Wave 10 – The last few cards

With the first copies of the Wave 10 expansions making their way into the hands of X-Wing players in the US, we’ve now got pictures of the remaining cards from the Wave. There’s only one or two things remaining from each expansion, but some significant information none the less.

This is going to be a picture-free post unfortunately, but images of all of the Wave 10 cards can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/flycasualbatreps/posts/733338660175171

Sabine’s TIE Fighter

“Zeb” Orrelios

Coming in at PS 3 with the same ability as his Attack Shuttle version, at 13 points Zeb makes for decent Rebel filler. His pilot ability is a lot more useful on the TIE Fighter than the Attack Shuttle, dealing with one of its biggest weaknesses, namely the Direct Hit card. “When defending, you may cancel (crit) results before (hit) results.”

He’s going to be a very viable alternative to a cheap Z-95 even with no upgrades, and in a pinch you can throw the Sabine’s Masterpiece title and something like a Dead Man’s Switch or Black Market Slicer Tools on there to make it a bit more of a thorn in your opponent’s side. Keep him cheap and cheerful, and thanks to his 3 Agility, Evade action and ability to cancel crits first, potentially stick around being an irritation for far longer than your opponent expects.

Upsilon-class Shuttle

The Dial

upsilon
Image nabbed from the Facebook post linked at the top of this blog post.

This was always going to be the make or break thing about the Upsilon, and I’m pleased it’s come out as being essentially as good as we could have hoped given the price point of the ship. Having access to all of the turns is a big deal, even if the 1s and 3s are red, and having a white 2 turn puts it worlds ahead of the Lambda. There’s a red 0 stop as we’ve all predicted, and no K-turn/S-loop/T-roll also as predicted.

The only real downside is that the only green banks are speed 2, which covers a lot of ground on a large base that needs to keep things in its front arc, but that’s not too bad. Combined with the System and Tech slots, there’s a few tricks for dealing with stress (Electronic Baffles, Pattern Analyser) or keeping your action economy going while stressed (Fire Control System).

All told, it’s going to be a very different beast to the Lambda, and much more capable of meaningfully contributing to the fight. Expect to see it in much more of a support gunship role rather than the Palpmobile archetype.

Quadjumper

BoShek

The card Paul Heaver designed from his Worlds 2015 win, this has quite a lot of unusual elements. First of all, it’s a unique crew card that isn’t faction restricted, a first for the game. Secondly, it can force an opponent’s dial to be changed after it’s been set, another first and something that challenges the assumption that you can always rely on getting to do the move you want.

At 2 points, BoShek comes with the following ability. “When a ship you are touching activates, you may look at its chosen maneuver. If you do, its owner must rotate the dial to an adjacent maneuver. The ship can reveal and execute that maneuver even while stressed.”

It’s worth noting that this applies to friendly ships as well, so you can ram one of your own ships to force a dial change if you find yourself in a situation where that’s desireable. Given how this ability works, it wants to be on a low PS ship with a crew slot that doesn’t mind colliding with things. The Rebel TIE or U-Wing, TIE Shuttle Bomber, or the Quadjumper are the immediate fits for this, possibly alongside Autoblaster or Dorsal Turret HWKs.

I think it’s a card with a lot of potential, but one that will require a decent amount of skill to make the most of. In particular, it’s a good counter to TIE Defenders, pushing their 4 K-turn to a 4 or 5 forwards instead.

Sarco Plank

The remaining Quadjumper pilot comes in at PS 5, with an EPT and unusual pilot ability for 18 points. “When defending, instead of using your agility value, you may roll a number of defense dice equal to the speed of the maneuver you executed this round.”

My gut instinct is that Sarco’s ability isn’t going to see much just, with the Quadjumper’s dial being so focued around speed 1 and 2 moves. However, it does give him some insurance againt anything that might alter his agility, be it Outmaneuver, the Structural Damage crit, Tractor tokens, Wedge’s pilot ability, or Tail Gunner. There’s enough things in the game at this point that hit Agility that this may get more than just corner case use. And in a pinch you could even throw Expose on Sarco, although I’m not sure it’s worth the points investment…

Even ignoring his pilot ability, Sarco has use as a PS 5 Quadjumper with an EPT slot. PS 5 puts him at the same Pilot Skill as a lot of Scum generics with EPTs, and Palob or Kaa’to Leachasos. There’s some potential synergy there, even just as another cheap way of getting another Mindlink carrying ship into a list.

U-Wing

Bistan

Cool guys don’t look at explosions, as the illustration of Bistan aptly shows. The last of the Rogue One Rebel crew from the U-Wing, Bistan helps make things go BOOM. “When attacking at Range 1-2, you may change 1 of your (hit) results into a (crit) result.”

This isn’t a spectacular ability, but decent enough to see use. There’s always going to be times you want to push a crit onto someone, and Bistan helps with that. It’s also another way of enabling crits for Ten Numb via the B-Wing E/2 title. I’m not 100% that he’s worth 2 points for his ability, but he’s half the price of a Mangler cannon for most of the effect. Time will tell how much use that actually is.

Expertise

I’m calling this now as the card of the wave. Expertise, which really expensive for an EPT at 4 points, has one heck of an effect. “When attacking, if you are not stressed, you may change all of your (focus) results to (hit) results.”

Essentially, it’s a permanent offensive focus for every attack you make during a round, as long as you’re not stressed. That’s huge for anything that can attack multiple times per round, and pretty solid even for things that can’t as it’s a garuntee of having some modification on your attack even if you bump or otherwise lose your action. While you’re locked into a specific type of dice modification, unlike Push the Limit it doesn’t leave you stressed and so effectively close off a significant portion of any ship’s dial in the process.

I need to play around with some builds, but I think this is a card we’ll see a lot of going foward, and may even be enough to bring stress control back to the game in a serious way.

