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.

 

 

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