[X-Wing] Saw’s Renegades – Preview Thoughts

There’s been a huge amount of new X-Wing news recently, which has mostly been focused around the announcement of 2nd Edition. I’m going to be talking about that soon, but I wanted to pick up on the final Wave of 1st edition before moving onto that very sizeable topic. (Plus I’m playing catchup on my blogging in general, as the 2nd Edition announcement happened to be timed with a very busy period at work.)

So, our first in-depth look at Wave 14 for X-Wing, and we’re focusing on the Saw’s Renegade’s pack in the Save the Rebellion preview article. Two of the Rebel Alliance’s most iconic ships get some much-needed upgrades and new pilots which should hopefully see the T-65 X-Wing returning to competitive play. (At least until September, although it’s looking like 2nd Edition has been kind to the T-65…)

Gearing Up

Normally I’d dive straight into the new pilots, but there’s two upgrades that define this pack and need to be discussed before we go any further. They both have a major impact on the X-Wing, and the first gives the U-Wing a very welcome cost break as well.

Renegade Refit

Saw’s cell have to make do with scavenged and salvaged equipment, and know how to make the most of the stripped down ships they have access to. The Renegade Refit reflects this, and is a game changer for both the X and U-Wings.

T-65 X-Wing and U-Wing only.

You can equip up to two different Modification upgrades.

The squad point cost of each of your equipped (EPT) upgrades is reduced by 1 (to a minimum of 0).

-2 Points

Before we look any further, the 2 points discount is a big deal. That takes a Rookie Pilot X-Wing down to a very pleasing 19 points, and a Blue Squadron Pathfinder U-Wing to 21 points. That means a 5 X-Wing list is very much a reality, and we’ve not even see the points cost of the PS 1 Cavern Angel Zealot pilot that’s coming in this pack.

In addition to this points break, the Renegade Refit also gives a second Modification slot to the U and X-Wings, and a 1 point discount on any Elite Pilot Talents you equip. Both are very handy, and it means that Integrated Astromech isn’t the only modification the X-Wing has access to any more. The additional modification is a bit less important for the U-Wing, but I’m sure we’re still going to see some interesting builds come out of it.

So, what does this mean? As I’ve said above, 5 X-Wing lists are going to be a very real thing, and with 3 attack dice and effectively 6 health each, they will pack a lot of firepower and take quite a bit to put down. Combined with Flight Assist Astromech (which I think is going to be the go-to option), they can be reasonably nimble as well. Dodging that many arcs isn’t a trivial prospect, and many of the 2 ship lists in the meta will not be thrilled to have to deal with that volume of red dice. Interesting stuff!

I’m hugely pro what this does for both the U-Wing and X-Wing, with just one slight reservation. As it takes up the torpedo slot, it means we’re not going to ever see an X-Wing carrying actual torpedoes ever again. Not that we really ever did, but it’s a shame that such an iconic image as an X-Wing loosing proton torpedoes at its target just doesn’t make sense in game.

Servomotor S-Foils

The second part of the X-Wing’s new toys, Servomotor S-Foils make the previously quite sluggish X-Wing really quite nimble. It’s another dual card, one of the best used bits of design space the game has added.

T-65 X-Wing only. Dual card.

Side A (Attack):Your action bar gains (barrel roll). If you are not stressed, when you reveal a (left turn 3) or (right turn 3) maneuver, you may treat it as a red (left talon roll 3) or (right talon roll 3) in the same direction.

At the start of the Activation phase, you may flip this card.

Side B (Closed):Reduce your primary attack value by 1. Your action bar gains (boost). Treat your (left bank 2) and (right bank 2) as green.

At the start of the Activation phase, you may flip this card.

First of all, the timing on the flip is great (by marked contrast to the U-Wing’s Pivot Wing title), meaning you’re not having to flag your intentions to your opponent until after dials have been set. The Attack side gives the X-Wing access to a barrel roll and a flexible Talon Roll option, and the Closed side gives you a Boost and extra green moves at the cost of an attack dice.

So, the Closed side isn’t going to see a huge amount of use, particularly in a world where Flight Assist Astromech exists, except for breaking away from engagements. Still, it’s a lot more positional options for the X-Wing, and at 0 points (and with the extra Modification slot from Renegade Refit) pretty much an auto include. The choice of turn around options will be great for all X-Wings, but in particularly the high PS aces as you’ll have a much clearer idea of where everyone will be at the point you reveal your dial. Combine that with a Flight Assist Astromech, and you’ve got some significant positional flexibility from your 3 turns.

This upgrade checks a lot of boxes for the X-Wing, and is effectively a significant improvement to both its dial and action bar. Good stuff.

X-Wing Pilots

Saw’s Renegades brings us an assortment of new X-Wing pilots to the game, including a new generic. We also get three new unique pilots, although it’s not actually been 100% officially confirmed that we’ll get Edrio Two Tubes for 1st edition, but the odds seem good…

Cavern Angel Zealot

So while this hasn’t been officially spoilered in the article linked above, the Cavern Angel Zealot got a bit of a preview by being one of the prizes in this season’s Store Championship kit. (Also making it possibly the only time that there’s been an official alt-art for a card before its actual official release!)

The Cavern Angel Zealot is an interesting beast, coming in at PS 1 but having an Elite Pilot Talent Slot. That also means it clocks in at 22 points, meaning you’re unlikely to be running five of these in a list even with the benefit of Renegade Refit! That said, it does fully benefit from Renegade Refit’s EPT discount, so you could theoretically run five Crack Shot Cavern Angel Zealots in a list. I’m not sure it’ll be better than five Rookie Pilots with 1 point astromechs and Integrated Astromech, but seems worth a try.

I think we’re more likely to see the Cavern Angel Zealot a little more kitted out for the most part. 23 points get you a Push the Limit, R2 Astromech X-Wing with both Integrated Astromech and Servomotor S-Foils which seems like it could be really quite effective. I’m sure there’s a bunch of other EPT and Astromech combinations out there as well!

Leevan Tenza

After you perform a boost action, you may receive 1 stress token to receive 1 evade token.

Being able to evade on the X-Wing is nice, but I fear that Leevan may suffer a bit from the stress cost. Even with the improvements to the X-Wing’s dial provided by Servomotor S-Foils, it’s still not the best at shedding stress, and if you’re boosting you’re not taking a focus or target lock so your offense takes a hit as well. It’s a neat idea, but I suspect that Leevan is just going to be overshadowed by other, better X-Wing pilots.

That said, he is going to be the only X-Wing who can really get much use out of Juke, which is an entertaining prospect! (And his Second Edition version makes a great deal more sense…)

Kullbee Sperado

After you perform a boost or barrel roll action, you may flip your equipped “Servomotor S-foils” upgrade card.

Capable of pulling off some very fancy manuevers, Kullbee makes the most of the Servomotor S-foils, letting you push the X-Wing to its repositional limits while maintaining maximum firepower. This effectively adds both boost and barrel roll to your upgrade bar and lets you access to those green 2 banks without having to deal with the reduction in red dice from closing your S-foils. That said, his ability is reliant on you boosting or barrel rolling, so expect to see Push the Limit as a common EPT choice alongside an R2 Astromech, or BB-8 popping up in the astromech slot.

With BB-8, you can potentially close your S-foils, reveal a green move and take a free barrel roll action, Push the Limit off that into a focus or target lock, clear your stress by executing your green move (including your 2 banks), boost as your standard action, and then flip your S-foils open…

I think there’s some real potential to Kullbee, although he’s naturally limited in terms of positional play by his middling Pilot Skill of 7. Still, he’s going to be a lot of fun to play, and will certainly keep your opponent on their toes!

U-Wing Pilots

While the U-Wing doesn’t look like it’s getting any new generic pilots, keeping the Blue Squadron Pathfinder as its only generic pilot, it does seem to be getting three new named pilots. One hasn’t been revealed as yet (although based on the 2nd edition spoilers is likely to be Magva Yarro), but the two that have been revealed look really quite interesting!

Benthic Two-Tubes

After you perform a focus action, you may remove 1 of your focus tokens to assign it to a friendly ship at Range 1-2.

This is a pretty straightforward support ship ability, letting you spread your actions around to other friendly ships. Given Benthic’s ability, Recon Specialist crew is going to be almost stapled to his pilot card, letting you get some extra action efficiency going on where you need it. That said, Rebels aren’t exactly short of ways of passing around actions and making the most of focus tokens in particular, so Benthic may find himself in an already crowded bit of design space. (Ahsoka, Garvin, Esege Tuketu, any of the Sheathipede pilots thanks to Coordinate, Rey crew…)

But what Benthic does do is offer you a decent support ability on a relatively cheap platform. He’s only 25 points with Renegade Refit and a Recon Specialist and still has a crew slot free, leaving you space for options like Inspiring Recruit, Intelligence Agent, Jan Ors, or other support crew options on a reasonably durable platform with decent attack. I don’t think he’s going to set the meta on fire, but he’s affordable enough to be worth considering.

Saw Gerrera

When a friendly ship at Range 1-2 attacks, if it is stressed or has at least 1 Damage card, it may reroll 1 attack die.

In keeping with his extreme tactics and ability to make the best of a bad situation, Saw gives a little extra offensive bite to all of your ships when the going gets tough. This is effectively Predator for any of your ships when they get stressed or damaged, giving you a nice buff on those turns when you end up K-turning most of your list in a single turn. Given how X-Wings like to joust, I suspect that’ll see plenty of use!

The fact his ability also triggers when a friendly ship has a damage card also helps to keep the pressure on your opponent as you move into the late game – assuming Saw survives that long. The extra attack efficiency is excellent, and I’m actively excited to put Saw on the board in this form. Anything that helps the U-Wing punch a little harder is welcome!

Upgrades

Well, upgrade singular at this point, as we covered two at the start of this post. We’re getting at least one more upgrade in the Saw’s Rengegades box, but we’ve not had a peek at it yet. I’ve also already discussed Saw Gerrera crew and the Targeting Scrambler in my initial look at the Wave 14 announcement.

Magva Yarro

Rebel only.

After defending, you may acquire a target lock on the attacker.

A neat Rebel-only crew option, Magva might be enough to make people think twice about shooting at the ship she’s riding on. Getting a free target lock is a strong ability (as Fire Control System has been consistently demonstrating since Wave 3), and particularly so on anything that’s packing a strong primary attack or ordnance.

However, it is reliant on your opponent chosing to attack the ship you want them to, but that’s useful in and of itself. A ship that isn’t being shot at isn’t taking damage!

I think there’s some real potential here, although I’m going to have to experiment with Magva a bit to get a feel for how she works.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot here to love, and it brings both the T-65 X-Wing and the U-Wing firmly back to relevance for all but the very most competitive of X-Wing games. I’m really pleased to see this release, tying into both Rebels and Rogue One as it does. As a last Rebel release for 1st edition, it’s a love letter to what everyone always wanted the X-Wing to be, and neatly wraps up (almost) all of the content that felt outstanding. (Except for poor K-2SO…)

I think it’s going to make a real splash for the second half of the Store Championship season, and hopefully we’ll see some X-Wings placing high at UK Nationals!

