Conventional wisdom in X-Wing is that highly maneuverable ships (especially those with 1 hard turns, and the Barrel Roll action) like tight rock placements, while less maneuverable ships prefer room to breathe.
Having played north of 100 tournament games with Han and Jake, I’ve reached a completely different conclusion. Jake (and his Imperial cousin Soontir) loves to have rocks fairly spaced out from each other. I don’t want lanes that are easy for the enemy to K-turn in, but I don’t want a very tight cluster of obstacles either.
This is because there is something far more important to me than navigating around obstacles: Arc Dodging.
Given a big open space, Jake and Soontir almost always have some excellent movement options. They can use both Boost and Barrel roll (and still have a Focus) to move out of arc entirely, push an attack to Range 3 for a bonus die and autothrusters, move in for a Range 1 attack on an enemy, or close into a TLT or HLC Outrider donut hole.
Obstacles serve to severely limit these ships’ options. Jake especially loses his effectiveness when he can’t close into Range 1 of the target.
I think it helps to look at maneuverability in terms of squad points. There’s some number of points being used to give these ships their arc dodging ability, and that comes in their dials, actions, and high pilot skill. Denying them the ability to reposition is like turning them into a generic pilot. I love flying Han and Jake, but there’s no way I’m bringing Han and a single Green squadron pilot to a tournament. And that really is what it’s like to get your actions limited. I can’t get the free movement, so I have no pilot ability, can’t reposition so higher pilot skill doesn’t help, can’t close to Range 1 to fire my rockets — it’s like I have 8 points of upgrades that just disappeared.
And then there’s the dials. Honestly, as far as Jake and Soontir are concerned, the 1 hard turn doesn’t exist (with rare exception). They’re limited to green maneuvers, and the rocks can really help you to get them in a place with no good moves. A close clump of rocks can easily make it such that you only need to block up one space to force a bump, or have a single ship that can threaten to bump in multiple locations.
In short, all those ships that you may think of as loving a close clump of rocks, they have to the most to potentially lose by flying among them. Arc dodging is easy. Rock dodging is easy. Doing both is tough. To win against these ships, give yourself the most opportunities to force a mistake by your opponent.