TIE Striker

Scarif Defender and Black Squadron Scout

Last of all we’ve got the two remaining pilots for the TIE Striker. Both are generics, with the Scarif Defender coming in at PS 3 and 18 points, and the Black Squadron Scout arriving at PS 4 and an EPT slot for 20 points.

The Scarif Defender seems fairly priced for what you get – stick Lightweight Frame on one, and you’ve got a decent 20 point ship overall. The same sadly cannot be said of the Black Squadron Scout. The two point jump to 20 points is a break from TIE tradition (see the TIE Bomber, Interceptor, Fighter, and /fo) for stepping up to the EPT variant, and specifically stops you from flying five Black Squadron Scouts with Crack Shot. Perhaps this proved massively powerful in playtesting or something, but it seems like a point overcosted to me.

As a brief aside, this is part of a general trend that’s been happening over the course of the last few years with generic ships not really being priced competitively with named unique pilots. (The stats from Worlds 2016 speak for themselves on this front, with barely any generic ships making it to the top 16, and none at all once you rule out the Lambda shuttle, x7 Defender, or TLT Y-Wing.) Fundamentally, generic pilots need to be cheap enough to be flown in numbers or at the very least be cheap enough to make upgrading to a named pilot something you need to think hard about.

So, something of a mixed bag on the TIE Striker front, and a factor that’s probably going to limit the maximum number of Strikers we see in a single squad. If you’ve ordered five of them, it might be time to consider trimming that order down by one or two ships…

Final Thoughts

There’s no massive surprises or upsets here, but there are a few stand-out items. Expertise is the first 4 point EPT we’ve seen that’s really worth the points, and is something I think we’re going to see a lot of once people get to grips with just how good it is. The Upsilon’s dial gives it a lot of potential, and makes that threatening 4 dice primary weapon really very usable.

The only real let-down is the pricing on the Black Squadron Scout TIE Striker, but given how good most of the other pilots I don’t think that’s going to stop the Striker from being a resular feature of Imperial lists going forward. And to be fair, the Black Squadron Scout with Predator, Lightweight Frame, and the title will be a hard-hitting, relatively hard to hit, and very mobile ship for 25 points.

Overall, Wave 10 brings some fresh ideas and very solid design to X-Wing, and I’m hyped for it to arrive at some point in January (as sadly it’s been delayed for UK release). I’m already planning out my first tournament lists…

TIE Striker – Preview Thoughts

The last of the Wave 10 previews came out last Monday, covering the second of the Rogue One ships, the TIE Striker. Designed for both atmospheric and space combat, the TIE Striker is a hard-hitting dogfighter with a unique flight pattern.

The Dial

At first glance, the dial seems quite slow for a TIE – green 1, 2, and 3 forward, green 1 banks, white 1 and 2 turns and 2 and 3 banks, and a 2 K-turn and pair of 2 S-loops. It’s nimble enough, can shed stress OK, and has some knife fighting turns and turn around options for close range dogfighting. Having the full range of 1 speed moves makes it able to control range well, or turn on a dime.

However, it’s impossible to get the full picture without looking at the Adaptive Ailerons title, which fundamentally changes how the TIE Striker flies when it’s equipped.

Upgrades

Adaptive Ailerons

The TIE Striker only title, Adaptive Ailerons gives this ship a real turn of speed. Immediately before you reveal your dial, if you’re not stressed you must perform a 1 forward or bank. Note the word “must” in there.

This is going to give the TIE Striker a fast and potentially unpredictable flight path, but also make it challenging to fly as you’ll need to essentially plan two maneuvers each turn for each Striker you have. That’s going to take some thought if you’ve got a swarm of them in play… Importantly, bumping with this pre-dial maneuver has been specifically clarified by one of the game designers to no cause you to lose your actions, so you can bump then fly past another ship without losing out.

Even going at its slowest speed, a TIE Striker with Adaptive Ailerons attached has an effective minimum speed of 3. This probably means it will pair well with TIE Defenders or Interceptors, both of which want to speed around the board in general. Alternatively, it’ll do well burning down a side of the board to act as a distracting flanking force. At higher Pilot Skills, this level of reactive movement could push the ship towards being a budget TIE Phantom, although without some of that ship’s tricks.

Interestingly, this is the first of the 0 point titles that we’ve seen a few of recently where there’s cases to be made for both equipping it or not. The Striker will fly very differently with or without it, and probably fulfill different roles as a result. It’s a very neat bit of design all told, and something I’m keen to try out.

Lightweight Frame

A TIE only modification, Lightweight Frame gives you a bonus defence dice if your opponent is rolling more attack dice than you. This is a big deal for all Agility 2 or lower TIEs, although there’s a couple of notably winners.

Both the TIE Striker and TIE/sf Fighter benefit from this a lot, with neither having a “must take” modification as part of their standard builds, and both of them being pushed up to three defence dice against most attacks. That’s a notable buff to survivability, and well worth the 2 point cost. I’ve tested it out of the TIE/sf already, and it really does fundamentally change the survivability of that ship – it’s not in /x7 Defender territory by any stretch of the imagination, but still really quite tanky.

The other low Agility TIEs are much more of a mixed bag. For the most part, the TIE Bomber and Punisher both want to take Guidance Chips or Long-Range Scanners to maximise their ordnance, and the named Phantoms want Advanced Cloaking Device or in a pinch Stygium Particle Accelerator. This is a real shame for the TIE Punisher in particular, which desperately needs something to improve it – as the only ship not taken at all at the last Worlds, it’s clearly in a bad state.

There’s a bit more potential on the TIE Bomber with the TIE Shuttle title however – it doesn’t care about Guidance Chips, and doesn’t usually need Long-Range Scanners, but the extra defence dice can help it live longer as a support or control crewed ship. 23 points gets you a Scimitar Squadron TIE Shuttle with Lightweight Frame, Tactician, and Rebel Captive, for a very annoying and surprisingly durable bit of stress control. Similarly, the Phantom can build a potentially potent blocker from a Sigma Squadron with Enhanced Scopes, Intelligence Agent and Lightweight Frame. At 29 points, it’s not cheap, but has effectively a 4/3/2/2 statline and a lot of unpredictability.

