Category: Editorial Content

X-Wing: Wave IV – Z-95 Headhunter Review

Oh the Imperials have it so good with their 12 point Pilot Skill 1 Ship do they?  Let me introduce you to the new bottom of the Rebel Barrel…

Now this is the Rebel ship that I was most looking forward to seeing in Wave 4, so much so that I sort of talked about it already in my earlier article talking about potential new threats to the TIE swarm.

I really like what the Z-95 brings to the table.  Its a really nice looking Ship in my opinion and the pack is loaded with upgrades that you will want to get your hands on.

The Ships stats are fairly basic, 2’s across the board so compering it to the Tie Fighter it loses 1 Evade and 1 Hull but gains 2 shields.  Over all I would consider this a drop in Survivability as the Evade dice would help you against every attack where as the extra hit point overall only helps once. It is however, more resistant to Critical Hits just by having shields.

Upgrade and Ability wise it is fairly bare too, with just a Missile upgrade available and Target Lock and Focus for actions.

The Manoeuvre Dial again, is just OK.  Nothing too amazing but nothing that is glaringly bad.  It can get you where you need to be but it’s not doing it in style importantly it keeps all the 2’s and all the 3’s including the hard turns.

In addition to the nice and cheap Bandit Squadron Pilot shown above you get.

 So your basic 12 Bandit comes in at pilot skill 1, the Tala cost 13 points and is Pilot Skill 4 with a jump to 17 points for Blount at Pilot Skill 6 and finally Cracken at a mighty 19 points for Pilot Skill 8.  Astute readers will have noticed that if we keep the comparison to the TIE fighters going the 12 point option has 1 pilot Skill on the Academy Pilot and the 13 point option has 1 point of pilot skill on the Obsidian Squadron Pilot.  This means that if you do an 8 HeadHunter Swarm and face off against an equal number of ties you will be shooting first so this slightly off sets the lower survivability of each ship.

Lieutenant Blount has had a lot of chatter as his card text is fairly good in the right circumstance.
When attacking, the defender is hit by your attack, even if he does not suffer any damage.
The has quite a few interactions worth noting, firstly he pops Stealth Devices as the defender counts as being hit by an attack.  Secondly if you give him Ion Missiles they always do their one point of damage and inflict their two Ion tokens and his third interaction is with Assault Missiles where they will always pop to do the splash damage even if no damage is caused to the target.

Airen Cracken’s ability is also very nice.
After you perform an attack you may choose another friendly ship at Range 1.  That ship may perform 1 free action.
This is better than Squad Leader as it still allows Cracken his own action whilst still buffing your Squadron.  With Craken being pilot Skill 8 he should be attacking early in the turn giving the opportunity for early Target Lock/Focus attacks.

The two named pilots are the only access to an Elite Pilot Talent for the Z-95 though so their already higher cost can easily increase whilst not rely getting any more survivable.

In addition to the Ship it’s self and Pilot’s you get five rather nice upgrade cards.

First the two new Elite Pilot Skills that come in the pack are Decoy and Wingman both cost 2 Squad Points and are quite interesting.  Decoy is sort of like Swarm Tactics but has a range of Range band 1 or 2 rather than just Range 1, it does only swap Pilot Skill rather than passing it along the chain but this can be used to fire later in the phase if so desired.

Wingman is a little bit of a mixed bag too, removing Stress is good but removing it at the start of the combat phase is a little harder to take full advantage of as if you incurred it through movement you will still have lost your action.  It is handy with Cracken or other Attack based card text that pass on free actions and will keep your clear for movement the turn after though.

The other cards in the pack all relate to the Missile upgrade.

Assault Missiles we have seen before and are a solid choice not only against a Swarm but against a Biggs based list or anything else that revolves around being packed around a range band one focal point.

The Ion Pulse Missile is new and becomes the cheeps missile option at only 3 Squad Points.  Range Band 2-3 is fairly standard as is its 3 attack dice for an Ion Weapon.  It does however add two Ion tokens to a target allowing you to ion a Large ship in one shot. (Remember that the Ion tokens are wiped after one turn so it will not carry over on a small ship.)

