on limited Zuckuss (crew) without the stress. There’s a lot of benefit there.
  • Combos
    • Jess Pava (T-70 X-wing)
      • The obvious choice since she gains rerolls just by being close to allies meaning she doesn’t need a target lock herself.
    • Tarn Mison (T-65 X-wing)
      • Tarn would often get paired with an R7 but M9-G8 is leaps and bounds better. Every time he gets attacked, his ability gives him a TL on his attack. With M9 he can always force a reroll when he’s attacked.
    • Weapons Engineer
      • There is no built-in limit to M9-G8 so the more target locks you have the more times you can use it. With a weapons engineer you can both buff an ally and debuff an enemy.

R2 Astromech (Y-wing Expansion)

You may treat all 1- and 2-speed maneuvers as green maneuvers.

  • Ranking– 5
    • This is a nice cheap astromech. Gaining more green maneuvers can help anyone.
  • Combos
    • Push the Limits
      • Because of the stress from PTL if you have more green maneuvers you have more choices for post use maneuvers. No ships with an astromech slot have a native hard green turn. But add in R2 Astromech and suddenly they’re just as flexible as an Interceptor.
    • Y-wings
      • Y-wings natively only get straight 1 and 2 maneuvers as green. They gain the most from an R2 Astromech as they gain four green maneuvers. There’s a reason the card comes in their pack.

R2-D2 (Original Core)

After executing a green maneuver, you may recover 1 shield (up to your shield value).

  • Ranking– 1
    • Regenerating shields is always useful. And because it’s automatic just from taking a green you can never be denied that shield (unless you get ioned).
  • Combos
    • Nien Nunb
      • R2-D2 would love to get paired with an R2 Astromech or an Unhinged Astromech but those are upgrade slot pairs we’re never going to see. However, we now have crew + astromech so Nien Nunb can give two additional greens to an ARC (likewise erasing one of it’s reds) making R2-D2 trigger much more often.

R2-D6 (Rebel Transport)

Your upgrade bar gains the Elite Pilot Talent  upgrade icon.

You cannot equip this upgrade if you already have an Elite Pilot Talent upgrade icon or if your pilot skill value is “2” or lower.

  • Ranking– 7
    • There are a lot of astromech carrying ships that don’t have an EPT slot.  All of the Rebel Y-wings for example. If you really have an EPT you want now you can take it.
  • Combos
    • Integrated Astromech
      • First, all astromechs pair well with Integrated Astromech. It’s essentially a free shield upgrade if you aren’t planning on using a modification. However, R2-D6 gains even more utility than the others because you don’t care if he gets discarded. The EPT does not go with him when he’s discarded so you lose nothing when you trigger Integrated.

R2-F2 (Original Core)

Action: Increase your agility value by 1 until the end of this game round.

  • Ranking– 17
    • This astromech sounds like it should be awesome. Extra agility is great as it can apply to every attack made against you, unlike Stealth Device which can fail so easily. However, it costs you an action and a wise opponent will shoot someone else, happy to let you waste your action.  If it cost a point less or cost a point more but didn’t cost an action I’d like it more.
  • Combos
    • Biggs Darklighter (T-65 X-wing)
      • Everyone has to shoot at Biggs so you know you’re going to use that extra die.
    • Etahn Abaht (E-wing)
      • If you’re building a squadron to make good use of Etahn’s ability, you’ll want to keep her alive as long as possible. Gaining a fourth green die can go a long way here. And since Etahn can also equip a Fire Control System she might still get to modify attack dice meaning the lost action doesn’t hurt as much.

R3-A2 (Rebel Transport)

When you declare the target of your attack, if the defender is inside your firing arc, you may receive 1 stress token to cause the defender to receive 1 stress token.

  • Ranking– 2
    • This astromech is ranked so high because just how useful being able to stress an opponent can be. It is the easiest way to deliver stress because the only restriction is that you shoot at them in your arc. That does mean no stress from a Y-wing’s turret but Y-wings still love it.
  • Combos
    • Braylen Stramm (ARC-170)
      • Braylen is the new standard R3-A2 carrier because he has two arcs to shoot from and his ability helps him clear the stress he gets.
    • BTL-A4 (Y-wing title)
      • The original gold standard R3-A2 carrier any Y-wing with the title could fire twice in a round, therefore delivering two stress to a target. One stress is annoying but two can be crippling.
    • Nien Nunb (T-70 X-wing)
      • Because his ability allows him to remove stress if he has a target at range 1 in arc he can safely dish out the stress and get nothing in return.
    • Hobbie Klivian (T-65 X-wing)
      • If Hobbie has a target lock on his target he can give it a stress and then spend his target lock to remove the one he got.

