Upsilon-class Shuttle – Preview Thoughts

The second of the Wave 10 preview articles went up last Monday, and it’s a big one – both in terms of content and the sheer size of the ship in question.  The First Order’s Upsilon-class Shuttle is a beast of a ship!

Crew

First Order Fanatic – General Hux

General Hux is an expensive crew option, clocking in at 5 points (and so not being an eligible option for the TIE Shuttle) but he’s got a sizeable effect to match the cost.  For an action you can assign a focus token to up to three friendly ships at Range 1-2, and assign one of those ships the Fanatical Devotion condition.  (In both cases, these effects can target the ship Hux is on.)  Then, assign the ship Hux is on a stress token.

We’ll get to the condition in a moment, but the focus tokens alone are worthy of consideration.  That’s a lot of action efficiency to be generating from just one action, and gives other ships in your squadron the freedom to pick other action options.  It is two points more expensive than Fleet Officer, but effects an extra ship, and assigns a (mostly) beneficial condition.

So, what does this Fanatical Devotion actually do for you?  First up, it stops you spending focus tokens on defence for the turn, which is a pretty big deal.  However, while this does make your ships potentially more vulnerable, you can still use evade tokens, giving you some room for defensive dice modification.

In exchange for this, when you spend a focus token on the attack, put one of your focus results to one side.  This become a hit that cannot be cancelled, effectively turning it into a min-Autoblaster.  Very useful if you want to punch through the defences of hard to hit aces like Soontir Fel, the Inquisitor, or Fenn Rau.

Given the defensive vulnerability this creates, you want to be slightly careful about where you assign this condition.  However, given that both the Lambda and Upsilon shuttles only have one Agility, and the Decimator has 0, any of them can take this condition at comparatively minimal risk.  Conveniently, they’re all also likely candidates to be carrying Hux in the first place, and have a decent number of red dice to try and get that focus result.

I’m fully expecting to see a fair amount of Hux on the table when Wave 10 hits, although if he’ll be good enough to displace the Emperor in any Imperial lists is another matter entirely…

Dark Side Apprentice – Kylo Ren

So, Kylo Ren isn’t actually a new reveal, having been featured in the Wave 10 announcement article, but I’m including him here as he’s still a solid addition to the Imperial crew roster.

His ability is pretty simple – take an action to assign the somewhat wordily-titled “I’ll Show You the Dark Side” condition to an enemy ship at Range 1-3.  The condition itself is a bit more of a significant bit of mechanics to get your head around.

I’ll Show You the Dark Side (ISYTDS) allows you to search your opponent’s deck for a Pilot damage card, and place it onto the Condition.  The next time the ship with ISYTDS takes critical damge, it’s instead deal the damage card on the condition face up.

There’s a couple of key points here.  Firstly, the Pilot damage cards include some pretty crippling options with Blinded Pilot (skip your next shot), Damaged Cockpit (drop to PS 0), and Stunned Pilot (take damage if you overlap a ship or obstacle) all falling into that category.  That’s some very strong options to severely limit what that ship will be doing next turn.

Secondly, the wording is “When you suffer critical damage during an attack”, not “When you are dealt a faceup Damage card”.  Any uncancelled dice showing a crit icon counts as critical damage, so this can potentially land crits under shields, making it a potentially powerful way of getting some very hampering effects in place early in the game.

This seems like a solid tool for dealing with a range of ships, and while it does cost an action to use, the effect more that justifies the points and action cost in my opinion.

Operations Specialist

The expansion also include a non-unique, generally available crew card in the Operations specialist.  Clocking in at 3 points, the Operations Specialist allows you to assign a focus token to a friendly ship when one of your ships misses with an attack.  (With some range restrictions, but see the card on the right for the full details on those.)

This feels a lot like the crew version of Captain Rex, but to be honest, substantially better.  While it is a point more expensive, the fact that you can assign the focus token to other friendly ships as well as your own does a huge amount for it.  It’s also not limited to once a turn, so you could potentially assign a few focus tokens in a turn, and still get some use from them on either attack or defence.

I’m seriously interesting in trying this in a few lists.  The obvious one that springs to mind is a Gamma Squadron Pilot TIE Shuttle with an Operations Specialist,  Howlrunner with Crack Shot, and four Black Squadron Pilots with Crack Shot.  It’s a slightly different take on the TIE Crack Shot Swarm, but potentially frees your TIEs up to take evade actions to make them a little more durable and then using any shots that miss to cascade down focus tokens onto other ships to make their shots more accurate.

Overall, I think it’s an upgrade with potential, but one that will need a bit of thought on how to use it, and some careful list building to get the most from it.

Tech

The Upsilon Shuttle brings two new tech cards to the game.  They’re both interesting additions, but notably more specialised than the quite generally applicable ones from Heroes of the Resistance – pretty much any ship can benefit from Pattern Analyser, while the following cards require a bit more thought at the list-building stage to get the most from them.

Hyperwave Comm Scanner

The first of the new Tech upgrade cards introduced in Wave 10, the Hyperwave Comm Scanner introduces some new options for deployment.  Being able to control when you place a ship can be useful under certain circumstances, and being able to do that at effectively PS 0, 6, or 12 gives you some real flexibility.  If you’ve got a ship that needs to respond to your opponent’s deployment, you can jump up to 12, or drop down to 0 if you need to be the centre point of a formation of low PS ships.

The secondary benefit is that you can assign a focus or evade token to each ship placed at Range 1-2 of you.  This only has a real impact if you can either a) get into combat range on turn 1 of the game, or b) have some way of storing those tokens for use in later rounds.  That narrows down the number of ships and pilots its useful with, but could be a sizeable advantage when there’s some synergy available.  There’s definitely some potential for that with at least one of the pilots included in this pack…

At 1 point, this feels well costed for a card that gives you a very specific set of abilities that are only relevant during deployment.  It’s certainly not a card for every list, but it opens up some interesting potential for those lists that can take advantage of it.  If nothing else, being able to deploy at PS 12 forces you opponent to guess where your ships are going to be, and potentially nets you a useful “turn zero” advantage.

