X-Wing: TIE Punisher In-Depth

 

TIE_Interdictor_Final

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.

GalacticBattlegrounds

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.

oldalaymod

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.

swx34-dial

 

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.

statsaction bar

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.

cutlass

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.

black eight

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.

deathrain

 

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

 

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?

  • Grafton Is Dust

    I don’t understand, you said some things are unusable and rubbish, but on 40K comment sections people assure me that X-Wing is a perfectly balanced game that has zero rules flaws or weak units. Surely the internet can’t be wrong?

    • StingrayP226

      X-Wing is not perfect but none of the factions are hopeless against the others, and a poorly flown “champion list” can be beat by a well flown “average list.” There are some bad ships in X Wing but FFG does tend to bring out fixes for them… granted it usually is in an expansion.

      Also FFG reacts to meta dominate lists but supplying “counter” cards in future expansions. They also regularly release a FAQ.

      So the biggest difference is FFG tries to make a good game while taking your money and activately tries to balance/fix the game. GW just gives us a “game” and takes our money… its clear GW does not care if the game is good or not as long as we buy it.

      • Grafton Is Dust

        There’s only three factions though. It only had two for ages. Not hard to balance two factions, mon ami.

        • William Bellamy

          The two most iconic factions in 40k are Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine. There is no excuse why they aren’t balanced. So apparently it is hard to balance 2 factions. Have a nice day.

          • Grafton Is Dust

            There is an excuse….one is a Codex behind. Despite that, they both have competitive builds, it’s just that the CSM have no Formations and a lot of chaff units.

          • ZeeLobby

            That’s why companies use these things called “FAQs”. CSM codex could easily be FAQed into a competitive dex. GW just doesn’t care beyond the money.

    • Solidus

      I would like to see where anyone said it was perfect or without flaws.

      That said it is still leaps, bounds, and ages ahead of 40k in terms of balance, among other things. Very, very few things feel useless, and not one faction is hopelessly underpowered vs the rest.

      • Grafton Is Dust

        I’ll be interested to see it get to the 13+ factions 40K has and still retain that level of balance.

        FFG are also banning online sales in America apparently, and also put incredibly useful pilot cards in expensive kits so you have to buy everything to remain competitive anyhow. I mean, at least GW’s a known quantity of a**hattery.

        • ZeeLobby

          I’d argue that warmahordes (now around 10 factions) is much more balanced than 40k. An average player can pick up any faction and have a fun game against another average player. There’s no factions with i-win buttons, and the few i-win casters/lists are not super obvious and would have to be actively sought after. Lets just face it, GW makes a bad game, but great models.

          • Grafton Is Dust

            Not disputing the shoddy rules design in the slightest.

        • Gridloc

          Why? are you saying you want to see X-wing fail so you can justify 40K being unbalanced. I agree that 40k has many more units than xwing, but they also were making the game for what 30 years? guess once you are around that long you give up and let the fans fight your battles on why its okay to be unbalanced… If you dn’t like X-wing, don’t play, trust us, we don’t want negativity in the game, it what happened to 40k (that and GW now being a corporation instead of gamers). There are countless other games with more factions than 2 that are striving for balance, like warmahordes.

          • Grafton Is Dust

            WarmaHordes ain’t balanced, mon ami.

          • Gridloc

            “There are countless other games with more factions than 2 that are striving for balance, like warmahordes”

            please read prior to posting, i said trying to balance. As no game is truly balanced, its the attempt and work of the company to release faqs and changes to help ensure all players are closer to even fights, which Privateer press does. You can’t argue that they don’t. I was pointing out that GW does not do this, as they consider their game a by product of their models. Doesn’t make it a bad game though.

        • Spacefrisian

          The only faction they could add (and have it somewhat believable) are the Sepratists. So i doubt it will see any more than those being added.

          • Grafton Is Dust

            Yeah, I’m genuinely unsure what else they could add without needing a lot more movies to add stuff.

        • Ben Hoffman

          You will still be able to buy FF products online. From what I can tell, Asmodee is trying to remove the online sites that low-ball their products online in order to make money off of volume. It doesn’t say it but I would assume they are going to enact a Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) policy. This would mean someone selling online could only sell for let’s say 20% below Asmodee’s set MSRP. This can appear bad but in the long run it should keep more brick and mortar game stores open. Which is a good thing, since we generally need them to play.