R3 Astromech (ARC-170 Expansion)

Once per round, when attacking with a primary weapon, you may cancel 1 of your Focus results during the “Modify Attack Dice” step to assign 1 evade token to your ship.

  • Ranking– 16
    • If this astromech were a point cheaper it would be more useful. Or if it worked on secondary weapons. TLT carriers would love this upgrade. But at two points it’s pretty expensive for what it does. It is in a weird position of being a generic astromech that’s only really useful on ace pilots. If you’re low pilot skill then by the time you fire the evade might not do you any good.
  • Combos
    • Lonewolf
      • Because Lonewolf only lets you reroll blank dice, if you don’t have a focus token R3 can take advantage of that useless focus result.
    • Juke
      • The one place R3 Astromech can be useful for both offense and defense is if you have Juke. You give up a focus result on your attack to force your opponent to turn an evade into a focus on their defense.
    • Comm Relay
      • If you take Comm Relay then the evade you gain doesn’t ever go to waste. If you’re low pilot skill you’ll have that evade around for next round.

R4-D6 (Rebel Transport)

When you are hit by an attack and there are at least 3 uncanceled Hit results, you may choose to cancel those results until there are 2 remaining. For each result canceled this way, receive 1 stress token.

  • Ranking– 10
    • This astromech will trigger far less often than you’d think. Because it doesn’t affect Crits it is not often that you get hit by 3+ regular hits. But it is only one point so makes for a nice cheap droid to slot if you’re taking Integrated Astromech.
  • Combos
    • Biggs Darklighter
      • Again, because Biggs is everyone’s favorite target the longer he can stay alive the better. With R4-D6 he has a little better chance of staying alive for more then two attacks.

R5 Astromech (X-wing Expansion)

During the End phase, you may choose 1 of your faceup Damage cards with the Ship trait and flip it facedown.

  • Ranking– 11
    • This astromech isn’t bad per se, but it usually doesn’t come into play all that often.  X-wings don’t have a lot of health so once they are taking damage cards they’re already in trouble. If the first card dealt is a Direct Hit and they don’t get shot again, R5 can take them from one health back to two. But it is cheap so not a bad choice if you just want Integrated Astromech.
  • Combos
    • Determination
      • With Determination you can ignore Crits with the “Pilot” trait on them. With R5 all the others get flipped down at the end of the round.
    • Y-wings
      • With five hull they have will likely take some Crits and still be alive at the end of a round, giving R5 more time to trigger. To bad they can’t also take Determination.

R5-D8 (Y-wing Expansion)

Action: Roll 1 defense die. On an Evade or Focus result, discard 1 of your facedown Damage cards.

  • Ranking– 15
    • This is the only way to heal hull damage so you’d think it would be higher up the usefulness list. Unfortunately, it’s just too expensive. Three points, costs an action and has only a 62.5% chance of triggering.
  • Combos
    • R2-D2 (Crew)
      • With R2-D2 crew onboard an ARC-170 you could potentially heal hull and a shield every round.
    • Jek Porkins (T-65 X-wing)
      • Porkins’ pilot ability allows him to ignore stress in exchange for a chance at a damage card. With R5-D8 onboard he can use his ability more often since he has a chance to discard the damage card he receives.
    • Y-wings
      • With five hull they have the greatest chance of gaining damage cards and still being alive.

R5-K6 (X-wing Expansion)

After spending your target lock, roll 1 defense die. On a result, immediately acquire a target lock on that same ship. You cannot spend this target lock during this attack.

  • Ranking– 13
    • This isn’t a bad droid really. It’s a free chance to reacquire a target lock so you’ll have it next round. It only really loses appeal when you see that Fire Control System works better and costs the same number of points.
  • Combos
    • Dutch Vander (Y-wing)
      • Because Dutch’s ability triggers every time he acquires a target lock, the more times he can do that in a round the better. If he’s flying with other ships that are lower PS than him, he can acquire one with an action, give an ally a TL, then potentially give another ally a TL during the combat phase but before they shoot.
    • Shara Bey (ARC-170)
      • Shara is always reluctant to spend her own target locks because she wants to help her allies. But with R5-K6 she can use her own lock and potentially still have one for an ally to use.

