ChahDresh looks back to the first days of tri-factionism, and the Scum ships that carried their grimy, threadbare flag.
X-Wing Ship Parade is an ongoing review of the ships in our hobby, showing them off at their best and most iconic. A always, all cards referenced can be found on Yet Another Squad Builder.
By now it seems like Scum have been around forever, especially with as dominant as they’ve been in the tournament scene. But there was a time, back in the fuzzy mists of history, when they were new kids on the block. I’m speaking, of course, of wave 6. Scum had an entire release all to themselves, as FFG waited for more canonical stuff to come out and pondered
how deep into the old Expanded Universe they were willing to dig. In the meantime, Scum gave the game a third faction.
To bring them up to speed quickly, FFG gave Scum several retread ships: the Y-Wing, the HWK-290, the Firespray, and the Z-95. While fluffy and appropriate, this wasn’t a stupendous array of ships. The Y-Wing didn’t really come into its own until Wave 7 brought the Twin Laser Turret into the game. The Scum HWK, Firespray, and Y-Wing all had better price points and
pilot abilities than their original versions, but given the lower power level of the ships themselves this wasn’t terrific on balance. And no one has looked to the Z-95 as a mainstay.
The Scum also got a few new ships just to themselves. These new ships, ah, underperformed, for the most part. The Scyk interceptor stank to such an extent that FFG later gave them an extra point of hull basically for free, and then dedicated Scum’s first epic release solely to making them better. The StarViper has been jokingly called the Autothrusters Expansion Pack, and with good reason. Too expensive and fragile to joust, too low PS and with too poor a dial to support Push the Limit and be a true arc-dodger, the StarViper was caught in no-man’s land and did no job well.
Which is not to say that no one was able to come up with nasty lists that they could pilot successfully. I encountered this list in a post-Scum tournament and got roughed up by it:
- Guri: Predator, Virago, Sensor Jammer, Inertial Dampeners, Autothrusters
- Palob Godalhi: Ion Cannon Turret, Moldy Crow, Shield Upgrade
- N’Dru Suhlak: Cluster Missiles, Lone Wolf, Glitterstim
The keen of eye will note Glitterstim and realize this is technically a Wave 7 list. Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit, but it’s wave 6 other than that. (If it were later you’d see Chips involved.) The point is that this list, while not the most competitive list ever, is definitely in keeping with what Scum was supposed to be. Synergies that seem more accidental than deliberate (Palob’s ability + Sensor Jammer)– check. Dirty tricks and debuffs– check. A mix of expendable muscle and high-end talent
(N’Dru and Guri, respectively)– check.
And it works pretty well on the tabletop, too. Sure, Guri needing to stick to opponents to proc her ability but being stuck at PS5 hurts, but Palob’s Ion makes proccing Guri’s ability a breeze. Plus, N’Dru can delete one enemy ship to set up a more favorable matchup for Guri later. N’Dru’s alpha strike, even pre-chips, is highly ridiculous, and you don’t need him to survive long past it to win. You can also swap Clusters and Lone Wolf for Homing and VI for the same cost– better at spearing top aces, but not as much raw damage and less post-alpha-strike utility.
(By the way, if you’re wondering what this list would look like if we were to add Chips, give Guri the new title, and slap Mindlink on everyone… you’re not alone!)
Lists like this, though fun and fluffy, never really hit the top tables; for a while after Scum’s introduction, they didn’t have any truly effective builds. Well, except for the one. You know, the one using the Wave 6 Scum ship we cheekily haven’t talked about yet.
- IG-88A: Heavy Laser Cannon, Crack Shot, Autothrusters, Glitterstim, Fire Control System, IG-2000
- IG-88B: all the same stuff
Again, you’ll notice this is a wave seven version of the list– so sue me. To me, this is Brobots in perhaps its purest form. It represents the will of the machine: smarter, better, faster, stronger. It beats you in a joust, and chases you down when you try to run. There is no escape, just Heavy Laser Cannons.
In a joust, you’re taking at least four damage during the initial engagement– almost no matter what you do. They pop Glitterstim, which is very effective with the number of dice they throw on both offense and defense, and open up. If you somehow manage to evade the first shot, congratulations, they get to try again, and thanks to Fire Control System now the shot is *double* modified with four dice. Let even a single damage go through, and Crack Shot makes it two. This is the sort of barrage that could overwhelm almost any defense.
The Aggressor was the first big ship with no help for its firing arc– no aux arc, turrets, or other cheats to be found (unless you count the bomb slot, which I don’t). Instead, the cheat is in the dial, which is a work of art. It has green at every speed in every direction and multiple ways to turn around. Toss in the boost and not only is the ship highly maneuverable,
it’s also amongst the fastest ships in the game.
Given its price point, it needs those advantages, because the title virtually locks you into two-ship lists. When you’re limited to two mid-PS ships with firing arcs to worry about, every maneuver and shot counts, exposing you more to mistakes. This helps the Aggressor, despite its many advantages, nevertheless feel very fair.
This is far from the only way to run Aggressors– some ships have standard builds (*cough* Soontir), but not these bad boys. That splendid upgrade bar gives you options galore. Advanced Sensors (especially with IG88-C to get boosts and evades)? Sure! Bombs, especially with Advanced Sensors? Sure! Ion Cannon/Mauler Cannon combos? Uh… okay, sure. Tractor Beam? Okay, that’s a bridge too far, but you get the idea.
Brobots have faded from the competitive scene over time. Part of this is that Scum has alpha-strike lists even better than the Brobots, from Jumpmasters to Ketsu-Bossk. Part of this is that Brobots are especially good at hunting low-health aces and TLT ships, neither of which are as prevalent today. But with Fenn as popular as he is and the TIE Aggressor giving Imperials a TLT option, who knows? Maybe the machines are just waiting for the right moment to make their next move…
ChahDresh is an amateur writer and an even more amateurish X-Wing player.
~Relate your stories of Scum’s pre-glory days in the comments below.