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[X-Wing] Wave 14 announcement and wild speculation!

We’re returning to Scarif in style with the Wave 14 announcement for X-Wing, featuring a selection of Rogue One and Rebels themed releases that I’ve basically been wishlisting since seeing the film. Interestingly, we’re not getting any new ships for the Rebel Alliance, although I think what they are getting will be warmly welcomed by most players. There’s also no sign of any Scum ships as yet, but that’s unsurprising given that we’ve got the Han Solo film on the horizon that will almost inevitably bring us a Scum YT-1300 and other goodies.

There’s a lot here to get hyped about, so let’s dive right in!

Saw’s Renegades

This expansion pack brings us a new U-Wing and X-Wing re-paint, in the Partisan black-and-white colour scheme seen in Rogue One and Rebels. These look really sharp, and are easily going to be a fan favourite. There’s no need to talk about stats, actions, or upgrade bars as these are very familiar ships to most X-Wing players, but there is a bundle of new pilots and upgrades in this box. A lot of it is covered up in the box contents spread, but there’s a few snippets we can make out.

Cavern Angel Zealot

While we can’t make out anything like points costs, we know we’re getting a new PS 1 generic for the X-Wing. Presumably this will clock in at least 1 point less than the PS 2 Rookie Pilot, which would open up 5 X-Wing lists as a possibility. As someone who has flown variations on 5 Kihraxz lists in the last, that should be pretty decent, and will be a huge amount of durability if they somehow come in at 19 points allowing for a 1 point Astromech and Integrated Astromech. For exactly that reason, I’m going to predict a 20 point cost for the Cavern Angel Zealot.

· Kullbee Sperado

The first of three new unique X-Wing pilots in this pack – although the only one we can see any details for – Kullbee gives us some insight into a the new modification the X-Wing is receiving.

After you perform a boost or barrel roll action, you may flip your equipped “Servomotor S-foils” upgrade card.

Interesting, given that the X-Wing doesn’t have either the boost or barrel roll action natively. However, peering closely at the limited text we can see on the Servomotor S-foils card, it’s clearly a double-sided upgrade that adds either the barrel roll or boost action to the X-Wing’s action bar. Being able to do this after performing an action will give Kullbee a lot of flexibility, and potentially some Push the Limit shenanigans where you take a boost or barrel roll, flip the card, then Push into the other repositional action.

Servomotor S-foils (Wild speculation warning!)

So, we don’t know for sure what this does, but from close examination it clearly adds the boost and barrel roll icons to the equipping ship’s action bar.  The currently theorised wording is something like the below, based on the fragments of text we can currently see…

S-Foils (Closed): Reduce your primary weapon value by 1. Your action bar gains the (boost) action icon. Treat your white (straight) maneuvers as green. At the end of the Combat phase, you may flip this card.

S-Foils (Open): Your action bar gains the (barrel roll) action icon. If you are not stressed, when you reveal a (left turn) 3 or (right turn) 3, you may treat it as a red (left Talon Roll) 3 or (right Talon Roll) 3. At the end of the Combat phase, you may flip this card.

If this is correct, it will be a massive boost to the X-Wing, giving it easy access to a repositional action and some notable enhancements to its dial. S-Foils (Open) will work particularly well on high PS X-Wing aces, giving them a *lot* of flexibility on their final positioning. Combined with Flight Assist Astromech (another copy of which is handily included in this expansion) and the X-Wing has become a very nimble dogfighter!

· Saw Gerrera

Rebel only.

When attacking, you may suffer 1 damage to change all of your (focus) results to (crit) results.

A 1 point Crew upgrade, Saw brings a very flavourful “success at any cost” effect to the game. Being able to stack up multiple crits is amazing, but taking a point of damage to do so is a reasonably hefty price to pay. That said, for just 1 point, you can’t underestimate what is essentially an improved Expertise effect at a bargain basement points cost. I anticipate some savage combos with R2-D2 Norra Wexley in the near future.

And let’s not overlook him for Epic either. A CR90 with Saw can pack a huge punch and be able to relatively easily recover the shields it looses. A broadside of Turbolasers or Harpoon Missiles modified by Saw could be a frightening thing to face!

I’m confident Saw is going to see a lot of play, although he’ll be most at home on a ship that can regen the damage he causes.

· Targeting Scrambler

At the start of the Planning phase, you may receive a weapons disabled token to choose a ship at Range 1-3 and assign it the “Scrambled” Condition.

· Scrambled
When attacking a ship at Range 1 that is equipped with the “Targeting Scrambler” upgrade, you cannot modify attack dice.

At the end of the combat phase, remove this card.

A 0 point System upgrade, Targeting Scrambler doesn’t have a massive impact, but could be handy for those turns when you know you’re not getting a shot and are likely to be taking some punishment in return. So, mostly useful on the Lambda and U-Wing as primary-arc only large base ships that struggle to turn around in a timely fashion. It’s really pretty situational, but worth considering instead of Collision Detector if you’ve got a System slot sitting open. The start of Planning phase timing is my only real quibble with it, as it clearly flags your intention to your opponent.

Worth the 0 points, but not any more than that!

TIE Reaper

The TIE Reaper is the TIE-model troop transport seen in Rogue One, following a similar atmospheric-flight optimised design to the TIE Striker. It’s very much a transport ship in role, with only two Crew slots on its upgrade bar by default (although at the very least Major Vermeil has an EPT). It’s also got Focus, Evade, and Jam on its action bar – which judging by the content of the Reaper’s box will dish out Jam tokens rather than the stress dealt by the Epic version of the action.

No word on the dial as yet, although we can see a red 2 turn on the preview spread, which suggests it isn’t going to be the most nimble of ships. That said, it is a small base ship which helps somewhat, and does have access to whatever the Advanced Ailerons card does, so will presumably be able to keep pace with its TIE Striker wingmen.

Major Vermeil

The PS 6 “ace” for the TIE Reaper, Major Vermeil is a persistent threat to anything that needs to spend its green tokens before he gets to shoot.

When attacking, if the defender does not have a focus or evade token, you may change one of your blank or (focus) results to a (hit) result.

This pairs really nicely with the Jam action, as that will strip tokens away, giving Major Vermeil very consistent dice against most targets without being too action reliant. It also leaves your Crew slots free to support the rest of your squadron, and you’ve got an EPT for whatever seems handy. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the Major, as he could be an (expensive) support ship with some real teeth.

· Death Troopers

After another friendly ship at range 1 becomes the defender, if you are inside the attacker’s firing arc at range 1-3, the attacker receives 1 stress token.

An interesting inversion of the Rebel Captive crew card, Death Troopers are a 2 point double Crew slot upgrade that essentially make whatever ship they’re on have a massive “shoot me first” sign hovering over it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as if you can draw heat into a cheap support ship rather than your real aces, that’s probably points well spent (as Biggs, Captain Rex, and Lowhrrick have been demonstrating for the Rebels for a while). That said, at 2 points and two Crew slots, it’s got a limited number of places it can easily go. TIE Shuttle Bombers, the TIE Reaper, and maybe the Lambda are reasonable options, although the Lambda may struggle to contribute if it’s only got Death Troopers on board.

· Director Krennic

During setup, before the “Place Forces” step, assign the “Optimized Prototype” condition to a friendly Galactic Empire ship with 3 or fewer shields.

· Optimized Prototype
Increase your shield value by 1.

Once per round, when performing a primary weapon attack, you may spend 1 die result to remove 1 shield from the defender. …

At 5 points, Director Krennic doesn’t come cheap. However, he brings some experimental technology to notably buff a Galatic Empire ship in your squad – and note that’s the “Galatic Empire” sub-faction, so your Optimised Prototype can’t be a First Order ship (much to Quickdraw’s disappointment). A combination of a Shield Upgrade and the ability to get use out of blank dice results to strip shields is a very strong boost to your early to mid game.

Spending dice isn’t something we’ve really seen in X-Wing, but it’s a mechanic I’m very familiar with from Armada and an interesting bit of design space. The spend dice to strip shields effect will be particularly good on ships without access to the Target Lock action (so, a lot of TIEs, including both the Reaper and Striker) or where you don’t otherwise have the chance to reroll your dice. It feels like an excellent buff for Darth Vader with Advanced Targeting Computer, giving him a much-needed extra shield and a way of making the most of the blank results he’ll inevitably roll.

That all said, we’ve only seen part of the Optimized Prototype condition card, and it’s possible that it’ll have some extra effect or downside. Krennic is also a significant investment of points and takes up the relatively precious resource of a Crew slot, so you’ll need to build around him rather than it being an option you can just throw into an existing list.

 

First Impressions?

Needless to say, I’m very enthused about what we’ve seen of this Wave so far. I’m very confident that we’ll see more ships added to this Wave (or a “bonus” Wave akin to the Wave 12/13 combination), but even without that this is a real shot in the arm for the X-Wing and the TIE Reaper is a solid crew carrier with some decent offensive output for Imperials. I hope we see something in Saw’s Renegades to give the U-Wing a bit of a boost, as it’s probably the Rebel ship seeing the least play right now, but there’s a few new cards we’ve not got a look at so far. After all, rebellions are built on hope…

[X-Wing] TIE Silencer – Preview Thoughts

We’ve reached the last of the Wave 12/13 previews, and we reach it in style in the intimidating form of the First Order’s TIE Silencer.  Prominently featured in The Last Jedi trailers, FFG give us a look under the hood of this beast of a ship in the Space Superiority article.

The Ship

The Silencer comes with a fairly beefy basic statline. 3 attack, 3 agility, 4 hull, and 2 shields gives it a well-rounded profile in pretty much every category. The action bar has the focus, target lock, boost, and barrel roll actions, giving it offensive teeth and strong re-positional ability – but no evade action hits it slightly on the defence front.

The upgrade bar has the System and Tech slots, which pair nicely together. Fire Control System and Pattern Analyser can give you consistent dice modification turn to turn even when you have to do a red move, while Advanced Sensors and Primed Thrusters gives you re-positional actions before or after you move, even while stressed. There’s a few neat combos to be had here. It’s been noted that there’s no missile slot, despite the apparent presence of a missile being shot from the TIE Silencer in The Last Jedi trailer, but that’s likely to be a result of FFG only getting early previews to work with – an inevitable part of working on a tie-in product before the release of the film.

The Dial

Oh boy, the dial. With ten green moves including the speed 2 turns, speed 3 Talon Rolls, and a 4 K-turn, the Silencer’s dial makes it a hyper maneuverable ship and one that’s immensely compatible with Push the Limit. Add Advanced Sensors into that mix, and you’ve got a ship that can reliably do two actions a turn and end unstressed to leave it unpredictable for the following turn. Importantly, it’s also got the speed 3 banks and 3, 4 and 5 forwards as green as well, allowing it to very rapidly close range or disengage as needed.