Munitions Failsafe is an interesting Modification that interacts with both Missiles and Torpedoes and only costs 1 point.  If you miss with your attack than you do not discard the Ordinance card.  This (for me anyway) goes a long way toward balancing out the Ordinance as it can be expensive for a one shot weapon that does not always have the effect on the game you would hope. (Please don’t take it on Blount though….)  I can see it having the same effect on the game as the Gunner or Luke upgrade where people will try to let one hit through so that the effect does not kick in.  For this reason I like it most with either Assault Missiles or the Ion Pulse Missiles as they have effects that trigger off hits and so if they do let the one damage through than their effects still work.  Another nice interaction is with Flechette Torpedoes as they the only require an attack to be made and for the target to have 3 or less Hull so even if you miss and keep the Torpedo through Munitions Failsafe you still add the stress to the target.

How does all this fit together in a list then?
Well I am considering the two following builds;

Control List

Gold Squadron Pilot (25)
Y-Wing (18), Flechette Torpedo (2), Proton Torpedoes (4), Munitions Failsafe (1)

Gold Squadron Pilot (25)
Y-Wing (18), Flechette Torpedo (2), Proton Torpedoes (4), Munitions Failsafe (1)

Lieutenant Blount (20)
Z-95 Headhunter (17), Ion Pulse Missiles (3)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (15)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Ion Pulse Missiles (3)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (15)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Ion Pulse Missiles (3)

100 Points

This list is designed to give you an early advantage by controlling the movement of a priority target early allowing you to position to remove it in the subsequent turns.  Blount should be thrown in first and it could be worth taking Deadeye rather than one of the Munitions Failsafe’s to ensure that he can get his shot away on the required target. After that the Y’s add Stress with the Flechette’s and you can position to finish them next round with the Photon Torpedoes on to a ship that is where you want it to be with no action.

Concussion Missiles Sound Fun…

Bandit Squadron Pilot (16)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Concussion Missiles (4)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (16)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Concussion Missiles (4)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (16)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Concussion Missiles (4)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (16)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Concussion Missiles (4)

Tala Squadron Pilot (17)
Z-95 Headhunter (13), Concussion Missiles (4)

Tala Squadron Pilot (17)
Z-95 Headhunter (13), Concussion Missiles (4)

98 Points

This list is a Rebel Swarm with a twist, it should have the early damage at range band 3 to go toe to toe with another swarm whilst also retaining the advantage a swarm brings against a Falcon or Firespray list.  24 Attack dice at range band 3 from a secondary weapon (so no extra evade dice) and the 6 chances to automatically convert a Blank result in to a Hit is some worrying Alpha Damage and then you still have the number of targets to be able to chip away at people in the same way as a normal TIE swarm.  Remember that you don’t have the 3rd evade dice or the Evade action though so if you mess up that first pass and don’t down some enemy firepower it could get tricky.  You could spend the left over points to take Munition Failsafes or even down grade the Tala’s to Bandits or you could upgrade one Bandit to a Tala and fly them in two flights of 3 rather than in pairs.

That’s my take on the Z-95’s there are so many options for this cool little ship and I am looking forward to seeing if the 8 ship Rebel Swarm Becomes a thing (I honestly don’t think it will compete with a TIE swarm because of the lack of the Evade dice but we will see) What do you guys think?  Is there a place for even a loan Z-95 to bulk out some of the 3 ship Rebel Lists or what about replacing your Red Squadron Pilot with 2 Bandit’s for just 1 point more?

X-Wing: TIE Swarm Theory Part 1

TIE Swarm is such a generic term, it’s about time we got a bit more clarity on what constitutes a swarm and how/why they work.  This time I go large with some 8 TIE builds…

TIE Swarms, it’s Old School and yet it still works.