Targeting Synchronizer

The second tech card is a slightly complex one.  In essence, when a friendly ship at Range 1-2 is attacking someone the ship with this upgrade has target locked, they can use (and if needs be, spend) that target lock for their Attack (Target Lock) attacks.  So, this is intended for helping ordnance lists coordinate their fire and potentially allow low PS generics to get ordnance away on higher PS targets they might otherwise struggle to target lock early on.

Clocking in at 3 points, it’s a substantial investment, so no something you’re going to want to use to support just one other ship in your list.  This means you’re looking at using this as part of an ordnance focused list, which combined with the comparatively few ships that can take tech upgrades at the moment, means you’re looking at quite a limited number of builds.

The obvious choice of ordnance to pair with this is anything that requires a target lock to fire, but doesn’t discard that target lock in the process.  Currently, that narrows it down to Advanced Homing Missiles, Ion Pulse Missiles, and Homing Missiles.  The range restrictions on Advanced Homing Missiles are quite limiting, and Ion Pulse Missiles, while having a useful control effect, don’t have the damage output to make them the focus of a list.  That leaves Homing Missiles, which with their strong 4 dice attack and denying the target the use of evade tokens have quite a strong place in the current meta.  However, clocking in at 5 points, it’s not cheap.  A Scimitar Squadron TIE Bomber with a Homing Missile, Extra Munitions, and Guidance Chips clocks in at 23 points.  It’s going to be slightly challenging to build a solid list that includes three of those plus a relatively high PS ship with a Tech slot.

This feels like an upgrade with a lot of potential, but either I’m missing something obvious or we don’t have quite the right combination of ships and upgrades at the  moment to use it to its full potential.  I’m hoping that we’ll see some innovative list builds coming to prove me wrong!

Title – Kylo Ren’s Shuttle

The slightly unimaginatively name Kylo Ren’s Shuttle title rounds out the upgrades for this Upsilon Shuttle pack.  At the end of the Combat Phase, you can assign a stress to an unstressed enemy ship at Range 1-2, but that ship’s owner can reassign it to another one of their ships within Range 1-2 of the original ship if they choose.

This is a slightly odd effect, but it’s passive stress control at the not particularly expensive cost of 2 points.  It’s got better range than Mara Jade (although only effects one ship), doesn’t rely on your opponent attacking the shuttle with this title like Rebel Captive, and is marginally cheaper than either of them.  Your opponent getting to potentially reassign the stress and not being able to further stress already stressed ships are both notable downsides, but stress control is still good, and I can see this card getting some play if you’ve got 2 points to spare.

Pilots

As with all large-base ships, we get four new pilots in this pack – one generic and three unique named pilots.

Starkiller Base Pilot

The baseline generic, the Starkiller Base Pilot clocks in at 30 points.  That’s 9 points more expensive than the Lambda Shuttle’s generic pilot, but you get quite a lot for that upgrade.  With one more shield, hull and attack dice than the Lambda, the Upsilon Shuttle is a punchy and durable package.  You also get access to two Tech slots, and in a first for non-Epic play, the Coordinate action.  This allows you to let another friendly ship at Range 1-2 take a free action – very handy if you need to give a little bit more power to another ship’s attack, help out a lower PS ship that’s bumped, or help a mobile ace move into a more advantageous position before it reveals its dial.

You do lose the cannon slot, but with a 4 dice primary weapon, it’s unlikely you’d want to equip one anyway…

Overall, 30 points seems fairly priced for what you get.  I doubt we’re going to see many Upsilon Shuttles being used as “Palpmobiles”, as adding Palpatine to even the cheapest generic pushes you up to 38 points, only leaving you with 62 points to spend on other ships.  That makes getting two aces into a list for the classic Palp Aces build a challenging proposition.

Lieutenant Dormitz

At just one point more than the Starkiller Base Pilot, Lieutenant Dormitz gets an extra point of Pilot Skill and an interesting pilot ability.  Friendly ships can be deployed anywhere within Range 1-2 of Dormitz, giving you a much large area for deployment, and allowing you to deploy much closer to the enemy.

Dormitz feels like he pairs naturally with the Hyperwave Comm Scanner, allowing him to be placed before any of your other ships, and then give them some free tokens into the bargain.  Given that Range 2 onto the board notably increased the odds of first turn shooting, having those focus or evades could be a big deal.  Even without that upgrade, he can be a disruptive presence and allow fast aggressive lists to close to firing range very quickly.  Dormitz alongside two Glaive Squadron TIE Defenders with Juke and the /x7 title fits comfortably into a standard list…

While Dormitz’s ability only applies once during the game, the fact that he’s only one point more than the generic alongside the potentially sizeable deployment advantage makes him well worth consideration.

Major Stridan

Major Stridan comes in at 32 points.  He’s got  one more PS than Dormitz, and a perhaps more generally applicable pilot ability.  For actions and Upgrade cards, Stridan can treat friendly ships at Range 2-3 as being at Range 1.  (Key words here are “friendly ships”, so it doesn’t boost offensive upgrades like Mara Jade.)

This gives Stridan a sizeable bubble of support effects.  Even just the basic Coordinate action gets a boost, helping Stridan more easily support mobile Imperial ships.  Of course, it becomes a much bigger deal once you start equipping upgrades.  Systems Officer probably gets the biggest boost, letting you dish out target locks at long range, but Fleet Officer, Operations Specialist, and General Hux all get a small boost as well.

If you’re looking for a non-Palpatine support ship for your Imperial squadron that’s also got some teeth, Stridan seems like a good place to start.  He’s not going to be a small investment of points (37 with the Fleet Officer and Systems Officer combo for example), but I think he’s got potential supporting a couple of durable ships or something like a mini-Crack Shot swarm.