This dial is stunningly good to be quite frank, with more native green moves than any other ship in the game and a variety of options to turn itself around. This is going to be a supremely mobile ship, and thanks to the high-speed green moves able to easily keep up with even speedy large base ships. Dash Rendar had better beware of the TIE Silencer slipping into the blind spot of the Outrider’s Heavy Laser Cannon…

The Pilots

The preview article has only shown us the two named pilots, but we’ve also seen the point costs and upgrade bars of the two generic thanks to a leaked French version of the expansion. This means I can talk about them here, but I don’t know for sure what they’re actually called…

Sienar-Jaemus (Unknown) – PS 4 Generic

Kicking us off is the PS 4 generic. This comes in at a very competitive 26 points, making it a very aggressively priced generic pilot. This is exactly what we should be seeing, and might well make this a viable option for Imperial lists. If nothing else, this pilot with Fire Control System and Autothrusters costs 30 points, putting it into a very similar bracket as a /x7 Delta Squadron Defender. Triple Silencer lists might even be a viable option, something I didn’t think likely when I first saw the hefty points cost on Kylo Ren. (Although while affordable in terms of points, there’s a hefty real money cost for three of these beasts!)

It certainly gets you quite a lot over the baseline generic TIE/SF. 3 points nets you an extra point of agility, the Silencer’s fantastic dial, and access to the boost action. Admittedly you do also trade a shield for a hull and don’t have the /SF’s rear arc, but that’s still very solid value to my mind. This isn’t to say this is going to replace the TIE/SF, but it’s a very worthy addition to the First Order fleet.

Oh, and compare this to the Knave Squadron E-Wing, which comes in at a point more expensive for one less hull, a significantly worse dial, a comparable upgrade bar, and no access to Autothrusters. I can’t help but hope that FFG have some plans for the poor E-Wing in the future…

First Order (Unknown) – PS 6 Generic

Stepping up with PS 6 and an EPT slot, the First Order (Unknown) also bumps up to 29 points. That’s a significant increase in cost, but I think the value of an EPT slot on the TIE Silencer can’t be understated. Even at a very middling PS 6, the dial makes Push the Limit hugely valuable, and I think they’ve probably quite wisely priced this pilot to stop you from running three of them with PtL and Autothrusters.

I suspect we’ll see less of this ship than the PS 4 generic, as it doesn’t represent quite the same value and is likely to be at a slightly awkward 34-36 point range once it’s been kitted out with a few upgrades. Still, the EPT slot gives it some real versatility, and it may prove useful as an elite generic fighter to compare with the Glaive Squadron Defender.

Test Pilot “Blackout”

Blackout is the first of the two named Silencer pilots, getting a boost to PS 7, an EPT slot, and a pilot ability for 31 points. The pilot ability turns a potential disadvantage on its head…

When attacking, if the attack is obstructed, the defender rolls 2 fewer defense dice (to a minimum of 0).

While this is pretty situational, it does have some real advantages when you can pull it off. Blackout turns a Range 3 obstructed shot effectively into a Range 2 unobstructed shot, and at closer ranges effectively actively diminishes the agility of his target. That’s a potent ability, and getting those obstructed shots is going to be relatively easy to do with the Silencer’s dial and re-positional actions. Advanced Sensors is going to be a very strong choice on Blackout, allowing you to move up right behind an obstacle one turn, then barrel roll clear of it the following turn.

It’s also worth noting that this is also effectively a defensive ability as well. Deliberately obstructing your shots doesn’t just drop your opponent’s number of green dice, it also gives you a strong chance that any shot your target ship takes back at you will be obstructed in turn. Combined with the Autothrusters that are going to be basically stapled to every Silencer, those 4-5 green dice can do a lot of work to keep you alive!

There’s a few ways to build Blackout. I think there’s going to be a pretty default build for most TIE Silencers (Push the Limit, Advanced Sensors, Autothrusters, plus title and tech to taste) that will work perfectly well on Blackout, but there are definitely going to be more budget options as well. Trick Shot is an obvious combination with his pilot ability, bumping him up to 4 red dice for a pretty lethal attack. Fire Control System means that losing your action from flying across an obstacle is less of an issue. Collision Detector lets you sweep through debris fields with barely a care, or reposition in very unpredictable ways. These more budget options are going to make Blackout the named pilot you see in triple Silencer builds – something I’m not yet fully convinced on the wisdom of…

I’m really interested to see how Blackout works out in play. His pilot ability is a little tricky to pull off reliably, but offers a pretty significant benefit – hopefully significant enough to see him getting used over the other named pilot on occasion…

Kylo Ren

Finally, we’ve got Kylo Ren in his soon to be signature ship. He’s sharpened up his piloting skills a lot from the Upsilon Shuttle, gaining PS 9. Like Blackout he’s got an EPT slot, and costs a hefty 35 points. That’s right, 4 points more than Blackout, but on a ship that can really make use of high PS! He’s also got a familiar pilot ability.

The first time you are hit by an attack each round, deal the “I’ll Show You the Dark Side” Condition card to the attacker.

Carried across from the Upsilon Shuttle, the “I’ll Show You the Dark Side” Condition allows you to pick a crit to hang over your attacker. That can be quite the disincentive to attack Kylo at all, but as he’s likely to be a dangerous part of your list your opponent probably can’t afford to ignore him! More generally, I think Kylo’s pilot ability is a nice extra rather than the main point of him as a pilot in the Silencer – his PS 9 is much more of a headline. With two re-positional actions available and the single most green dial in the game, Kylo badly wants to be taking Push the Limit and his natively high PS allows him to leverage as much advantage from it as possible.

The “default build” I’ve mentioned above is likely to be even more so for Kylo. Advanced Sensors makes him massively unpredictable, and combos well with Push the Limit to let you take two actions before you move, then reveal a green move to immediately clear your stress. Having an open dial every turn is a pretty major boon as well, just to keep your opponent on their toes. I think the First Order Vanguard title will be on Kylo 90% of the time, helping him get more consistent offence and defence (in a pinch), and the Tech slot allows you to add whatever extra bit of flavour you need to tilt the build in the direction you prefer.

But, all of that doesn’t come cheap on an already expensive pilot! Push the Limit, Advanced Sensors, Autothrusters, and First Order Vanguard takes Kylo up to a hefty 45 points, making him a valuable target for your opponent and limiting your options in terms of what you can pair with him. Kylo certainly won’t fit neatly into the “Rear Admiral Chiraneau plus an ace” archetype for example and many other Imperial aces fall in the 30-35 point range meaning you can’t put two of them in with him. Given his pilot ability, pairing him with other ships that can easily generate critical damage is strong synergy.

So, Kylo is almost certainly a pilot you need to build the rest of your list around, but I think he’s going to be worth it. With natively high PS, the fantastic Silencer statline, amazing dial, and a pilot ability that punishes your opponent for attacking the most valuable thing in your list, I suspect Kylo is going to be a staple in a lot of Imperial and First Order lists going forward!

The Upgrades

There’s a few new cards in this pack, but also a handful of existing upgrades that were all in need of wider availability. You get two copies of Autothrusters and Primed Thrusters in this pack, alongside a copy of Sensor Jammer. Imperials will be particularly pleased by the first two, previously only available in the StarViper and Heroes of the Resistance packs respectively. There’s also two copies of the new Tech upgrade Advanced Optics, which I discussed in detail in the B/SF-17 preview.

Debris Gambit

Small ship only.

Action: Assign 1 evade token to your ship for each obstacle at Range 1, to a maximum of 2 evade tokens.

So this lets you add the Evade action to any small ship with an EPT slot, and potentially does more work than that. That said, it’s both 2 points and takes up the valuable EPT slot, so doesn’t have an immediately obvious home at first glance. It does have some synergy with Blackout’s ability, although I suspect he’s likely to want to use his action to improve his offence or reposition more often than not. The best place I can think of this being is on Youngster, alongside Juke Black Squadron Pilots and something with Swarm Leader.

It’s a decent option overall, but I suspect wouldn’t have been too cheap at 1 point. We’ll see how it pans out in play.

First Order Vanguard

TIE Silencer only.

When attacking, if the defender is the only ship in your firing arc at Range 1-3, you may reroll 1 attack die.

When defending, you may discard this card to reroll all of your defense dice.

Sadly, this title is unique, otherwise it would fit neatly into multiple Silencer builds. It’s basically a slightly more restrictive version of Predator that doesn’t take your EPT slot, combined with a one-time defensive buff. This could really save your bacon when the green dice decide to blank out! On that basis, it seems like a decent way of spending 2 points, particularly on the higher cost named pilots where protecting your investment is more of a priority.

One key point to note, it’s “only ship in your firing arc” not “only enemy ship”, so your allies can get in the way of your rerolls! Make sure you’re leading from the front or at least paying close attention to keeping your wingmen out of your arc if you can.

This is a reasonably costed upgrade on the Silencer that gives better returns the more points you’ve already put into the ship. As such, expect it to see regular use on Kylo Ren.

Threat Tracker

Small ship only.

When an enemy ship inside your firing arc at Range 1-2 becomes thee active ship during the Combat phase, you may spend your target lock on that ship to perform a free boost or barrel roll action if that action is on your action bar.

Last of all, we’ve got Threat Tracker, the new Tech upgrade in the Silencer pack. It seems supremely conditional at first glance, but allows you to potentially arc dodge during the combat phase. Turr Phennir, eat your heart out! Admittedly, it requires you to already have a target lock on the enemy ship, but combined with Fire Control System that’s pretty easy to do. I think both the Silencer and TIE/SF are going to find a place for this even with its hefty 3 point price tag, as not getting shot is the best defence of all. It also potentially lets you close into Range 1 of TLT ships or HLC Dash, and otherwise exploit Combat phase repositioning to maximum advantage.

The only downside is its 3 points that’s likely to be added to already quite expensive ships, so may not see much use for that reason, but I think it’s good enough to be seen even at competitive levels of play.

Final Thoughts

The TIE Silencer delivers on everything I’d hoped it would be. It’s the First Order’s answer to the TIE Interceptor, only massively bulked up and with a dial that Soontir Fel would kill for. It’s also the first time in a long while we’ve seen really competitively priced generics, and a recognition that high PS on the right platform can be worth a lot more than elsewhere. That’s all great news, and hopefully something we’ll see continued in the future.

That said, the new upgrades included in this pack are either a bit underwhelming or powerful but extremely specialised to make them only apply to a few other ships. Debris Gambit feels like a nice idea that doesn’t quite deliver, and Threat Tracker really needs ships to have boost, barrel roll, and access to a System and Tech slot to make the most of it. I may be underestimating the former and missing uses for the latter, but at first look I think there’s no real must haves on the upgrade front for anyone who doesn’t care that much about the Silencer itself. Plus it’s an expensive expansion, both in terms of real money and points, meaning you’re less likely to just impulse buy a second or third copy to round out your fleet.

