X-Wing Ship Parade: Interceptor and Firespray
The Ship Parade continues with one of the most lethal pilots to ever fly… oh, and Boba Fett.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.
The “squint” is nimble beyond belief, fast, deadly… and made of glass. No ship is less forgiving of mistakes or has a worse cost-to-health ratio. Flying interceptors is a thrill as likely to end in a sudden burst of flame and regret as in glory. But what a rush! Oh, and this should go without saying, but the Interceptor pretty much demands Autothrusters, and Push the Limit is a superb choice for anyone who can get it. As with the TIE Fighter, most of the spice is in the pilots because of the empty upgrade bar, although higher PS types can take the Royal Guard title to double up on modifications- useful given how critical Autothrusters sometimes seem to their survival.
Want to know how awesome squints are when everything goes right? Look at this:
That’s the cover of the “TIE Fighter” video game. Is the ship with pride-of-place, front and center, a TIE Fighter? No. It’s an Interceptor. In fact, there are two TIE Interceptors and one TIE Fighter on the cover of a game called “TIE Fighter”. I think I’ve made my point.
Representative list: Triple Interceptor Aces
- Soontir Fel: Push the Limit, Autothrusters, Royal Guard TIE, Stealth Device
- Carnor Jax: Push the Limit, Autothrusters, Royal Guard TIE, Stealth Device
- Turr Phenir: Veteran Instincts, Autothrusters, Royal Guard TIE, Hull Upgrade
Why it works:
This is not the most competitive list featuring a TIE Interceptor (that would be some Palp Aces variant), but it is absolutely the most TIE Interceptor list. It epitomizes the risk-reward calculation Interceptors bring to the table: it’s maneuverable, lethal, demanding to fly, and utterly unforgiving of mistakes. And it’s so, so dependent upon outflying the foe. (All of which, by the by, is why low PS Interceptors never caught on. A ship that can *only* function as an arc-dodger is doomed if it’s too low PS to dodge arcs.)
That said, if you *can* outfly your opponent, Interceptors make you feel like a god of plastic spaceships. As with Jake and A-Wings, the Interceptor boasts the all-important green 2-turn that lets you abuse PtL– but whereas Jake is the only A-Wing that can natively accomplish the boost + barrel roll combo, every Interceptor can pull that trick. (Tycho can with the right upgrades but that’s an iffy ship.)
In this list, Soontir is the win condition. He’s the trump card: If you have him one-on-one in the endgame your odds are very healthy. There are few foes that can match Soontir’s combination of uber-maneuverability and pilot skill, never mind stacking tokens on top of that. The goal is to dodge most, if not all, attacks he might face rather than rely on green dice. If he can’t, like against turrets, Soontir can focus, Push to take an evade, and trigger his pilot ability for a second focus token. The ability to both outfly the foe and turtle up with the best of them makes him the rare pilot that can rationally take Stealth Device.
Fear the Fel
Brief digression: Stealth Device is only a good choice if your defenses are already immaculate. Depending upon your exact situation, the Stealth Device has to survive at least two, possibly three, attacks before it’s as valuable as a Hull Upgrade. Any ship that can take Autothrusters probably should, necessarily meaning they don’t take Stealth. The resulting list of ships who can use Stealth Device is very, very short. Interceptors get away with it because the Royal Guard title gives them double mods. Digression over.
Carnor is not as good as Fel in the end-game, but his ability helps enormously during the furball (the time after the initial engagement when everyone’s in everyone’s business). The range 1 requirement for his ability means he tends to live dangerously and contributes to him getting killed a lot. On the other hand, his ability is so deleterious to token-dependent enemy aces (i.e. the few pilots who can keep up with Soontir) that he can swing games even without chasing his own shots. He’s a threat just by showing up.
Turr is the sacrificial lamb, the ship that lines up opposite the foe and says “Come at me, bro”. In a perfect world, he shoots early in the order, then takes his free action to slip away, allowing you to escape jousts while Carnor and Soontir flank. In the real world, that sometimes works, and sometimes you turn away to draw the foe in and avoid the joust entirely because you won’t be able to dodge arcs and you’re a dinky little TIE Interceptor that can’t take a hit. The reality is that Turr is the sacrifice of the list precisely because he’s the weakest ship of the three by far. And this reality is the reason you don’t see this list very often despite the fact that it’s wicked fun to fly: it’s hard to win when you spot your opponent thirty points, no matter how much of a beast Soontir is.
Well, that’s one reason; the other is that a Palpmobile (Lambda Shuttle with Palpatine crew) is a vastly superior third ship. Oh, and there’s the fact that things like “Party Bus” YV-666s and Dengar can erase Interceptors outright. And every ship in the list is deathly afraid of blocks, ionization, and stress. I suppose there are several reasons the list isn’t competitive despite being wicked fun. That’s so Interceptor!
That said, when you have Carnor or Soontir as a true ace with other ships complementing them, look out! And there isn’t a ship in the game that loves a friendly Palpatine on the board more than a TIE Interceptor.
Tough, with an X-Wing’s solid dial, the Firespray nevertheless doesn’t see much play. The ship seems like it should be better than it is. The large base restricts its maneuvering options, but it doesn’t have a turret to protect itself, so even with an auxiliary firing arc it ends up relying heavily on Engine Upgrade. The pilot abilities are lackluster, too. For its high cost, it needs to carry your list, and it often won’t.
Representative list: None!
There are no two ways about it: the Firespray is overpriced and underpowered. People complain about the T-65 being underpowered, but Biggs, Wedge, and Wes can all see play in competitive settings (Wes being a meta pick); the same cannot be said for the Firespray. Its flaws are too significant. The pilot abilities are nothing special. The dial is blah; between it, the large base, and the lack of inherent boost or barrel roll, the ship is acutely vulnerable despite the auxiliary arc. Unlike, say, a YV-666, the Firespray doesn’t compensate for this vulnerability with overwhelming firepower or dirty tricks; it is reasonably durable, but not very killy.
However, if you just want to fool around, try this:
- Boba Fett, Navigator, Stay on Target.
Dial up any bank maneuver. Between Navigator and Boba’s pilot ability, you can swap that maneuver to any other bank maneuver on the Firespray dial. If you need a non-bank maneuver, Stay on Target. It’s fun! It’s also 44 points and not punchy at all. So, yeah. The other way to say this is: If you want to fly a Firespray, don’t fly an Imperial Firespray; fly one of the Scum pilots (to be covered at a later date).
~Next time: We take a break from the Ship Parade to editorialize on game balance, patching, and the FAQ.
ChahDresh is an amateur writer and an even more amateurish X-Wing player. Regale him with your best Interceptor-against-the-world stories below.