Kylo Ren

Finally, we’ve got our new master of the Dark Side, Kylo Ren.  At 34 points, he’s the most expensive of the Upsilon pilots, but he’s also bumped up to PS 6, has a mean pilot ability, and is the only Upsilon pilot with an Elite Pilot Talent slot.  This opens up a lot of new options for him, including Veteran Instincts if you want to push him up to PS 8 to match some of your aces.

His pilot ability assigns the ISYTDS condition to the first ship to hit him each round, making shooting him a less than appealing prospect.  A hit on Kylo Ren could easily mean a crippling critical on you when the forces of the First Order return fire.  Throw a Rebel Captive on there as well if you want to really disincetivise your opponent from shooting at him!

My gut instinct is that Kylo Ren will be used as more of a gunship than support ship when compared to the other Upsilon Shuttles, probably flown with a couple cheap upgrades to boost his offence, and alongside a couple of other hard-hitting ships.  However, there’s another option I’m interested in trying.  Kylo Ren with VI and Palpatine, the Inquisitor, and Omega Leader is a neat 100 points.  That’s three PS 8 ships, and some hard choices for your opponent on where to focus their fire first.  It’s probably not as effective as some of the other Palp Aces builds, but equally I’m not sure it’s something I’d want to face across the table…

Final Thoughts

While on the surface the Upsilon looks quite similar to the Lambda shuttle, I think we’ll see the two of them used in very different ways.  The Upsilon is too expensive to be used in the same disposable fashion that the Lambda often is, and has has some serious firepower you want contributing to the fight.  Generally speaking, I think the Upsilon is probably a bit too expensive to see much use with Palpatine, although it’s possible to do some “budget ace” builds that might work out.

All of the pilots seem well priced for what they do, although continuing something of a trend with FFG’s recent releases the generic pilot feels slightly overcosted when compared with the named pilots.  A point less for the Starkiller Base Pilot would have made it a more attractive option, particularly with Dormitz coming in at only a single point more as things stand.

The crew options are all solid choices.  Hux is costly but potent, and the Operations Specialist has some decent uses in the massed ship lists that the Empire and First Order can do well.  The new tech generally feels quite specialised, but I’m keen to see it in play and what it can do for real.

Overall, this is a strong addition to the Empire’s fleet, and adds some interesting new options.  I’m not sure it’s a ship I’ll be getting more than one of, although in theory you can fit three of them in a list with a handful of points left for upgrades.  And of course, a lot will depend on what the Upsilon’s dial is like – if it’s a clone of the Lambda dial it’ll be a lot less useful than something with a white hard turn for example.  Given the points cost, I’m not anticipating a K-turn or similar.

Sabine’s TIE Fighter – Preview Thoughts

Fair warning, this post contains some spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Wars Rebels.

We’ve had the first in-depth preview for Wave 10 with the Suppressive Fire article looking at Sabine’s TIE Fighter for the Rebel Alliance.  While we’ve had cross-faction ships for a while thanks to the Most Wanted boxed set that launched Scum and Villainy into the game, it’s the first time we’re seeing a ship go cross-faction between the Empire and Rebels.

Sabine’s TIE Fighter looks like it’s going to fill an interesting niche for the Rebels, giving them an assortment of cheap unique pilots, some of which can certainly fall into the “pocket ace” category.  However, before we look at the pilots, let’s take a look at some of the upgrades that come in this expansion.

Dirty Tricks

Sabine’s Masterpiece

A unique title for the Rebel TIE Fighter, this card represents the TIE stolen by the crew of the Ghost and heavily customised by Sabine.  A point gets you a Crew and Illicit slot on the TIE’s upgrade bar, giving it a much wider range of options, and the Rebels their third ship with potential access to Illicit upgrades.

You may be thinking “but putting even more points into a TIE Fighter doesn’t seem like the best idea”, but this expansion includes some interesting options to make that much more viable than it seems at first glance.  Even without those, just the ability to cheaply include an Intelligence Agent or Jan Ors to support the rest of your list has some real potential, and with more Rebel crew coming in the U-Wing expansion the Rebel Alliance may well have a lot of use for a cheap crew transport.

Captured TIE

An interesting first for X-Wing, this modification means that lower Pilot Skill ships can’t target you with attacks – as long as you don’t attack and there are still other friendly ships on the board.  Given these restrictions, this title works best on ships that don’t need to attack to be valuable for your list.  A challenging proposition for a TIE Fighter to pull off?  Not when combined with some of the other upgrades and pilots included in this expansion.

For 1 point, this is nice and cheap and gives you a very interesting ability to play with.  The PS restriction to the effect means that it’s probably going to see the most use on Ahsoka with Veteran Instincts (a copy of which is conveniently included in this expansion) to give the widest range of ships affected, although that starts to nudge the base cost of the ship up further.  Combine this with Sabine’s Masterpiece and Back Market Slicer Tools or the EMP Device (see below) and you’ve got a ship that can potentially be a real niggling presence on the board that your opponent can’t do anything about.

EMP Device

Onto the third unique upgrade card of the expansion (in fact, the only non-unique card included in this expansion is the copy of Veteran Instincts), the EMP Device allows you to potentially ionise a large chunk of the board in one go.

There’s three key things to be aware of with this upgrade.

  1. It deals two ion tokens to all ships effected, meaning that large base ships have just as much to worry about.
  2. As is doesn’t say “each other ship”, the ship using it also gets ioned.
  3. As this isn’t actually an attack, you can use this and still keep your cover if you’ve go the Captured TIE modification.

At 2 points, it’s not really cheap for a one-use upgrade, but it’s potentially a very sizeable effect on the game.  Ionising multiple of your opponent’s ships is going to give you a strong position the following turn, and as it’s instead of performing an attack, you can bump and still use it.  It’s solid on the Rebel TIE, and I’m sure it’s something that we’ll see popping up in various Scum lists as well in the near future.  I think they made a wise decision in making this upgrade unique, as multiple Scum Z-95s packing this upgrade could potentially exert a lot of board control.