The reason I like to talk about the Swarm’s so much is because they have been around for longer than most other builds being that it primarily involves all Wave 1 ships.  This time I am going to be talking about the Swarmiest of Swarms the 8 TIE Swarm.

An 8 TIE Swarm facing off against a 6 TIE Swarm deployed in what I like to call the Brick Formation…

The 8 TIE swarm still has variant and is not a definitive build.  My personal preferred build is 4 Academy Pilots and 4 Obsidian Squadron Pilots as I fly them slightly differently to some other builds using them as two mini-swarms that converge for a volley or two and then move off again.

Another option is 7 Academy Pilots and one of the Named Pilots of 16 points or less. Dark Curse is a nice defensive option in this kind of list giving you a little extra resistance to damage but I would rather take one of the 15 point pilots and try to grab initiative as getting to place that first big asteroid somewhere can be quite powerful.  My 15 point Pilot of choice would be Winged Gundark as he give you a good offensive edge against fellow imperial list who are normally light on shields.

The premises of the 8 TIE swarm is all about quantity.  Not a lot in it does anything good there is a lot in it!
It works by overloading your opponent with targets and forcing them to spread the fire power they have across multiple ships.

Most opponents would be unwise to try an early head to head with this type of swarm.  The shear number of dice you will get to roll should ensure damage but you WILL lose some ships on your early pass.  The key is to ensure that you focus down the high threats while anything they shoot at is no more effective than any of your other ships.

As soon as one of your TIE’s is damaged break it off from your formation.  This forces the enemy to either focus it for the kill or ignore it and have wasted the firepower they have put in to it.  If they do go after the damaged TIE you should be able to gain the upper hand with positioning and if he only sends one ship off to chase, this is even better as the chasing ship will be isolated and let the rest of your swarm overpower his remaining ships.

Once you have used brute force to whittle down your opponent to just a couple of ships you can scatter the swarm and try to dog fight a little more.  It is important to remember that you want to break off with damaged ships and try to keep the focus on a different ship every time.  It is also worth trying to use blocking to control their movement, cutting off paths to ensure that their ships can only be in a couple of positions.

Crashing becomes a whole new game with this type of list as well, there are times where you will want to sacrifice a lot of actions to ensure that you get the most shots on a target but equally you need to stay off the asteroids as every round a ship fails to fire is a huge advantage to your opponent as an individual TIE with its two attack dice is going to struggle to do any serious damage.

Death by a thousand cuts is a very good way to describe this swarm configuration in action.

There is also a good amount of intimidation in facing this type of list, and it is one of the most effective against a Falcon list if you can fly it well enough to get the full swarm shooting at least once or twice and even Chewbacca is going down…

There are a lot of variations on deployment with this many TIE’s its well worth practicing a few opening plays to make sure you know where you can expect to be round 2 or 3…

X-Wing – Upgrades from the Huge Ships

When you buy one of the Huge new ships for X-Wing you don’t just get the fancy model and it’s manoeuvre dial.  Time to look at all the other cool stuff that comes with them!

I finally did it, this post has been in the works for a while but I kept pushing it back to work on other stuff.  Not the worst thing, as it has given me a bit more time to play test some of the ideas I wanted to talk about.

First off, I will not be covering any of the Huge ship only upgrades or any tactics/builds for the huge ships themselves as others have given reviews already and I would like to try a few more things out in some Epic games before I comment on the Huge Ship tactics.
I will be covering all of the other stuff that you can use in your normal games, so new pilots, droids, torpedoes crew ETC.

So first up lets look at the GR-75 Medium Transport and what comes in that set.

I like the paint job but will be adding a little more detail to the Astromech Droid as it’s a little pink for my taste.

The first thing that comes to mind is the Variant Paint Job on the X-Wing that comes in the box and the 4 new Pilots.

