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.
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.
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 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…
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.
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…
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 (target lock): Discard this card to perform this attack.
If this attack hits, assign the “Harpooned!” Condition to the defender.
Cost: 4 points
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.
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.