When it works well, Lightweight Frame is well worth the points. The TIE/sf, Striker, and TIE Shuttle Bombers will all get a lot out of this, and 2 points for what is essentially an extra point of Agility under a lot of circumstances is a good deal. It sadly doesn’t do anything to help Imperial ordnance carriers, but hopefully the Punisher will get something at some point in the future…

Swarm Leader

Rounding out the upgrades from this pack, the Swarm Leader Elite Pilot Talent is a fascinating bit of design, allowing you to turn defence across your squad into offence for one ship. When performing a primary weapon attack, choose up to 2 other friendly ships that have the defender inside their firing arcs at Range 1-3. Remove 1 evade token from each chosen ship to roll 1 additional attack die for each token removed.

So, if you can set everything up right, you can burn off two evade tokens from your ships to add in two red dice to your roll. This is limited to primary weapons only, but it still gives some strong alpha-strike potential. Extra attack dice are always good to have, and are something the game designers clearly value highly. (Judging by the points and opportunity costs of things like Expose and Jan Ors.) However, it’s a unique upgrade (so paints a target on the ship with it), it’s somewhat expensive at 3 points, and reliant on you having at least one other ship on the board that can afford to take an evade action at no direct benefit to itself. That’s quite a few caveats.

But my gut instinct is that it’ll be worth it for some specific builds. Swarm Leader /x7 Vessery fits neatly alongside Push the Limit Ryad and an /x7 Delta to give Vessery a hefty opening punch while still leaving your other ships with some defensive dice modification. Likewise, a similar Vessery Swarm Leader build can drop into a list alongside two Omega Squadron TIE/fos with Crackshot and Omega Leader with the usual trimmings with 2 points to spare. You’ll note that I’m mostly looking at Defenders here, as you really need something that can live through a couple of turns of shooting to get the most out of this upgrade. I’ve seen a few people suggesting running it on Omega Ace, for piles of crits, but that’s going to take a lot of setup and synergy on what’s fundamentally still quite a fragile ship.

I’m not sure I’ve got got a good Rebel build using it in mind as yet, but there’s at least one Scum possibility. Three Cartel Spacers with Heavy Laser Cannons fit exactly alongside Zuckuss with Swarm Leader. You’ll get a likely one shot off with Zuckuss before he’s focused down by your opponent, but it’ll be a heck of a lot of fun…

I’m tentatively interested to see what this can do upgrade can do, but I think it’s firmly in the category of things you need to build a list around. My instincts says this isn’t going to be top tier competitive, although I’m going to be keeping an eye on those /x7 Defender builds.

Pilots

Like several other Imperial ships (and the Fang), the TIE Striker comes with three generic pilots. We’ve only had one of those revealed so far, although we can make some reasonable assumptions about the others based on that.

Imperial Trainee

The baseline Pilot Skill 1 generic, for 17 points the Imperial Trainee brings 3 Attack, 2 Agility, 4 Hull, and 0 Shields. That’s a decent statline for the points cost (with that 3 Attack probably why it’s a point more than a Scimitar Squadron Bomber), and has some potential as a hard-hitting filler or mini-swarm ship for the Imperials.

The Adaptive Ailerons title and the barrel roll action also gives this ship a lot of blocking potential at PS 1. It can throw itself into some unexpected places, or just cover a lot of ground to set itself up for the following turn. There may also be an argument for flying it without Adaptive Ailerons as a cheap and cheerful gunship that doesn’t require quite so much mental energy to fly!

Overall, it’s a well costed entry point to this ship that can fulfill a couple of roles at that cheap price point. Two thumbs up.

To engage in a bit of speculation, there’s a good chance that the PS 3 will be 18 points, and the PS 4 19 points with an EPT slot, given the points cost of the first named Striker pilot on the list after that…

“Countdown”

In at PS 5 and 20 points, Countdown comes with a pilot ability that make him difficult to take down. When defending, if you are not stressed, during the “Compare Results” step you may suffer 1 damage to cancel all dice results. If you do, receive 1 stress token.

This means you can potentially weather a lot of firepower with Countdown, although only for a limited time. The stress requirement means that taking multiple shots in a turn will be bad for Countdown, as will massed low damage shots like TLTs or swarms. A defensive upgrade of some description seems sound, with both Lightweight Frame and Stealth Device making a lot of sense. Since you’re cancelling all dice results with Countdown’s pilot ability, you’re not being hit by any attack that he counters with it, so that Stealth Device could stick around for a while.

With no EPT and some limits on the pilot ability, I don’t think we’re doing to see much of Countdown in a competitive environment, although I think there’s enough tricks there for him to see a bit of play. If nothing else, alpha strike lists will not be at all keen on him!

“Pure Sabacc”

Like Countdown, Pure Sabacc is another Striker pilot with a “limited time” ability, although one with a very different focus. When attacking, if you have 1 or fewer Damage cards, roll 1 additional attack dice. In at PS 6 with an EPT slot, Pure Sabacc will set you back 22 points.

I’ve got some mixed feelings about this pilot. The extra attack dice is a strong thing to have access to, but as soon as you’ve taken two or more damage you lose it. With a middling PS of 6, there’s a decent chance that he’ll take quite a lot of fire before he gets to shoot, potentially stopping you from using the ability at all. So really you need to build Pure Sabacc to maximise your pilot skill and minimise damage taken.

Pure Sabacc with Veteran Instincts and Lightweight Frame is 25 points, and at PS 8 with an extra defence dice against most shots coming his way, he should be able to get at least one turn of firing in before losing his pilot ability. That’s not a lot of points to be paying for something with this kind of punch. Alternatively, put him in a list alongside something even more threatening like Quickdraw with Rage and Baffles, or Crack Shot Tomax Bren, and give your opponents some hard choices to make about target priority. Or, if you’re really committed to the alpha strike concept, why not both?

