[X-Wing] Guns for Hire Kihraxz preview thoughts

In part two of the Guns for Hire expansion preview, we’re taking a look at the Kihraxz fighter.  In particular, there’s a focus on its hyper-customisable nature in the Vaksai article.

The Title

As with the StarViper Mk II title, this really changes the nature of the ship so we need to talk about it first.  The Vaksai title shifts the nature of the Kihraxz from a fairly basic punchy jouster to an extremely customisable ship that can fulfil a range of roles dependant on its loadout.

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

You may equip up to 3 different Modification upgrades.

So while not a straight points cost like the StarViper Mk II title, this potentially represents a big saving in points as you cut the cost of everything you equip to this ship by one.  Add to that the ability to take multiple Modifications, and you can suddenly switch up the role of the Kihraxz a huge amount.  Want a 2 agility B-Wing with a better dial?  Then throw on a Hull Upgrade and Shield upgrade on a Cartel Marauder do give you a 3 Attack, 2 Agility, 5 Hull, 2 Shield ship for 25 points.  Want to go for more manoeuverability and long-range defence?  Autothrusters, an Engine Upgrade, and Vectored Thrusters are a 5 point package on anything with the Vaksai title.

There’s a lot you can just add on for free as well.  XX-23 S-Thread Tracers, Guidance Chips, Munitions Failsafe, and Inertial Dampeners gives you four upgrades for 0 points.  None of them are a huge change to the Kihraxz’s capabilities individually, but together they really change the profile of the ship.  You can fly five Cartel Marauders with those upgrades in 100 points, which is a list I’m sorely tempted to try.

There’s a huge number of combinations we’re going to see from this, far more than I can cover here.  I’m confident that we’re going to see the Kihraxz get a lot more play from this, and genuinely elevated to a competitive option for Scum.

The Pilots

There’s no new generic pilots for the Kihraxz in this set, as the Cartel Marauder and Black Sun Ace do a good job of covering the “cheap and cheerful” and “elite pilot talent” generic slots.  However, we do get two new named unique pilots.

Captain Jostero

Captain Jostero is a proper Scum pilot, taking advantage of any sign of weakness from his targets.  He’s a PS 4 pilot with an Elite Pilot Talent, costs 24 points, and has a mean pilot ability.

Once per round, after an enemy ship that is not defending against an attack suffers damage or critical damage, you may perform an attack against that ship.

So, that covers quite a lot of ground.  Bombs, mines, obstacles, Black Market Slicer Tools, splash damage from suitable ordnance, and a few other oddities can all give Captain Jostero a free attack.  As we’ve seen with Dengar and Quickdraw, extra attacks are a big deal to a ship’s capabilities, so at only one point more than a Black Sun Ace he seems like good value.

There’s a few different ways of getting his ability to reliably trigger.  Putting him alongside a bombing ship is obvious, suggesting he might be a good wingman for Nym or Emon Azzameen.  He’d also be happy to fly alongside ships packing Assault or Harpoon Missiles (more on these below), helping to amplify the effects of the splash damage these missiles do.

Given he’s got a good chance of attacking twice a round, giving him upgrades that allow him to modify both attacks seems a good place to start with any build.  Lone Wolf, Predator, and Expertise all fit the bill, although out of these three I’d lean towards Predator as the best and least conditional choice.  Of course, with the Vaksai title, Predator’s a very reasonable 2 points…

Captain Jostero is someone you probably need to list build specifically for, but I think he could be a potent addition to the right Scum squadron.  I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him very soon…

Viktor Hel

Continuing the theme of dirty tricks that many Scum pilots have, Viktor Hel is more focused on control than Captain Jostero’s punishing offence.  He’s a PS 7 pilot with an EPT slot and an interesting pilot ability for 25 points.

After defending, if you did not roll exactly 2 defense dice, the attacker receives 1 stress token.

Probably not that easy to pull off in a 2 Agility ship by default, but any obstruction or range 3 shot would trigger it.  That’s before you start factoring upgrades into account – a Stealth Device would trigger this on every shot (until you get hit), or Expose would let you lower your Agility for the turn (although that would require taking what is recognised as one of the worst upgrades in the game).  I’ve been looking at a Lone Wolf, Stealth Device, Scavenger Crane build – at 29 points in total thanks to the Vaksai title, it’s not wildly expensive, and the Lone Wolf modifications can help that Stealth device last a little longer before you need to try and fish it back with the Scavenger Crane.

It’s also worth noting that he’s a relatively cheap way of getting a PS 9 pilot in a Scum list.  With VI and the title, he’s still only 25 points, which means you can potentially throw a Cruise Missile, Guidance Chips and Munitions Failsafe on him for only 27 points.  That’s not bad at all if you want to bump up your alpha strike potential!

While he’s a decent pilot, I think Viktor is going to see less play than Talonbane Cobra or Captain Jostero.  His ability is situational enough to be a bit hard to trigger, although the fact it’s not limited to once per round is very handy.  He’d potentially pair well Asajj to help ramp up the stress you’re dishing out, and force some tough decisions about who to shoot at.  Plus as noted above, he’s a pretty cheap way of getting a high PS ship in your list if needed.

Upgrades

We’ve covered a lot of the upgrades already, but it’s worth noting that the pack comes with a copy of Stealth Device, Vectored Thrusters, and two copies of Pulsed Ray Shield (previously only found in the C-ROC), so there’s some handy existing upgrades to add to your collection.  However, there is one last new upgrade to cover…

Harpoon Missiles

Want to throw explosives at your enemy?  Want to stick even more explosive to their ship?  Then have we got the missile for you!

Attack 4
Range 2-3

Attack (target lock): Discard this card to perform this attack.
If this attack hits, assign the “Harpooned!” Condition to the defender.

Cost: 4 points

Harpooned!
When you are hit by an attack, if there is at least 1 uncanceled (crit) result, each other ship at Range 1 suffers 1 damage. Then discard this card and receive 1 facedown Damage card.

When you are destroyed, each ship at Range 1 suffers 1 damage.

Action: Discard this card. Then roll 1 attack die. On a (hit) or (crit) result, suffer 1 damage.

Important point to note – this missile doesn’t require you to discard the target lock to shoot it, so you get Homing Missile style accuracy as you can spend the target lock to modify your attack.  The condition is quite brutal as well, as if you can put a crit through on the target it is at the very least taking an extra point of damage, and can splash damage out onto other nearby ships.  Mangler Cannons, A Score to Settle, and Guidance Chips on 3 Attack ships among other options can make reliably getting crits relatively trivial.

I really like this upgrade, but being quite frank it comes close to making Cruise, Homing, and Assault Missiles obsolete.  Assault Missiles in particular are going to suffer, as they’re both a point more expensive, and notably less accurate as they have to spend their target lock to shoot.

Importantly, this isn’t a faction restricted upgrade, which means it gives options to a decent number of Scum and Imperial ships.  The Rebels have somewhat fewer good missile platforms, as they tend to favour torpedoes, but A-Wings and K-Wings can both potentially make use of this to decent effect as well – particularly with the K-Wing’s access to Long-Range Scanners to  make getting those early target locks easier.

All told, I think this is a strong competitive option that we’ll be seeing a lot of.  As a result, we may see a reduction in the popularity of the Fair Ship Rebel builds that rely on tight formation flying and spreading damage around the list, as Harpoon Missiles potentially turn than damage spread from an advantage to a serious weakness.  Unfortunately, it’s also another nail in the coffin of the TIE swarm, which was just starting to seem like it might be competitively viable once more.

Final Thoughts

I’m very hyped for Guns for Hire in general.  I’ve been a long-time fan of both the StarViper and the Kihraxz, both of which have got a significant boost from this pack.  There’s a lot of genuinely competitive builds for Scum now, which may mean we see some more diversity in what the Scum faction brings to the table in tournaments.

I am slightly concerned about Harpoon Missiles, as they pack a lot of punch for their points cost, but time will tell if that’s just me being over-cautious or not.  On paper they look very strong to the extent that they may make other missiles obsolete, but it may be that they’re going to be trickier to use than anticipated.

All told, I’m really looking forwards to this pack hitting general release, and sad that’s unlikely to be in time for UK Nationals.