As a huge fan of the First Order ships in X-Wing, the TIE Silencer is a welcome addition to the fleet, and provides the Imperial faction with a powerful and flexible new option. With Imperials already making a comeback, I think the TIE Silencer could be the ship to bring them back to prominence on the competitive scene, and I’m genuinely excited to see what the next few months of tournament play bring with the swathe of new options that Waves 12 and 13 bring to the table!

[X-Wing] B/SF-17 Bomber – Preview Thoughts

The first Wave 13 preview brings us the Resistance’s new ship, the B/SF-17 Bomber in the Turn the Tide of Battle article. It’s a bulky looking ship, with a statline to match and some interesting new tricks for bombing your opponent in new ways.

The Ship

The B/SF-17 has a durable but low offence base profile with a 2 attack primary weapon turret, 1 agility, 9 hull, and 3 shields. It’s got a sparse action bar with just the focus and target lock actions on its action bar. The upgrade bar is pretty bomb focused, with two Bomb slots alongside a System and Tech slot.

So, a big old stack of hull and shields but not the hugest amount of bite as a 2 dice turret isn’t going to be doing the hugest amount against a lot of ships. Without a torpedo slot, there’s no room for Extra Munitions, but there’s a solution for that problem in the pack that we’ll look at in the Upgrades section. The double Bomb slot also lets the B/SF-17 take a Bomblet Generator, which may prove a good fit on a ship that’s fundamentally reliant on its ordnance for any meaningful damage output.

Notably, there’s no crew slot on this ship, likely a deliberate move to stop you from equipping Sabine Wren on it. If you want her to enhance your bombs, you’re going to need to find a crew slot elsewhere in your list. Sadly, this also rules out the Bombardeer, which would be a solid addition to this ship.

The Dial

While not included in the main preview article, we got a look at the dial for the B/SF-17 via the Spikey Bits unboxing video that dropped shortly before the Turn the Tide of Battle article. It’s a distinctly “OK” dial, nothing exceptional either way. On the plus side, it has a 0 stop move, which combines nicely with some other upgrades in the pack for some unexpected bombing options. It’s also got a 1 hard turn, albeit red, which gives it a tight turning option if it needs one. On the down side, there’s no K-turn or other 180 flip move on the dial, so keeping anything in arc isn’t going to be easy – not an issue for the most part, but will mean that anything with Autothrusters should be able to pretty easily avoid taking any damage from the B/SF-17’s turret.

There’s quite a lot of similarities between the B/SF-17 and K-Wing dials, which may let the two fly alongside each other reasonably well. I think this dial is probably “good enough” without really adding anything to particularly help this ship beyond the quite handy 0 stop.

The Pilots

The first thing to note is that none of the B/SF-17 pilots have an Elite Pilot Talent slot, so they’re all based on the same upgrade bar. This sadly rules out quite a lot of options for them, although does seem to be something of a tradition for dedicated bombing ships like the K-Wing and TIE Punisher. This means that the abilities on the unique named pilots will be all the more important, as they’re the main distinguishing feature from one to another.

Crimson Squadron Pilot

The one generic pilot for this ship (as it tradition for large base ships), the Crimson Squadron Pilot comes in at 25 points and PS 1. The low PS may actually be an advantage for both blocking and dropping action bombs, so is probably actively preferable to PS 2 on this particular platform. It seems like a reasonably fair price point given the B/SF-17’s basic statline, but you’re going to need to stick some upgrades on this before it really does anything. Realistically, you’ll be looking at 30-33 points to kit one out well (Bomblet Generator, Trajectory Simulator, and Deflective Plating taking you quickly to 30 points), at which point you’re investing almost a third of your list into a 2 attack ship. Those bombs are going to need to do some serious work!

In isolation, it looks OK. However, when compared to the named pilots, the Crimson Squadron Pilot looks surprisingly expensive. I was expecting something more in the 23 point range based on early previews, which would have been a significant improvement. I suspect this ship may be suffering slightly from some over caution on the designer’s part following the dominance of the Contracted Scout and will join the ranks of “slightly too expensive” generic pilots that seems to have been a feature of the game for a while.

Despite that, I think there’s going to be a place for this ship. It’s pretty beefy, can block up lanes of approach with its large base and bombs, and has some tricks unique to it that will probably make it worth the points.

“Crimson Specialist”

The first of the B/SF-17’s named pilots, Crimson Specialist bumps up to PS 4 and gains a pilot ability for 27 points. As with all of the B/SF-17’s pilot abilities, Crimson Specialist is focused on bombing.

When placing a bomb token you dropped after revealing your manoeuver dial, you may place the bomb token anywhere on the play area touching your ship.

So that gives you a lot of options about where you want that bomb template to go, particularly when combined with some of the other upgrades in this pack. The B/SF-17’s large base is a distinct asset here, allowing you to create a huge potential no-go zone for your opponent to plan around. Combined with the 0 stop on the dial and not having to worry too much about catching yourself in the explosion of the bombs you drop thanks to Deflective Plating (more on that later) you can really stop off a whole line of approach.

This is probably the B/SF-17 pilot I’m the most excited for, just because of the level of shenanigans that the pilot ability opens up. I’m not sure it’s particularly competitive, but it seems like it’s going to be incredibly fun…

“Cobalt Leader”

Next up, Cobalt Leader gets bumped up to PS 6 for 28 points. Unlike the rest of the B/SF-17 pilots, Cobalt Leader’s ability is focused around Action bombs rather than drop on reveal bombs, which is going to make them interesting to use.

When attacking, if the defender is at range 1 of a bomb token, the defender rolls 1 fewer defense die, to a minimum of 0.

So, penalizing your target’s defense dice is always nice, particularly on a 2 attack ship that might otherwise struggle to get any damage through. However, it’s reliant on a few things to work. First of all, this only works with Action bombs that stick around after the end of the Activation phase (or Rebel Nym holding a drop on reveal bomb on the board, but that’s a corner case). Secondly, those Action bombs need to have not been detonated, so you need to have missed your opponent’s ship or have dropped a bomb in preparation for next turn’s move. Thirdly, you need to not overlap these bombs with your own large base.

That’s fairly situational to my mind, but might work OK with Cluster Mines which are more likely to have some of their number stick around even if you successfully land most of the templates when you drop them. However, you’re looking at 36 points for Cobalt Leader with Cluster Mines, Ordnance Silos, and Fire Control System (so you’ve got some attack mods on the turn you use your action to drop the Cluster Mines) so it’s not a cheap option. There might be a place for this with the recent Advanced SLAM nerf, but I’m going to have to try it out to be convinced.

“Crimson Leader”

Finally, we’ve got Crimson Leader at PS 7 and 29 points. Crimson Leader comes with a new Condition that makes your bombs all the more deadly!

When attacking, if the defender is inside your firing arc, you may spend 1 (hit) or (crit) result to assign the “Rattled” Condition to the defender.

Rattled
When you suffer damage from a bomb, you suffer 1 additional critical damage. Then, remove this card.

Action: Roll 1 attack die. On a (focus) or (hit) result, remove this card.

So, a straight damage buff to any bombs the target gets hit by, and in the form of critical damage at that. That’s pretty potent, and would obviously combo well with Sabine being in the same list to potentially make a bomb devastatingly lethal. As you’re only talking about a 2 attack ship, cancelling a hit or crit on an attack isn’t the worst thing in the world either, as you’re quite possibly not going to get any damage through anyway.

However, the key aspect of this is “if the defender is inside your firing arc”. On a large, slow ship with middling PS and no K-turns you’re not going to have enemy ships in your arc that frequently. I’d be surprised if this Condition gets applied more than a couple of times each game at most, so you’re going to need to make the most of that extra damage.

At 29 points base, Crimson Leader isn’t cheap either, so you’re going to want to carefully balance the points you spend on them against making sure the rest of your list is effective. And of course, if you want Sabine she’ll have to go on a different ship!

 

 

 

Rattled seems strong enough for Crimson Leader to get some play, although joins the ranks of other strong Rebel bombing options like Captain Nym and Sabine Wren crew. As such, he’s competing with some very strong alternative options unless you just go all in for an entirely bombing focused list. It’ll be interesting to see if he can find a place alongside these very popular upgrades!

Upgrades

There’s a swathe of new upgrades in this pack, but also a few existing bombs as well. You get two copies of Conner Net (plus templates) as well as a copy of Seismic Charges and Thermal Detonators, giving you some decent ordnance options right out of the box.  There’s also a copy of Targeting Synchroniser, giving the Resistance access to some additional tech.

Advanced Optics

You cannot have more than 1 focus token.

During the End phase, do not remove an unused focus token from your ship.

Comm Relay for focus tokens but a point cheaper, this tech upgrade is a reasonable way of letting yourself bank an action for future use. It’ll be handy on quite a few ships, but really shines on Poe Dameron – take a focus on turn 1, and probably never need to do so again for the rest of the game! I think it’s a sound call to make it cheaper than Comm Relay, as you’ll need to spend your focus token more frequently than your evade, so outside of Poe it will often not give you any significant benefit outside of that banked token on the opening approach.

The one other pilot that’s going to get a huge amount out of this is Omega Ace. He’s now much more self-sufficient, not needing Push the Limit or an external focus or target lock to set up his ability for the first turn of combat. And at only 23 points for Omega Ace with Advanced Optics and Crack Shot, that’s potentially two or three painful crits going through early in the game if paired with higher PS wingmen to strip the target’s shields.

Crossfire Formation

B/SF-17 Bomber only.

When defending, if there is at least 1 other friendly Resistance ship at Range 1-2 of the attacker with the Crossfire Formation Upgrade card, you may add 1 (focus) result to your roll.

A defensive boost for the B/SF-17 and our first sub-faction dependant upgrade. The extra focus result on defence is nice, but not actually all that helpful on a ship that’s mostly relying on its hull and shields rather than agility to keep it alive. I’m certainly a bit dubious about it at 2 points – this feels much more like it should have been a 0 or 1 point title – but it may be that this is enough to let a B/SF-17 actually empty its ordnance silos before it dies…

However, the new design space created by sub-faction dependant upgrades is really interesting for the game, and potentially an easy way of encouraging thematic lists. I’d love to see this explored further and it may provide the solution to things like how to give upgrades to the T-65 X-Wing without boosting the T-70 in the process. I’m expecting to see more of this in future waves to let the designers do much more tightly focused upgrade design.

Deflective Plating

B/SF-17 Bomber only.

When a friendly bomb token detonates, you may choose not to suffer its effects. If you do, roll an attack die. On a (hit) result, discard this card.

Nice and straightforward, this allows the B/SF-17 to be much more cavalier with its ordnance. In particular, this combos very well with the 0 stop for both standard bomb drops and Crimson Specialist’s pilot ability, and with Trajectory Simulator to launch a bomb forward then just casually fly into its blast.

I’m not sure the randomized discard chance was really needed but this is still solid value at 1 point – as a bare minimum it’s saving you from a point of damage, and works even better with things like Ion Bombs, Thermal Detonators, and Proton Bombs that do more than just dish out some damage.

