X-Wing’s new Scum aces expansion makes interesting changes to older ideas. ChahDresh investigates.When the Kihraxz and the Star Viper were new, people were quite excited to fly with them. The Star Viper had a rich legacy from everyone’s fuzzy memories of a video game, and the Khiraxz, while relatively bereft of heritage, at least looked cool. (Plus, the schadenfreude-inclined couldn’t wait to see the many, many ways one can misspell “Kihraxz”.)
And then, once we started getting games in, we felt a bit foolish. For all that the ships had going for them, they weren’t winners. The articles we, including commentators on this site, published in glee wound up looking a bit… optimistic.
Part of this is that Scum’s large ship options (cough *Jumpmaster* cough) are so darn strong. Part of it, though, was that the ships were simply underpowered. The Kihraxz, Scum’s X-Wing, was prey to many of the same problems the T-65 has struggled with, but without the overwhelming pilot abilities that get the T-65 back on the table. Talonbane Cobra has a nasty one to be sure, but it relies on controlling range, and the Kihraxz has no inherent means (boost or barrel roll) to control that range– contrast that to Wedge, who’s pretty point-and-shoot. And there is no Kihraxz equivalent to Biggs. Without that, the basic unfriendliness of the frame (it’s just not that tough or nimble for the points) made the Kihraxz a hard sell.
As for the Starviper, there’s a reason wags have been calling it the Autothrusters Expansion Pack. The dial wasn’t quite good enough to support Push the Limit, keeping it from realizing the full glory of its otherwise generous action bar. Its pilots were low-ish in Pilot Skill for thematic reasons, but this hamstrung the ship. (Guri and Xizor probably needed to swap PS.) Those two factors combined to force the StarViper into a jouster-ish role, but at its points level that was even less favorable than the Kihraxz. Oh, and a considerable amount of the StarViper’s power was gated behind the unique Virago title.
Happily, FFG noticed, and these ships are getting the aces treatment.
Other people are going over what new builds are possible with these developments. I’d like to do something different: take a trip to the past, see how we *thought* we’d be using these ships, and see where the new titles get us.
4x Black Sun Enforcer
Points saved: 12
Yeah, we thought this would be a thing– the cost point of 25 for the StarViper was so very suggestive. With the new titles, you could free up enough room to insert an extra Z-95. Of course, filler ships are “out” these days, and jousting with StarVipers even at their lower cost might not be wise.
- Guri with Predator, Virago, Autothrusters, Accuracy Corrector and Hot Shot Blaster
- 2x Black Sun Soldier with Ion Pulse Missile and Glitterstim
- N’Dru Suhlak with Glitterstim and Lone Wolf
Points saved: 3
For Guri, the extra ability to control range with the enhanced barrel roll is almost as important as the points savings. She lives and dies with her focus tokens– which, coincidentally, makes her a great candidate to carry Attani Mindlink, since she can feed the collective even if everyone’s stressed. (Stop it! Stop it now! Too late… we went there.) Anyway, Predator is always fashionable, especially since odds are decent we’ll have spent our focus token(s) on defense by the time Guri’s turn to shoot comes around.
With what we know now, we’d probably drop the Accuracy Corrector in favor of Fire Control System, Advanced Sensors, or even Sensor Jammer. Advanced Sensors into a new Viper-roll into a SLoop… yummy. I would also consider dropping the Hot Shot Blaster altogether and giving N’Dru Homing or Cluster Missiles along with Chimps. (Say it with me: MUA-HA-HA!) And I’m sure we can find better uses of points than those Black Sun Soldiers…
- Kavil, Veteran Instincts, Engine Upgrade, Twin Laser Turret, Unhinged Astromech
- Black Sun Ace, Predator, Glitterstim, Cluster Missiles
- Black Sun Ace, Predator, Glitterstim, Cluster Missiles
Points saved: 6
Aside from obviously slapping on Guidance Chimps, we also get a six point price swing, which is pretty big! With that we could deck out the Aces with, say, Vectored Thrusters and Hull Upgrades, or Vectored Thrusters + Pulsed Ray Shields + something for two points… or, we could trade Kavil up to something more threatening. 42 points will give you a super-souped up Guri (say, Predator, Sensor Jammer, Virago, Authothrusters, Dampeners), and the whole squad’s at PS 5, which is nice. Or you could get some Party Bus variant– a Slaver with HLC and the usual suspects of Scum-only crew, or Bossk with no cannon but crew and the sneaky-nasty A Debt to Pay. Or you could even get the Asajj-Latts combo with a few points for upgrades.
In all of these considerations, the Aces don’t suck up too many points but can generate a bonkers alpha strike. They’ll hit before Scouts, but after Fenn and Teroch; as long as they’re firing missiles they can work around Biggs. Oh, and at their points, they’d be very nice Mindlink caddies.
Mindlink, to some extent, is the elephant in the room. Mindlink wasn’t introduced until Wave 8, after both the StarViper and the Kihraxz had been found wanting. However, both Guri and the Kihraxz’ elites would be very well-served by it, and the Kihraxzes would only-sort-of be paying for it. Some lists have been using Ka’ato or Palob as their third ship to drop more point on Fenn and Asajj. A Black Sun Ace can’t do the same trickeration as Ka’ato, but it’s a lot more threatening than a Z-95.
5x Cartel Marauder w/ Thread Tracers, Guidance Chips, Munitions Failsafe, and Black Market Slicer Tools
When the Kihraxz was announced, people made a lot of noise about how you could fit five of them into a standard game. They wouldn’t have much in the way of options, but you could.
We know how that turned out: no one did it. Swarms have struggled for a while, and few swarms have even approached the efficacy of Howlrunner TIE Swarms. The reason is simple and unforgiving: there is only one Howlrunner.
Not anymore. With this upgrade package, everyone is Howlrunner. There is literally no downside to firing off the Tracers until you get a hit– they’re free, and if you miss you get them back, though with a Focus and Chimps your odds are decent. Once you connect with a Tracer, everyone in the swarm has a target lock– let the beatings commence! You’re still at risk of losing a ship to your opponent’s initial volley, but you can answer in spades. As for the BMST? Well, the Kihraxz can go slow when you want, so there’s not a ton of utility to Inertial Dampeners (you could if you wanted, I guess…). Instead, take Debris Clouds, use them to create an alley to cover your flanks, and zap people who try to slide through anyway.
~ Do you think FFG can ever wean Scum players off the faction’s large ships?