It might not look great and come from a game we don’t like to talk about, but is it any good? Well…sort of no, actually.
Apologies for the extreme delay everyone, we experienced major technical and university related difficulties, but hey we’re back now! Hope everyone had a good christmas and enjoyed the new movie. Now that we’ve had a good piece of Star Wars media in The Force Awakens, let’s…look at something that kind of isn’t.
In our continuing mission to cover all of the (what used to be) newest ships in a more in-depth look, we’ve finally reached what might be the most polarizing of the new releases. The TIE Punisher is…arguably one of the least liked ships in the entire EU, discounting the superweapons along the lines of the Suncrusher. For a start, it wasn’t even called the TIE Punisher to start with. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to have to talk about one of the worst entries in the Star Wars EU when it comes to RTS games.
Hoo, boy. Galactic Battlegrounds was a game built on the same engine used for Age of Empires II, one of the best RTS games basically ever. The engine did not lend itself well to sci-fi games, in the slightest. When I think Star Wars, I do not think needing to farm. It also had the splendid idea of needing ‘Light’ and ‘Heavy’ versions of each ship in the game, producing such wonders as the ‘Heavy Y-Wing’, an equally lazy design from a visual point of view.
Not exactly the most esteemed company for the Interdictor to hold. Distinguished background, this ship has not. In fact, until the Edge of the Empire expansion Stay On Target – it was never mentioned again. That’s TWELVE YEARS after its original creation. With a name changed to the TIE Punisher – hopefully to avoid reminding us of Galactic Battlegrounds – it’s been released almost entirely to try and get a version of the TIE Bomber that actually works as intended into existence, because the TIE Bomber is almost indisputably the worst ship in the entire game. With what passes for this ship’s background lore covered, let’s see if the thing at least functions.
Well, the dial’s nice, actually. It’s not the greatest, but for a ship this bulky it’s pretty decent. 3 isn’t the best top speed, but it’s decent enough when combined with the potential for a Boost action – and a Speed 4 K-Turn is really good on a ship this dependent on keeping you in its firing arc. I wish the 2 Turns weren’t red maneuvers, but there’s nothing we can do about that.
At 9 health (three shields and six hull), the ship can take a lot of punishment – basically a requirement for secondary weapon based ships. Two attack die is kind of an insult, but there’s nothing we can do about that. Maybe the ship would be too good with three native attack die, who knows.
Focus and Target Lock actions are fairly generic (and required on a bomber-style ship), but the Boost action turns the dial from predictable to actually pretty good, being able to – essentially – reach Speed 4 and make slight course corrections to keep ships in your firing arc to peg them with missiles in the first place. Generally, pretty good. The upgrade selection is nothing to talk about (other than the sheer volume of ordnance available), except for one of the best upgrade ‘trees’ in the game in the System Upgrades.
But, still, there’s an elephant in the room. Ordnance sucks in this game. It’s always sucked in this game. It’s overcosted, underpowered, unreliable. Recent releases have made them more acceptable – especially with Extra Munitions, which you find in the TIE Punisher’s kit – but…you will, frequently, find yourself wishing you had less ordnance slots and a higher native attack stat. For this matter, we’re going to skip suggested loadouts for this review -as most of it will be related to customizing your ordnance to your local meta, with Plasma Torpedoes for those with lots of shields and so on.
On the bright side, the Cutlass-class pilot tends to cut down on the ‘it costs too much’ argument of loading down a ship with a bunch of torpedoes by costing next-to-nothing for that many hit points. PS2 puts it squarely in ‘grunt/disposable’ zone, but 21 points is actually really nice for this kind of ship. For comparison, the PS2 TIE Bomber costs 16 points – the trade-off being more ordnance slots so it can do its job better, a boost instead of a barrel roll, one less agility dice and three shields. Well worth the five points – although it is in direct competition with the Tempest Squadron Pilot for the TIE Advanced, at the same points/PS. If you don’t plan to spam ordnance, just take that instead. Or, to be honest, any other ship.
The Black Eight Sq. Pilot is a bit better, but honestly for the point difference there’s no reason going over new builds. Treat the extra 2 PS as a two-point version of Veteran Instincts, and you’ll be good.
Bombs have always been an interesting mechanic to me, and with some of the newer ones released in the last few expansions there’s a lot of interesting options. The ability to drop a bomb using your front guides helps with how the TIE Punisher isn’t that fast, while the barrel roll – which the ship is otherwise incapable of getting – helps with maneuverability. There might be something to be said for using Advanced Sensors to drop a bomb like the Conner Net, barrel rolling and then flying away.
Redline was interesting to me until someone reminded me that the advanced targeting computer was for the TIE Advanced only. Maybe if we can get more ‘target locks matter’ cards in the future he’ll be worth considering, but as it is he’s 6 points for 5 pilot skill and the ability to use your target lock to re-roll ordnance attacks even if the ordnance needs a target lock to fire in the first place. While useful, I’d rather spend the 6 points giving a cheaper version of the ship the missiles instead – or using Deathrain, the more interesting of the two named pilots.
~What’s your take on the TIE Punisher?
Perennially broke University student and all-around SciFi nerd. The wargames aren't helping with that first part much. I mostly play Warmachine, X-Wing and Infinity.