“Duchess”

Finally, Duchess rounds out the TIE Striker pilots. At PS 8 for 23 points, she’s a first for X-Wing – a pilot ability that allows you to ignore one of your own upgrades. While you have the “Adaptive Ailerons” Upgrade card equipped, you may choose to ignore its card ability.

This gives Duchess a huge amount of unpredictability for your opponent, and a massive amount of flexibility for you. When I suggested that the TIE Striker with Adaptive Ailerons was almost a budget TIE Phantom, this is what I meant – Duchess with Veteran Instincts and Lightweight Frame clocks in at 26 points for a ship that flies almost like a PS 10 pre-nerf Echo. That’s quite the bargain!

I think Duchess is very rapidly going to become the go-to Imperial “pocket ace”. Her pilot ability makes her incredibly slippery and difficult to block, and she can arc-dodge with the best of Imperial pilots. She’s more fragile than most true aces, but for the points you pay for her that only seems fair. Expect to see Duchess coming to a table near you soon, and a possible resurgence in stress control as a result…

Final Thoughts

The TIE Striker seemed rather underwhelming at first glace when it was originally announced, but the combination of point costs, upgrades, and pilot abilities makes it possibly the most exciting ship of the Wave – and Wave 10 has got a lot to be excited about. I think this is a real addition to the Imperial fleet in terms of competitive play, in terms of both opening up the swarm archetype and giving the Imperials some more budget aces. Looking at specific upgrades, Lightweight Frame has implications well beyond just the TIE Striker.

All told, this is a bit of a game changing expansion pack, and has me hyped for its release in a week or two’s time alongside the U-Wing.

U-Wing – Preview Thoughts

Last Monday gave us a preview for the first of the two new ships added to Star Wars canon by Rogue One.  The U-Wing is a troop transport and gunship that brings some firepower and new faces to the Rebel Alliance.

The Dial

The U-wing has been cited as the Rebel equivalent to the Imperial’s Lambda Shuttle, but its dial is a big step up from the Lambda. With white 2 turns, green straights and banks at speeds 1 and 2, and a white 4 forwards, it’s a much faster and more mobile ship. Like the Lambda Shuttle and YV-666, the U-Wing has a red 0 stop move on its dial, allowing it to come to a halt in the otherwise constantly moving gameplay that is X-Wing. There’s no K-turn, S-loop, or Talon Roll on the dial, but thanks to the Pivot Wing title it’s got a trick up its sleeve. (See below.)

It is still a large base ship, so it’s not going to be competing with most snubfighters for the ability to dodge through a dense asteroid field or turn on a dime, but overall the dial compares pretty darn favourably to other comparible ships, and that’s before we get to the U-Wing’s party trick…

Title – Pivot Wing

The second dual upgrade card in the game, Pivot Wing makes the most of the mechanic by allowing you to flip the card in play. (Adaptability was a great addition to the game, but didn’t feel like it really did much with the new design space created by a double-sided card.) This isn’t a new reveal, having been included in the original announcment article for the Rogue One ships, but it’s certainly something that needs to be discussed in any discussion about the U-Wing.

The card is likely to default to the “Pivot Wing – Attack” side, boosting the U-Wing’s agility to 2, giving it a quite impressive stat line for its points cost as effectively a B-Wing with an extra point of Agility and a somewhat worse dial. After you execute a maneuver, you can flip this card to its other side.

The “Pivot Wing – Landing” side doesn’t have the Agility boost, but does allow you to flip 180 degrees when you reveal a 0 stop. An effective 0 K-turn is a first for X-Wing, and having the choice to do it when you reveal the dial means you can react to a changing situation if a lower PS enemy ship doesn’t go quite where you were expecting. The downside is that you are flagging your intention by flipping to the Landing side of the title, which can let your opponent dodge out of your arc more easily, but equally it potentially opens up some interesting bluffs. As with the Landing side, you can flip this card after you execute a naneuver.

The Pivot Wing title combines with the dial to make the U-Wing a much more mobile ship than the Lambda Shuttle, and able to bring itself back into the fight far more quickly. The extra point of Agility from the Attack side of the title certainly doesn’t hurt either, making the U-Wing slightly more durable than a B-Wing, no bad thing in the current meta.

Crew

There’s quite a few upgrades in the U-Wing pack, but several of them are reprints of existing upgrades (Flechette Torpedoes, Sensor Jammer, Stealth Device). There’s also a new EPT that hasn’t been revealed, and a new crew member. What this preview does give us however is a wealth of new crew options for the Rebel Alliance.

Baze Malbus

Clocking in at 3 points, if you perform an attack that doesn’t hit, Baze lets you perform a primary weapon attack against a different ship. He’s effectively a budget Gunner where you can’t attack the same ship with your secondary attack.

I’m going to be honest, Baze seems like a pretty underwhelming upgrade. For two points more, Gunner gives you more utility, particularly in terms of forcing your target to spend their defensive tokens on the first shot so you can then hit them with the second. It might have some use combined with R3-A2 on an ARC, or with Tactican on the U-Wing or another two crew slot ship to dish stress around multiple targets, but you don’t get the option to double stress a single target. You can combine it with Captain Rex for a focus token on the second shot, but I’m not sure that’s much better than the unrestricted second shot from Gunner. Overall, it feels like you’d be better off freeing up the points of get the strictly superior Gunner rather than compromsising by taking Baze.

I’m hoping that there’s some utility to Baze I haven’t spotted yet, but for the time being my instinct is he’s not going to make it out of the card folder much…

Bodhi Rook

When you acquire a target lock, you can lock onto an enemy ship at Range 1-3 of any friendly ship. At just 1 point, Bodhi has a neat if slightly niche ability in his crew version.