We will Start off with everyone’s favorite, Red Six himself, Jek “Piggy” Porkins.  His 26 Squad Points gets you a respectable pilot Skill of 7 and an Elite Pilot Talent slot whilst his card text allows you to remove Stress Tokens from your ship whenever they are assigned with a 3/8 chance of being felt a Facedown damage card.  It is worth noting that you are felt the card you don’t suffer a hit so this can put damage on your hull whilst you still have your shields up.  Still a good ability despite the risk and I am sure he will see some play and with a coho like adding in R5-D8 from the Y-Wing set he has a 50% chance of removing a Face down Damage card for an action, so you do your red manoeuvre, ditch the stress and if you luck out you can use your action to activate R5.

Next up we have Derek “Hobbie” Klivian at 25 Squad Points for Pilot Skill 5 with no Pilot Talent Slot.  He also removes Stress tokens with his card text but with a lot less risk than Porkins.  “Hobbie” can ditch a Stress token whenever he Acquires or Spends a Target Lock token.  Getting the most out of this seems to lend it’s self to a bit of list synergy.  Either going down the route of fielding Dutch to hand off free target locks but as Dutch is Pilot Skill 6 and goes after Hobbie, he would have already lost an action. This leave you to try to set things up a turn in advance to give you options the turn after you do a K-Turn rather than keeping you pumping out actions. There are some nice gimmicks to try with Hobbie but in competitive play I think Biggs Darklighter is still going to win out as the 25 point pilot of choice.

Tarn Mison’s card text also interacts with Target Lock’s giving you a lock on a ship who declare you the target of an attack.  For 23 points he comp eats with a Red Squadron pilot but loses out by a point in Pilot Skill, only being Pilot Skill 3 and does not have an Elite Pilot Talent Slot but the opportunity for free Target Locks is rather good.  One nice Defensive combo for Tarn is to take the upcoming R7 Astromech from the E-Wing expansion as once per round, if you have a lock on your attacker you can force them to re-roll any/all of their attack dice.  This combined with a standard Focus action makes Tarn a very versatile choice, letting you either survive a joust or unload with a Focused and Target Locked attack, Not bad at all for a total cost of 25 Squad Points.

“Yub Yub, Commander.”

Last of the four and my personal pick of the crop is Wes Janson.  His Squad Cost of 29 points puts him up there with Wedge as the most expensive X-Wing pilot available currently but I feel his card text justifies this.  After performing an Attack you can remove 1 Focus, Evade or Blue Target Lock token from your target.  Unfortunately this is after your attack resolves so they can still spend the tokens during Wes’s roll but given his high pilot skill he can strip the defenses from a target you are looking to focus down.  I do think that Wes and Wedge can do wonders in tandem with either Swarm Tactics on Wedge or Veteran Instincts on Wes to get the shots off in the correct order but he can also fit in with a 4 ship build to maximize the number of dice rolled after Wes’s ability has kicked in.  The list I have been running has been Wes, Biggs and 2 Red Squadron pilots, all naked as then everyone fires before most Swarm builds but dropping down to 2 Rookies for a 4 point saving lets you stick R2-F2 on to Biggs for an extra evade dice and makes you come in at 99 points for imitative grabbing.  It is also worth noting that you can use his attack defensively as you can strip away a target lock instead so if you are flying in to a horde of Bombers keeping them from unloading their ordinance is never a bad thing.

The GR-75 also comes with 3 copies of the new Flechette Torpedoes, these are a really nice cheap option for the torpedo. (finally)  With an OK 3 attack dice and a range of 2-3 they are not going to one shot anybody but then they only cost 2 points and their ability to add a Stress Token to the target is really nice.

I can see a use for them on X-Wings as they are so cheap but in my opinion they are screaming to go on to a Y-Wing control based list.  Something like Horton Salm with R2-D6 (He makes it in so many list but more on him later…) to get access to Swarm Tactics, 2 x Flechette Torpedoes and an Ion Turret, a Gold Squadron Y-Wing with 2 x Flechette Torpedoes and an Ion Turret then two Prototype A-Wings This list lets you keep a priority target Stressed and Ion’ed while the A-Wings pick it apart.  Dropping Horton down to Dutch saves you enough points to upgrade both A-Wings to Green Squadron giving you a better movement phase and can help the Gold Squadron Pilot get his shots off with Target Lock and Focus but you lose some pilot skill off your top end in the shooting, Horton’s re-rolls for range 2-3 attacks and you are 1 point more expensive over all losing you the 99 point initiative grab.