 

So, that’s (most of) the upgrade cards covered.  Onto the pilots that come with the expansion.  While we haven’t had Zeb officially spoilered as yet, his Pilot Skill and pilot ability both appear to be the same as his Attack Shuttle incarnation, and we can pretty safely retro-engineer his cost to 13 points based on the other pilots in the pack.  Not bad value for something that’s going to be a little more durable than your standard TIE Fighter thanks to Zeb’s ability to cancel critical hits first.

The clone, the legend – Captain Rex

This expansion brings in several fan favourites, but in particular the grizzled Clone Trooper Captain Rex gets a lot of love with both a pilot and crew card.

Captain Rex (Crew)

Clocking in at 2 points, Captain Rex has a simple ability – if you miss with an attack, you get a focus token.  It’s a way of getting something out of the dice not going your way, and may be particularly relevant to low Attack, high Pilot Skill ships as you’ll have some dice modification for your defence.

I was initially very hyped for putting Crew Rex on a ship that could take a Twin Laser Turret, but then more thorough examination of the attack timing chart in the FAQ ruled that out – rather than potentially triggering off both shots, you would instead need to miss with both TLT shots to get any benefit.  (Similar to how Gunner and the Twin Laser Turret (don’t) work together.)  He might be quite useful on the Ghost with a turret and a docked Phantom shuttle, so if you miss your main shot, you’ve got a focus for your turret shot at the end of the round.

The HWK might not be a bad place to put him, specifically to work with the Moldy Crow title, allowing it to bank those focus tokens away for future use.  Likewise, you could put him on a two crew slot ship with Rey crew for a similar effect, although both of these might be investing a few too many points into something of a gimmick.  If you want to go for a more offence focused option, then you can pair Rex with Gunner, but Luke Skywalker crew can do much the same thing and takes up one fewer crew slot.

Overall, Captain Rex in his crew form is a little underwhelming.  The ability is nice, but either needs to be on a higher PS ship than most of your opponent’s list to get any benefit from the focus token, or on a ship that can make use of or save that focus after attacking.  My instinct is he’s slightly overcosted at 2 points, as Rey has a similar but under most circumstances better ability, but I’m hoping there’s some synergy for him I’ve missed.

Captain Rex (Pilot)

Captain Rex comes in at 14 points as a PS 4 TIE Fighter.  That’s pretty reasonable pricing, comparable with the Black Squadron Pilot.  Captain Rex doesn’t have an EPT slot, but does have a unique pilot ability which uses the new Conditions mechanic that’s being introduced into X-Wing with Wave 10.

When Captain Rex attacks someone, he gives them the “Suppressive Fire” Condition.  This means they roll one less dice when attacking anyone who isn’t Captain Rex (as long as Captain Rex continues to shoot at them).  What’s that you say, a budget Biggs Darklighter?  The one minor downside is that you need to have shot at them to apply the condition, which with Rex’s mighty PS 4 won’t be happening until quite late into the turn, and so probably won’t help with the opening exchange of fire, but it’s still going to be a thorn in the side of your opponent.

At 14 points, I’m expecting Captain Rex to see a lot of play.  His ability is annoying enough to cause your opponent to shift their target priority, and he’s easy to use as filler in a range of Rebel lists while still providing a meaningful contribution to the game.  I’m inclined to think that running him with no upgrades is the way to go, as he’s going to quickly draw a lot of fire, but a Stealth Device or Hull Upgrade might increase his survivability enough to be worth it.

Also, don’t forget you can run him alongside Biggs to notably help Biggs’ durability, or with Kanan Jarrus in the Ghost to further hamper your opponents attacks.  Either combination could be a significant obstacle to your opponent’s plan of attack, and running all three in one list seems like it could veer towards table-flipping levels of frustration (although probably isn’t a viable 100 points)…

Multicoloured Mandalorian – Sabine Wren

With the same Pilot Skill and pilot ability as her Attack Shuttle version, Sabine is as versatile a pilot in the TIE Fighter as she is elsewhere.  The ability to perform a boost or barrel roll before revealing her dial makes her very manoeuvrable, and capable of navigating her way through dense obstacles with precision.

At 15 points, she compares extremely favourably to the PS 5 Imperial TIEs, clocking in at the same point cost but with a better pilot ability and access to an Elite Pilot Talent.  Speaking of which, while there’s not much green on the TIE Fighter dial, a combination of Sabine’s ability and Push the Limit allows you to effectively take three actions in a turn and finish with no stress.  (Use her ability to boost or barrel roll, Push the Limit to take an additional action, reveal a green move and clear stress, then take an action as normal after executing your manoeuvre.)  While not the hardest hitting ship, it’s only 18 points…

I can see Sabine getting a lot of use as a “pocket ace”, something to fill that slightly awkward 15-20 point range that can still be a meaningful presence on the board.  Combine her with the Sabine’s Masterpiece title and an Intelligence Agent, and you’ve also got an extremely accurate blocker for any high PS aces you might be facing.

More than just an apprentice – Ahsoka Tano

Finally, we’ve got the former Jedi, Ahsoka Tano.  17 points gets you a Pilot Skill 7 pilot with an interesting ability.  As a support ship, Ahsoka’s ability to spend a focus token to give a friendly ship at Range 1 a free action can be very useful, especially since this ability kicks in at the start of the Combat Phase.  But it does more than that – note that the wording is “a friendly ship at Range 1”, not “another friendly ship”, so she can use her ability on herself.  This give her a lot of action flexibility, and the potential to reactively barrel roll after every other ship has moved.

She’s got a lot of potential combinations with the other upgrades in this expansion.   While Rex and Sabine can both be flown with little or nothing in the way of upgrade, Ahsoka will be at her best when she’s coming with a few added tricks.