          Also, as someone who has owned X-Wing and 40k models, I can without a question, X-Wing has some minor issues but is light years ahead of GW. I sold over 5k points of blood angels after owning them for 15 years because of GWs horrible mismanagement of the 40k rules.

          • Grafton Is Dust

            Let’s hope its so benevolent, for the games sake.

    • ChahDresh

      Obvious troll is obvious.

    • Chaos_Unbound

      Its not that the game is “Perfect” or that every unit is “Meta” Viable. But the game does provide a very basic balance. Meaning every ship taken just at face value can be flown and used well. Its when you get “Meta” that certain things become unusable or rubbish. Then again thats EVERY game ive ever played so not unique to Star Wars.

  • LegenDerek

    I have been loving the Punisher since its release, and am sort of disappointed in this article. It seems like Cameron hasn’t been playing or even seen the Punisher in use. I’ll give him a pass because Cam likely had uni finals and he did put in the effort into the research for the article….

    That being said, lets go into the opinions on the named pilots:
    Deathrain doesn’t want Adv Sensors, he wants enhanced scopes. Now he is always moving first and able to shoot up and drop a set of Cluster Mines or (my favorite) a Connor Net to the face. Then the barrell roll to put Deathrain into a good blocking position.

    You also missed Redline’s greatest combo: Cluster Missles and Fire Control Systems. With that, you have very consistent 2x3dice attacks on your target.

    In both cases, add Extra Munitions for a bit more ordinance. I’ve used both of these guys along with a mini-swarm or Soontir/Vader and filler for good results. It may not be a top tier competitive list, but these guys can do more than they’re getting credit for.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Yes death rain is awesome with cluster mines going forward and then barrel rolling into a blocking position. Also with new cards coming like guidance chips, etc is going to make them very viable. Honestly I like them a lot and have no issues spamming consumables after extra munitions and fail safes came in.

      • Chaos_Unbound

        Think of Redline with the New Mod coming in Imperial Vets that allows TLocks from greater than range 3. He is going to become one HELL of a flanking harasser. Pair him with somthing you dont or CANT ignore and all of a sudden you have a real hard choice.

    • Agent of Change

      I’ve used that redline combo myself. I replied to teh article before seeing this response… you said basically what i did.
      I love the punisher. Even if it does look kinda dumb, at least it looks light years better than the excremental k-wing, I mean Evil is Evil but even their bad designs still have more style than good. 🙂

    • Chaos_Unbound

      Yep Redline is best with a Missile loadout and FCS. That piece goes to town on anything It finds and says eat it.

    • Yeah, I’m disappointing with this article’s dismissive attitude. Deathrain is a very unique and interesting ship to fly, and Redline is one of the only effective ordnance carriers in the game. Neither is super-top-tier material, but they’re not unusable.

  • Ben Hoffman

    The biggest issue with bombers in the current meta is that many lists deal stress with their attacks (Y-wing stress bot, K-wing+tactician, etc). Bombers get hard stopped by stress if they don’t already have a target lock and cannot easily drop bombs that require an action as well.

    • Spacefrisian

      Most bombs are on reveal dial anyway so there isnt that much of an issue. And Empire has a very cheap pilot that can instaclear alot of stress on multiple allies with one of ther FO/Tie pilots, it just takes some time for others to notice this.

      • Ben Hoffman

        Epsilon Leader can only take off 1 stress per turn which doesn’t do much vs stress bot which deals 2 stress per turn. Multiple tacticians also cause problems.The best bombs tend to be proton bomb and connor net, both of which require an action to drop.

  • Derek Kupper

    I would think Redline’s double TL would be *far* more useful as action economy. 2 TLs mean one TL action lets you shoot missiles/torps for 2 rounds. It means you’ll probably be able to use both missiles you got with Extra Munitions before being taken out….

    • Chaos_Unbound

      You ALWAYS run Redline with a Fire Control System. That way you double lock, burn lock to fire Missiles, burn lock to reroll, and then regain a double lock.

  • Emprah

    I want Missile Boat and TIE Defender. At least the Punisher making it into the canon is hope!

    • Chaos_Unbound

      the Tie Defender is already in X-Wing. Its also getting a upgrade in the Imperial Veterans pack due out in march.

    • Tyris

      X-Wing is to canon as a housecat is to a leopard.