I think its about time I started talking about the Astromechs that come in the Transport as well seeing as I have waxed lyrical about R2-D6 so much.  You get 4 Droids in the box;

 I may have mentioned R2-D6 before, I am not sure.  The interesting options he opens up are so numerous but here are a couple of my stand out choices.

How annoying is it when you set up the perfect combo for Graven Dreis to pass a focus token on to someone who really needs it only for him to roll all Misses and then not get shot at? Well fear not, stick R2-D6 on him and then Take Dead-Eye and some Flechette Torpedoes and pass that token my friend.
Or use the same combo on any of the Y-Wings above a Gold Squadron for some versatility in targets for your torps.

Biggs die too quickly because your opponent always missiles him down for huge damage early, R2-D6 and Expert Handling could be just what you are looking for.  Or wouldn’t it be nice if Biggs could ignore 25% of Crits? With R2-D6 and Determination for a minuscule 2 points total he can.

R3-A2 is an interesting choice as adding Stress can really help control some ships (especially nice against the Up coming Phantom.) I like this guy on a solo Y-Wing with an Ion Turret, is it Gimmicky yes, is it worth it. Oh hell yes.  Having an Ion Stressed enemy from 1 ships attack is very strong as you know where they are going to be next round and they don’t get an action.

R4-D6 is only 1 point but it is easy to dismiss him as relatively useless.  Taking 3 or more Hits is always going to be bad but only taking two is hardly good.  You need to consider him in the context of what would happen if you didn’t have him.  He makes it impossible to be 1 Shotted (Baring Crits), which with the Phantom’s 4 attack dice standard is possible, especially when you consider the other stuff being released that adds attack dice to attacks.  It also makes your opponent have to Expand a minimum of 3 attacks to take down an X-Wing .  I do think that it wll find more of a home on Y-Wings as having a lower evade and an Odd number of Hull is really good with this card and it will give you the minimum effective return of taking a Hull Upgrade for 2 points less, and it could even be worth a hell of a lot more hull point over the course of a game.

The last Droid is another one I really like R5-P9 Lets you spend a Focus Token at the end of the Combat Phase to regain a Shield, Now we all have those times where we focus and then just roll Blanks, now at least its not the end of the world.  I have been messing around with a 3 Ship build featuring Wedge, Biggs and Kyle in the Mouldy Crow.  Wedge takes R2-D2 and Draw There Fire, Biggs gets R5-P9 and Kyle gets all the focus generation shenanigans he is known for and a blaster turret.  This list works quite well against other Rebel lists and some of the list that feature a large ship as you can bounce the damage around and keep Biggs alive for a relatively long time.  Just done joust for no reason and pick at the edges of a formation for a few rounds.

That rounds out the GR-75 so what do you get in the Tantive IV?

The Blockade Runner is not as good value for normal play, not including a nice little bonus ship but it does have 4 interesting Crew Cards.

So all we need now is a new Falcon Upgrade card that lets you take the whole gang and we can escape from the Death Star…

Han is a nice cheap offensive option that lets you Hedge your bets when you are not sure wether the Focus or Target lock.  Just take the Target lock and play the odds.

Leia can add a nice trick to a list but given that the only Rebel Ships that currently have Crew slots are relatively Expensive (I don’t see putting here on a Rebel Operative for 20 points total as a viable option…) I think she will only really see play in larger games but the chance to set up some cunning Red manoeuvre followed by and action is quite nice.