Her Elite Pilot Talent slot allows her to push her Pilot Skill up to 9 with Veteran Instincts.  This pairs nicely with the Captured TIE modification, making her able to escape the notice of all but the most highly trained pilots.  With the Crew and Illicit she gains from the Sabine’s Masterpiece title you open up a wealth of options – a Recon Specialist allows her to use her ability while still keeping a focus token, Jan Ors potentially allows her to hand out evade tokens to her allies, and Black Market Slicer tools or the EMP Device work alongside the Capture TIE title to let her harry your opponents ships from the safety of her disguise.  It’s a new set of options in the Rebel’s tactical toolbox, and she’s a pilot who can fill a variety of roles in a list.

That said, all of these options cost points, and you’re very easily looking at spending 20 points or more on what is still just a TIE Fighter.  As with any support ship, the key is to not overspend on the support and take away points from the rest of your list by doing so.

 

Final Thoughts

This is an excellent addition to the Rebel fleet, giving them a cheap ship that can fill a variety of different roles.  I think I’m most excited by its potential as a cheap support ship, as even just 14 points of Captain Rex can really change your opponent’s plan of attack.

There’s very little in the way of weak or dud options in this set either.  Zeb’s ability is actually better suited to the TIE Fighter than the Attack Shuttle.  All of the other pilots have strong abilities, and the upgrades are almost universally excellent.  The only card I’m uncertain about the value of is the crew version of Captain Rex, but I’m hoping there’s some uses for him I haven’t spotted as yet, or some potential synergy with other Rebel crew or the U-Wing’s named pilot abilities.

With the TIE Figher’s dial already a very known quantity and essentially all of the cards spoiled at this point (I’m about 99% certain on Zeb), this is the most complete look at a ship we’ve had before release.  I’m probably going to be picking up two copies of this expansion, just for the gimmick of running a Rebel TIE mini-swarm, but for most players I think one copy of the expansion is likely to be sufficient.  With all of the new upgrades and all of the pilots being unique, there’s not much need to get more than one unless you really want to run multiple Rebel TIEs at a time – and if you’re mainly an Imperial player it’s an expansion you can skip entirely without missing out on anything.

 

 

Ordnance in X-Wing after the Deadeye FAQ

With Deadeye Scouts out of the picture as of the 4.2.2 FAQ which made Deadeye “Small ship only”, what are ordnance-heavy ships going to look like going forwards in X-Wing?

There are four key cards for making missiles and torpedoes work efficiently in the game at the moment.  I’ll quickly cover each of them in turn.

Deadeye

Previously the staple of the triple Contracted Scouts ordnance list, Deadeye allows low Pilot Skill ships use their ordnance effectively, and more generally allows you to pick your target at will as long as you’ve got a focus token.

The change to “Small ship only” has a big impact on the Contracted Scout, leaving them needing to acquire target locks at Pilot Skill 3 – challenging to set up in the opening exchange of fire against higher PS opponents as they may well be outside of Range 3 when you move – and unable to access the main other upgrade that might help with that.

There’s not a huge number of small ships with an Elite Pilot Talent slot that can carry more than a single missile or torpedo, returning this upgrade card to quite specialist use.

Extra Munitions

Ordnance is expensive, but Extra Munitions makes those points go a little further by giving you an extra use of each one you’ve got equipped.  Frankly, this makes missiles and torpedoes actually usable outside of rare edge cases (Proton Rockets on Agility 3 ships being that main exception).

However, you need a spare torpedo slot to equip this card, which notably limits the number of ships that can take it.  There’s a reason you don’t really see X-Wings shooting Proton Torpedoes around, despite their iconic status as the ship and weapon that destroyed the first Death Star…

Guidance Chips

Arriving in Wave 8, Guidance Chips were the second fix for missiles and torpedoes, and probably the card most responsible for their rise to prominence.  Guaranteed dice modification into a hit is a big deal, and a 0 points, there’s not reason for an ordnance carrying ship not to equip this unless there’s a really good alternative competing for the slot.  (Another reason why you don’t see X-Wings with torpedoes, as they really need to have Integrated Astromech equipped to make them a little more durable.)

Combined with additional dice modification from Proton Torpedoes, Concussion Missiles, or some of the tricks that the Contracted Scouts could pull off with various Salvaged Astromechs, this gave an almost unprecedented quality of attack, with some builds able to push themselves to to a 90%+ chance of getting four hits from four dice.  That’s a lot of punch that makes the points put into your ordnance genuinely worth while.

Long-Range Scanners

Finally we come to Long-Range Scanners, a somewhat overlooked piece of the ordnance puzzle (although this may just be to do with it being a comparatively recent release from Imperial Veterans).  Being able to set up target locks on the first turn of the game, well ahead of any likely exchange of fire, means that low PS ships can provide a genuine alpha-strike threat to high PS aces.  It also means you can take another action on the turn you’re likely to fire those munitions, probably giving you a focus token for modification.

However, it comes with a few downsides.  Like Guidance Chips, it’s a Modification, so you have to make a choice between the two, potentially dropping the quality of the attack as there’s no longer that absolute guarantee of a hit.  You can’t take target locks at Range 1-2 with this equipped, which can really hamper your ability to get a second ordnance shot away, or limited your offensive output in a close range fight in general.  And you need to have both the torpedo and missile slots on your upgrade bar to equip it, restricting it to just three (or with a title, four) ships in the game as things stand as of Wave 10.

 

For what I’m discussing below, I’m going to ignore anything that can’t take Extra Munitions for now, as that doesn’t leave it with much potential as a dedicated ordnance carrier.  For the most part I’ll be focusing on generic pilots rather than uniques, as if we’re looking at things that can fill a similar role to the Contracted Scouts you’ll want to be able to fly more than one of them at a time. With that in mind, there are a few builds that spring to mind.