[X-Wing] Guns for Hire StarViper preview thoughts

Scum and Villainy are getting their first “aces” pack with Guns for Hire, bringing a swathe of new options and a couple of fix cards to the Khiraxz and StarViper. Alongside the extra M-3A options from the C-ROC cruiser, Scum are getting a good variety of small base fighter options they’ve needed for a while to compete with the Protectorate Starfighter.

We’re going to be digging in the detailed preview for the StarViper side of the pack, which brings some fascinating new pilots and a couple of new upgrades to the game.  Take a look at the full StarViper Mk II article for more.

The Title – StarViper Mk II

Normally I’d discuss the pilots first for any new release, but the StarViper Mk II title colours all of the discussion around the ship so much I really need to cover it first. Coming in a -3 points, the StarViper Mk II title is a hefty reduction in cost to the otherwise quite expensive StarViper. But that’s not all it does…

You may equip up to 2 different title Upgrades.

When performing a barrel roll action, you must use the (left bank 1) or (right bank 1) template instead of the (straight 1) template.

So in addition to a points discount, you can still equip the Virago title on one of your StarVipers, and you get some Echo-esque manuvering options. It’s going to take a while to get used to where those banked barrel rolls can put you, but they potentially give a huge range of positional options to a skilled pilot that could be used to tune your facing and firing arc to just when you need them to be. Phantom pilots who’ve played with Echo should feel right at home.

The -3 points reduction is a huge deal, of course. The StarViper has long had a reputation of being somewhat overcosted, particularly when it comes to the generics, but this helps to make it much more competitively costed. The Black Sun Enforcer comes down to a much more reasonable 22 points, or more realistically 24 when equipped with Autothrusters. Guri starting at 27 points means that kitting her out with her usual suite of upgrades isn’t quite such a painfully large chunk of your list. While I don’t think it’s going to make the StarViper as popular as the /x7 title made the TIE Defender, it’s still a huge help.

 

The Pilots

Black Sun Assassin

The StarViper finally gets the generic pilot with an Elite Pilot Talent it’s desperately needed for a while. Coming in at 28 points, its enough of a discount on Guri to be worth considering while not completely invalidating the other generics. Well, the Black Sun Enforcer at least. The Black Sun Vigo will continue to be relegated to the pile of unused mid-PS generics with no EPT.

30 points gets you a Black Sun Assassing with the title, Predator, and Autothrusters. That’s not a bad way of spending points for a ship that could be annoyingly difficult to take off the board. I suspect the named unique pilots will get more table time, but it’s a decent option in the Scum armoury.

Thweek

A really unusual pilot, Thweek takes your opponent’s strengths and turns them against them.

During setup, before the “Place Forces” step, you may choose 1 enemy ship and assign the “Shadowed” or “Mimicked” Condition card to it.

Shadowed

“Thweek” is treated as having the pilot skill value you had after setup.

The pilot skill value of “Thweek” does not change if your pilot skill value changes or you are destroyed.

Mimicked

“Thweek” is treated as having your pilot ability.

“Thweek” cannot apply a Condition card by using your pilot ability.

“Thweek” does not lose your pilot ability if you are destroyed.

So, flown with a reasonable Initive bid, Thweek can always the be the ship that moves first or last in the game. That’s pretty neat in it’s own right, turning them into an annoying blocker or arc dodger. However, the ability to mimic pilot abilities is a fascinating one. You’re unlikely to ever get as much as your opponent out of a given pilot ability, but it gives you options you just wouldn’t be able to have otherwise. Throwing Dengar’s ability on Thweek might give your opponent second thoughts about taking an opportunistic shot against them if the odds are in your favour. Copying Biggs can throw your opponent’s target priority plan out of the window (not least since Thweek’s likely to be looking at 3 Agility and Autothrusters most of the time). That’s just two pilot abilities out of dozens, so there’s a lot that Thweek can potentially do.

Of course, this is all dependant on what your opponent has brought, so it’s difficult to plan around Thweek’s role in your list. I think a fairly generic FCS, StarViper Mk II, Virago, Autothrusters build for 30 points is likely to become a standard, giving a flexible base ship with some offensive and defensive ability built in that can then adapt to the role it ends up taking from your opponent. Of course, you’re then going to need the remaining 70 points of your list to be able to work somewhat independently of Thweek, which is likely to take a somewhat different approach to list building.

There is also a risk that your opponent just brings low PS generic ships, but that’s not a major archetype in the current meta as things stand. Thweek seems like a fantastically versatile ability on a decent platform, but it’s going to require a very adaptable player to make the most of it. Awesome, but not for everyone I suspect.

Dalan Oberos

While Thweek is hyper adaptable, Dalan does one specific thing to an extreme – manuverability.

If you are not stressed, when you reveal a turn, bank, or Segnor’s Loop maneuver, you may instead treat it as a red Tallon Roll maneuver of the same direction (left or right) using the template of the original revealed maneuver.

This gives Dalan a huge range of options about where he can go, particularly when combined with the StarViper Mk II title and Advanced Sensors. That’s an extremely flexbile and hard to predict ship, although some somewhat limited by his PS 6. You can VI that up to 8, but that’s not going to put you alongside the Whispers or Soontir Fel’s that fill the extremes of manuverability elsewhere in X-Wing.

At 30 points he’s not badly costed, but Guri has her ever tempting pilot ability for just one PS less. I’m not sure he’s going to end up being a competitive ship, but if nothing else, I’d thoroughly encourage anyone with an interest in the StarViper to give Dalan a try. You can pull off some extremely strange moves with him, and end up facing in wildly unpredictable locations. Maybe good pilots can leverage that to their advantage, and Dalan will prove to be a surprise star of the wave.

 

Upgrades

Ion Dischargers

Last of all, Ion Dischargers give us the one illicit upgrade from this pack.

After you receive an ion token, you may choose an enemy ship at Range 1. If you do, remove that ion token. Then that ship may choose to receive 1 ion token. If it does, discard this card.

That’s a somewhat niche effect, but pairs nicely with the Pulse Ray Shield giving Scum some regen options without the downside of predictability. Of course, this requires an enemy ship to be at Range 1, and then you might just get the one use out of your upgrade, but it might be worth it. I think at 2 points, this is probably expensive enough not to see much play, but it’s some interesting design space that helps out Pulse Ray Shield while also neatly disincentivising your opponent from using control against your list.

 

Final Thoughts

This is a real shot in the arm for the StarViper, a ship that has long languished unused.  Which is a real shame, as it’s one of my favourite Star Wars ships, and always felt like it had some real potential if only it was a little cheaper.  I’m really keen to get it on the table once Guns for Hire is out, and I fully expect Thweek to make a bit of a splash.  A generic ship with an EPT is no bad thing either, giving you some real options if you want to run more than one.

[X-Wing] Scurrg H-6 Bomber – Preview Thoughts

Last up in the Wave 11 previews (and down to the wire as we’re at the release day for the wave), we’ve taking a look at the Scuurg H-6 Bomber in the Cry Havoc article.  A first for X-Wing, the Scurrg is the first dual faction expansion pack, bringing some new pilots for both Scum and Rebels.  There’s also a few upgrades that are of interest to the Imperial fleet…

The Dial

The dial is pretty decent, especially given the statline and points cost of the ship.  The green banks are speed 2 rather than 1, which can make them slightly easier to block, but it’s good enough to not make stress completely crippling.  With no speed 1 turns and red speed 3 turns, it’s not the most nimble ship in the galaxy, but on the other hand it’s got speed 3 talon rolls and a (red) 5 straight in a pinch.  All told, it’s a decent dial, although I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel the lack of a K-turn to just drop in behind enemy ships.  Of particular note, being a Scum ship with a Crew slot, Outlaw Tech many help to make the most of those reds, giving the Scurrg a bit of dice modification even on those inevitable red move turns.

The Pilots

Karthakk Pirate and Lok Revenant

The two Scuurg generics are both well worth a look.  The Karthakk Pirate comes with the standard Scurrg 3 attack, 1 agility, 5 hull, 5 shields statline at PS 1 for 24 points.  That’s not a bad price point for that statline, and PS 1 gives you near certainty that you’ll be moving first – handy if you’re backing any Action: mines.  It’s also a decent enough statline just to be used as a filler ship with a 1 or 2 point crew on board, something that Scum have no shortage of.  Importantly, it can also equip Long-Range Scanners thanks to its combination of upgrade slots, which can hugely help you get an ordnance alpha strike away without struggling against the difficulties of acquiring a target lock from a low PS ship.