The Star of the pack for me is C-3PO as he adds so much survivability to a Falcon, I like to use it as a guaranteed evade each round by guessing 0 but you can play the odds when you need to and if he pays off it can be very frustrating for your opponent.

R2-D2 competes with Chewbacca as another extremely powerful defensive crew card.  The advantage he has over Chewie is that he does not get discarded after being used so he can bring a shield back every end phase that you have no shield.  The disadvantage is the risk involved, a 3/8 chance of flipping a damage card over and suffering the result.  It is a toss up between the two as Chewie just discards a card you are dell and then gets a shield back so is worth 2 hits where as R2 can quite easily be worth 3 or 4 extra hits but what will that Crit be when it comes?

The two builds I like most from these cards are both Falcon lists (Obviously…)
Chewbacca as the pilot with Han and 3PO is really rugged and can still deal good damage where Han as the pilot with 3PO and R2 and the Falcon upgrade adds a lot of survivability to the more offensive option of Han but becomes a very reliant on the Dice as if Han’s re-rolls are not taking things down quick enough than you really need R2’s dice not going too badly wrong…

So what have I missed, what options once you add in the wave 4 options are you guys looking forward to?

X-Wing: Well I gave 3PO and R2 a go on the Falcon the other day.

Another quick one talking about the Falcon build I posted earlier.

Hi all,

So I got a couple of games in with a slight variant on the Falcon build I posted Here.

Ended up playing 100 points so it was a basic Han Shoots First list with;

Never Tell Me The Odd’s

100 points


Han Solo (58)
YT-1300 (46), R2-D2 (4), C3-PO (3), Millennium Falcon (1), Shield Upgrade (4)

Rookie Pilot (21)

Rookie Pilot (21)

I purposely wanted to stress test this falcon and was up against a 3 Bounty Hunter list so I knew I had a lot of Hit points to chew through.

I was fairly slack with the Rookies to be honest, I deployed them of centre to the left of the lard with the plan of either having Han of Far left to cruse up that flank with all three or depending on his Deployment I could place the Falcon in the canter and just try to dominate the middle early wight he 360 Fire from the Falcon.

He went 2 Firespray’s on the left flank and one on the Right facing right to left so I went for the Centre Deployment with Han wanting to avoid an early Joust and hoping to force him to turn in early with the lone Firespray.

Now I am going to blame the fact that I wanted to just concentrate on Stress testing how durable this Falcon could be but I really miss flew the Rookie’s and the move that was supposed to draw in behind Han to give him support just did not work.  I did got one good round of shooting off with everything though and stripped all the shields down from 1 Bounty hunter and got some good damage on him.

After that though I was really badly positioned and they just over flew them and used the rear fire arch to take them both out at range band 1.  This left Han against 3 Bounty Hunters although 1 of them was very badly damaged.

I basically got exactly what I wanted and the Falcon took a pounding and just kept on putting out the Damage.  The Firespray’s 2 Evade dice and the Evade action is really nice on a Large ship but the Re-rolls from Han kept me consistently getting 1 point of damage through whilst I was using my Evade and C-3PO to negate a lot of the damage coming at me.

I had taken down the Damaged Bounty Hunter with ease and then forced him to split the remaining two with some creative piloting forcing him to chose landing on asteroids to stay close or break off.
So I took down the a Second Friespray leaving him with only 2 Hull remaining whilst I had a Shield and 2 Hull remaining.

Unfortunately whilst on the brink of Victory I released I had miss judged a turn and my hard one left me about a Millimetre of the board edge!

There was really no excuse, I was just lazy I had just left the 1 Ahead on the Dial from my last move as I was concentrating on taking down the closest Bounty Hunter when if I had stood up and looked at the table a 1 Bank Left would have left me more than enough room whilst leaving me in almost the same position.  Then I would have been more than confidant of taking down the last Bounty Hunter with the Evade action from the Falcon Title and 3PO being almost guaranteed to negating the incoming fire.