 

Rebel Alliance

B-Wings (or more accurately, Nera Dantels…)

Nera Dantels — B-Wing 26
Deadeye 1
Extra Munitions 2
Proton Torpedoes 4
Guidance Chips 0
Ship Total: 33

The B-Wing in general isn’t the best ordnance platform, as it already has a good primary weapon, a System slot to give it a little more action efficiency in the form of the Fire Control System, and access to cannons if you want to upgrade its firepower further.  However, Nera Dantels packs a lot of punch as a torpedo boat. Guidance Chips and Proton Torpedoes give her solid dice modification on her shots, and with Deadeye she doesn’t have to worry about firing arcs (other than for denying Autothrusters). Notably, with her primary weapon value of 3 she’s got a good chance of getting at least two crits on her Proton Torpedo shots (one from Guidance Chips, one from the Proton Torpedo’s pseudo-Focus ability) which is potentially crippling to anything lacking shields…

At 33 points, she’s also not exactly breaking the bank points-wise, and you can pop a Fire Control System on her for a bit of extra dice modification if you’ve got a couple of points to spare. That said, she’s still 33 points for a PS 5 B-Wing – not exactly the toughest ship to take down before it gets its second torpedo away unless you’ve got a bigger threat on the board, or some Biggs support.  She’s a solid option if you want to create a bubble of board control what your opponent just won’t want to fly into, but don’t rely on her being your only serious damage dealer.

K-Wings

Warden Squadron Pilot — K-Wing 23
Extra Munitions 2
Homing Missiles 5
Long-Range Scanners 0
Ship Total: 30

If you’ve not got Deadeye, Long-Range Scanners (if you can taken them) aren’t a bad alternative on low PS ships – assuming you’ve got some way of making up for the lack of the dice modification guaranteed by Guidance Chips. Homing Missiles fit the bill nicely here, as you don’t need to spend your target lock to shoot them, leaving it available for modifying the attack. If you can set a target lock up early, you should be able to fire them with both a target lock and focus for modification, and thanks to the Homing Missiles, stop your opponent from spending any Evade token they might have. This makes it a strong choice against nimble but low health ships like the TIE Interceptor, or hard to hit ships like the TIE Defender with the TIE /x7 title.

The downside is that it can be tricky to get the second shot away. Long-Range Scanners stop you from acquiring target locks at Range 1-2, which combined with the K-Wing’s lack of a K-turn can make it tricky to have both a target lock and firing arc for a second pass. You may need to take a hit and run approach, using the SLAM action to speed away from the engagement and come in for a second shot. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from loading up a bomb or two on the K-Wing (which also benefits from Extra Munitions) to change its role after you’ve got that first missile away. Alternatively, adding a Twin Laser Turret gives you some out-of-arc long range firepower, although that’s another 6 points onto the cost of this build.

Like the B-Wing, the K-Wing isn’t the hardest ship to kill with only 1 Agility, although 9 health isn’t a trivial amount to need to chew through.

Galactic Empire

TIE Bomber

Swx52-gamma-squad-vetGamma Squadron Veteran — TIE Bomber 19
Deadeye 1
Extra Munitions 2
Proton Torpedoes 4
Guidance Chips 0
Ship Total: 26

There’s a number of different builds for the TIE Bomber, but the Deadeye Gamma Squadron Veteran is the closest thing to the old Contracted Scout build still in the game. It doesn’t have quite the same quality of dice (there’s no way of keeping your focus for dice modification), but the combination of Proton Torpedoes and Guidance Chips gives you a decent chance of a hard-hitting attack.

There are a few advantages over the Contracted Scout. You’re a small based ship, which makes it easier to fly in formation and avoid obstacles. Clocking in at 26 points, its also notably cheaper than the 32-33 point standard build for the Contracted Scout, letting you fit in a fourth (cheap) ship into the list. And at PS 5, you’re shooting before the vast majority of generic ships, giving you a decent chance at taking a ship off the board before it gets to shoot.

That said, there are some notable downsides as well. 6 hull is no where near as durable as the JumpMaster’s 5 hull and 4 shields. You’re very vulnerable to critical damage as a result of this, which means an early crit going through can be crippling. While the 5 K-turn of the Bomber is a really strong manoeuvre to have access to (it opens up a lot of space, handy when you’re dealing with Range 2-3 ordnance), it’s still a red manoeuvre which means no focus or target lock to get a torpedo away that turn.

You can potentially fit three of the Gamma Squadron Veterans outfitted as they are above in a list alongside Captain Jonus for some added quality of dice, which may have some potential as an alpha strike list, although it’s much more vulnerable to higher PS shooting than the triple Scout list.

TIE Punisher

Cutlass-squadron-pilot-1-Cutlass Squadron Pilot — TIE Punisher 21
Fire-Control System 2
Extra Munitions 2
Homing Missiles 5
Long-Range Scanners 0
Ship Total: 30

If this looks very similar to the K-Wing build above, there’s a reason for that… With no access to an EPT, Deadeye is out of the equation, meaning that Long-Range Scanners are the next best option. Combined with Homing Missiles, you can potentially get the same focused and target lock modified 4 dice shot that the K-Wing offers. If you can get that first shot away at Range 3, you can use the Fire Control System to set up a target lock for the second missile, and you’ve got a K-turn to potentially more easily get get arc for that second missile shot.

However, you’re also lacking some of the upsides of the K-Wing. No turret means you’re entirely reliant on getting arc to take any shots. Having Boost rather than SLAM is a mixed blessing – while you can re-position and still shoot, you don’t have the K-Wing’s ability to break off from the engagement and come back in for another run as easily. And the Long-Range Scanners are actually somewhat anti-synergistic
Redline-1-with the Fire Control System, as you can’t use it at Ranges 1-2. Even more so than the

K-Wing, I’d actually be quite tempted to drop the Fire Control System and put on a bomb or two to allow you to switch roles if you’re stuck up close and personal in a firefight.

I’d be remiss not to mention Redline here – his pilot ability gives any torpedo or missile a target lock for modification, meaning that Proton Torpedoes or Concussion Missiles can hit as hard (or harder) as Homing Missiles. Add in a Fire Control System, and he’s going to be a consistent threat. However, at PS 7 with no access to an EPT, he’s still going to struggle to get an early target lock on higher PS aces, and you really want to be using Guidance Chips rather than Long-Range Scanners so you’re not hampering his pilot ability.