I’m eying Bodhi up for a seat on a missile or torpedo carrying K-Wing, giving you some of the utility of Long-Range Scanners without the Range 1-2 target lock blind spot and still letting you take Guidance Chips. He combines well with both Heroes of the Resistance Han Solo (who can deploy deep into your opponent’s side of the board), or with the Captured TIE version of Sabine’s TIE, which can race forwards with very little risk of being shot at.

It’s not a crew member I expect to see getting a huge amount of competative use, but Bodhi has a decent amount of utility at a cheap points cost. I’m going to try him out as soon as Wave 10 hits the tables.

Cassian Andor

Previewed in the first announcement article for the Rogue One additions to Wave 10, Cassian Andor has been discussed for a while, but he’s still one of the things I’m most excited about in this wave. Working as a suped up version of the Intelligence Agent, Cassian lets you guess aloud a maneuver on an enemy ship at Range 1-2’s dial, then look at that ship’s dial. If you guessed right, you can change the dial of the ship that Cassian is on to a new maneuver if you choose. Cassian comes in at 2 points, a point more than the standard Intelligence Agent, but brings a lot more with him for that extra point.

Importantly, you don’t want to guess the manuever you think your opponent’s going to do. Plan your dial with that in mind, then guess what you think the second most likely option is. If your original plan was right, you shouldn’t need to change anything, but if your guess at their second choice of move was correct then you can adapt accordingly. This allows you to cover a lot of bases, and makes whatever ship Cassian’s on very effective blocker. I’m not expecting Cassian to be as popular as Sabine crew, but I think he could have a similar effect on Rebel blocking lists to what Sabine has brought to Rebel bombing.

Cassian’s decent on most ships, but particularly good on a K-Wing where he can make the most of the SLAM action. A Warden Squadron loaded with Cassian, Advanced SLAM, and some mines can create a maze of potential bomb token locations for your opponment to navigate.

All told, I’m expecting Cassian to get a decent amount of use by Rebel players, and a decent amount of hate from anyone flying against him…

Inspiring Recruit

The only crew card from the U-Wing expansion with the Rebel only faction restriction, the Imspiring Recruit can join up with Rebels, Imperials, or even Scum. Once per round, when a friendly ship at Range 1-2 removes a stress token, it may remove an additional stress token. Importantly, this isn’t “another friendly ship”, so it does work for the ship carrying the Inspiring Recruit as much as anyone else.

This crew member opens up a lot of interesting options for dealing with stress control lists, which are just starting to come back into the meta. (In equal parts thanks to the demise of the Contracted Scout, the ARC-170’s crew and astromech combination, and Asajj Ventress.) If you can drop two stress a round, the Stresshog Y-Wing trick of double stressing your ships becomes significantly less effective. Equally it potentially gives R3-A2 stress lists a chance to get rid of some of their usually rapidly building pile of stress, giving them more chance at taking actions and so more efficiently contributing to the fight.

It also allows ships to use stress-inducing upgrades more freely. Rage becomes a lot more tempting if you’ve got a reliable way of dropping two stress tokens a turn. (Although there’s very few ships that can take an EPT, crew, and attack more than once a round to make the most of this combination.) Inspiring Recruits conbines well with Kanan Jarrus, letting your ships drop large quantities of stress from almost their entire dial.

Inspiring Recruits might also have a place in Scum lists to mitigate the effects of Zuckuss. I don’t see it having much impact on Dengaroo, but it might find its place on a party bus YV-666, or on a support ship than can afford to fly close by like a HWK. Stress is always a concern for Mindlink lists as well, and having a bit of added insurance on that front might be handy.

My gut instinct is that this is an upgrade we’ll be seeing quite a lot of going forwards, and something that may create some new list building opportunities if you can make the most of it. If nothing else, it’s just 1 point and can potentially benefit multiple ships, making it a decent choice if you find you’ve got a crew slot going spare.

Jyn Erso

The main character from Rogue One, Jyn Erso brings hope to her comrades in arms when they’re in a tough spot. As an action, a ship with Jyn on board can assign a focus token to a friendly ship at Range 1-2 for each enemy ship inside its firing arc (up to a maximum of 3 focus tokens). Again, this is “a friendly ship”, so this covers the ship carrying Jyn as well as its allies.

At 2 points, Jyn is cheaper than a Recon Specialist, but will often be able to have at least as much effect. The ability to hand out focus tokens can hugely help ships in a tough spot stay alive, and it potentially synergises well with other Rebel pilot abilities like Poe Dameron, Jake Farrel, or Garven Dreis. Jyn also gets a bit of a boost from ships with additional firing arcs, making both the ARC-170 and VCX-100 good choices to put her on. Thane Kyrell in particular can make some very good use of her, as adding addition action options to him really helps to make the most of his pilot ability.

Jyn continues the theme of focus synergy being a big part of the Rebel’s identity in the game, and is a strong choice of crew for a support ship like the U-Wing. I’m fully expecting her to pop up in a few Rebel lists, and I’m really curious to try combining her with Jan Ors for as many token options as possible.

Pilots

Blue Squadron Pathfinder

Our standard single generic for a support ship, the Blue Squadron Pathfinder comes in at 23 points for Pilot Skill 2, 3 Attack, 1 Agility, 4 Shields, and 4 Hull. A point more expensive than the Blue Squadron B-Wing for an almost identical stat line, the Pathfinder has the advantage of the Pivot Wing title (effectively boosting its Agility to 2 for a decent amount of the game) and a strong selection of upgrade slots with a Sensor and two Crew slots.

This is by far the cheapest option for Rebels to get a double Crew slot ship, with the closest alternatives being the Lothal Rebel at 35 points or the Resistance Sympathizer at 38 points. (There is also the Outer Rim Smuggler at 27 points, but pretty much every analysis suggests that’s the weakest ship in the game, so it’s not really worth considering.) If you need to bring a selection of support crew as cheaply as possible, the U-Wing is the ship for you. And the Rebels have quite a few options on this front – in addition to the new crew that come with the U-Wing, there’s Jan Ors and Kanan Jarrus, or generic options like the Intelligence Agent. There’s also no shortage of crew to boost the Pathfinder’s own capabilities – 32 points gets you a Pathfinder with Gunner, Captain Rex, and a Fire Control System, for when you really need to push fully modified attack through on a hard to hit opponent. A Blue Squadron Pathfinder with Cassian Andor is potentailly a very annoying PS 2 large base blocker for only 25 points.