The Lok Revenant bumps up to PS 3 and gets an EPT slot for 26 points.  That’s cheap enough to open up a lot of build options, and anyone missing the days of flying their Deadeye Contracted Scout can do something similar (although not quite as good) with this ship.  Deadye, Cruise Missiles, Extra Munitions, Guidance Chips, and Outlaw Tech comes in at 34 points, giving you a strong missile punch on both the opening exchange and when you Talon roll the following round.  Deadeye isn’t going to be their only option by any means though – as a durable ship with a strong primary weapon attack, there’s all kinds of builds open to them.  Predator will make that 3 attack hit all the harder, or even just Crack Shot can give it some cheap(ish) punch.

I’m pleased to see that both of the generics are likely to have a role of their own.  The Karthakk Pirate lets you get some punchy offence in for not much at all and brings the bombing advantages of low PS, while the Lok Revenant gives you the all-important EPT slot and the ability to customise the ship to your needs.

Sol Sixxa

The first of the Scurrg’s named pilots, Sol Sixxa starts a focus on bombing that we’ll see throughout all of the unique pilots.

When dropping a bomb, you may use the (left turn 1) or (right turn 1) template instead of the (straight 1) template.

Coming in at 28 points, Sol gets you a bump up to PS 6 and a pilot ability over the Lok Revenant for just 2 points more.  Of course, if that PS and pilot ability are worth it will be very dependent on build.  The ability to have a bit more flexibility when positioning your bombs can be extremely handy, but Sol is at a slightly awkward PS point to use it – she’s a bit too high to be able to reliably make the most of action mines, and a bit too low to get the most out of “drop on dial reveal” bombs against aces.  This isn’t to say that she’s useless by any mean, but it’s going to take some thought to get the most out of her and you’re going to want a good reason to use her rather than the quite similar Emon Azzameen.  That said, even a moderately kitted out Sol can be cheaper than Emon with no upgrades…

Sol Sixxa — Scurrg H-6 Bomber 28
Veteran Instincts 1
Bomblet Generator 3
Advanced Sensors 3
Havoc 0
Ship Total: 35

This would let you barrel roll before you reveal your dial, then chose which template to use for the Bomblet drop, giving you quite a lot of board coverage.  Of course, if that’s going to compete with the other Scurrg name pilot is another matter…

Captain Nym

In a first for X-Wing, Captain Nym comes ready to fly his Scurrg for both the Scum pirate fleets and the Rebelion.  He’s got a unique pilot ability for each faction as well, brining two different approaches to bombing warfare.  Both versions of Nym are PS 8, and cost 30 points.

Scum Nym

You may ignore friendly bombs. When a friendly ship is defending, if the attacker measures range through a friendly bomb token, the defender may add 1 evade result.

A two part pilot ability, although I suspect the first sentence will be the one that gets the most use.  Being able to ignore friendly bombs is extremely handy, allowing Nym to fly through an allied set of mines or straight into the blast of a friend’s proton bomb without a care.  Specifically, it also synergises well with “Genius”, the Salvaged Astromech that lets you drop on dial reveal bombs after your manuver instead.  That’s going to allow for some precision bomb placement, and some intense bombing runs that Nym can safely sit in the middle of.  It’s also worth noting that this ability to ignore friendly bombs isn’t once per round (unlike his Rebel version), so you can go all in on dropping ordnance on top of Scum Nym…  This pair nicely with the second part of his ability, allowing him to take cover behind any mines that have been dropped around him – although in all honesty I don’t see that coming up a huge amount.

At 30 points, Nym isn’t cheap, but you can do some pretty efficient builds with the other upgrades in this pack.  Taking inspiration from the Sol build above, you can create something of a bombing beast.

Captain Nym (Scum) — Scurrg H-6 Bomber 30
Veteran Instincts 1
Autoblaster Turret 2
Bomblet Generator 3
Advanced Sensors 3
“Genius” 0
Havoc 0
Ship Total: 39

So, at PS 10, you’re able to barrel roll before your move to put yourself exactly where you want to be, then drop a bomblet before or after you move thanks to Genius.  With an Autoblaster Turret added into the mix, that’s a punishing package for any high agility, low health aces to deal with on a high health chassis that’s got the PS to potentially arc dodge most of your opponent’s list.  I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of the build above, or something similar to it.

Rebel Nym

Once per round, you may prevent a friendly bomb from detonating.

Sticking with the bombing theme, but taking a very different version to his Scum version, Rebel Nym allows you a lot of finessed control over when your bombs and mines actually detonate.  You can use this to keep a bomb for a later turn, either avoiding wasting it if no-one’s in the blast or setting up some area denial for the following turn.  Equally, you can use this to fly through a friendly mine, opening up routes across the battlefield that are closed off to everyone else.  This might have some interesting synergy with Minefield Mapper (see below).

My gut instinct is that this is a slightly weaker ability than the Scum version, but I suspect this will be more than made up for by Sabine crew making your bombs extra deadly.  I have a suspicion that good bomber players will be able to use this ability to devastating effect, and I’ve just not got enough experience with bombs to see the full potential.
An interesting point is that both versions of Nym make tracking what bomb tokens belong to which player very important.  Some tokens or stickers on your bombs may be advisable if you find yourself facing off against another bomb focused list…

Upgrades

This expansion is almost all new upgrades, with only Lightning Reflexes and Seismic Torpedoes as duplicates of existing cards.

Bomblet Generator

Continuing the Wave 11 double upgrade slot theme, Bomblet Generator take up two bomb slots, but gives you unlimited bombs in exchange…

When you reveal your maneuver, you may drop 1 Bomblet token.
This token detonates at the end of the Activation phase.

Bomblet Token: When this token detonates, each ship at Range 1 rolls 2 attack dice and suffers all damage and critical damage rolled. Then discard this token.

At 3 points, it’s basically a more variable Seismic Charge you can drop every turn.  Probably wisely, FFG have made this a unique upgrade – the idea of three of these on the table in a single list is a somewhat terrifying concept…  The damage output is decent, although subject to the fickle nature of dice, but being able to potentially deal crits is quite a nice bonus.  Any upgrades that improve the damage output of bombs are obviously going to be of interest when paired with this, making it more reliable.

So, for a cheap package you get a bomb every turn.  The double bomb slot does limit what ships you can put it on, with only the Scurrg (obviously), K-Wing, TIE Punisher, and a Firespray with the Andrasta title being able to take it natively.  However, Cad Bane adds a bomb slot to the ship he’s on, expanding that list to potentially include all Scum Firesprays and the Quadjumper.  (While Sabine also adds a bomb slot, the Rebel fleet doesn’t include any single bomb slot ships that can carry crew.)  That’s something for every faction, and the idea of unlimited bombs for a cheap price is quite tempting on the Punisher.  It obviously works well on the Scurrg, and both versions of Nym in particular given his pilot abilities and available upgrades.

Cad Bane

Adding another bounty hunter to the Scum mix, Cad Bane has brought some high explosives with him.

Your upgrade bar gains the (bomb) icon. Once per round, when an enemy ship rolls attack dice due to a friendly bomb detonating, you may choose any number of (focus) and blank results. It must reroll those results.

At 2 points, adding a bomb slot, and boosting the effectiveness of your bombs, the similarities between Cad Bane and Sabine Wren are obvious.  He’s a bit less of a sure thing than Sabine, and only applies to bombs that roll dice, but he still seems like decent value for 2 points.  (I’m also not ruling out the idea that we might see a minor FAQ for Sabine to bring her a little more in line with Cad’s power level in the near future.)

As discussed above, Cad opens up Bomblet Generator for a couple of Scum ships, and seems like pretty much an auto-include on Emon Azzameen.  It gives Scum a bit of consistency with their bomb damage, which definitely helps to make it a more viable option.  Speaking from experience, there’s are few things more frustrating than an enemy ace escaping from your carefully placed bomb unscathed because your dice blank out, and while Cad doesn’t remove that possibility, he makes it a lot less likely.
All told, a very decent addition to the bounty hunter roster, and another appealing Scum crew option.  I can see this getting a decent amount of play.