In conclusion, I really like the build for the Falcon.  We discussed if Chewbacca would have been a better crew choice than R2 as he just negates a damage card and restore a shield with no risk.
Personally I like the fact that R2 just keeps working. Yes it is risky as you can Crit yourself but it’s only a 3/8 chance and you still get the shield back.

So in the Words of any good Corellian”Never tell me the odd’s”

I will be using it again and next time will try to not throw away the X-Wings too early…

Changes I have considered are the addition of an Engine Upgrade instead of the Extra shield or Dropping down to Chewbacca rather than Han to free up points and add even more Tankyness? What do you guys think?

X-WIng Wave IV: TIE Defender Review

TIE Defender takes the lessons the Empire learned developing the TIE Advance and improves on them to provide the imperial forces a fighter platform to rival the best the Rebel Alliance can throw at it. I don’t know about you guys but I am excited to see how FFG translates this in to the table top.

Without beating around the bush too much, when I heard what the two Imperial releases in Wave 4 were to be I was most interested to see what FFG would do with the Defender.
I knew the Phantom would get some Cloak Shenanigans but I wanted to see where they would place the TIE/D on the power/points cost scale as I had happy memories of crushing the Rebel Scum with it in Star Wars Supremacy (Rebellion if you were not in UK)

So lets se what you get when you bring one of these babies to the table top.

The ship itself is quite distinctive in it’s look and I really like it.  It’s stat line is defiantly worth looking at too, with 3’s across the board it comes out ahead of the X-Wing in its raw stats, having the same fire power but a much better defence.
Action and Upgrade wise, the defender exchanges the evade action that is common on most Imp ships for the more offensively minded Target Lock and has both a Cannon and Missile upgrade slot.

The Defenders Manoeuvre Dial is worth some talk as well, whilst it retains the TIE’s lack of a 1 Ahead and makes the Hard 1’s and Hard 2’s Red it is the far end of the Dial that make it something different to fly.

Every Straight is green and this is the only green on the dial so shedding Stress could be somewhat predictable but it is the White 4 K-Turn that has people talking.

The versatility you lose by lack of green banks should be made up by  not applying stress to pull that U-turn and get back in to the fight.  Whilst I can see this being a bit 1-Dimentional initially I do feel that the dial has enough to let yo do more with this ship than your opponent may be expecting.

Pilot wise, as usual it comes 4 options, 2 generic and 2 named.  With Pilot Skill 1,3,6 and 8 available costing 30, 32, 35 and 37 Squad Points respectively.

This is where my only real grip comes in with the defender.  I believe that FFG have over-costed the white K-Turn on the dial, yes I know it is good but I think that the Red that is on the dial is limiting enough to balance the white K without such a high points value.
I just hope that I am wrong and that the inherent survivability of the 3 Evade, 3 Shields, 3 Hull lets it do work, but I would have like to see it at 2 points cheaper for both generic pilots or to maintain its current points cost but have a bump in pilot skill to 2 and 4 (maybe 3 and 5 but I could be getting greedy…) respectively to showcase the supposed elite nature of the pilots selected to fly the Defender.

Personally that points level moves it out of the realms of me fielding multiples and having a functioning list. I have a gut feeling that Spamming 3 Deltas is just a bad idea as an elite 3 ship list that is all pilot skill 1 is going to struggle against a lot of the more popular Pilot Skill 2 builds and moving up to 3 Onyx squadron pilots just does not leave the points for upgrades that I feel a 3 ship list needs to help them get the job done.

Ah well…

Enough of my complaining, lets get back to the Named Pilots!

Once again the named pilots are your only access to an Elite Pilot Talent so that is one reason to punt for one of these guys over a generic, whilst obviously the higher pilot skill is the another.

Card text wise Vessery’s ability is fun, letting you gain a target lock on a ship that already has a lock on it immediately after rolling attack dice.  This wording lets you spend the target lock on the attack you have just made if so desired, letting you focus down a single target quite well.