There’s one other member of crew worthy of a special mention in the context of the U-Wing – Sabine Wren. With a torpedo slot avaiable, you can outfit it with Extra Muntions, a bomb (thanks to Sabine), and potentially create some unique bombing opportunities with a 0 stop and 0 K-turn available to you. Add in Chopper, and as long as you don’t mind soaking up a bit of damage you can drop action mines when you stop or K-turn…

The Blue Squadron Pathfinder is a well-costed generic that brings something new to the Rebel fleet. I’m going to be making use of it, and it may well prove to be a competitively viable ship as a slight upgrade on the B-Wing.

Heff Tobber

At PS 3, Heff Tobber is just one point more than the Pathfinder, and comes with an interesting pilot ability. When an enemy ship overlaps Heff, Heff can take a free action.

Clearly he’s set up with being a blocker in mind, making Cassian Andor a strong crew choice. Zeb Orrelios is going to work with him as well, as he’ll let you set up a block while still being able to take a fully modified shot against the overlapping ship who’s likely to be fairly tokenless in return.

However, the U-Wing’s action bar is pretty sparse, only offering focus and target lock. The lack of repositional ability limits some of the tricks Heff can pull off, and sadly he’s lacking an EPT slot to open up some more options. (So no Expert Handling alas.) However, other action upgrades are worth looking at. Jyn Erso is a solid crew choice, allowing you to pass focus to other ships in your squadron while denying actions to your opponent if you can pull off a block. Seismic Torpedoes could also prove entertaining, giving your opponent even more to fear from the obstacles while potentially clearing your own path.

Overall, Heff’s probably worth the extra point if you want a dedicated ace blocker, although the extra point of PS is actually a hinderance to the blocking role against generics. Otherwise, the Pathfinder will probably be the go-to option if you’re wanting a cheap and cheerful U-Wing.

Bodhi Rook

Bodhi Rook moves up to PS 4, and costs a point more at 24 points. His pilot ability buffs all of the ships in your squadron, and has some interesting potential for ordnance-focused list. When a friendly ship acquires a target lock, that ship can lock onto an enemy ship at Range 1-3 of any friendly ship.

As with his crew version, he pairs well with HotR Han, or a Captured TIE, but the effect is magnified in Bodhi’s pilot version as it effects everyone in your list. This makes me lean more towards the Captured TIE, as it doesn’t eat up too many points – 19 points gets you VI Ahsoka Tano with Captured TIE, who can then race ahead to set up target lock opportunities for your ordnance carriers while not putting herself at much risk in the process.

Even if your list isn’t focused on missiles and torpedoes, Bodhi is still a useful background ability. If you’ve got a ship that’s out of the fight for a turn or two it can still do something useful with its action if any of your ships are in target lock range. It lets you set up future modification for attacks agaisnt nimble opponents who now need to stay out of target lock range of all of your ships. It’s not going to be a total game changer, but at only 2 points more than the generic Pathfinder I could see myself choosing Bodhi instead just for the added utility.

Cassian Andor

The final U-Wing pilot, Cassian Andor bumps up another 2 points to 27 points, but gets an Elite Pilot talent and a boost to PS 6 in return. He’s also got a strong pilot ability – at the start of the Activation phase you may remove 1 stress token from 1 other friendly ship at Range 1-2.  No picture of Cassian’s pilot card yet, as it’s not strictly speaking been spoiled, but it’s visible on the front of the fan of cards show in the picture of the expansion pack.

So Cassian comes with a better version of Wingman baked in, and all of the options that an EPT brings to the table. Veteran Instincts boost up him up to a solid PS 8. Expert Handling lets Cassian barrel roll, giving him the sizable displacement that a large base barrel roll produces. Even just Adrenaline Rush opens up some interesting options for him when combined with the 0 stop and Pivot Wing title.

On the crew front, Inspiring Recruit is a strong choice, pairing well with Cassian’s pilot ability to pull your ships out of a stressful situation. It doesn’t even have to target the same ship as Cassian’s ability, potentially letting you get two ships out of being double stressed in a turn if they’re both doing green moves. Likewise, Kanan Jarrus gives your ships more ways of ditching stress if you want to go all in on that front.

I’m confident that Cassian will see play. His pilot ability is useful for pretty much any list, and having access to an EPT opens up a lot of options for builds. 27 points is quite a high base point cost for a support ship, but Cassian brings enough with him to make that investment worthwhile.

Final Thoughts

The U-Wing brings a lot to the Rebels. The dial is notably more forgiving than I’d expected, and the Pivot Wing title makes it substantially more nimble than the equivalent ships from other factions. While I’ve talked a lot about the U-Wing’s potential as a support ship here (and it’s very strong on that front), there’s definate room for it to work as a gunship as well. With a marginally better stat line than a B-Wing at only a point more, and some interesting options thanks to the Crew slots, I could see a couple of Blue Squadron Pathfinders finding their way into lists as some durable heavy firepower.

My one reservation is the large base, which can make the ship trickier to fly and certainly harder to navigate through dense asteroid fields, but equally the large base notably increases the area it can cover in a blocking role. I’m keen to get at least one of these into play as soon as they’re released so I can try them out for real. In the meantime, I might just see if I can find some free time to fire up Vassal and take one out for a spin…

Quadjumper – Preview Thoughts

We had a bit of a gap in X-Wing news, and now I’m running a bit behind what’s been announced!  Today we’re taking a look at last week’s preview for the Quadjumper, a definite oddity of a ship.