Cruise Missiles

Onto something not in the official article, but come to light via a couple of early unboxing videos.  Cruise Missiles are there for all of you who like to blow enemy ships away while travelling at top speed!  Sadly there’s no preview image for this card.

Cruise Missile
Missile slot
Attack 1
Range 2-3
Attack (Target Lock): Discard this card to perform this attack.
You may roll additional attack dice equal to the speed of the manuever you performed this round, to a maximum of 4 additional dice.
Cost: 3 points

This is, I suspect, going to be the stand out card of the wave.  That’s potentially a 5 dice attack (if you’re going at speed 4), and you get to keep your target lock.  Even at speed 3, you’re still offering the same damage output as a Homing Missile against targets without an evade token, and for 2 points less.  That’s pretty strong.

However, getting those 4 and 5 dice attack off isn’t going to be trivial.  Your opponent is going to know full well what you’re trying to do, and do their best to close to Range 1 or get out of arc.  If you’re restricted to a quite limited set of moves to get the full effect of the attack, that may not be difficult to predict and avoid.  I think we’ll see a lot of this upgrade for the first few weeks after release, then it’ll drop back to those pilots who can genuinely make the most of it.

It may also offer a bit of extra punch to ships that otherwise are a bit lacking in attack dice.  Both the TIE Bomber and TIE Advanced Prototype will have a use for this, as will Quinn Jast.  I’d like to see it give the A-Wing a helping hand as well, but due to Chardaan Refit all missiles are effectively 2 points more expensive on that platform, so time will tell if they’ll be worth the investment.  Equally, on 3 attack ships, your opponent gets the bracing choice between taking a Cruise Missile or a 4 dice Range 1 primary shot.

In short, good stuff, definitely a missile that we’ll see a lot of, but I think that the perfect 5 dice shot will be pretty tricky to pull off.  I’m looking forwards to experimenting with it soon, across a variety of ships.

Havoc title

The unique title for the Scurrg, the Havoc title switches up the upgrade bar quite significantly.

Your upgrade bar gains the (system) and (salvaged astromech) icons and loses the (crew) upgrade icon.
You cannot equip non-unique (salvaged astromech) Upgrade cards.

This is a neat bit of design that makes you choose between some very desirable options.  Not giving the Scurrg a system slot by default was a smart move, avoiding them having Fire Control System stapled on by default, or allowing Scum to field multiple Accuracy Corrector boosted Twin Laser Turrets.  The specific restriction to unique salvaged astromechs is smart as well, avoiding an Unhinged Astromech giving the Scurrg a swathe of extra green moves including two Talon rolls…

Having to make the choice between crew and astromech is quite painful.  I suspect we’ll see the named pilots (Nym in particular) flown with this title, while the generics will probably take advantage of the numerous good crew options for Scum, or just be run in a quite stripped down form.

Minefield Mapper

A bit of a weird one, this…

During Setup, after the “Place Forces” step, you may discard any number of your equipped (bomb) Upgrade cards. Place all corresponding bomb tokens in the play area beyond Range 3 of enemy ships.

So, you can dump out some of your bombs at the start of the game.  Obviously, this is far more useful to do with Action mines that stick around, so Cluster Mines, Connor Nets, and Proximity Mines are the main candidates.  I’d not want to over-commit to this, as while this can be used to shut down some lines of approach and herd your opponent into less desirable positions, you’re spending munitions that can more usefully be deployed later in the game.

Disclaimer aside, I can see this being useful on the TIE Punisher.  It’s able to carry a lot of ordnance but often dies before it can get most of it away.  Letting a Punisher drop a mine or two at the start of the game seems well worth a free upgrade, and means you might be able to get a little more mileage out of your bombs before you inevitably blow up.

There’s already been some controversy around this upgrade online, with people suggesting that you can box in your opponents if you take multiple Minefield Mapper ships.  I can’t in all honestly see that being a particularly viable strategy, and I’m firmly of the belief that you can’t get two sets of mines out per upgrade card with Extra Munitions.

All told, I’m not convinced that this is going to make much of a splash, but it may offer some interesting new options for players with enough strategic insight to make the most of “Turn 0”.

R4-E1

And finally, we’ve got a new Salvaged Astromech.  Like pretty much everything else in this expansion, R4-E1 is focused around ordnance…

You can perform actions on your (torpedo) and (bomb) Upgrade cards even if you are stressed. After you perform an action in this way, you may discard this card to remove 1 stress token from your ship.

So for a point you get a Primed Thrusters/Pattern Analyser style effect for your action mines and Seismic Torpedoes, and a little bit of stress removal in the process.  That’s not mind blowing, but it does give some interesting “action mine on a K-turn” type options for a handful of ships.  Given the amount of red on the Scurrg dial, anything that else with action efficiency and stress removal can only be good.

For a point, it seems worthwhile but by no means an must take.  I’m sure that at least some opponents are going to be taken unawares by a Talon roll that’s followed up with a mine in their face.  If only for that, it seems like a lot of fun!

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of new stuff in the Scurrg expansion, and probably enough there to make bombing a viable strategy for lists other than Sabine Rebels.  Cruise Missiles are going to have an impact on the meta, although I think they’re going to be less point and shoot than people currently expect.  All of the pilot have something going for them, although I’m confident that Sol Sixxa is going to see the least play out of all of the ships.

Overall, the Scurrg expansion pack is a strong addition to the game, and the range of upgrades has something to offer to every faction.  Two thumbs up!

[X-Wing] Auzituck Gunship – Preview Thoughts

The second of the Wave 11 ships to be previewed, the Defenders of Kashyyyk article gives us a look at the somewhat unusual Wookiee craft that’s coming in to aid the Rebellion.

Arcs!

The Auzituck gives us the first small based ship to have side-facing auxiliary firing arcs akin to the YV-666, giving it a full 180 degree primary weapon coverage to its front.  That’s going to be hard to arc dodge, and can pair nicely with any upgrades that use your firing arc for effect – a Tactician covers a lot of area on this ship for example.

Reinforcement!

So, the big headline for this ship is that we’re getting the Reinforce action in standard play.  Epic players will be familiar with this “super evade” option, allowing you to add an evade result to every defence roll you make that turn, making even low agility ships quite tanky.

It’s been slightly modified to fit standard play, with the “fore” section defined as in your firing arc, and the “rear” as outside of your firing arc.  Obviously, with the Auzituck’s auxiliary arcs, that’s a lot of coverage for the fore section, making Reinforce a strong option if you’re doing any kind of direct approach.

 

The Dial

The dial is surprisingly forgiving, given the 180 arc and low-ish price point. There’s a reasonable number of green moves, including a 3 forward to give a little bit of speed.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no K-turn, Talon Roll, or S-loop to be had, but white speed 2 and 3 turns make it respectably maneuverable, and with a 5 forward it can put on a decent burst of speed for a turn if it needs to. Like any ship without a “turn around in a single move” option, you don’t want to be the last ship on the board, but otherwise this is all pretty solid.

 

The Pilots

Kashyyyk Defender and Wookiee Liberator

The Auzituck’s two generics both come in at a reasonably affordable points cost. The Kashyyk Defender is a PS 1 generic, with 3 attack, 1 agility, 3 shields and 6 hull, the reinforce and focus actions available, and two crew slots on its upgrade bar. So, pretty tanky and a decent basic attack statline, but lacking in dice modifiers – particularly so given that you’re likely to want to Reinforce most turns to make the most of your durability. With two crew slots, it can be a cheap-ish way of getting Rebel crew onto the field, overlapping somewhat with the Blue Squadron Pathfinder U-Wing in the process. All told, a decent but not wildly inspiring package for 24 points, and you can give it a little bit of offensive dice modification by adding in some Wookiee Commandoes for a point.

The Wookiee Liberator bumps up to PS 3 and gets an EPT slot, clocking in at 26 points in the process (as we’ve found out from early unboxing videos). This is a big boost to the ship, with the EPT slot offering it a lot of options. Lone Wolf or Predator give action-free rerolls on attack (and defence in the case of Lone Wolf), Lightning Reflexes lets you turn around at a vital moment, and there is of course Selflessness which we’ll discuss below. I think this is the better of the two generics as a result, although the bump in points may make it less desirable just because it’s going to be harder to fit into some lists once you’ve kitted it out with a few upgrades.

