X Wing: Fly It Like You Stole It!

Harrison Sharp returns with his look at the next offering from X Wing’s Wave 10, Sabine’s TIE Fighter! So Rebels, sit up straight and pay attention, this one’s had a lot of discussion and controversy for basically being an old ship with some new tricks stuck on it, but if it’s  good will it be good enough to redeem it of that? Read on …

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Greetings, hive mind! Today I’m going to be looking at the latest addition to the Rebel fleet, the brand new… TIE Fighter? OK, so this ship has been around since the first core set, but does that mean it’s got no new tricks to bring to the tabletop? Absolutely not! Although FFG seem to be covering a lot of already trodden ground with this expansion, there are some absolute gems, as well as some big differences between the Rebel and Imperial TIE. Whereas the humble Imperial TIE Fighter is best used as a blocker, cheap filler or swarmed-up workhorse of a ship, the Rebel variant has a bag of support tricks that are only made better on the manoeuvrable platform of the TIE Fighter. Let’s have a look at what these differences translate to in the new pack, besides that crazy bright paint scheme I mean:

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First off we should look at the Pilots, which is one of the biggest differences of this pack to the Imperial variant. Each pack that contains an Imperial TIE Fighter comes with copies of the three generic Pilots plus three or four different unique Pilots, bringing the total number of pilots up to 13. That’s a crisp baker’s dozen of choices ranging from 12 to 18 points. The Rebel TIE obviously has a few less choices; in fact it only has four unique Pilots and no generics. So let’s have a look at each Pilot in turn and see where they fit into a Rebel list.

First off, we have “Zeb” Orrelios at 13 points. His ability hasn’t changed from the Attack Shuttle, but inside the TIE Fighter, it really shines. The ability to cancel crits before hits on the Attack Shuttle was next to useless, only having the 2 Hull and Agility, but on a TIE with three of each, you can actually get a bit of mileage out of this ability. Don’t go into a game thinking this ability will make Zeb stick around much longer – he will still be taking damage after all – it just won’t screw your plans over as often with nasty crits. Zeb is great in a list as he is, being a cheap bit of filler that can be thrown out as a blocker without fear of getting a crit, like Damaged Engine or Damage Sensor Array, which will reduce your ability to reposition. As far as comparisons between the Empire and Rebel TIE go, this is the closest you will get.

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From one re-purposed Pilot to another, we should really look at the expansion’s namesake, Sabine Wren. With rumours of the Sabine’s Death Star expansion firmly rebuffed by FFG, this may be the last expansion to feature everyone’s favourite Mandalorian (sorry Boba). Sabine reprises her previous ability from the Attack Shuttle, which in a TIE makes her more squirrelly than an oak tree! Don’t ask me why an oak tree, I got stuck on the analogy and just put the first thing in that came out of Google; but getting back on topic … Sabine still suffers from having a Pilot Skill of 5, as her ability lends herself to arc-dodging and PS5 just won’t cut it, even with everyone’s favourite upgrade, Veteran Instincts. In a TIE, Sabine loses the lovely base 3 Attack and access to a turret, which made her a big threat. This means that, while you can get into a much better position with the far superior TIE Fighter dial, you won’t usually have the punch to make the most of your crazy movement shenanigans. You could try to increase her potential to get into Range 1 and deal damage by throwing on some movement and accuracy increasing upgrades, but you will find that you can quite happily throw 10 points of upgrades onto Sabine, making her hyper-tanky and manoeuvrable, but still lacking the punch to drop a 3 Agility tokened-up target like a TIE Defender. Sabine with Lone Wolf, Title, Recon Specialist, Cloaking Device and Stygium Particle Accelerator comes in at 25 points. Sounds great, but costs too much for a 2-attack-dice ship, even a ship that has that much staying power. However, if you go for a cheaper option of the Title and the new EMP Device, with either Adaptability to keep her cheap or Veteran Instincts if you really want to out-PS those pesky Defenders, you will get a good bit of mileage out of her as a cheap annoyance that can drop Ion on your opponent when he really needs to reposition.