Scum and Villainy

In a distinct reversal of fortunes, Scum are now probably in the weakest position when it comes to missile and torpedo boats. The Contracted Scout build really needed Deadeye to work effectively due to its low PS, and with no missile slot the JumpMaster can’t take Long-Range Scanners. This isn’t to rule it out completely, but it’s a significant shift in the ships’s role. Other than the JumpMaster, the only other real ordnance option Scum have is the Y-Wing, which as problems of its own…

JumpMaster 5000

Contracted-scout shipContracted Scout — JumpMaster 5000 25
Attanni Mindlink 1
Plasma Torpedoes 3
K4 Security Droid 3
Unhinged Astromech 1
Guidance Chips 0
Ship Total: 33

Pop three of these in a list, and you’ve got some strong action efficiency – assuming all of your ships do a green move, they’ll be able to have a target lock (thanks to the K4 Security Droid) and focus, and two of your ship will be able to barrel roll in addition (having gained their focus via the Mindlink). You’re still stuck with the problem of not being able to easily get your torpedoes away during the first turn, as your PS 3 will put you lower than most things you’re wanting to target, but you can do an initial pass with primary weapons, then circle round.

Of course, this doesn’t have any Extra Munitions, so the Plasma Torpedoes are more of a nice extra if you get the chance to shoot them, with your primary weapon probably doing the majority of the work.

Attanni-mindlinkAn alternative route would be to swap Attanni Mindlink for Adaptability, the Plasma Torpedoes for Proton Torpedoes, put Extra Munitions on two of them, and strip the torpedoes, astromech, crew and Guidance Chips off the third to be replaced with Anti-Pursuit Lasers, a Feedback Array, and Intelligence Agent (aka the classic “BumpMaster” build). You can them push the two torpedo carriers up to PS 4, and drop the third ship down to PS 2 to improve its chances to act as a blocker.  The full list for this can be found here.

Both of these builds have much less of an alpha strike than the classic triple Scout build, but probably have a notably stronger late game. If that’s enough to balance out the loss of that massive early game damage spike remains to be seen…

Y-Wings

Syndicate-thug-1-Syndicate Thug — Y-Wing 18
Autoblaster Turret 2
Extra Munitions 2
Proton Torpedoes 4
Guidance Chips 0
Ship Total: 26

With no access to Long-Range Scanners, the Y-Wing just has to rely on controlling the range of the opening exchange, and hope you can get a target lock while also avoiding the Range 1 blind spot for your torpedoes. With that in mind, the Autoblaster Turret acts as a decent deterrent to any short of a VCX-100 or Decimator thinking about getting close, and gives you some out of arc fire in a pinch. At 26 points, you’ve got a reasonably chap and tough ship with answers to a few problems.

However, it suffers all of the issues of the other low PS ordnance platforms and lacks some of their strengths. With no primary weapon turret, you’re only able to shoot out of arc at Range 1. You’ve got no re-positioning actions, and the Y-Wing’s dial is pretty stiff. Stress is a killer to you, as your only two green moves are the 1 and 2 forward, leaving you either Autoblaster-turret-1-hugely predicable or action-less. (Although you can solve some of that by putting an Unhinged Astromech on, but that adds another point to the cost.) And fundamentally you’re a PS 2 Agility 1 ship with only 3 shields. The Y-Wing’s 5 hull takes it up to a respectable 8 health, but leaves it somewhat vulnerable to critical damage.

Overall, it’s something to add in to a list to give a little more damage output than something to be fielded en mass.

Many of the above points also apply to the Rebel Y-Wing, although replacing the Unhinged Astromech with the R2 Astromech. Generally speaking, the Rebels have better ordnance options than the Y-Wing, although when you get to named pilots, both Dutch Vander and Horton Salm have some perks when dealing with ordnance.

 

So what does this all mean?

Good question.

  •  I think we’re going to see much less in the way of ordnance for the next couple of months while people figure out what they want to do with it.  It’s still a strong option, but requires a lot more planning now to get the full effect.
  • We’re going to see a resurgence of the types of lists that the strong alpha strike of the Contracted Scouts pushed out of the game – so Rebel regen, TLT Y-Wings, Rebel lists without Biggs, multiple B-Wings, and the like.
  • This may also help some new ships see more play – both the ARC-170 and TIE/sf will benefit from there being less high damage spikes around.
  • Eventually as a result of this, I’m expecting to see Gamma Squadron Veterans with Deadeye getting more play than they have before, as they offer many of the same abilities as the Contracted Scout to counter those types of list.  It’s not as strong a list, but does has some advantages of its own.
  • JumpMasters are going to continue to see play, but I suspect more in terms of Dengaroo, Mindlink lists, or as the BumpMaster to support other ships.  I’m certain people are going to be working hard to get the triple Scout build to work in some form or another, and I think the K4 Security Droid is going to be a key part of that.
  • Both Rebels and Scum desperately want a Y-Wing generic pilot with an EPT slot.  Deadeye on an ordnance Y-Wing would give both factions something akin to the Gamma Squadron Veteran.  Perhaps the Rebel Alliance will get something of that nature sooner rather than later, as Rogue One seems to be featuring both X and Y-Wings a decent amount…

FAQ 4.2.2 – The Highlights

A new FAQ for X-Wing dropped earlier this week, and it’s bringing in some pretty sizeable changes to the game that will probably significantly affect the shape of the meta in the run up to Worlds. I thought it was worth taking a look through, and jotting down some quick thoughts on what these changes are likely to mean.

First up, the big one…

Deadeye

DeadeyeDeadeye has been errataed to include the “Small ship only” restriction. This has a huge impact as the main user of this upgrade, the Contracted Scout (and sometimes other flavours of JumpMaster 5000), is no longer able to take it.

I’ve got some mixed feelings about this decision. While I’ve found Contracted Scouts a tough match-up in the past, I’ve always felt like I’ve been in with a chance against them as long as I could manage the opening approach well. The same cannot always be said for some of the Imperial Aces plus Palpatine matches I’ve had, so it seems like they’ve only focused on one of the potentially overly strong builds around at the moment.