Overall, both generics are decent and reasonably pointed. There’s been some discussion to them making the B-Wing (even more) obsolete, but they’ve got notably less offence available to them than an even lightly equipped B-Wing. Where there’s real overlap is with the U-Wing, as they can carry multiple crew in a durable chasis without costing the earth, and in particular the 180 arc synergises nicely with Jyn Erso crew if you want to dish focus tokens out to the rest of your list. However, given that the U-Wing hasn’t exactly set the meta alight, it may be that the Auzituck generics prove to be a bit of a damp squib as well.

Lowhhrick

The first of the named unique pilots, Lowhhrick comes with a beefy pilot ability that can notably add to the durability of other ships in the list.

When another friendly ship at Range 1 is defending, you may spend 1 reinforce token. If you do, the defender adds 1 evade result.

So he can happily fly alongside your more valuable aces and help soak up some of their damage. This might well help to avoid a critical hit slipping in, and generally gives a little bit of a survivability buff across your list. This obviously pairs well with Selflessness, either making Lowhhrick the focus for your opponent’s fire (and so drawing fire away from your harder hitting ships), or letting him buff the defences off and pull damage off more valuable targets.

There’s been a lot of discussion about pairing Lowhhrick with Biggs, but while this can potentially be an irritating combination I don’t see it as being a really competitive option. Even a lightly upgraded Lowhhrick is going to be clocking in around 30 points, which means you’re putting a minimum of 56ish points into him and Biggs. That’s not leaving a lot for any meaningful offence in the rest of your list, as both Biggs and Lowhhrick are going to be using their actions for defence. I think you’re going to see one or the other, but not both in a list for the most part – and it’s worth noting that Lowhhrick with Selflessness is much harder to get around with target lock ordnance than Biggs.

Wullffwarro

The “ace” of the Auzituck expansion, Wullffwarro is much more orientated towards offence than defence.

When attacking, if you have no shields and at least 1 Damage card assigned to you, roll 1 additional attack die.

At 30 points base, he doesn’t come in cheap, but extra red dice aren’t anything to be sniffed at. His ability is almost a reversed version of Pure Sabacc, and combined with the Reinforce action he could still stick around for a turn or two once he’s got damaged to the point that his ability kicks in. However, like all of the Auzitucks, he desperately needs a way of getting dice modification without having to use his valuable action, or a way of taking more than one action per turn.

Both Push the Limit and Experimental Interface are possible ways of generating extra actions, with the 180 arc of the Auzituck making the limited green moves a bit more forgiving. I’m personally leaning towards a very lean build – Lone Wolf plus Wookiee Commandos, for a pretty tanky 33 point ship that has some offensive bite, although I’m not certain it’s going to be better than other Rebel options around that price point.

 

Upgrades

In addition to three new upgrades, the Auzituck expansion comes with three relatively scarce upgrades, despite two of them being staples of the game – Hull Upgrade (previously only in Imperial Aces and the StarViper), Intimidation (Decimator), and Tactician (TIE Phantom). If you’re a Rebel only player, that’s a lot of handy stuff that’s been made available.

Breach Specialist

The first of two new crew cards, the Breach Specialist ties in with the Auzituck’s Reinforce action.

When you are dealt a faceup Damage card, you may spend 1 reinforce token to flip it facedown (without resolving its effect). If you do, until the end of the round, when you are dealt a faceup Damage card, flip it facedown (without resolving its effect).

At only 1 point, that helps to make your Gunship relatively crit resistant. It’s a useful effect, although I suspect something you’ll want to use on one of the later shots you take in the round so you get maximum benefit from the Reinforce token. As you’re spending the Reinforce token at the point you’re being dealt the damage card, you’ll already have got the benefit on the shot that dealt the crit in the first place, so it’s a nice bit of doubling down on your defensive ability.

It’s also usable on Epic ships, although while they don’t want to be taking crits, they also don’t want to be spending their Reinforce token. Plus crew slots are often at a premium, so I think the Auzituck is going to be the Breach Specialist’s main home. Still, nice to get an Epic option in a standard expansion pack.

This card isn’t going to set the meta alight, but it’s a decent ability at a decent cost. The biggest downside is that you can’t take it alongside Wookiee Commandos, which would make for a pretty strong 2 point pairing.

Selflessness

A new unique EPT, Selflessness plays into the Rebels’ self-sacrificing nature.

When a friendly ship at Range 1 is hit by an attack, you may discard this card to suffer all uncanceled (hit) results instead of the target ship.

This gives the Rebels some interesting options for keeping a ship that’s being focused down alive a little longer. Ideally this want to go on something that’s a low target priority in your list, but there’s not the hugest number of cheap but durable ships with EPTs available to the Rebels. It’s also going to have some interesting interactions with Biggs, who will inevitably get flown alongside a ship with Selflessness. Biggs with R4-D6 and Integrated Astromech, plus Lowhhrick with Selflessness, Jyn Erso, Jan Ors, and Experimental Interface still leaves you with 38 points – enough to slot in a mid-range Rebel ace like Poe Dameron. Not bad, and Biggs is going to be a pain to kill with his own focus, plus any focus and evades from Lowhhrick’s Jyn/Jan combo, plus another evade result from Lowhhrick’s Reinforce token, and Lowhhrick can pull some more damage off Biggs via Selflessness… That’s a lot of dice mods, evades, and the hit cancellation of R4-D6.

At 1 point, it’s a decent option, and gives the Rebels something new. It might even mean we see a few more Rebel lists without Biggs as a result, as Selflessness can help to spread damage around your ships and keep everything alive a little longer. The main limiting factor is it doesn’t let you take crits from the target ship, which doubles down on Biggs’ existing vulnerability to them if he’s kitted out with R4-D6, but it only seems reasonable to let your opponent have some way of damaging the ship they shot at…

Wookiee Commandos

The second of the Auzituck’s new crew, the Wookiee Commandos offer a little bit of action-free offensive dice modification.

When attacking, you may reroll your (focus) results.

I discussed this briefly in the release article, but I’m including it here for completeness. At 1 point and taking a double crew slot, the Wookie Commandos almost entirely exist for the Auzituck. Their effect isn’t amazing, but gives the Gunship some minimal dice modifications that don’t take an action, which is pretty vital given that you’re likely to way to be Reinforcing with this ship most turns.

There’s possibly a few other places for it as well: a Ghost with this, a docked Phantom and a TLT gets some minimal mods on all of its attacks for only 1 point, while a Resistance Sympathiser can take the Wookies and the original Millenium Falcon title to be able to evade and have some attack mods every turn for 40 points. But realistically, this is going to mostly be used for cheap Gunship builds to make sure they can have at least a little in the way of offensive dice modification.

There is also a case to be made for putting it on the Tantive IV, as rerolling focus icons is quite handy in Epic, and the CR-90 can attack multiple times per round. That’s only relevant to Epic, of course…

 

Final Thoughts

I’m quite taken with the Auzituck overall. I think I’m going to need to play around with it to get a decent idea of how to use it best, but my experiences with the YV-666 have convinced me that 180 firing arcs are a strong option. It offers the Rebels a cheap crew carrier, and both of the named pilots have interesting abilities. I suspect this is going to be the least played ship of Wave 11, but I think it might be a bit of a sleeper hit once people realise how potent that large firing arc and Reinforce action can be.

[X-Wing] TIE Aggressor – Preview Thoughts

The first of the in depth Wave XI previews, we’re looking at a new TIE in the Play the Aggressor article.  We’ve had a couple of the upgrades from this pack already previewed in the Wave XI announcement, so this will be relatively short and sweet.  We’ve not had the dial revealed, so some judgements on how the ship will perform are going to have to be reserved until we’ve seen that.

(Note this was written shortly after the original article was released, but I’ve only just got around to putting it up.  It may well be that there’s more information out there by the time this goes live…)

The Pilots

We’ve had all four of the TIE Aggressor pilots revealed at this point.