The Dial

It’s impossible to discuss the Quadjumper without talking about the dial. It’s got a major first for X-Wing – the ability to fly backwards. Admittedly, these are red maneuvers, so you can’t easily do them turn after turn, but it fundamentally changes where this ship can go, and makes it difficult to predict, particularly in a close-quarters dogfight.

Outside of the three reverse moves, the rest of the dial has some interesting qualities. There’s no 0 stop move, which it was widely speculated to have, and in another first for X-Wing has a 1 forward and turn, but no 1 bank. This gives a slightly odd movement profile at low speeds, but on the whole I’m inclined to think that the 1 turn is worth giving up the bank for.

It’s got a limited quantity of greens (the 2 forward and banks, and the 3 forward), meaning that it’ll take a little bit of thought to clear the stress from reversing, and the dial caps out at speed 3. White 2 turns and a pair of red 2 S-loops completes the dial, making the Quadjumper a slow but nimble ship which has a lot of options in a tight encounter. As it’s got a Tech upgrade slot, there’s some options for making more of the red moves via Primed Thrusters and Pattern Analyser, although both of these add to the cost of a ship that’s probably best kept cheap.

Upgrades

As with most small ship expansions, there’s only a few upgrades included in this pack (although a possible record seven rules cards…), so I’m going to cover them all in one section.  Something that’s worth noting, while not a new upgrade, is this expansion is another source for the Thermal Detonator, previously only available in the Ghost expansion pack.  Good news for anyone looking to expand their collection of bomb tokens without buying multiple VCXs!

A Score to Settle

The Quadjumper brings us another 0 point Elite Pilot Talent, joining the ranks of Adaptability and Trick Shot. Unlike these, A Score to Settle is a unique upgrade, as it’s linked to the “A Debt to Pay” Condition.

When the ship with A Score to Settle is attacking the ship with the A Debt to Pay Condition, it can convert a focus to a critical hit. However, the same applies in reverse, making this a bit of a double-edged sword. You’ll need to pick what ship you put this EPT on carefully, as well as picking your target with care so you’re not giving your opponent more value from this upgrade than you.

This EPT will work best on ships with lots of shields, a reasonably strong attack, and either a slightly limited action economy or a need to keep their focus token for defence. So B-Wings, G-1A Starfighters, and TIE Defenders are immediate choices for this. A Gand Findsman with A Score to Settle and a Fire Control system can effectively have a target lock and mini-focus on attack, and an evade on defence, making it hit hard and be quite tanky for not a huge points investment.

The B-Wing and Defender are both best looking at one of their named pilots (not least because the B-Wing lacks any EPT generics). Ten Numb with A Score to Settle and Fire Control System clocks in at 33 points, as does Maarek Stele with A Score to Settle and the TIE/x7 title. Maarek in particular gets a lot out of this 0 point upgrade, getting a good chance of using his pilot ability, and freeing his action up for a defensive focus, barrel roll, or a target lock as needed.

I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of Scores to be Settled once this EPT is in play, as it’s very good value at 0 points, although I’m also expecting some cursing at the gaming table when the inevitable crits come through in the other direction…

Scavenger Crane

When you really want to lasso bits of debris, only the Scavenger Crane will do. Probably the oddest upgrade in what’s a odd ship in general, the Scavenger Crane allows you to flip a discarded ordnance, cannon, turret, and modification upgrade faceup when a ship is destroyed at Range 1-2 of you. Note, that’s not an enemy ship, so you can salvage your own allies for parts in a tight spot.

Like all Illicit upgrades, this comes with a downside – after using this upgrade you roll an attack dice, and discard it on a blank result. Still, getting even one use from this puts in on a par with Extra Munitions, and that’s not exactly bad value.

This definitely helps ships that have a single ordnance slot and an Illicit get more from their investment. A group of Binayre Pirates can prove a much more persistent threat with Scavenger Cranes and a missile apiece, and destroying one potentially rearms the rest of them. That said, it’s also a 2 point bump to the cost of each, meaning you’re investing a reasonably sizable number of points in to Z-95s.

The fact it effects Modifications is interesting. Firstly, it’s some useful Boba Fett insurance, never a bad thing if you’ve got a vital upgrade you need to protect. Secondly, it potentially expands the usefulness of Countermeasures, Stealth Device, and most amusingly, the Captured TIE modification…

“Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?”

I’m not sure that this is going to be an upgrade that really sees any competitive play – Extra Muntions already exists, and while the Scavenger Crane can potentially do a little more than that, it’s also notably more conditional. However, it’s also a wonderfully flavorful upgrade to have in the game, and fits the Scum faction perfectly.

Spacetug Tractor Array

This is a key part of what will make or break the Quadjumper. The Spacetug Tractor Array lets you take an action to assign a tractor token to a ship that’s in your firing arc at range 1. As an added bonus, you can do this to friendly ships as well.

This is a hugely useful and potentially powerful ability. Put on a low PS ship like the Jakku Gunrunner, you’ve got pretty much perfect knowledge of where everything will be, which should make meeting those Range 1 in arc requirements a lot easier than they might otherwise be. Being able to reliably drop the Agility of Defender, Interceptor, or Dengar can massively shift the odds of being able to do meaningful damage, and that’s before you take the repositional ability of the tractor beam into account. Combine it with an Intelligence Agent, and you’ll be able to set up blocks or force ships onto obstacles with ease. Spacetug Tractor Array has the potential to be a game changing upgrade, and if nothing else should mean that your Quadjumpers draw a lot of fire, freeing your other ships up to do their own thing.

And it being able to apply to a friendly ship isn’t without its uses. If you’re in a bad position, it can be worth taking the -1 Agility to get yourself out of it. It’s not something that I see getting used a lot, but has the potential to be a real “Get out of jail free” card when you find yourself in a bad spot.

Even at 2 points, I think this is going to essentially be a must-take upgrade most low PS Quadjumpers.