If you’ve got a spare point on your B/SF-17, this is almost an auto-include.

Ordnance Silos

B/SF-17 Bomber only.

When you equip this card, place 3 ordnance tokens on each other equipped (bomb) Upgrade card. When you are instructed to discard an Upgrade card, you may discard 1 ordnance token on that card instead.

The answer to the B/SF-17’s lack of a torpedo slot, Ordnance Silos gives you a sizeable stack of ordnance tokens on whatever bomb you equip. However, it does take up a bomb slot itself, meaning you’ll only have a choice of one bomb. Still, it’s a good alternative to both Extra Munitions and Bomblet Generator, likely giving you enough bombs to be fairly free about when you chose to drop them. And if you take Proton Bombs, you’re effectively getting 20 points worth of upgrades for 7 points!

This is going to be on every B/SF-17 that doesn’t have Bomblet Generator on it.

Trajectory Simulator

You may launch bombs using the (forward 5) template instead of dropping them. You cannot launch bombs with the “Action:” header in this way.

So, this lets you hurl bombs across the battlefield with effectively a souped up version of Deathrain’s ability to drop bombs out of the front of your base. That makes both the front and back of a bombing ship with this upgrade potentially dangerous, forcing your opponent to either be very cautious with their approach or just accept the fact there’s a strong chance of taking a bomb to the face.

As a System upgrade, there’s a limited number of ships that can equip and make use of this. The B/SF-17, TIE Punisher, and Scurrg with the Havoc title are the only real options unless you start adding bomb slots via Cad Bane or Sabine Wren crew. It’s obviously very useful on the B/SF-17 with its 0 stop manuever potentially trapping your opponent’s ships between a bomb and a range 1 shot. It’s also a genuine boost to the Punisher, letting you start to get use from your ordnance much earlier in the game – definitely a plus on a ship that can end up being focused down quite quickly. I’m less convinced by it on the Havoc, as the Scurrg normally has better uses for its System slot (particularly on Nym), but it might have some use there.

At only 1 point, this is a very affordable upgrade and changes the capabilities of your bombing ships in a significant way. I suspect we’ll see a decent amount of use for this in standard play, and it’ll be almost a must-take on bombing ships that can have it in Epic.

Final Thoughts

This is a ship I think is going to take a while to find a place. I genuinely think there’s some real potential here, but it’s different enough to anything else we’ve currently got in the game to take a bit of thought and experimentation to find where it fits. A combination of mediocre abilities and no EPT slot limits some of the named pilots, and the generic feels a bit more expensive than it should be. However, both Crimson Specialist and Crimson Leader have pilot abilities with some real value, and I think the Crimson Squadron Pilot can carry a lot of bombs on a pretty durable platform.

The upgrades include some pretty standout options. Deflective Plating and Ordnance Silos really give the B/SF-17 an identity of its own, and both Advanced Optics and Trajectory simulator will see a lot of use outside of just this ship. There’s not a huge amount in this pack for Scum players, but both Rebels and Imperials should be able to make good use of these upgrades.

And as a very final though, this ship is a completely different proposition in Epic! Two or three B/SF-17s will be able to lay down a lot of hurt to both Huge ships and the tightly packed formations you often see in Epic. I’m genuinely excited to take it for a spin the next time I get in an Epic game.

[X-Wing] Sheathipede-class Shuttle – Preview Thoughts

In the last of the Wave 12 previews, we’ve got the Phantom II from Rebels in the Coordinate Your Attack article. While this was met with an initially very “meh” response when it was first previewed, I suspect this may be the sleeper hit of the wave, as the Sheathipede shuttle looks like it’s going to be a cheap and effective support ship, in a faction that can really make good use of it.

The Ship

Coming in with baseline stats of 2 attack, 2 agility, 4 hull, and 1 shield, the Sheathipede clearly isn’t designed for serious damage output or staying power. That said, its got an auxiliary rear firing arc, which will make it easier to get and keep targets in arc when needed. Action-wise, it’s Focus, Target Lock, Co-ordinate on its bar – pretty standard, apart from Co-ordinate which is what really sets it apart as a support ship. Only the second ship in the game to feature the Co-ordinate action, the Sheathipede can take an action to grant a free action to another ship at Range 1-2. This has advantages at both low and high Pilot Skill, making the presence of both a PS 1 and PS 9 pilot for the Phantom II a very useful feature.

On the Upgrade bar there’s the Crew and Astromech upgrade slots, both of which give the Sheathipede a lot of options. We’ve already seen some of the interesting combos this can result in from ARC-170, and it gives the Sheathipede even more ways of supporting members of the squad or filling another role if needed.

The Dial

There’s basically no information on the dial in this article, other than the fact we can see a white 3 bank to the right in the expansion spread. I’m assuming something roughly along the lines of an X-Wing or Z-95, possibly with more red given the relatively cheap points cost and auxiliary arc. Given the rear auxiliary arc and the support role of this ship, it doesn’t on the surface seem like it’s going to be hugely dial dependant. It definitely wants a K-turn, just so it can stay in rough formation with the ships it’s supporting, and ideally a white 4 forward so it’s got a decent turn of speed.

Having said all of that, the better the greens are, the better the Sheathipede will be able to do quite a few of its tricks. AP-5, Ezra, and Fenn Rau will all want to remove stress on a fairly regular basis, so good native green moves would be a huge benefit (although this can be helped a long way with the addition of an R2 Astromech). Push the Limit is also likely to be handy to have on this ship (where you’ve got both an EPT slot and a pilot ability that can support it, which is basically just Ezra) so you can Co-ordinate an ally and still take an action of your own. Best case scenario is we get a dial like the ARC-170 or U-Wing, which would give the Sheathipede a lot of flexibility.

The Titles

The Sheathipede comes with the Phantom II title for itself, and a new version of the Ghost title for the VCX-100. The new Ghost title is identical to the old one, other than referencing the Phantom II rather than Phantom title. But the new title is something a bit different…

Phantom II

While you are docked, the Ghost can perform primary weapon attacks from its special firing arc.

While you are docked, at the end of the Activation phase, the Ghost may perform a free coordinate action.

Both the Phantom and the Phantom II let the Ghost use its primary weapon from the rear special firing arc. However, rather than the Phantom letting you make an additional turret attack, the Phantom II gives you an end of Activation phase free coordinate action. That’s quite significant, letting one of your ships take an action after everyone else has moved and acted. That’s effectively PS 13 repositioning for starters, or acquiring target locks based on the final position of every ship on the board. It’s a very strong support ability, and could let you lend some real flexibility to another valuable ship in your squadron.

Of course, the big question will always be “is this better than an extra attack”? The Ghost with a docked Phantom II doesn’t come cheap, coming in at an absolute minimum of 50 points before you put any upgrades on either ship. That’s a minimum of half of your squad, and more realistically you’re going to be looking at 55-60 points by the time you’re done kitting the Ghost and Phantom II out with a sensible minimum loadout. That remaining 40-45 points is going to have to do a lot of work! I think it would also be a closer call if Twin Laser Turret wasn’t quite so good. Getting effectively two extra attacks at the end of the turn is a big deal, particularly with the Ghost’s ability to take a Fire Control System or Accuracy Corrector to improve your dice modification into the mix.

It’s going to need some table time to see how this plays out, but my gut instinct is that we’re going to see a lot of title-free Sheathipedes being flown as independent support ships rather than docked to the Ghost, and the Ghost will stick with the original Attack Shuttle when it wants something docked. That said, I may well be underestimating just how powerful a free end of Activation coordinate might be!

Pilots

Like the original Phantom, the Sheathipede comes with four unique named pilots and no generics. That seems pretty setting appropriate, and all four of the pilots have decent abilities to go alongside the Sheathipede.

AP-5

First up is the sardonic logistics droid, AP-5. He’s the cheapest of the Sheathipede pilots, costing 15 points and starting things off at PS 1 and a pilot ability that befits his tactical perspecive.

When you perform the coordinate action, after you choose a friendly ship and before it performs a free action, you may receive 2 stress tokens to remove 1 stress token from it.

Low PS may actually be an advantage when you’re coordinating your allies, letting you potentially catch up with speedier ships and allow them to act before anything else on the board has a chance to move. His pilot ability makes it easier to guarantee getting your coordinate action to work, and potentially opens up the dial of friendly ships to do unexpected red moves that your opponent may not have planned for. Of course, you’re going to want to make sure you can then get rid of the stress you’ve just given yourself, making Inspiring Recruit a likely pick for the crew slot, and quite possibly an R2 Astromech in the astromech dock.

Whatever the case, AP-5 helps to keep your cheap support ship cheap, and brings the potential advantage of low PS into the mix. He can really act as a force multiplier for your other ships, and let you control the flow of stress around your squad at vial moments. Honestly, he seems like a bit of a bargain!

“Zeb” Orrelios

A familiar face from the Rebels crew, Zeb return with his usual pilot ability and PS 3 for 16 points.

When defending, you may cancel (crit) results before (hit) results.

Only an point more than AP-5, Zeb makes for a slightly tankier Sheathipede. With only 1 shield and 5 hull, his pilot ability is probably at its most useful here, and may let you avoid some potentially crippling critical hits. That said, AP-5 is probably a better fit for a dedicated support ship, leaving Zeb probably the weakest of the Sheathipede pilots. This isn’t to say he’s bad by any stretch of the imagination, rather just “good” when compared with the other Sheathipede pilots’ “great”.

Ezra Bridger

Another returning Rebels crew member, Ezra gets a bump in pilot skill to PS 5 from his Attack Shuttle incarnation. He’s the first of the Sheathipede pilots with an EPT slot, and doesn’t pay much for the privilege, coming in at 17 points.

When defending, if you are stressed, you may change up to 2 of your (focus) results to (evade) results.

On a 5 health, 2 agility ship, Ezra’s ability is quite worthwhile, making him notably tankier and leaving his actions free for other things. If you want to do a Push the Limit Co-ordinate build, Ezra is without doubt the way to go and is a very reasonable 20 points for a support ship that can Co-ordinate while still taking an action of its own and getting a defensive buff in the process.

Alternatively, you can fit him with R3-A2 and Gunner for a very reasonable 24 points, giving you something close to the classic “stress hog” Y-Wing build but with an auxiliary arc and a pilot ability that makes the stress you’re going to stack up an advantage. I can see this being a very popular build, although you’re definitely turning your back on ever being likely to use the Sheathipede’s Co-ordinate action if you go this route.

Ezra’s ability feels a little more at home on the Sheathipede than the Attack Shuttle for the most part. The extra point of health makes a big difference, and taking his focus away from damage to support or stressing your opponent makes the defensive boost probably more useful. That said, you want to make sure that Ezra is being annoying enough to draw some fire from your opponent early game, as I suspect he’s not going to be a strong late game ship…

Fenn Rau

Last of all, Fenn Rau makes the jump from Scum to Rebel. He keeps his PS 9 but gains a new pilot ability more in keeping with his new ride.