Rexler Brath’s ability is potentially extremely powerful.  Letting you spend a focus token to flip any damage cards you just dealt over.  This wording bypasses abilities that negate critical hits so can be handy in hunting down Chewbacca or to make your Heavy Laser Cannons do even more work for you.

The pack also comes with the usual up grade cards.  There are 2 Elite Pilot Talents Outmaneuver and Predator, both costing 3 points.  I really like both cards and in honesty they are one of the reasons I will be picking up more than 1 Defender.

Predator I really like as it makes you a mini Howlrunner and even works on Secondary Weapons, re-rolling an attack dice is very nice and if you are lucky enough to be flying against a bunch of low pilot skill guys than it gives even more value.

Outmaneuver is also extremely potent, making you in to a mini Wedge (or a super Wedge if you stick it on him!!!) it does require a little more effort to get the milage out of it but I can see lots of value in this card as I like to try to out fly my opponents and this just makes it even more rewarding.

Both of these upgrades can be used more effectively elsewhere however.  Predators re-rolls are nice but you can Target Lock anyway and Outmaneuver on the Defender could lead you in to flying even more predictably with the limited turns available to you.  Sticking them on an Interceptor though, that could be lots of fun! (I have been messing around the idea of both of them on A-Wing Test Pilots, but more on that another time…)

Other than the two Pilot Talents it is fairly standard stuff, with the Munitions Failsafe we saw in the Headhunter, the Ion Cannon and the Ion Pulse Missile.  The Ion Missile is, in my opinion a better take that the cannon upgrade if you want to keep it on the defender as it adds two Ion tokens rather than one and so can Ion a Large ship in one hit, although it is worth noting that all Ion Tokens are wiped after the 1 Ahead so it will not Ion a normal fighter for two turns.

So that rounds out what you get, so lets move on to how I think it will be used and how it can fit in with your current squads.

As I said earlier, I do feel that the cost for the Defender is high.  It moves from competing with Interceptors and Phantoms and is easily comparable to a Firespray-31.  This is in-fact the type of list I can see the TIE Defender fitting in with best.
Whilst I don’t think it will replace one of the Firespray’s in a 3 Spray list as I don’t think it adds enough whilst it loses out on 1 shield and 3 Hull for the gain of only 1 Evade dice (more a comment on how good 2 evade is on the Firespray-31 rather than a comment on the Defender to be honest…) I do feel it could be a viable replacement for a list that runs with one Firespray.

This is one list that I am considering.

Defender Mini Swarm

100 points

Howlrunner (18)

Obsidian Squadron Pilot (13)

Obsidian Squadron Pilot (13)

Obsidian Squadron Pilot (13)

Onyx Squadron Pilot (43)
TIE Defender (32), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Engine Upgrade (4)

This list is fairly bare bones up until the Defender where over 40% of you points sit so it has a relatively poor points spread but I can’t see any other outcome if you want to run a Defender.
The basic premiss is that Howlrunner and the 3 TIE’s do their thing with the Pilot Skill 3 of the Obsidian Squadron letting you shoot before Rookie X’s, Blue B’s and the like, whilst not eating up too many points.
The Onyx Defender is a solid flanker in this force. Also Being Pilot Skill 3 lets it add damage at the same time as the TIE’s with the Heavy Laser Cannon letting it roll 4 attack dice at all ranges.
The Engine Upgrade lets you ensure the Defender gets to where it needs to be and adds a little more manoeuvrability to the somewhat limited turn options on the dial, not to mention the fun you can have boosting after a a K-Turn.

That about rounds up my thoughts on the Defender at the moment, so thanks for taking the time to read it.  If you want to keep up with more of my thoughts and Opinions on X-Wing, 40K, Infinity and other stuff than feel free to check out my Blog at The Dice Hate Me – Kris

I am looking forward to seeing what the rest out you have come up with for the Defender as I don’t think I have struggled to fit a ship in to a list since the Lambda Shuttle first came out and I had no idea what to do with it…  So what interesting ideas do you have for your TIE/D’s?