Sienar Specialist and Onyx Squadron Escort

I’ve bundled the two generic pilots together, as I want to talk about them side by side.
The Sienar Specialist is pretty reasonably priced at 17 points for a PS 2 pilot.  It’ll make for a very affordable Twin Laser Turret platform that has the potential to be quite durable with Lightweight Frame (both of which upgrades are included in the Aggressor expansion), and generally gives the Imperials a cheap turret platform that opens up a range of new options for them.  The lack of a turret slot ship has been a notable gap in the Imperial fleet, and the Aggressor gives them something distinct from the Y-Wing thanks to its native barrel roll and higher agility.

The Onyx Squadron Escort clocks in at 19 points for a PS 5 ship.  And that’s it.  There’s no EPT slot, which makes paying those two extra points just be for the PS.  Given the costs of some of the named pilots (both of whom do have access to the EPT slot), I can’t see this getting much play.  This continues a slightly weird trend of generic ship costing from FFG, who seem to just miss the mark of making generic competitively viable time and time again.  You could theoretically get four Onyx Squadron Escorts with TLTs into a list, but it’s very debatable if the bump to PS 5 is in any way worth losing Lightweight Frame on them all.

All told, I’m expecting to see a decent amount of the Sienar Specialist as a cheap but durable-ish turret carrier, and basically nothing from the Onyx Squadron Escort. Throwing in an EPT on the Onyx would have made a big difference to that, but clearly FFG are wary of giving turret slot ships EPTs based on their past releases.

“Double Edge”

A PS 4 unique pilot, Double Edge comes in at 19 points (the same as the Onyx Squadron Escort) with an EPT slot and a decent pilot ability.

Once per round, after you perform a secondary weapon attack that does not hit, you may perform an attack with a different weapon.

So, you essentially get a marginally more restrictive Gunner ability, an EPT slot, and a two point PS boost over the Sienar Specialist for just 2 points.  Admittedly, you’re also going to have to pay for a secondary weapon to get any use out of the pilot ability, but that’s already pretty much a given for the TIE Aggressor in general.  You can get quite a punch ship for a relatively budget price.

“Double Edge” — TIE Aggressor 19
Trick Shot 0
Unguided Rockets 2
Lightweight Frame 2
Ship Total: 23

This gives you a four dice attack through obstructions, followed by a three dice primary attack (again, if obstructed), all for 23 points.  That’s cheap enough to slot into a lot of lists, but still be a meaningful presence on the board.

Want to go for something a bit more up close and personal?

“Double Edge” — TIE Aggressor 19
Deadeye 1
Synced Turret 4
Lightweight Frame 2
Ship Total: 26

At 26 points, this is a step up in price, but it gives you a high quality attack at Range 1-2, and a primary shot if that first punishing in-arc attack doesn’t find its mark.

Double Edge has some interesting stuff going on, and I’m confident we’ll see him getting play as a cheap but meaningful presence on the board.

Lieutenant Kestal

The ace Aggressor pilot, Lt. Kestal jumps up to a base 22 point, but she’s got a powerful pilot ability to go with that increase in cost.

When attacking, you may spend 1 focus token to cancel all of the defender’s blank and focus results.

So your turret can effectively ignore Autothrusters.  Not bad at all.  Kestal is going to hit ships like the TIE Interceptor or Protectorate Starfighter hard, stopping them from getting much benefit from their defensive tokens and upgrades.  In particular, the classic Autothruster/Stealth Device combo on the Interceptor is close to wasted points against her.

The big limiting factor will be her reliance on needing a focus token to use her ability, which limits both her defensive and offensive dice modification.  She’s going to need an EPT like Predator or Expertise to hit with any reliability, and ideally wants to be passed a focus token by another ship that’s packing a Fleet Officer or General Hux so she can withstand the fire she’ll doubtless draw once your opponent figures out what she can do.  She’s also of limited use against low agility, high health ships like the Ghost or Decimator, which are still very much a presence in the current competitive meta.  Lone Wolf might be the answer to some of these issues, giving her a reroll on both attack and defence while still letting her keep a focus for triggering her ability.

Lieutenant Kestal — TIE Aggressor 22
Lone Wolf 2
Twin Laser Turret 6
Lightweight Frame 2
Ship Total: 32

Overall, I’m a big fan of her ability, but it’s dangerously tempting to focus her down into being a piece of anti-ace tech that will have some very bad matchups.  My advice is don’t invest too many points into her, as otherwise she’ll get focused down fast.

Upgrades

We’ve seen most of them already from the Wave 11 announcement article, which showcased the Synced Turret and Unguided Rockets, but there’s one important new Elite Pilot Talent that comes with the Aggressor…

Intensity

Another upgrade that makes good use of the dual card mechanic, the Intensity Elite Pilot Talent offers some additional action efficiency to any ship with a re-positional action, but not every turn.

Side A: After you perform a boost or barrel roll action, you may assign 1 focus or evade token to your ship.  If you do, flip this card.

Side B: At the end of the Combat phase, you may spend 1 focus or evade token to flip this card.

At 2 points, you’re getting some interesting options.  For starters, this is a way of getting an evade token on ships that can’t otherwise take the evade action – I’ve not got any stand out cases where this would be hugely useful, but there’s bound to be something I’ve not thought of yet.  It can help to make arc dodging on ships that don’t have the green moves to support Push the Limit more viable, and mean that you don’t have to make the choice between re-positioning and dice mods on those clutch turns.

 

It also combos nicely with a lot of Tech upgrades.  Paired with Primed Thrusters, you can boost or barrel roll while stressed, and still get a focus or evade token.  With Comm Relay, you can bank an evade from Intensity for later use.  This makes it well worth considering on the TIE/fo, TIE/sf, and the T-70 X-wing, all of whom have native re-positional actions and a Tech slot that’s often going spare.

As an example build, Poe Dameron gets some new options:

Poe Dameron (PS 9) — T-70 X-Wing 33
Intensity 2
BB-8 2
Primed Thrusters 1
Autothrusters 2
Black One 1
Ship Total: 41

So Poe can barrel roll from a green move, assign himself a focus, and then boost, target lock, or take another focus in a pinch as his regular action.  Combined with Poe’s pilot ability, you’ve got a decent chance of still having a focus token at the end of the Combat phase, which means you can flip an exhausted Intensity back to its useful state, and do the whole thing again next turn.  With Primed Thrusters, you can even do this while stressed, and don’t forget the Black One title lets you get rid of enemy target locks as you go.  Not bad, even at a relatively hefty point cost.  Want to kick it up a notch?

Jake Farrell — A-Wing 24
Intensity 2
Chardaan Refit -2
Push the Limit 3
Autothrusters 2
A-Wing Test Pilot 0
Ship Total: 29

That’s right, Jake can get an effective five actions for the cost of 1 stress (take a focus action, boost from his pilot ability, assign a focus with Intensity, barrel roll with his pilot ability, and then Push the Limit into a target lock or evade), and potentially have three tokens stacked on himself to give a very real chance of making this an every turn trick as well.  Nice.

Intensity gives a real helping hand to a range of ships, and offers some Attanni Mindlink style action efficiency to aces who are poorly suited for Push the Limit.  This really opens up a range of new builds, and I’m confident this is an upgrade we’ll be seeing at a competitive level almost as soon as it’s released.

Final Thoughts

The TIE Aggressor opens up some new list building options for the Imperials, and comes with a range of upgrades that give new options to and breathe new life into several ships that could do with some assistance.  I’m pretty hyped about this first real taste of Wave XI, and I’m looking forwards to the next two ship reveals with bated breath.

[X-Wing] Playing too many events to blog…

Another break in blogging, partly because of work and life, partly because there was a brief lull in X-Wing news from FFG when I had some free time, and partly because I’ve been playing X-Wing more than writing about it. And, at least locally, winning when I do!

So, what have I been up to in the meantime?

The Yavin Open

I went to the Yavin Open, and didn’t do desperately well, going 3-4 on Day 1. I took the flavour of the month list, Parattanni, and hit two mirror matches, both of which game down to final salvos against members of the 186th. I learned that while Parattanni is an excellent list, it doesn’t really fit well with my “joust them at full speed” playstyle, as Fenn Rau needs a little bit more caution to get the most out of him.