When an enemy ship inside your firing arc at Range 1-3 becomes the active ship during the Combat phase, if you are not stressed, you may receive 1 stress token. If you do, that ship cannot spend tokens to modify its dice when attacking this round.

At 20 points, he’s significantly more costly than the other Sheathipede pilots, but both his ability and high PS may well be worth it. With both front and rear firing arcs and high PS, it shouldn’t be too tricky to get Fenn Rau lined up to use this ability, and stopping token spends on attacks could make a huge difference. Unmodified dice are notoriously unreliable, and stopping someone with a range 1 shot from spending their target lock and focus could easily make the difference between a dead ship and a barely scratched one. It doesn’t help against non-token modifications (Expertise, Predator, Guidance Chips, and so on), but it’s still got the potential to be a really significant hit to your opponent’s offence.

Fenn’s native PS 9 is also a big deal. Put Veteran Instincts on him, and you’ll be able to Co-ordinate actions to your allies at PS 11, giving you an edge over almost anything in the game. All of this said, you probably don’t want to invest too many points into him – at a base 20 points for a 2 attack, 2 agility, 5 health ship, Fenn isn’t going to be doing much damage or potentially living that long himself. He also needs to avoid getting stressed, and to be able to shed stress easily, which may in turn limit some of his build options. Veteran Instincts, an R2 Astromech, and a cheap crew (something like Rey, Tactician, or Tail Gunner) for around 24 points seems about the right spot for Fenn.

Upgrades

All of the upgrades in the Sheathipede pack are new to the game, and they’ve all been spoiled here. Other than the two title cards I’ve already discussed above, we’ve got two new crew and two new astromech cards. Interestingly, no EPTs in the pack, despite the fact two of the pilots have an EPT slot.

Chopper

Action: Discard 1 other equipped Upgrade card to recover 1 shield.

1 point

The grumpiest astromech of all, Chopper finally makes an appearance in the astromech rather than crew slot. At 1 point, he offers a very cheap shield regeneration option, although it comes at the very Chopper cost of discarding an upgrade as he cannibalises bits of your ship to keep it flying. It also takes an action to do, possibly limiting his usefulness on the Sheathipede itself – with Co-ordinate available to you, you’re like to want your action free for that more often than not.

I suspect Chopper will see the most use on Y-Wings. They’ve got a lot of slots you can fill up with upgrades for very little points, and a Twin Laser Turret Y-Wing doesn’t need its action a huge amount. Throw on Bomb Loadout, Guidance Chips, and possibly the BTL-A4 title, and you’ve got the potential for an extra three shields. I’ve seen some discussion on adding on Extra Munitions for additional regen options, but at that point you may as well pay 3 points for R5-P9 instead and just use your action to focus. The key to making Chopper work for you is to keep whatever he’s on as cheap as possible. 0 point upgrade are the way to go, and the options on this front have just expanded…

Courier Droid

At the start of the “Place Forces” step, you may choose to treat your pilot skill value as “0” or “8” until the end of the step.

0 points

The hapless Courier Droid, long-time nemesis of Chopper. For 0 points, you get a bit of deployment flexibility which may come in handy. This is well-costed at 0 points, as you’re already paying a price by giving up the usually much in demand crew slot for this. Needless to say, this is excellent fuel for Chopper, who is pictured lurking in the background on the artwork of this card.

Other than that, I can’t see this card getting much use other than the odd occasion when you’ve got a crew slot going spare. That’ll mostly be on multi-crew ships, and in particular the Decimator may be able to find a space for this droid alongside Moff Jerjerrod to help keep those critical hits under control. Importantly, this card is Limited, so you can’t just fill up all of your crew slots with these little guys just to be discarded!

Flight-Assist Astromech

You cannot attack ships outside your firing arc.

After you execute a maneuver, if you did not overlap a ship or obstacle and there are no enemy ships inside your firing arc at Range 1-3, you may perform a free boost or barrel roll action.

1 point

A brand new generic astromech, and one that will be welcomed by the Rebel fleet. At only 1 point, the Flight-Assist Astromech offers a lot of value for a cheap price. Yes, it’s quite conditional when you can use it, but it helps with both your initial approach and when you need to break off and re-engage. It’s also not a bad option on higher PS aces, who can get themselves back on target.

This gives the T-65 X-Wing some repositioning it desperately needs, and isn’t bad at all on a BTL-A4 Y-Wing either. I suspect both the ARC-170 and E-Wing will have better uses for their astromech slot (the ARC in particular finding it more difficult to meet the conditions of using the Flight-Assist Astromech due to the auxiliary rear arc). I’m personally looking forward to giving it a try on Blue Ace in the T-70, as being able to do 1 turn boosts with this seems both big and clever.

Is the Flight-Assist Astromech going to fundamentally change the role of any ship that can equip it? No, but it does give two of the Rebelion’s workhorse ships a bit more maneuverability, which can’t be a bad thing for 1 point.

Maul

Scum only. Ignore this restriction if your squad contains “Ezra Bridger.”

When attacking, if you are not stressed, you may receive any number of stress tokens to reroll that many attack dice.

After performing an attack that hits, you may remove 1 of your stress tokens.

3 points

Last of all, we’ve got Maul. Note, not Darth Maul, this is very much the Clone Wars and Rebels version of the character, hence his Scum affiliation. They’ve done a neat bit of design with the restriction as well, letting Rebel squadrons take him as long as his “apprentice” Ezra is present in the squad.

And, to be honest, it’s going to be Rebel squads that use him. His ability is quite nice, giving you action-free attack modification and the ability to potentially remove some of the stress you cause yourself in the process. That’s great for Rebels, who lack much in the way of attack modifying crew. It’s less good for Scum, who have both Dengar and the K4 Security Droid giving much the same benefit in notably less restrictive ways. There might be a corner case for using him in Scum squads when you’ve already got Dengar in play as a pilot and don’t have the greens to support the K4 droid, but if you’ve not got the greens for K4 you probably also don’t want to be stressing yourself either…

Maul is a different prospect in Epic, that said. As Epic ships don’t keep stress tokens, you can freely reroll all of your dice for every attack each turn if Maul’s crewing an Epic ship. That’s not bad on the C-ROC, and amazing on the CR-90 with its potential for four attacks a turn. I strongly suspect we’ll see something done to address both Maul and Zuckuss crew for Epic if we ever see another Epic FAQ produced.

All told, Maul isn’t a bad option at all, it’s just Scum already have some truly amazing crew along similar lines at the same points cost. Rebels will find a place for him without a doubt though. Just probably not on the Sheathipede itself, as two attack dice don’t really warrant this kind of investment in offence.

Final Thoughts

The Sheathipede has been expected for a while, and is a welcome addition to the game for me. A cheap support ship is something that the Rebels can always find use for (as shown by the popularity of Captain Rex and Ahsoka in the stolen TIE Fighter has shown), and the Sheathipede really delivers on this with the Co-ordinate action and a selection of neat pilot abilities. All of the pilots seem useful and well costed for what they offer, much like the ARC-170.

The upgrades are a decent selection as well. I suspect Flight-Assist Astromech is likely to be the only one that people are going to try to get multiple copies of, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that crop up in another expansion some time in the not too distant future.

I’m pretty hyped for this ship, and overall I suspect it may be the one that has the largest effect on the competitive meta of anything in Wave 12. Roll on December!

[X-Wing] M12-L Kimogila – Preview Thoughts

In the second of the Wave 12 previews for X-Wing, we’re looking at the M12-L Kimogila in the aptly titled Bullseye! article. Unlike the Star Wing preview, there’s still quite a lot kept under wraps, but it’s our first detailed look at this new heavy fighter for Scum and Villainy.

The Ship

The Kimogila is a bulky dogfighter of a ship. With 3 Attack, 1 Agility, 6 Hull, and 2 Shields, it’s capable of taking a bit of a beating but won’t be dodging many shots, so those hull and shields won’t last that long. It’s got a decent action bar, featuring the Target Lock, Focus, Barrel Roll, and Reload actions (making it the second ship in the game to feature Reload). Barrel Roll is likely to be quite key on this ship, as you really want to make use of the Kimogila’s Bullseye firing arc, and the ability to barrel roll into position will hopefully make that a lot easier.

On the Upgrade Bar, the Kimogila has the Torpedo, Missile, Salvaged Astromech, and Illicit slots. That’s a decent range of options, and the torpedo and missile combo means you can give it Extra Munitions. (This might seem a bit redundant with the Reload action, but I suspect the Kimogila will get focused down quickly enough in a lot of games that you won’t have the turn to spare to reload your weapons.) It also makes it only the second ship in the Scum faction to have unrestricted access to the Salvaged Astromech slot, as the JumpMaster has lost the slot in the most recent FAQ, and the Scurrg can only take unique Salvaged Astromechs via the Havoc title. The R4 Agromech seems like a natural fit for the Kimogila, as might the Unhinged Astromech depending on what the dial can do…

The Dial

We haven’t had the dial revealed yet, but there are some insights from the article and full pack image for the expansion. On the expansion image, we can see a 4 K-turn shown on the dial, so it can turn around. Given the lack of any reference cards for other maneuvers, we can also assume that it’s only got K-turns – not S-loops or Talon Rolls. Pretty much as expected really.

The other insight is in the text of the article: “Given how difficult it can be to catch enemy ships in your bullseye firing arc, especially when you consider that all of the Kimogila’s Speed “1” and “2” turns are red…”. Red turns are bad news for arc dependent fighters in general, and there’s nothing confirming if the Kimogila has speed 3 turns at all. If it does, it’s not in too bad a spot – the slow turns being red is going to be challenging for keeping the bullseye arc lined up, but at least you’ll be able to use your speed 3 turns to change facing quickly without having to just resort to K-turns all the time. Plus if it does have speed 3 turns, then you can pop Unhinged Astromech on the Kimogila to make it better at shedding stress.

However, if it doesn’t have speed 3 turns on the dial, this is going to be an extremely challenging ship to use. That would give it a dial only marginally better than the Lambda-class Shuttle, and I can’t see the Kimogila being even vaguely competitive if that’s the case. There’s a lot riding on those 3 turns, and Unhinged Astromech possibly makes it less likely that we’ll see them on the dial at all.

Bullseye!

The Kimogila also introduces the Bullseye firing arc to the game. I’ve discussed this briefly in the initial preview for Wave 12, but it’s worth looking at again. A very narrow straight arc, the bullseye arc is a straight line arc that falls between the nubs on the base. We don’t have an exact width for this as yet (both the width of a movement template and the range ruler have been suggested), but whatever the exact details it’s a tiny amount of coverage when compared to the usual 80 degree primary firing arc. Needless to say, that’s going to make getting ships inside it take some real precision flying and good prediction of your opponent’s moves, and offers a real reward for pilots skilled enough to make use of it.