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Next up is Captain Rex, our first new pilot. At Pilot Skill 4 for 14 points, he clocks in at the same PS and points value as Wampa, but with an ability that adds utility to your squad instead of pushing damage through. Captain Rex can reduce the attack dice of the ship he shoots by 1, as long as that ship is not attacking him. This condition lasts until his next opportunity to fire, which means if you’re a higher PS than the ship you’re shooting, it will work that turn; if you’re a lower PS than the ship you’re shooting it will work in the following turn. This means that putting Captain Rex into a squad with Biggs is a pretty good idea, as your opponent has to target Biggs and then you can get the most mileage out of the Captain’s ability. Because of this, the EMP Device is not a good idea on Rex like is it on Sabine, but instead you can make the most use out of the Title to turn Rex into a cheap Rebel Crew carrier. There are plenty to choose from, from the cheap Inspiring Recruit if you are running a Stress-hog Y Wing and want to try and keep it vaguely Stress free, to Jyn Erso to give Biggs more Focus tokens to keep him alive even longer, to a Tactician to add a bit of control into the list.

There’s a lot you can do with an extra cheap Crew slot in a list. This gives Rex something you lack with most of the Imperial TIEs: versatility. Usually a TIE Fighter does one or two things: cheap blocker / extra ship, force multiplier or you are taking the ship for a specific ability, such as Mauler Mithel with Snap Shot; but Rex can be a control piece with his ability and a set of Black Market Slicer Tools; and also a support ship with Jyn Erso or Kanan Jarrus Crew.

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Finally we get onto the highest Pilot Skill Pilot of the bunch, Ahsoka Tano. I’ve got to admit that I’ve saved the best for last, but not because Ahsoka has a brilliant Ability – which she does, but it’s her impressive Pilot Skill 7 which is what makes her my go-to pilot. What makes Ahsoka’s Pilot Skill so important is the Captured TIE Modification. With Veteran Instincts, Ahsoka is PS9, meaning that only the most grizzled of veteran Aces can even target her with an attack until you either attack with Ahsoka, or she is the last ship you have on the board. This means that Ahsoka can get exactly where you want her to be in the quickest route possible, not having to worry about getting shot at. The trick is to find something to threaten your opponent with when you finally get there. As shown in a previous article, you can use Ahsoka as a ship to help lace your Target Locks with Bhodi Rook’s pilot ability and still have room for three Talas with Missiles and a Torpedo on the U Wing. Alternatively you have a ship that will be able to almost certainly drop the EMP Device and get back out of dodge to continue the fight afterwards. With that in mind, I can see a lot of Ahsoka with Veteran Instincts, Title, Captured TIE and EMP Device.

I personally feel that adding a back of the folder Crew will add a much bigger threat range for the EMP. That card is the Leebo Crew. For two more points you gain access to the Boost action, but at the cost of an Ion Token. In the round that you want to drop the EMP, however, you don’t care about this, as you will also receive two Ion Tokens from the EMP itself. This extra expenditure in points allows you to threaten almost a whole extra range band worth of space; and with a ship that you want to use for area denial, that could be game changing. It also gives you the ability to get back into formation with the rest of your squad and then slow roll with it for a turn; although I would probably not recommend that too often, as it telegraphs your plans.

If you decide to use Ahsoka for her pilot ability you may not want to run the EMP Device, as both affect ships at Range 1 and you won’t want to Ionise your entire squad. Instead you may want to replace it with the Scavenger Crane from the Quadjumper expansion. With the Scavenger Crane, as long as you destroy a ship at Range 1-2 of Ahsoka, you can use the Scavenger Crane to re-equip your Captured TIE Modification after you have shot. With the Crane equipped, you can take a shot with Ahsoka when a good opportunity arises and not be able to get shot back in subsequent turns, which could be pretty brutal in the right situations. This also leaves your Crew slot open for something to enhance your attack that you will actually be making now that you have a way to re-acquire your Captured TIE. Rey is the obvious choice here, as she is cheap and will allow you to get another Focus Token so you can augment your attack and still benefit from your ability, but a corner case could be made for a Hotshot Co-pilot, depending on if you think you can Ace out an opponent’s squad and get that Captured TIE Modification back onto Ahsoka.

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Finally, we have the last Upgrade of the pack, Captain Rex Crew. I would love to say that there’s some great idea that I can think up for him, but for one point more you can buy an Operations Specialist which works for all friendly ship at Range 1-2 and allows you to assign the Focus Token to another ship at Range 1-3, making it just flat out a far better buy than Rex. Maybe if you absolutely couldn’t spare another point… I would still just take Rey instead.

That finishes my thoughts on the new (ish) Sabine’s TIE Fighter expansion. While the ship is nothing new, the ways that you can deploy it on the table definitely make it an old dog that has learned some new tricks!

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