Named TIE Fighter Pilots

David Yun David Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2017-09-01 03:30:13

Named TIE Fighter Pilots (v1.1 W12)

Chaser 14 points, PS 3: When another friendly ship at Range 1 spends a focus token, assign a focus token to your ship.

Chaser's pilot ability is not worth pursuing. The tactic would be to Evade action, then receive Focus tokens during combat. But those extra tokens are only useful for defense on an otherwise basic TIE Fighter, and opponents can simply leave Chaser for last. Just go with Wampa or find a point for a Black Squadron Pilot with Crack Shot.

Wampa 14 points, PS 4: When attacking, you may cancel all die results. If you cancel a [CRIT] result, deal 1 facedown Damage card to the defender.

This is the one. Wampa is outstanding. It used to be that anytime an Imperial squad had 12 points free, it meant an automatic Academy Pilot. Now, anytime you have 14 points free, it's an automatic Wampa. He's such a threat, that he acts as a soft Imperial Biggs. Just take an Evade action (Focus if extra green dice), and watch even Rebel regenerators squirm. Wampa's ability triggers 23% of the time. Howlrunner increases it to 33%. Emperor Palpatine to 100%! You'll find him scattered throughout my Imperial lists - too many to focus on here.

Night Beast 15 points, PS 5: After executing a green maneuver, you may perform a free focus action.

An FAQ change now allows Night Beast to take the Focus action after clearing stress, and makes clear that he can bump and take the action. However, for 15 points, he doesn't stack up to a Black Squadron Pilot with Crack Shot.

Winged Gundark 15 points, PS 5: When attacking at Range 1, you may change 1 of your [HIT] results to a [CRIT] result.

A Mercenary Copilot ability for Range 1? No thanks, I'll take a Black Squadron Pilot with Crack Shot.

Youngster 15 points, PS6, EPT: Friendly TIE fighters at Range 1-3 may perform the action on your equipped [EPT] Upgrade card.

Rage is definitely the Elite Pilot Talent to employ. These Youngster lists are all funsies squads, but because of the potential for offense, they are potent ones that can hang with "real" squads given strong decision making and some fortune:

(16) Youngster: Rage
(84) Academy Pilot x7

This allows for eight ships with Howlrunner-esque offense without having to fly in tight formation. The stress drawback is extreme, but sheer quantity makes this a playable squad.

(16) Youngster: Rage
(22) Zen (Epsilon Leader): Comm Relay
(14) Wampa
(48) Academy Pilot x 4

This sacrifices a ship, but Zen enables the squad to reasonably clear stress. Note that 2 rerolls increases Wampa's crit likelihood to 41%.

(19) Youngster: Rage, Stealth Device
(22) Zen (Epsilon Leader): Comm Relay
(14) Wampa
(45) Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot x3

Down another ship, but we get Crack Shot offense and some padding for Youngster (Hull Upgrade is more prudent, but I don't roll like that).

(16) Youngster: Rage
(19) Zen (Epsilon Leader)
(34) Quickdraw: Deadeye, Cruise Missiles, Electronic Baffle, Guidance Chips, Special Ops Training
(31) Backdraft: Deadeye, Cruise Missiles, Collision Detector, Guidance Chips, Special Ops Training

This is the Youngster squad I occasionally field. The FAQ made it clear that TIE/sf Fighters are, in fact, TIE Fighters, and thus eligible for Youngster actions. This tosses 17 heavily modded red dice on the break, and despite being a silly gimmick squad, is capable of taking down just about anything. If you want an easier launch, you could drop Backdraft down to an Omega Specialist to carve points for Harpoon Missiles, but with this sort of squad you might as well go for the gusto.

Wave 12 gave us Debris Gambit, resulting in the tankiest and most accurate pair of TIE/sf Fighters possible.

(21) Youngster: Debris Gambit, Shield Upgrade
(40) Quickdraw: Expertise, Fire-Control System, Comm Relay, Lightweight Frame, Special Ops Training
(38) Backdraft: Expertise, Fire-Control System, Comm Relay, Lightweight Frame, Special Ops Training

Backstabber 16 points, PS6: When attacking from outside the defender's firing arc, roll 1 additional attack die.

Dark Curse 16 points, PS6: When defending, ships attacking you cannot spend focus tokens or reroll attack dice.

Backstabber and Dark Curse used to be essential tools, but newer releases have generally eclipsed them. Wampa is cheaper and more effective than Backstabber. Passive effects such as Poe and Expertise now skirt around Dark Curse's defensive ability.

Mauler Mithel 17 points, PS7, EPT: When attacking at Range 1, roll 1 additional attack die.

I've found that Mauler Mithel's pilot ability isn't worth the investment, and that includes exploring avenues like Veteran Instincts and Snap Shot. What you're really paying for is the combination of his Pilot Skill combined with the ability to equip Crack Shot. I had the privilege of playing David Pontier (aka Piqsid) at 2016 Hoth. His articles on movement heavily shaped my early approach to X-Wing, and it was a pleasure to face off against this legend in person. Personally, I would never field a TIE swarm with four different Pilot Skills, but dueling his immaculately executed maneuvers was a highlight of my X-Wing career.

(19) Howlrunner: Crack Shot
(18) Mauler Mithel: Crack Shot
(18) Scourge: Crack Shot
(16) Backstabber
(15) Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot
(14) Wampa

Scourge 17 points, PS7, EPT: When attacking a defender that has 1 or more Damage cards, roll 1 additional attack die.

Next to Wampa, this is my favorite of the newer TIE Fighters released with the Gozanti. The trick is to get his ability to trigger as early as possible, but his high Pilot Skill makes that difficult. David Sutcliffe took a radical step with the Crack Swarm, by combining the best available elements together at the cost of dropping down to 5 ships. This is his Slaughterhouse not-quite-a-swarm:

(19) Howlrunner: Crack Shot
(26) Lockdown (Omega Leader): Juke, Comm Relay
(18) Scourge: Crack Shot
(21) Highroller (Zeta Leader): Crack Shot
(16) Youngster: Crack Shot

I love this squad and its aggressiveness. It's throwing as many red dice as the basic Crack Swarm (3 ships firing ahead of Scourge to trigger his ability) at much higher Pilot Skills, plus you get Lockdown as an endgame ace. However, I do have deep qualms about the squad's duty cycle of only 5 TIE Fighters. The loss of each ship is a substantial blow. If you can handle embracing the risk of this defensive variance, it offers a brilliant intersection of threats to throw at your opponent.

Howlrunner 18 points, PS8, EPT: When another friendly ship at Range 1 is attacking with its primary weapon, it may reroll 1 attack die.

When I first picked up X-Wing, I immediately gauged that Biggs and Howlrunner were straight busted broken overpowered. I felt that Howlrunner, in particular, was seriously abusive with her passive area effect built into such an efficient platform. However, she does require a multitude of (cheap) ships to properly exploit, whereas Biggs simply works with anything. It's a testament to her power that the TIE swarm has been the one archetype playable from day one through the entire expanse of power creep infused X-Wing history.

You want to keep her EPT cheap. Crack Shot is obvious, to maintain uniformity with her underlings. Adrenaline Rush is my favorite, but I know I'm in the minority (and I know it's not the optimal-est option). Historically, Determination has a place among both our own Dallas Parker and numerous exceptional Polish TIE Swarm players. I'm a degenerate gambler, so I'm not keen on insurance, but Determination does provide 24% odds that a critical hit is simply ignored. That's relevant for a ship that is so critical to the squad's success.

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