When attacking ships inside your bullseye firing arc, your target can’t spend their focus or evade tokens to modify their dice. Not only does this lock them out from their standard effects, it also stops focus tokens from being spent with the Sensor Cluster Tech upgrade or anything else that modifies defense dice. This is going to have its largest effect on ships that rely on those tokens to defend themselves, making the Kimogila a good ace hunter, or targeting anything that relies on green dice rather than hull and shields to defend itself. If you want to take down /x7 TIE Defenders, there’s worse places to start than a ship with a bullseye arc for sure!

The precision nature of the bullseye arc is going to make it more valuable on higher PS pilots, but as we’ll see the Kimogila has a few options on that front. All told, it’s a neat mechanic that really focuses down on the core dogfighting aces experience.

The Pilots

Cartel Brute

Our baseline generic, the Cartel Brute has a respectable PS 3 for a 22 point cost. That makes it obviously very comparable to the Blue Squadron B-Wing (both ships having 8 health, 3 attack, 1 agility, and the same points cost), although hopefully the dial and Bullseye firing arc will give the Cartel Brute a bit of an edge over the Blue Squadron Pilot, as the B-Wing really isn’t in a great spot in the game as it stands.

It’s worth noting that the Cartel Brute is in a very similar position to the G-1A Starfighter. The upgrades and actions are a bit different between the two, but the basic profile is again very similar. Hopefully both ships will have their niche – the munitions and astromech of the Kimogila verses the system and crew slots of the G-1A should help with that – but there’s more overlap than I’d expect.

I suspect the Cartel Brute may be overshadowed by the higher PS named pilots, as the Bullseye arc really wants a PS advantage to get the most out of it, but it gives Scum a durable ordnance platform that can take a few shots and, importantly, take Long-Range Scanners to make getting those early target locks a breeze. And if someone does end up in your Bullseye Arc, you can be sure they’ll want to get out of it if they possibly can!

There’s no preview of the PS 5 EPT generic (likely named the “Cartel Enforcer”), so we’re missing a points cost for that, but it’ll be 23 or 24 points based on the Cartel Brute and the next named pilot up…

Dalan Oberos

Making his second appearance in X-Wing, Dalan Oberos takes the helm of Kimogila with a potent pilot ability.

At the start of the Combat phase, you may acquire a target lock on an enemy ship inside your bullseye firing arc at Range 1-3.

At 25 points, Dalan gets the ability above, PS 7, and an Elite Pilot talent slot. That’s a strong combo, and likely to make him a pretty deadly ordnance carrier. With Veteran Instincts you can bump him up to PS 9, or take Crack Shot to make your alpha strike really hit hard. There’s strong action efficiency with his pilot ability as well, allowing you to make target lock and focus modified shots most turns – add Guidance Chips into that for something like Cruise or Harpoon Missiles, and that’s some real consistency of damage. Even without ordnance, he could be a quite deadly ace hunter for a very reasonable price. It’s also worth noting that the “start of the Combat phase” timing makes you immune to the Black One title, and (initiative dependant) possibly also Countermeasures, both of which are increasing in popularity as target lock dependant munitions are having more of a meta presence.

Of course, all of this requires getting your Bullseye Arc on target, which is non-trivial. I think Veteran Instincts is likely to be almost a must take on Dalan, as you may well be wanting to barrel roll into position to get that free target lock and the benefits of your Bullseye Arc. And just like every other 1 Agility ship, he’s not going to be dodging many shots, so he’ll be on a strict time limit unless you can convince your opponent that there are other higher priority targets to deal with.

Torani Kulda

Finally, we’ve got Torani Kulda. She’s takes her bullseye firing arc from “dangerous” to “deadly”…

After you perform an attack, each enemy ship inside your bullseye firing arc at Range 1-3 must choose to suffer 1 damage or remove all of its focus and evade tokens.

Coming in at 27 points, Torani gets her pilot ability, PS 8, and an EPT slot. That means she can go up to the impressive heights of PS 10 with VI, and I suspect that’s basically all her EPT slot is going to be used for, both for getting the bullseye arc lined up, and shooting first when her ability will have the most effect. The choice between token stripping or damage is really bad news for almost everything in the game, and those occasions when you manage to get more than one ship lined up in your bullseye arc are going to be rare but glorious.

One key point to note however – it’s perfectly valid for the enemy ship to remove 0 tokens to fulfil the requirements of this ability if they don’t have any focus or evade tokens assigned to them, so you can’t force damage through that way. Still, it’s a strong ability that can really mess with your opponent’s plans for the turn. I think I like Dalan’s ability a little more, but both Kimogila aces have strong pilot abilities that I’m looking forward to using.

Upgrades

First of all, we don’t get spoilers for two of the new upgrades in this pack – both Scrambler Missiles and R5-TK are not included in this preview article. It’s a fairly safe bet that Scrambler Missiles will be an Ion Torpedo style area effect that dishes out Jam tokens, given the number of Jam token that come in this pack.

Contraband Cybernetics

When you become the active ship during the Activation phase, you may discard this card and receive 1 stress token. If you do, until the end of the round, you may perform actions and red maneuvers even while you are stressed.
1 point

Another cheap Illicit upgrade to join the ranks. Like most of the 1 point Illicits it’s quite situational, and has a double downside in both being a discard to use upgrade and giving you a point of stress. That said, there are going to be times when that stress is worth it to do an unexpected K-turn, or a red move and an action. Of course, you’re going to end up at least double stressed from doing any of these, but might be worth it on a clutch turn.

The big place I see this getting use is on a Kihraxz with the Vaksai title. You can’t say fairer than free, and a Deadeye Black Sun Ace might well be willing to end up double stressed if it means they can 4k into a 5 dice Cruise Missile shot. I don’t think this upgrade is going to see a massive amount of use, but it’s definitely got its place in the game.

Enforcer

After defending, if the attacker is inside your bullseye firing arc, the attacker receives 1 stress token.
1 point.

The unique title for the Kimogila, this gives you some stress control and can make you an undesirable target in a similar fashion to Rebel Captive. It does rely on you having something in your bullseye arc however, so as with anything else arc dependant, may be better on the higher PS pilots. Torani Kulda becomes an even more potent control piece with this, potentially stripping tokens and stressing your targets if they dare to shoot back.

Because this is tied to your bullseye arc, this isn’t likely to work every turn, but I think it’s well worth the 1 point it costs. Torani with the Enforcer title alongside Asajj could give Scum some strong stress control options, and force difficult target priority choices on your opponent – do they shoot the likely hard to hurt Asajj and take a hit to their damage output as a result, or do they put some hurt on Torani but end up double stressed (or worse)? Even if all it does is dissuade your opponent from shooting at the less than nimble Kimogila for a turn or two, that’s still points well spent!

Final Thoughts

The Kimogila has got some interesting mechanics on a slightly mediocre platform. The bullseye arc is a great addition to X-Wing that really rewards good flying. I’m a bit uncertain about the Reload action on the Kimogila – it fits perfectly with the hit and run playstyle of the Star Wing, but less well with the seemingly rather lumbering dial of the Kimogila.

Speaking of the dial, it’s hard to make any real call on how good or otherwise this ship will be without having seen it. If it doesn’t have white 3 turns, then it’s going to be in a very tricky spot indeed. If it does, then it’ll have an interesting flight path (slow roll in then fast turns to open ground and get yourself around) that will take some getting used to but should offer Scum something new. I’m going to have to put this firmly in the “wait and see” category for now, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

[X-Wing] Alpha-class Star Wing – Preview Thoughts

After a bit of a dry spell for X-Wing news, we’ve hit the preview many X-Wing players had been waiting literally years for. The Indiscriminate Devastation article gives us an in-depth look at the Alpha-class Star Wing, the single most requested ship in the history of the game. And when I say “an in-depth look”, I really mean that! This article covers everything in the pack, so we’ve got a very good idea of what the Star Wing is capable of.

The Ship

The Star Wing is a moderately durable ordnance boat, with a basic statline of 2 attack, 2 agility, 4 hull, and 3 shields. The action bar comes with the Target Lock, Focus, SLAM, and the brand new Reload actions (more on this later). Upgrade-wise, its got one each of the Torpedo and Missile slots available, although this can change. So, it’s clearly not a straight dogfigher with only mediocre attack stats, but there’s enough agility, hull and shields to make it hard to one shot or even guarantee downing in a single turn of concentrated fire. Fans of the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter computer games will be wondering “where are my cannons”, but don’t worry, this hasn’t been forgotten!

Reloading?

The Reload action is a brand new action to the game, allowing you to recover discarded torpedo and missile upgrades at the cost of an action and a weapons disabled token. This can make a ship with this action a consistent threat throughout the game, particularly if it can break away for a turn or two and then re-engage. That’s a much easier prospect if you can SLAM, and the Star Wing has some additional tricks to make having your weapons disabled less of a hinderance than it might at first seem…

The Dial

As a ship with a native SLAM action, most people were predicting something along the lines of the K-Wing’s dial, but the Star Wing is notably better than that. It gets white 3 speed turns over the K-Wing, a (likely to never be used) red 4 straight, and shifts its green banks up to speed 2. That’s actually a pretty forgiving dial, and allows the Star Wing to cover a lot of ground while turning around via SLAM.

Of course, there’s no K-turn or other flip maneuver on the dial, but I think that’s going to be a standard feature of any ship with SLAM on its action bar. All told, this is better than I was expecting, and should combine well with other features of the Star Wing and upgrades in this pack to make it surprisingly nimble.

The Titles

It’s difficult to talk about the Star Wing without looking at the titles that come with it first. The XG-1 Assault Configuration and OS-1 Arsenal Loadout upgrades both change the role of the ship significantly, as well as giving it a way of overcoming the main drawback of the SLAM action.

XG-1 Assault Configuration

Your upgrade bar gains 2 (cannon) icons.

You may perform attacks with (cannon) secondary weapons that cost 2 or fewer points even while you have a weapons disabled token.

And this is how you get your Gunboat. At 1 point, the XG-1 title gives you two cannon slots and a significant perk for turns when you’re SLAMing or Reloading. A cheap and cheerful Flechette Cannon allows you to keep pressure on your opponent’s ships even when you’re repositioning or recovering your ordnance – and it’s worth noting that with the Advanced SLAM modification, you can be doing both in the same turn for no additional downside.

The double cannon slot is important for a number of reasons, not least of which is the Linked Battery upgrade below. It also lets you put something punchy like a Mangler or Heavy Laser Cannon on the

OS-1 Arsenal Loadout

Your upgrade bar gains the (torpedo) and (missile) icons.

You may perform attacks with (torpedo) and (missile) secondary weapons against ships you have locked even while you have a weapons disabled token.

The more expensive of the two upgrades, the OS-1 Arsenal Loadout allows you to keep firing ordnance even when your other weapons are off-line, and give you more ordnance options in the process. At 2 points it’s a bit more of an investment however, and the “ships you have locked” condition makes this not as simple to use as the XG-1 title. Still, you can’t really complain about the ability to SLAM into a missile or torpedo volley, or fire while you reload – it’ll just take a little bit more thought to use consistently.

