X-Wing: Vader’s Wingmen

Trench_run_TIEs

It’s time for the Empire to shine – let’s remake the team from one of the most iconic scenes in the entire original trilogy!

Welcome back to my wonderful little hole of supreme geeking, where we continue to look at how to bring famous squadrons from the Star Wars universe with as effectively as possible. This time, we’ll take a pause from Rogue Squadron’s exploits to follow the suggestion of BOLS poster Ryan B. – Vader and his wingmen from the iconic trench run!

Building Black Squadron

Now, in the movie, Vader’s wingmen consist of two members of Black Squadron, 2 and 3 – or, as experienced Imperial players and fellow EU devotees might know them, Mauler Mithel and Backstabber! Fitting Vader and two TIEs into a 100 point list is a tall order, since Mauler and Backstabber don’t cost that much – or have that many upgrade slots, really – so I brought in the other named member of Black Squadron, Dark Curse! For lore purposes, assume that he was waiting outside the trench to stop anyone else from entering it to shoot down Vader. Finally, to fill in the last few points, I brought a generic Black Squadron Pilot.

Please note that some upgrades in this list are not yet officially released, but you can get your hands on them as soon as the Imperial Raider comes out! Until then, just fly casual against some friends who are cool with proxies for playtesting purposes. So, without any further ado, here’s the list!

  • ‘Black Leader’ – Darth Vader, TIE Advanced
    • Title: TIE/X1 (0)
      • Your upgrade bar gains the System Upgrade icon. If you equip a System Upgrade, its squad point cost is reduced by 4. (Imperial Raider)
    • Proton Rockets (3)
    • Advanced Targeting Computer (5->1)
      • When attacking with your primary weapon, if you have a target lock on the defender, you may add 1 critical result to your roll. If you do, you cannot spend target locks during this attack. (Imperial Raider)
  • ‘Black 2’ – Mauler Mithel, TIE Fighter (16 -> 19)
    • Predator (3)
  • ‘Black 3’ – Backstabber, TIE Fighter (16)
  • ‘Black 4’ – Dark Curse, TIE Fighter (16)
  • ‘Black 5’ – Black Squadron Pilot, TIE Fighter (14)

TIEAdvancedX1AtEndor-ST

List Breakdown

As you can tell, Darth Vader has a lot of eggs in his basket. With his decent amount of hull points/shields, he should last long enough to bring the hurt – either with the criticals from Advanced Targeting Computer, or his Proton Rockets firing for five attack dice – that are fired with a focus token, so you can keep your target lock on another to continue using ATC without needing to re-lock next turn. Some versions of this list featured Accuracy Corrector over the ATC, which is certainly a good choice as well – but whatever you do, do not give Darth Vader Advanced Sensors. On any other TIE Advanced, that would be a good idea, but let’s check how Vader’s ability is phrased:

During your “Perform Action” step, you may perform 2 actions.
That’s a really powerful ability, and if it wasn’t for the Advanced previously being rather underwhelming I would have expected to see him in a lot more lists, especially considering the prevalence of Push the Limit ships proving how much action economy can mean in this game. But, since Advanced Sensors grants you one action before moving and then skips your ‘perform action’ step, you’re negating his ability (If this has been FAQ’d or Errata’d away, please tell me!) and he becomes rather underwhelming. Despite all of this, the TIE/X1 title is a great upgrade that I fully expect to make the TIE  Advanced see more play. The rest of this list is fairly straightforward – a bunch of TIE’s, with Mauler Mithel being your secondary damage dealer and Dark Curse generally just making people reliant on focus/evade tokens sad as he normally does. The only one here that I’m really not sure about is Backstabber, who I’ve never really liked – a Black Squadron pilot loses 2 pilot skill, for a 2 point cost reduction and an Elite Pilot talent. For thematic purposes, though, he’s included, as he was one of Vader’s wingmen during the Death Star trench run in A New Hope. That’s an idea for you – if you don’t like any of the named Black Squadron pilots, it’s no tall order to build your own and have what remains a fairly lore-accurate list!
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Then again, what if you don’t like running TIE swarms? I know that some players in my area find them tedious, with turns taking too long and occasionally too much going on in the game to maneuver properly. Well, that’s where things can get a little weird. Since Vader’s only wingmen were Black 2 and 3, you can really use any other members of Black Squadron to fill in the remaining points. Such as the Lambda-class shuttle ST-321, Vader’s personal transport!

Black Squadron Variant

  • ‘Black Leader’ – Darth Vader, TIE Advanced (29->33)
    • Title: TIE/X1 (0)
      • Your upgrade bar gains the System Upgrade icon. If you equip a System Upgrade, its squad point cost is reduced by 4. (Imperial Raider)
    • Proton Rockets (3)
    • Advanced Targeting Computer (5->1)
      • When attacking with your primary weapon, if you have a target lock on the defender, you may add 1 critical result to your roll. If you do, you cannot spend target locks during this attack. (Imperial Raider)
  • ‘Black 2’ – Mauler Mithel, TIE Fighter (16 -> 19)
    • Predator (3)
  • ‘Black 3’ – Backstabber, TIE Fighter (16)
  • ‘ST 11-1’ – Omnicron Group Pilot (21 -> 30)
    • “Mangler” Cannon (4)
    • Intelligence Agent (1)
    • Fleet Officer (3)
    • Tactical Jammer (1)

As you can see, the list mostly plays the same, with the exception of dropping Dark Curse and the generic Black Squadron Pilot for this Lambda-class shuttle. It really should have the ST-321 title for flavor purposes, but it just doesn’t do anything for the list, so there’s no point. Instead, this is a ship designed to stay in the middle of your forces, hopefully obstructing a few shots, while handing out focus tokens of off Fleet Officer as often as it can. Intelligence Officer can occasionally help with maneuver planning, but this is for the most part a support craft.

A support craft with a Mangler Cannon, one of my favorite guns in the game, but a support craft nonetheless. I played around with the idea of dropping Predator on Mithel in order to give him the Heavy Laser Cannon, but he might be just a bit too static of a ship to get that many rounds of firing out of it – still, it’s certainly an option. I’d still consider the original list a bit better, even if just for the fact that Vader dying is less of a problem in that one as you still have a miniature TIE swarm as your plan B.

Both of these lists can be surprisingly lethal in the right hands, even if there’s a few obvious chinks in its armor – taking out Vader first will hurt the variant more than it would the original Black Squadron, for a start. The Lambda’s effectiveness is debatable for sure, and the Mangler Cannon might not be worth it. Still, at the very least, they’ll be fun to fly!

What do you think of the Empire’s lists? Any glaringly obvious upgrades that I once again forgot to include? Got a suggestion for another flavor-heavy list you’d like to see? Leave a comment below!

  • Big Fat Fred

    Nice and fluffy, I like it! Not sure it is competitive, but I get that that isn’t the point. I like how they are trying to bring some ships in from the cold (a wing w/refit etc) but I am not sure even TIE/X1 will save the venerable Advanced.

  • Kaptin J

    I run a list very similar, if you want Vader to be more competitive I would drop proton rockets and grab Squad leader, High action economy with ‘reactions’ at PS 9 is incredibly powerful to a tie swarm. Vader will already deal enough damage with the Adv Targeting computer.

    Here is a video Batrep of a game at a store championship featuring what I like to run.
    https://youtu.be/Gc9DyBY60IQ
    No Adv. Targeting computer (as its not out yet) but you get the idea.