Unkar Plutt

In his crew version, Unkar allows you to take a damage to take a free action after you collide with another ship. At 1 point, on the surface he feels like a slightly underwhelming Scum version of Chopper, but he really comes into his own when paired with the Quadjumper’s role as a blocker and debuffer.

Slam into someone but still want to tractor them away with your Spacetug Tractor Array? Unkar’s got you covered. Bumped Soontir Fel but still want to kick in your Black Market Slicer tools? Unkar can help as long as you can pay the price. Even in a pinch, pulling off a vital barrel roll after a bump can be a big deal.

All told, it’s a bit of a niche upgrade, but useful in the right build. It’s not something you’ll just slap onto any ship, definitely has a place on the Quadjumper and might be useful on other ships where getting an action is truly vital. I might be slightly over-costed at 1 point, as Chopper does feel like the better deal, but overall I think it’ll see a bit of use.

Pilots

We’re still waiting on details of Sarco Plank, who’s a PS 5 unique pilot with an EPT, but we’ve now had three of the four Quadjumper pilots revealed.

Jakku Gunrunner

Like most support ships (see the HWK, Lambda, U-Wing, and Upsilon), the Quadjumper only comes with one generic pilot. Clocking in at 15 points, it’s relatively cheap, and its PS of 1 is probably a distinct advantage given the Quadjumper’s strong potential as a blocking ship.

However, the core statline (2 Attack, 2 Agility, 0 Shields, 5 Hull) is a little underwhelming for the price. 2 Agility and no shields makes it very vulnerable to critical hits, and it’s 2 points more expensive than a basic Z-95 or TIE Fighter. It’s got a lot more in the way of upgrade slots, but generally speaking those aren’t worth points in and of themselves. I don’t think you’re going to be seeing any bare-bone generic Quadjumpers being flown as filler, as it’s a ship that really needs some upgrades to shine.

With that disclaimer out of the way, 18 points gets you a Jakku Gunrunner with Spacetug Tractor Array and an Intelligence Agent, which is going to be one of the most frustrating ships in the game to deal with. A combination of the Quadjumper’s barrel roll and having access to an action tractor beam is going to make it a disruptive presence on the board – not least since the tractor token getting applied during the activation phase means that all of the ships in your squad can benefit from the lowered Agility of the target. Fly this ship like you expect it to be a budget Biggs with some extra tricks, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the results.

Unkar Plutt

While Unkar in his crew form is perhaps a little underwhelming, he’s hugely interesting in his pilot mode. At the end of the Activation Phase you assign a tractor token to each ship you’re touching. Even if that’s just one ship, it’s a free tractor token, and it’s worth noting that it doesn’t matter if the ship has bumped into Unkar or if Unkar’s rammed into them, making him useful against both lower and higher Pilot Skills. (Although given Unkar’s PS 3, the former is more likely.)

As with the Jakku Gunrunner, he’s going to draw a lot of hate, so I’d recommend not loading him with too many points. Keep him cheap, cheerful, and extremely annoying for your opponent to have to deal with. That said, at 17 points he’s not breaking the bank, and you can add in some upgrades to notably improve on his ability. Intelligence Agent makes getting those blocks easier, while Ketsu Onyo can make those tractor tokens a lingering hindrance to your opponent’s ships. Throwing on a Spacetug Tractor Array can create blocking opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t happen, as you throw enemy ships into the worst possible position.

If you want a ship to draw your opponent’s ire and be a massive troll on the battlefield, there’s no better choice than Unkar Plutt.

Constable Zuvio

The top of the Quadjumper pilots, the Jakku lawman comes in at 19 points for PS 7 and an interesting pilot ability. When you reveal a reverse maneuver, you may drop a bomb out of the front of your ship, including Action bombs.

This gives you a lot of flexibility on your bomb placement, and potentially allows for some devastating Conner Net or Cluster Mine uses. With an EPT slot, you can bump him up to PS 9, allowing you to make good use of Ion Bombs, Thermal Detonators, or (if you’ve got a lot of points to spare) Proton Bombs after most other ships have moved. All of these can exert a lot of control over the battlefield, and notably diminish your opponent’s ability to fight back.

However, they all add to Zuvio’s cost, and he’s a one-shot one-trick pony without a Scavenger Crane to rearm his bombs. This again adds to his cost, meaning that you’re likely to be looking at 23-26 points for a decent load-out on him, which is quite a lot to be putting into a fragile ship that really needs to get in close to make much use out of his ability. Given the potential of bombs and mines to throw a spanner into your opponent’s plans, Zuvio will be drawing a lot of heat – just like every other Quadjumper.

I think the key factor with Zuvio is going to be can you get approximately 25 points of value from him before he’s burnt down by your opponent? If you can, he’s got the potential to do some incredible control and area denial. If you can’t, it’s going to be some easy points for your opponent to pick up. Just simply on the basis of points cost, I’m not sure that Zuvio’s going to be competitively effective, but I hope to be proved wrong on this.

Final Thoughts

The Quadjumper genuinely brings something new to the game – a ship solely focused around blocking and being a disruptive presence on the board. Other ships have been able to move into this role through a combination of upgrades and repositional actions, but this kind of de-buffing “friction” play style is at the core of what makes the Quadjumper work.

The ability to do this in quite a cheap package makes me think we’ll be seeing quite a lot of them in assorted Scum lists. A Jakku Gunrunner with an Intelligence Agent and Spacetug Tractor Array is only 18 points, as is Unkar Plutt with Ketsu Onyo crew. And with two pilots with EPTs, they’re potentially useful to Mindlink lists as a cheap source of focus action. I’m going to be particularly interested to see what Sarco Plank’s ability is on this basis, as his PS 5 pairs him nicely with several other staples of Scum lists.

All told, this is a ship that I think may have a huge effect on the meta if it gets used well, but will require some solid flying to get the most out of its sub-par statline. I’m looking forwards to seeing it him the table, and to see what (if any) impact it has on the 2016/17 Regionals meta.