R5-P9 (Rebel Transport)

At the end of the Combat phase, you may spend 1 of your focus tokens to recover 1 shield (up to your shield value).

  • Ranking– 3
    • Another ability that regenerates shields, R5-P9 pales in comparison to R2-D2. However, since only one ship can take R2-D2, R5-P9 allows you to have two shield regenerating ships in the same squad. If you can force your opponent to split their fire this can be amazing.
  • Combos
    • Poe Dameron (T-70 X-wing)
      • Poe doesn’t like to spend his focus tokens. He is the best pilot to make use of R5-P9 because of this as he is more likely to still have a focus token to use at the end of the round.
    • Recon Specialist
      • Gaining two focus tokens means more chance of triggering the shield regeneration.
    • Kyle Katarn (Crew)
      • Another way to potentially gain multiple focus tokens.

R5-X3 (TFA Core)

Before you reveal your maneuver, you may discard this card to ignore obstacles until the end of the round.

  • Ranking– 9
    • Facing Ketsu or a ship with tractor beam? No worries, sit yourself right next to an asteroid and pop R5-X3. It’s also great for escaping through a set of dense asteroids. Because it’s cheap any ship can really find a use.
  • Combos
    • Autothrusters
      • While not a direct interaction, R5-X3 is the only astromech that doesn’t like Integrated Astromech. So instead pop Autothrusters on your T-70 without feeling like you’re missing out on a free health.

R7 Astromech (E-wing Expansion)

Once per round when defending, if you have a target lock on the attacker, you may spend the target lock to choose any or all attack dice. The attacker must reroll the chosen dice.

  • Ranking– 14
    • This is another case of potential losing to opportunity cost. By itself, R7 isn’t very good. There are a few ways to combo it for uses.
  • Combos
    • Predator/Lonewolf/M9-G8 (on ally)
      • If you have offensive rerolls from another source you are free to dedicate your target locks to defense.
    • Tarn Mison
      • Tarn loves R7. Because he gains a target lock anytime someone shoots him, he’ll always have the target lock on his attacker to use at the opportune time.

R7-T1 (E-wing Expansion)

Action: Choose an enemy ship at Range 1-2. If you are inside that ship’s firing arc, you may acquire a target lock on that ship. Then, you may perform a free boost action.

  • Ranking– 12
    • An often over locked astromech, R7-T1 is a little expensive for what he does. It’s really the requirement to be inside the target’s firing arc that is difficult. If you’re in someone’s arc, you want to boost to get out of arc which makes the target lock you acquire not as useful for most ships.
  • Combos
    • Dutch Vander (Y-wing)
      • Dutch can make good use of this droid. Because of the turret on Y-wings he can really benefit from the in enemies’ arc requirement. If they have him in arc, he can make full use of the boost to get out of arc. Then he gets a target lock he can use thanks to his turret. Then he gives someone else a target lock.
    • Blue Ace (T-70 X-wing)
      • Blue Ace has the unique ability to make hard turns when he boosts. That means he has a better chance of boosting, getting out of someones arc and keeping them in his arc than most other ships. R7-T1 allows him to use his special boosts more often without sacrificing offense.

Targeting Astromech (T-70 X-wing Expansion)

After you execute a red maneuver, you may acquire a target lock.

  • Ranking– 8
    • This is a nice generic astromech if you have two points to spend. It won’t trigger all the time but it makes those K-turns and T-rolls a lot less onerous.
  • Combos
    • Stay on Target
      • Because SoT makes any of your maneuvers red with Targeting Astromech you can now change your maneuver and still get dice modification.
    • Hobbie Klivian
      • Hobbie loves this droid. Because he clears his stress when he acquires a target lock, he essentially gains white K-turns.
    • Pattern Analyzers
      • Targeting astromech gives you a TL, Pattern Analyzers let you take your regular action before getting the stress, so the combo let’s you TL/Focus any time you take a red maneuver.
    • Y-Wing
      • The Y-wing has a lot of red maneuver so it can get the benefit more often than X-wings or E-wings.
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Wayne Basta

Wayne Basta

Editor-in-Chief at d20 Radio
Wayne is the managing editor of d20 Radio's Gaming Blog. He also occasionally writes books.
Wayne Basta

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