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X-Wing Ship Parade: TIE Fighter and Advanced

7 Minute Read
Jan 16 2017
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ChahDresh’s review of X-Wing’s ships continues with the Imperials jumping into the fray.X-Wing Ship Parade is an ongoing review of the ships in our hobby, showing them off at their best and most iconic. As always, all cards referenced can be found at Yet Another X-Wing Squad Builder.

 

Tie_fightersTIE Fighter

Role: Light fighter

The classic TIE Fighter is still swarming over tables today; like sharks, they haven’t had to change much because they were done right the first time. Fast, maneuverable, with a vast collection of named pilots, the TIE Fighter is also notorious for its soft attacks and tendency to get one-shot. For its low cost, though, the TIE Fighter is nothing if not expendable. Note that, because of the empty upgrade bar, most of the variety in TIE Fighters lies in the various named pilot options.

Representative list: Academy Swarm

  • 7x Academy Pilot
  • Dark Curse

How it works: This is the classic, no-frills TIE Swarm. The Academy Pilot is the gold standard blocker/filler ship. You block your opponent with low PS and sheer mass, gaining action advantages; your light attacks are offset by numbers. You disengage wounded pilots, then reengage the moment your foe’s back is turned; since a wounded Academy Pilot is as dangerous as a full-health one, this becomes very frustrating for your opponent. In other words, you do all the things Kris Sherriff detailed in his wonderful Swarm Theory series of articles. Dark Curse presents a hard target simply for the frustration factor, and because (with good luck) he can redeem some bad situations. And if he doesn’t? Eh, he’s four points more than an Academy Pilot, and you weren’t going to be using those points anyway.

Flying such a swarm has some problems. First, firepower these days is intense enough that TIEs will routinely get one-shot, and the list rapidly degrades in power as it loses ships. Second, and more importantly, it’s an exhausting list to fly. In the early game, when all of your ships are moving in formation, it can be easy. (“He’s doing a five straight… and he’s doing a five straight… oh, you get the idea, they’re all doing five straight.”) Once you get into the furball, though, with individual ships moving about and breaking off and barrel rolling to get into optimal position, the strain of holding that many maneuvers in your head can quickly add up. This isn’t so much of a problem when you’re just playing one game, but it accumulates over the course of a tournament. Not to mention that it’s not an easy list to fly even under ideal circumstances!

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What I look like flying an Academy Swarm.

A more modern take on the TIE Swarm looks like this:

2016 Yavin System Open Winning List

  • 3x Academy Pilot
  • 3x Black Squadron Pilot, Crack Shot
  • Howlrunner, Crack Shot

Howlrunner XWing and Armada

Howlrunner is a long-time staple of any list with multiple ships that could use an offense boost. The more ships she boosts, the better she gets. Think about her this way: Every ship she affects basically gets Predator. If you consider Predator’s a three-point upgrade, you can see how radical her cost efficiency can be. Accordingly she’s also a high-priority target. Upgrades to try and keep her alive are generally ineffective because eliminating her is a priority for the enemy. Howl’s best defense is the screen of TIEs in front of her. And those TIEs, in turn, become a threat in their own right with range one shots, Crack Shot, action superiority (because you’re landing blocks, hopefully), and Howlrunner’s bonus rerolls.

Crack Shot is a very effective use of a few points for a list like this. They’re key to helping the Swarm burn down a target or two early, making up for any early losses they sustain to tilt the odds back in their favor. They also open up some entertaining mind games. The threat of Crack Shot can cause your opponent to make inefficient use of his tokens. For example, a TIE Fighter rolls up a hit and a crit. The defender throws two evades and an eyeball, and has a focus in-hand. Under normal circumstances, the defender’s golden– but he has to reckon with Crack Shot. Does he spend the focus to ensure Crack Shot can’t be used to push the crit through? If he does, he’s more vulnerable on the next TIE’s shot (and its Crack Shot), and the attacker still has Crack Shot to use next round. Fun like this makes Crack Shot threatening all out of proportion to its cost, and (much like Juke) it’s more effective the more copies of it you have in a list.

Those lists are all well and good, but perhaps the TIE Fighter’s most enduring value is that its low cost makes it a great toss-in ship. If you have a few points left over in your squad, you can slip in an Academy Pilot to do grunt work for you. If you have a few more points, you can add in Backstabber for a threat out of proportion to his cost, or Dark Curse for an oddly durable nuisance. They won’t win the game for you by themselves; what they offer is another ship for the enemy to account for, another source of damage he has to reckon with, another cheap ship he loathes shooting at but can’t ignore. While choosing toss-in ships like that is out of fashion at the moment, it’s rarely a bad choice.

 

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tie-advanced

TIE Advanced

Role: Space superiority fighter

For years a marginalized fighter that specialized only in not dying, the Advanced has benefitted enormously from the /X1 title. Now the Advanced brings some teeth to the fight, usually with either the Accuracy Corrector (for low PS pilots) or the Advanced Targeting Computer (for high PS pilots). The virtue of Accuracy Corrector is it allows the Advanced to take defensive actions without impacting its attack. The Advanced already boasted durability and maneuverability; with its newfound firepower, it is now a complete fighter.

tiex1

Representative list:

  • TIE Advanced: Darth Vader, Engine Upgrade, TIE /X1, Predator, Advanced Targeting Computer
  • TIE Advanced: Tempest Squadron Pilot, TIE /X1, Accuracy Corrector
  • TIE Advanced: Tempest Squadron Pilot, TIE /X1, Accuracy Corrector
  • TIE Advanced: Tempest Squadron Pilot, TIE /X1, Accuracy Corrector

…because what fun would it be to have a two-ship list in an article talking about swarms? Here we have a three-ship mini-swarm supporting a true ace in Vader. Darth Vader’s status as a nightmare has been firmly restored (as it should be!). While vulnerable to stress and largely allergic to K-turns, the Dark Lord of the Sith is slippery and nigh-inescapable. The ATC and Engine Upgrade combo with almost any EPT you can think of (Predator, VI, and even Crack Shot are favorites). Here we go with Predator to help compensate for the fact that you’ll never actually spend your target lock, since you need to hold it to power Advanced Targeting Computer. If an initiative bid were desired, swapping it out for something cheaper would hardly be a problem.

It probably goes without saying, but more actions is more better, and Vader gets you two, no questions asked. Engine Upgrade may be expensive, but it allows Vader to accomplish some uncommon feats of repositioning at his top-shelf PS9. If he ever gets unavoidably caught, he can focus and evade, and count on his tokens and the natural toughness of the Advanced to see him through. Once he’s locked on to a foe, he has effectively more than three attack dice, given the guaranteed crit, making him somewhat less dependent on focusing for his offense– and in turn freeing him to be even more slippery with his repositioning.

As for the Tempests, what they bring to the table is consistent offense and no-joke defense. With Accuracy Corrector in your pocket, you’re free to evade or barrel roll every turn to keep them safe and in the fight. You never need to target lock or focus because your offense is guaranteed. You can K-Turn and lose no firepower. Sure, they struggle against high-agility targets, but everything else gets ground into dust from two hits a shot. And against aces, you can always pretend they’re TIE Fighters and do TIE Fighter things to set up Vader to show them the Power of the Dark Side (TM).

Next time: An insurance agent and a guy who needs to go on a diet walk into a bar…

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~What do you think of the basic TIE and the Advanced?

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