I did notably better during the Hanger Bay events on Day 2, winning three of my four games with a list that notably better fit my playstyle – but more on that later… Getting a handful of the dual Lothal Rebel/Baron of the Empire cards was a nice bonus, and is making me consider picking up a second Ghost seriously…

Something I was once again pleased to see was the excellent community atmosphere and sportsmanship in evidence at Yavin. For all that it was a top level competitive event, all of my opponents were great fun to play against and it made for an excellent way of spending two days. That said, seven rounds of X-Wing in one day is a bit more than I can handle, and my last game was a collection of bad decisions that my exhausted brain though were a good idea at the time… 🙂

 

Battlefield Hobbies Regional

Next up was the Battlefield Hobbies Regional, which was a 100 player event with an extremely high level of quality play as it seemed to be essentially a who’s who of UK X-wing. I did marginally better than Yavin, going 3-3 and placing in the top half of the event, with even the games I lost being quite close to the wire. I’d taken my First Order alpha strike list to this event, which was going to serve me well in the future. TOME crashed a couple of time during the event, resulting in some last minute re-pairs that let me dodge at least one list I really didn’t like the idea of flying against… 😉

Day 2 of the event had a bunch of smaller mini tournaments for those of us who hadn’t made the cut, and there was a nice variety of lists and factions on display. As this was taking place a week before the big FAQ hit, I’d brought out a Commonwealth Defenders build to make the most of both Palpatine and the X7 title working at their full potential. They proved as potent as I remembered, and solidified my thoughts that the upcoming errata was justified.

Battlefield Hobbies put together a heck of an event for their first ever X-Wing event, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye open for any big events they run in future. The staff were generally fantastic, and went out of their way to help.

 

Athena Games – Escalation

Then I hit the start of what would prove to be a bit of a hot streak with Athena Games’ Escalation tournament. I brought along ragtag band of Rebels, with the cornerstone of the list being a Swarm Leader Jess Pava backed by Captain Rex and Sabine in TIE Fighters. 90 points got me Biggs, 120 got me Thane, and finally 150 points added a loaded Cassian Andor.

I had a ridiculously good day, only giving up 90 points of MoV across my four games, and not losing a ship in my first two rounds. Jess Pava really is a bit of a star for Rebels in general, and the Rebel TIE gives them some interesting new options. I’m looking forwards to experimenting with it more in future.

This was also the first X-Wing event I’ve won (although I’ve placed in the top 4 a few times before that), which was a very pleasing outcome to the day.

 

Athena Games – The “Voitek Invitational” I

Voitek’s one of the Athena locals, and an extremely good X-Wing player, having placed top 8 at Yavin and top 4 at the Battlefield Hobbies regional. He put together a small 8 player tournament at one of Athena’s regular Wednesday evening Flight Night to let those of us keen on a more competitive style of play to test out some lists without being “those guys who bring meta lists to casual games”. 😉 We had a good diversity of lists, with all three factions relatively equally represented. I’d brought the First Order again, and it proceeded to wreck enemy ships in an alarmingly efficient fashion.

My memories of this event are a bit hazy at this point, as it was a few months ago, but I know a couple of the lists I went against.

Round 2 was Owen Appleton’s Snap Juke A-Wings plus Swarm Leader Jess Pava. I didn’t quite manage to kill a ship in the opening exchange, and Owen put a lot of hurt on my SFs in return, but I clawed this one back. The consistent damage output of the SFs and Omega Leader was just more than Owen’s list could manage to weather. Pretty down to the wire though.  Owen’s list is an amazingly fun one to fly and fly against, and something I’d recommend any X-Wing player takes out for a spin at least once.

Round 3 was Jon Easter’s Defenders. This was a brutal list, pairing TIE/D Ryad and Vessery with a Homing Missile packing Scimitar Squadron Bomber. We went in for a direct joust, and my Homing Missiles and Omega Leader did a lot of damage to Vessery, but left him on one hull point. Jon’s return fire killed Backdraft via some good use of Tractor Beam, leaving me feeling quite worried. However, Quickdraw’s revenge shot from the TIE Bomber’s missile let me kill Vessery, and then I was able to take out Ryad and the Bomber fairly efficiently after that, helped by Quickdraw managing to get some close range shots in. This game was streamed, and can be found on the Athena Games Youtube channel.

Overall, it was a strong proof of concept, and demonstrated that the alpha strike provided by the SFs could comfortably win games.

 

Athena Games – May Day Tournament

Athena slotted in a standard 100 point tournament at the start of May to give people prepping for the European Championships a chance to try out some lists in advance. On a bank holiday Monday, it also let a few people who couldn’t normally make the regular Saturday afternoon tournament slot a chance to participate.

Once again, I was flying the First Order, as I was really gelling with the list at this point. The TIE/sf is probably my favourite ship from Wave 9, and that’s saying something given the wealth of good options that came with that wave.  Sadly my notes about the event have gone astray, but I went undefeated to win the event.  Finally, my first full 100 point tournament victory!

 

Athena Games – Voitek Invitational II

After the success of the first, Voitek and Elliot organised another one of these mini Wednesday tournaments. We’d got a slightly different rosta of players, and I’d brought (shock horror) a slightly different list. Still two SFs featuring, still Quickdraw and Backdraft, but this time with Pure Sabacc as their wingman. And everyone was packing Expertise and Lightweight Frame for less of an alpha strike, but notably better defence and very consistent damage output. I was a bit dubious going into the event, as 12 points of EPTs across three ships felt a bit excessive, but I was optimistic the SFs might at least live a little longer than usual.

Again, my memory is a bit vague of these games, but I’ve jotted down what I can remember below.

Round 1 – Will – Han and Jan. Very punchy list, with Jan throwing in extra dice for Han’s attacks. The high PS was an issue, but my ships could cut through Han’s defences quickly enough to win the damage race. Unsurprisingly, Lightweight Frame helps quite a lot against TLT shots…

Round 2 – Voitek – The Worlds Dengar and Tel list.  Voitek flew this list well – as you’d expect – but just got unlucky on his dice. Pure Sabacc proved remarkably evasive, getting through the first round of fire from both Dengar and Tel with only a single damage card and his pilot ability intact as a result – 8 natural evades on 9 green dice isn’t bad at all… That added firepower allowed me to focus the JumpMasters down quite fast, although even so the amount of firepower they can put out proved extremely punishing.

Round 3 – Darren – Airen, Jan, and Miranda, all kitted out to alpha strike. The less said about this game the better in some ways. Darren is a lovely chap, but we were both a bit frayed going into this game from some tense matches earlier in the event, and made so many mistake throughout. This is probably the least tidy game of X-Wing I’ve played, and I’m not convinced that if we’d been playing better that it wouldn’t have been Darren’s game instead.  My SFs do not deal well with a PS 10 alpha strike, as it removes their all important PS advantage.

 

Athena Games – Voitek Invitational III

The third of these Wednesday night tournaments saw me bringing along another list again, although still Imperial, and still featuring a TIE/SF. I’d put together a Whisper (VI, ACD, FCS, plus Agent Kallus), Quickdraw (A Score to Settle, FSC, LWF, title), and Deathfire (Cluster Mines, EM). For those of you thinking “who’s Deathfire”, you’re not alone. One of the two new TIE Bomber pilots from Imperial Veterans, Deathfire allows you to do a Bomb upgrade action as a free action after revealing your dial or performing an action. This gives him a lot more options about where those mines will go, and at only 23 points he’s quite a meaningful threat for not a lot of investment.

All of my games were real nail biters. Deathfire died early in pretty much every one, effectively acting as a budget Biggs as people very reasonably decided they just didn’t want to have to deal with post-barrel roll Cluster Mines being dropped on their ships. This did give both Quickdraw and Whisper relatively untroubled early turns however, which let them start to put pressure on my opponent’s ships. In my first and third games (against IG-88B plus Bossk, and Scum Kath/Boba respectively) Whisper ended the game as my only ship, and on one hull remaining after several tense turns of desperate arc dodging to stay alive. It’s a hell of a fun list to play, but not what I’d describe as a relaxing experience…

Unsurprisingly, I was beaten on MoV on that event, with Stephen Sage’s “Angry Birds” Chewie and Rey double YT-1300 list taking the event for a well deserved victory.  He’s been honing that list for a good while now, and his experience with it shows.