At a guess, we’ll see OS-1 Star Wings generally bringing Long-Range Scanners or Guidance Chips over Advanced SLAM, to make the most of their ordnance on a low to middling PS platform. That said, Advanced SLAM makes it much easier to have a target lock ready and waiting, so it may be something we see evolve over time.

The Pilots

Nu Squadron Pilot

The baseline generic pilot for the Star Wing, the Nu Squadron Pilot clocks in at 18 points for a PS 2 pilot. That’s pretty cheap, and allows you to put a few upgrades on there without bumping up the cost too much. It’s also quite competitively priced when compared to the Scimitar Squadron TIE Bomber – 2 points more gets you one extra health overall, some of which is actually shields, plus the SLAM and reload actions. There’s no barrel roll, but it does make me wonder how much we’ll be seeing of the TIE Bomber generics when the Star Wing arrives.

Given the low Pilot Skill and lack of an EPT slot, Long-Range Scanners is likely to be a common pick on OS-1 Nu Squadron Pilots, making it easier to get Attack (Target Lock) secondary weapons to fire, and fitting well with the hit-and-run playstyle that may suit this pilot. Alternatively, the Nu Squadron is quite a cheap way of getting a Heavy Laser Cannon on the board for a hefty 4 dice attack – 26 points doesn’t break the bank, and can slot in alongside Imperial aces to be a sizeable distraction or threat.

Rho Squadron Pilot

The elite Star Wing squadron, the Rho Squadron Pilot costs 21 points for a PS 4 pilot with an Elite Pilot Talent upgrade slot. That’s a three point step up from the Nu Squadron Pilot, which is quite a marked jump in cost. However, I suspect it’s a markup that’s worth it. The EPT slot opens up a lot of options, and in an environment where triple Contracted Scouts are still seeing quite a lot of play, PS 4 isn’t without value. Deadeye makes getting ordnance away much easier given the Rho’s low PS, although doesn’t synergise well with the OS-1 title. Alternatively, Crack Shot can make your opening volley of attacks really hurt!

I’m toying with an Expertise, Heavy Laser Cannon, Linked Battery build for an XG-1 Rho Squadron Pilot, but I suspect 35 points may be too much to spend on a PS 4 generic pilot, no matter how good the offence may be…

Lieutenant Karsabi

The first of the named unique pilots for the Star Wing, Lieutenant Karsabi is another hefty bump in cost – 24 points base for a PS 5 pilot with an EPT slot and the ability below.

When you receive a weapons disabled token, if you are not stressed, you may receive 1 stress token to remove it.

That’s 3 points more than a Rho Squadron, for +1 PS and the Pilot Ability. It seems that the Star Wing is echoing the TIE Bomber’s costing a little more closely than I expected… So, is the cost worth it? The ability to drop a weapons disabled token for a stress seems quite useful, making both SLAM and Reload easier to pull off, but it notably makes Advanced SLAM useless on Karsabi (as the stress is applied before you get to take your free action). That doesn’t rule him out of contention, but means you’re more likely to want to slow roll in with OS-1, or SLAM around with a meaty cannon and Linked Battery to get slightly modified shots from unexpected angles.

I’m going to need to test out Karsabi a little more to be sure, but my gut instinct is he’s going to be just a little too expensive to beat out other Star Wing builds.

Major Vynder

The second of the two named Star Wing pilots, Major Vynder falls on to a more usual price increase – 26 points for PS 7, an EPT slot, and her pilot ability.

When defending, if you have a weapons disabled token, roll 1 additional defense die.

That’s 2 points more than Lieutenant Karsabi for +2 PS – still a little pricey these days, but not overly so. Vynder’s pilot ability is quite strong, notably buffing her defence when she SLAMs or Reloads. That’s going to inform a lot of builds for her I suspect – you’re going to want to have that weapons disabled token for as much of the game as possible, or at least the turns when you’re getting shot. Both the XG-1 and OS-1 titles let her keep attacking through weapons disabled, although I suspect OS-1 is likely to see more play on her simply because the Flechette Cannon is a bit anemic as your primary means of offense.

Of course, the OS-1 title doesn’t come cheap. Even a relatively streamlined build like the one below comes in at 35 points, over a third of a standard list.

Major Vynder — Alpha-class Star Wing 26
Veteran Instincts 1
Harpoon Missiles 4
Advanced SLAM 2
Os-1 Arsenal Loadout 2
Ship Total: 35

It’s tempting to put two sets of missiles on there, so you can hopefully alternate the SLAM and Reloading turns, but even a relatively cost efficient double Cruise Missle loadout pushes the cost up to 37 points and ties you into going fast. (Why missiles, you may ask. Ideally, you want to be minimising the number of turns you have to take the target lock action so you’re free to SLAM/Reload and still focus.)

My instinct is that Vynder’s going to be reasonably strong, but have a flight style that’s going to take some getting used to. Besides anything else, stacking a weapon disabled token every turn is really quite counter-intuitive…

 

The Upgrades

There’s mostly new upgrades in the Star Wing, but it also includes a set of Cruise Missiles (good news for Imperial only players) and Advanced SLAM…

Advanced SLAM

After performing a SLAM action, if you did not overlap an obstacle or another ship, you may perform a free action on your action bar.

Not technically a new upgrade, but Advanced SLAM has received a significant change in wording. The addition of “… on your action bar” kills the Advanced SLAM bombing K-Wing dead. I’ve got very mixed feelings about this – on the one hand, precision dropped mines have been an issue for high agility aces for a while, but on the other it completely removes the main schtick from the K-Wing and makes Advanced SLAM almost useless to it as unlike the Star Wing its got no tricks to get around the weapon disabled token.

I’m also not sure if this change will fix the problem that FFG really should be aiming at – Miranda. She’s moved seamlessly across to Bomblet Generator as her default bomb upgrade, which doesn’t care at all about Advanced SLAM. More than that, if you *really* still want to SLAM and then drop action bombs, Experimental Interface has got you covered. I don’t think this change will suddenly see a return of Soontir Fel to the competitive meta, and it wipes a unique list archetype out of the game entirely.

Jamming Beam

Attack 3
Range 1-2
Attack: Attack 1 ship.

If this attack hits, assign the defender 1 jam token. Then cancel all dice results.

1 point.

Jamming Beam joins Tractor Beam as the second no damage cannon in the game. Like Tractor Beam, Jamming Beam debuffs your target, but rather than hitting their positioning and green dice it goes after their focus, evade, and target lock tokens. That can make life really difficult for ordnance carriers reliant on target locks or Deadeye, anyone with the Juke EPT, Poe Dameron, and a range of other targets. Plus unlike tractor tokens, jam tokens aren’t automatically removed at the end of the turn, meaning low PS Jamming Beam carriers can still have a meaningful effect on the enemy squad.

However, it does need to hit to actually do anything, and in doing so you’re giving up a chance to deal damage. That’s not an insignificant cost in its own right, and becomes more significant the higher the native attack value of the ship carrying this upgrade. However, at just 1 point, it’s easy enough to slot into a list and can prove very annoying to your opponent in the process.

Linked Battery

Small ship only
When attacking with a primary or (cannon) secondary weapon, you may reroll 1 attack die.
2 points.

The second cannon upgrade in the pack, Linked Battery isn’t a weapon in its own right. Rather, it enhances your primary weapon or another cannon you’ve got equipped, making your weapons more reliable.

The “Small ship only” limitation on this card does narrow the scope of what can use it quite significantly. Currently, the B-Wing, M-3A Heavy Scyk, Star Wing, and TIE Defender are the only ships able to equip it. The TIE Defender is never going to take this, as it doesn’t benefit the TIE/D variant at all, and the TIE/x7 can’t equip it. The M-3A won’t want it for the most part, as it would rather equip a “real” cannon to improve on its base 2 attack dice (with the possible exception of shenanigans with Sunny Bounder).

That leaves the B-Wing and Star Wing. It’s actually a decent alternative to a Fire Control System for the B-Wing, giving it some limited rerolls from the first turn of shooting, and making it easier for it to switch targets as needed. It also frees up the System slot for other upgrades, giving the B-Wing some extra options. I don’t expect this to become a default on the B-Wing, but it’s a nice additional option on a ship that could use a bit of help.

As for the Star Wing, this obviously improves whatever other cannon your XG-1 is equipped with. That can make for a pretty punchy Mangler or Heavy Laser Cannon, although at that point you’re giving up the option to shoot on the turn you SLAM or Reload. Of course, that may not matter if what you’re going for is reliable heavy firepower rather than SLAM tricks.

It’s a decent upgrade, but one that I’m sad I can’t put on my FireSpray or YV-666.  It’s costed enough to not be an auto include, but I think it’ll do work on the two ships that can really benefit from it.

Saturation Salvo

After you perform an attack with a (torpedo) or (missile) secondary weapon that does not hit, each ship at Range 1 of the defender with an agility value lower than the squad point cost of the (torpedo) or (missile) Upgrade card must roll 1 attack die and suffer any damage or critical damage rolled.
1 point.

Finally, we come to the one EPT that’s included in the pack. It’s… not great, to be completely frank.  While I can see what the designers were aiming for here, there’s just so many clauses and limitations that I can’t really ever see this being worth taking over the assorted other 0 and 1 point EPTs you could take instead.

For starters, it suffers from the Munitions Failsafe issue of being an upgrade that’s based around your plan failing – you don’t want your ordnance missing. Secondly, even if your missile or torpedo does miss, the range of ships you might hurt is likewise pretty limited – an agility less than the points cost of the upgrade used means that you need to be missing with a 4 dice missile before you’re hurting agility 3 targets. And even if you manage to both miss and be using an upgrade of sufficient value to tag your targets, it’s still a dice roll to see if you do any damage at all.

Save yourself the heartache, take Crack Shot instead – it’s a guaranteed point of damage for the same cost.

That burst of negativity aside, there is some fun potential with Saturation Salvo. There’s always the chance of doing damage to a Ghost or Decimator with a missed Thread Tracer for just rubbing salt into the wound. Double Edge with Saturation Salvo and Unguided Rockets is pretty cheap (22 points to be exact), and can dish some hurt onto low agility targets. Indeed, it might almost be a decent build against the low agility Biggs/Lowhhrick Rebel lists that are popular at the moment. It’s never going to be a card that sees competitive play, but can make for some fun war stories the times it does work out.

Final Thoughts

For all that I might have struck a bit of a negative tone about some elements of this expansion, I’m really hyped for the whole thing. The Star Wing brings a strong new ordinance option to the Empire, and an entirely different approach to SLAM in the process. I’m already theorising three and four Star Wing lists in idle moments, usually a strong sign for a good, or at least interesting ship. The two titles almost create two different ships in the process, and notably expand the range of builds we’re likely to see.

There are definitely some misses in here – Saturation Salvo is a bit of a trap upgrade, and the point cost jumps for some of the pilots feel excessive – but for the most part I’m keen to see the Star Wing hit the tables, and will be taking it out for a spin on Vassal until then!