That said, there’s no denying the massive effect the mere existence of the Contracted Scout has had on the larger meta for X-Wing. We’ve seen some previously popular list archetypes pretty much disappear entirely (Rebel regen, TLT Y-Wings, or to be honest any Rebel build without Biggs), and that’s created a quite small subset of lists at the top tiers of play.  Specifically, it’s allowed some of the Imperial Ace builds (with or without Palpatine) a relatively easier time, as some of the counters to them, in particularly Rebel stress control, haven’t really seen much play at all of late.

Removing Contracted Scouts as the dominant ordnance ship in the game also potentially opens up space for other ships to come into play to fill that gap, but I’ll be writing a separate post in the next day or two to discuss that in more detail.

Heavy Scyk title

In what’s a first for X-Wing, FFG have just flat out buffed an existing card to make it better.  No ifs, not buts, just a flat improvement.

And, to be honest, it’s a much needed one.  The M3-A Interceptor, also known as the Scyk, is probably the single ship in X-Wing that’s seen the least play to date.  It wasn’t quite cheap enough to be flown like a TIE Fighter or Z-95, didn’t have the dial to work like an A-Wing or TIE Interceptor, and the Heavy Scyk title added a cannon, missile, or torpedo slot at the cost of an extra two points.  Given you’re already going to be paying for the weapons you’re putting in that slot, it just made most builds of this ship significantly over-costed for what they could do.

Adding a point of hull into the bargain brings the M3-A much more in line with the other Scum small ships, and means it’s got that little bit extra durability to potentially keep its cannon in the fight a little longer.  A basic Cartel Spacer with the Heavy Scyk title and a Mangler cannon clocks in at 20 points, comparing well with the lowest PS generic Kihraxz and Protectorate Starfighters.

Even with this change, I can’t see the Scyk being flown with missiles or torpedoes as it doesn’t have access to Extra Munitions.  If only they’d change the wording to be “cannon, torpedo and missile upgrade icons”…  Still, I’m not going to complain about a ship that’s always been something of a favourite of mine getting a bit more viable!

Biggs Darklighter

If you want to shoot with a weapon that can’t target Biggs for some reason (range, target lock requirements, firing arc, etc.), you’re now free to do so rather than being forced into always shooting Biggs if you’ve got any weapon that can.

This is a reversal of an earlier ruling, and makes Biggs a little weaker, but I can see the reasoning behind it.  It does make missiles and torpedoes that need a target lock a little more dangerous for Rebel lists, but interestingly this actually has the potential to make Deadeye a hindrance.  Also, to some extent I suspect this isn’t a targeted change at Biggs, but more a clarification of the attack timing chart in general.

All of this said, I still think that the right choice will generally be to get Biggs off the board as quickly as possible.  The last thing you want is him surviving until late game and then forcing you to split your fire at a crucial moment.

Cluster Mines

Simple enough, they do damage on a hit or crit dice result now, rather than just hits.  This is a minor but solid change to them, and helps to improve their chances of doing meaningful damage.

I still think Connor Nets are the stronger choice of mine if you’ve got 4 points to spend, but if you’re looking for the potential for some significant damage they’re not bad.  Plus they cover a lot of board space if you’re looking for something to use with Sabine crew.

Stress and red maneuvers

The rules for revealing a red maneuver while stressed have notably changed.  Rather than handing your opponent your dial and them being free to pick the worst possible (legal) move for your ship, it’s not just a white 2 forwards.

This seems like a good change to me.  Letting your opponent set your maneuver was already pretty harsh when it would only come up by accident, but the addition of the Rigged Cargo Chute has made this something that can happen through no fault of your own.  In a game as focused on positioning as X-Wing, letting your opponent set your maneuver dial could easily cost you the entire game.  The white 2 forward is still bad news (you don’t get to shed stress, leaving you action-less), but it’s not such a huge change to the state of the game.

Obstacles

There’s now rules for how overlapping obstacles outside of executing a maneuver works.  With Tractor Beams and Collision Detectors both potentially forcing or allowing ships to barrel roll, boost, or decloak onto or across obstacles, this needed some clarification, as you could have made the argument that Collision Detector allowed to you boost/barrel roll/decloak across obstacles without risking any damage or stress.  Not a major thing, but a good bit of consistency.

Other stuff

There’s also a minor buff/clarification to R5-X3 (your shots aren’t obstructed, but any shots coming at you still can be), some clarification for the attack timing chart, Attanni Mindlink, Advanced SLAM, and a few other things, but nothing huge.

So what effect is it all going to have?

Quite a lot.  Deadeye Contracted Scouts have been a major part of the X-Wing meta since they were released in March, and they’ve pushed a number of other previously popular lists out of competitive viability (for better or worse).

With their huge alpha strike potential off the board, we’re going to see a lot of the late Wave 7 meta lists coming back into play.  I’m fully expecting to see people trying Paul Heaver’s Worlds 2015 list again, although I think regen Poe may still be in trouble with Defenders and Fangs both offering enough firepower to burn through his defences.

For similar reasons, I’m expecting us to see (slightly) less of Biggs, as Rebels don’t need to use him as a shield to make sure their heavy hitters survive the first exchange of fire.  This potentially means a bit more variety in Rebel lists, and some counters for other strong lists coming back into favour.  Stress control is going to be big, not least thanks to the ARC-170, Asajj Ventress, and Black Market Slicer tools having all arrived in Wave 9.

And while I’m not expecting the M3-A to be a dominant force in the meta any time soon, it’s another weapon in the Scum arsenal.  It’s a cheap(ish) ship with some interesting options for heavy firepower, and the potential to be part of an Attanni Mindlink list (thanks to the Tansarii Point Veteran).  The extra point of hull takes if from bad to average (or maybe just above) and I’m looking forwards to this little ship getting a bit more table time.