 

So, 4 win out of my last 5 competitive events, although three of those were only 8-12 player events. Remarkably, I’d also gone undefeated across those 5!  It’s a hot streak I wasn’t sure would last into Store Championship season, with both the Inner Sanctum (Cambridge) and Athena Games (Norwich) Store Championships on the horizon. But more about the first of those in the near future…

[X-Wing] The C-ROC M-3As – Preview Thoughts

We’ve had quite a bit of X-Wing news happen while I was taking a bit of a break from the blog to do other things, so I’m playing catch up. Today we’ll take a look at the new M-3A pilots and upgrades coming in the C-ROC epic ship for Scum, as previewed in the Hit and Run article. (We’ll look at the C-ROC in more depth later on, as I’m very excited about Scum finally getting a huge ship to properly take part in Epic games.)

The Pilots

Sunny Bounder

A first for X-Wing, Sunny Bounder is a PS 1 unique pilot. Her ability is a unique one as well, letting you gamble on getting specific dice results to improve your chances.

Once per round, after you roll or reroll dice, if you have the same result on each of your dice, you may add 1 matching result.

So if you roll two hits on an attack, you can add a third. If you roll three focus icons when you’re defending, you get to add a fourth. It’s not an ability to rely on by any stretch of the imagination, but it can help Sunny punch above her weight. If you add in the Light Scyk title, she’s only 12 points, giving you a decent blocker with just a little bit more teeth than might be expected.

One point of note is that you can use Serissu’s reroll on defence to trigger Sunny’s ability. Not a huge thing, but a nice bit of synergy.

Inaldra

Coming in at PS 3 with an EPT slot, Inaldra’s willing to play with fire to put the odds in her favour.

When attacking or defending, you may spend 1 shield to reroll any number of your dice.

Frankly, I don’t see myself using her pilot ability much. The M-3A is just too fragile to be able to afford to burn its shield a lot of the time, even with the Pulsed Ray Shield being a thing. There are two circumstances where I’d be willing to use Inaldra’s ability – when I’ve blanked out on the green dice and she’d die without the reroll, and when I need to make sure an attack hits to take an enemy ship off the board. The second circumstance seems more likely, as still having a shield at the point you’d die without the reroll isn’t going to happen that much.

However, while her pilot ability might be a little underwhelming, she’s very competitively costed. 15 points for PS 3 and an EPT gives her a role in a lot of lists, and lets you add an Attanni Mindlinked ship into a list for just 14 points when combined with the Light Scyk Title. You’d need a good reason to want the PS 5 of a Tansarii Point Veteran to pay the extra two points for one.

Quinn Jast

My favourite (although probably not the best) of the new M-3A pilots, Quinn Jast finally makes using something other than a cannon on a Heavy Scyk a viable option.

At the start of the Combat phase, you may receive a weapons disabled token to flip one of your discarded (torpedo) or (missile) Upgrade cards faceup.

So, potentially unlimited ordnance from one ship. Realistically, this isn’t going to happen, but you can still have quite a punchy little ship. Quinn with Proton Rockets, Heavy Scyk, and Guidance Chips is an affordable 23 points for something that will leave your opponent desperate to avoid Range 1. Alternatively, you can add some Proton Torpedoes or Concussion Missiles for a point more, and bump the build up to 25 points with Deadeye to give some long range consistent damage.

As long as you don’t mind being out of the fight for a turn, you can take a turn to reload and come in for another pass. Even if Quinn never manages to reload, she should act as something of a distraction for your opponent – can they afford for her to live through her reloading turn, and come in for another run? You’re not missing out on much firepower by losing a 2 dice attack for a turn, and you can fly to minimise the damage you take and grab an evade token to make yourself as hard to hit as possible.

There’s a lot to like about Quinn, and I’m going to be putting her on the table as soon as the C-ROC is released.

Genesis Red

Finally we come to the real ace of the bunch, Genesis Red. PS 7 and an EPT gives him some meaningful options, and his pilot ability is pretty strong to boot.

After you acquire a target lock, assign focus and evade tokens to your ship until you have the same number of each token as the locked ship.

With both /x7 Defenders and Mindlink lists a prominent part of the game (even after the most recent FAQ), this allows you to hijack your opponent’s action economy and turn it to your own ends. Given the nature of Genesis’ ability, Pilot Skill is key, as he needs to be taking his action after at least some of your opponent’s ships have acted. As a result, I’m expecting to see Veteran Instincts more or less stapled to his pilot card, although he’s not a bad addition to a Mindlink list either.

If nothing else, Genesis Red with a Heavy Laser Cannon stands a good chance of getting fully modified four dice shots every time he fires. That’s nothing to be sniffed at, although it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s a minimum of 28 points you’re investing in a 3 hull, 1 shield ship to do that… Still, with the ability to reach PS 9, I’m fully expecting Genesis Red to become something of a go-to pocket ace for Scum, which is something they’ve not really had to date.

Upgrades

ARC Caster

The first of two “Rebel and Scum only” upgrade cards in the C-ROC pack, the ARC Caster is a short range cannon of indiscriminate firepower, coming in with a cheap 2 point price tag. It’s also the first Dual card secondary weapon we’ve seen in the game, although I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Attack 4, Range 1

Side A:
Attack: Attack 1 ship. If this attack hits, you mush choose 1 other ship at Range 1 of the defender to suffer 1 damage. Then flip this card.

Side B:
(Recharging) At the start of the Combat phase, you may receive a weapons disabled token to flip this card.

So, you get a relatively beefy attack at range 1, and get to splash damage onto another ship. Note, that other ship can be the one firing the ARC Caster if there’s nothing else at Range 1 of the defender, so be a bit careful about when you’re firing it…

While it doesn’t explicitly say it, this is more or less an M-3A only card. All of the other ships that can take this upgrade, with the exception of the YT-2400, have a 3 dice primary attack, giving them 4 dice at range 1 anyway. It’s a nice short range damage spike for a Heavy Scyk if you’re trying to build one on a budget, but the risk of dealing damage to yourself isn’t to be ignored given the M-3A’s fragile frame.

I love the idea behind this upgrade, and the recharge mechanic is a neat one I hope to see more of in future, but I can’t seen the ARC Caster getting any competitive play. The benefits are too small, and two points more gets you a Mangler Cannon with Range 1-3 firepower and no risk of damaging yourself. That said, a couple of these in a list would be deeply worrying for any list with Biggs or Manaroo in it…
Pulsed Ray Shield

The second of the “Rebel and Scum only” upgrades, the Pulsed Ray Shield opens up shield regeneration to a range of ships, but at a cost.

During the End phase, you may receive 1 ion token to recover 1 shield (up to your shield value). You equip this card only if your shield value is “1”.

Regen for 2 points is pretty strong, but the ion token is a high price to pay. Under a lot of circumstances, you’re not going to be getting a shot the round you’re ioned, and you’re flagging it far enough in advance for your opponent to fully capitalise on it.

However, it does give a bit of extra durability to a few ships that could use it. The HWK-290, Khiraxz, M-3A, and StarViper are the only eligible candiates for this as things stand. Of those, the StarViper will almost always prefer to take Autothrusters (same slot, same price, better effect in my opinion). However, it effectively adds a (very obvious) 1 straight to the dial of the Khiraxz and M-3A, and there’s a decent number of occasions when a HWK with a turret won’t mind just drifting forwards. It combines particularly well with a ship equipped with the ARC Caster or with Quinn Jast’s ability, as both of them will be taking a turn out from shooting.

I don’t think we’ll see too much of this in competitive play, but it adds some options to some ships that could use a bit of help, and may mess with your opponent’s targeting priorities if your ships start popping on shield again. I’m interested to give it some table time and see how it works out.

Final Thoughts

There’s some really nice stuff in here.  The new M-3A pilots give a real boost to the ship, and I’ve bought a third M-3A in preparation for getting a fourth with the C-ROC so I can throw down some Scyk aces.  Sunny, Quinn, and Genesis Red all seem like they have some competitive potential, and even Inaldra, for all that her ability feels lacking, is still a supremely cheap way of getting an extra EPT slot into a list.

I’m less certain about the ARC Caster and Pulsed Ray Shield, although I think the Ray Shield has some potential uses.  And I’m sure someone will find a trick or two to do with the ARC Caster en mass…