  • Agent of Change

    While I can’t contest the facts of your argument I have been a big fan of the Punisher since it’s release. Not it’s visual design… clearly, but on the table it’s treated me well.

    I’ve spent time with all of the pilots and I genuinely like Redline (though he is probably a little over costed) and Deathrain is just endlessly fun to use as area denial tool.

    In the end I’d have to say that while a 3 die native attack would be nice I do think it would require the points to come up and that would kill this already expensive to field useably craft.

    I suppose my personal affinity with it may be from the fact i desperately wanted a Tie bomber that worked (check) and I’ve had significant success with it/with lists that contain it (check).

    Two list types I’ve had success with are 1. a cheap Punisher with bombs and extra ordnance (generally used as an anchor and area denial) combined with some fast movers (generally a couple Tie/In). Draw fire with the Punisher, use bombs to disrupt enemy movement and use the arc dodgers to tear them up. 2. Punisher gunship with missiles, may be a torp, and a bomb… backed by a tie swarm for points. Use the ties to block and disrupt so the Punisher can hit them with the ordnance.

    The funny thing about it is I do think the Punisher is a solid to Good craft, but it does suffer from the drawback the you suggest. Though as it stands it it was definitely a creature fo the existing environment (or would appear to be) as fixing any of those draw backs would push it well off the power curve for it’s points… kind tricksy. My big hope is that the Imperial Veterans expansion actually gives some life to Tie Bombers again so there is a choice.

  • For the record, that image of the Heavy Y-Wing is NOT what the Heavy Y-Wing looked like. The real thing actually looked pretty cool:

    http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/starwars/images/4/41/Heavy_Y-wing.png/revision/latest?cb=20141027145745

    • Sean

      Just as ugly and unimaginative.

  • ChahDresh

    I’ve been flying Redline a bit: Cluster Missiles, FCS, Plasma Torps, Extra Munitions. It’s some good dakka for 38 points. The rest of the points go to five TIE/Ins for blocking and clean-up duties. Interestingly, one of the TIEs can deliberately block Redline if need be to control range, since with his pilot ability and the FCS he’ll always have multiple target locks on his chosen prey. Guidance Chips will be fun on him.

    • Chaos_Unbound

      I think I might try Redline with two Defenders with the Tie/D title and Ion Cannons once the Vets pack releases. Either ignore the two Defenders and have fun getting Ioned and shot in the back most of the game or ignore Redline and enjoy that ordinance enema.

  • BubbaFett

    I feel that they should have switched either a missile or a bomb slot for a crew slot to make it a better parallel to the k-wing, and bombardier would be lovely to see on deathrain. The K-wing has no red on its dial, but no k-turn, but the slam ability is a “faster” boost ability. The turret for the K-wing and the Systems on the Tie-Punisher are neat mods for each ship but I feel the K-wing still got the better end of the deal until they release more/better systems to be used. For now there are only a couple that help it out and most are 3 or 4 pts (fcs and enhanced scopes being two exceptions) that are really useful for it. FFG really seem to be wanting ordnance to be better then it currently is (help coming from the new tie in the form of a good cheap mod). But I’m in love with the idea of missile and bomb boats even with all the flaws they currently have, I know there will be a time to shine with them.

  • Tyris

    *sob* IT COULD HAVE BEEN THE MISSILE BO-HO-HO-HOOOOOOOOOAT! *sniff*

    Well, maybe Wave 9, hey?

  • Chumbalaya

    “the TIE Bomber is almost indisputably the worst ship in the entire game”

    Ok, bro, whatever.

    I’m gonna go ahead and disagree just about all of this. Except Galatic Battlegrounds, that’s a pile of hot garbage.

    Punishers start out relatively cheap for a solid statline, native boost, systems, bombs, and ordnance. Ordnance has its issues, less so with Guidance Chips and Long Range Scanners coming, plus new ordnance like Plasma Torps are quite nice. It’s a fatter TIE Bomber, a big ship on a small base. Don’t load it up and it can do good work.

    Deathrain flips the bomb mechanic on its head and is a blast to play.

    Redline makes ordnance so very reliable. With FCS she’s firing those missiles and torps with re-rolls and whatever native modifications they include. Proton Torpedoes turn an eye into a crit, and combined with the target lock they end up quite reliable. Cluster Missiles get a lock on each shot from FCS. The only ones not great on Redline are those that keep their locks (Homing, Adv Homing) or obviously Proton Rockets.