News for March 2014
Missiles Away!
A Preview of the Z-95 Headhunter Expansion Pack for X-Wing (TM)
X-Wing | Published 24 March 2014

“Proceed with the countdown. All groups assume attack coordinates.”
   
–Admiral Ackbar, Return of the Jedi

The countdown has begun! Recently, we announced the fourth wave of starship expansions for X-Wing, as well as the Assault at Imdaar Alpha preview event. Today, we begin a series of previews that will look more closely at what each of these new expansions will add to the game’s fast-paced, squad-based dogfights.

We start our series of previews with a look at the Z-95 Headhunter Expansion Pack!


A 360-degree view of the Z-95 Headhunter miniature.

Close Air Support

Manufactured by Incom Corporation, the Z-95 Headhunter was the primary inspiration for the later design of the T-65 X-wing. Even though the X-wing eventually outclassed it in nearly every respect, the Z-95 was cheap, durable, and reliable enough that it continued to see use throughout the Galactic Civil War, most commonly in close air support roles.


The Z-95 Headhunter’s maneuver dial

Entering X-Wing as the Rebel starship with the lowest squad point value, the Z-95 Headhunter is perfectly suited to play the role within the game that it played within the Star Wars galaxy. It’s a durable and reliable starfighter that comes with the ability to carry and fire missiles, making it capable of playing a strong support role.

The fact that the Z-95 is designed to play a support role can’t be overstated. Though the Bandit Squadron Pilot doesn’t cost any more squad points than the Imperial’s Academy Pilot, the ship isn’t designed for the same type of swarm tactics at which the TIE fighter excels. Instead, the Z-95’s agility value of two leaves it far more vulnerable to enemy fire, and its maneuver dial resembles that of the X-wing the ship that it prefigured far more closely than it resembles that of the TIE.

Where the Z-95 excels, though, is as an efficient missile platform. For just seventeen squad points, a Rebel player can equip one of his Z-95’s with Assault Missiles, and by spending a single squad point more on the Munitions Failsafe modification, he can better ensure that the five points spent on those Assault Missiles won’t go to waste.

Alternatively, if you’re more concerned about facing a squad with Slave I than you are about facing a swarm, you could spend three of your squad points to equip your Z-95 Headhunter with Ion Pulse Missiles. Because it assigns two ion tokens with a hit, rather than just one, the Ion Pulse Missiles upgrade can ionize a Firespray-31 in just one shot. And because the Tala Squadron Pilot comes with a pilot skill of “4” at just thirteen squad points, you can field a non-unique Z-95 that costs only sixteen of your one-hundred available squad points and can still fire its Ion Pulse Missiles before a Bounty Hunter can act in combat.

Ace Pilots and Elite Pilot Talents

What could make the Z-95 Headhunter an even better missile platform? How about the unique pilot ability of Lieutenant Blount?

“When attacking, the defender is hit by your attack, even if he does not suffer any damage.”

This is a ship destined to shake up the tournament scene. For just twenty-two points, you can equip Lieutenant Blount with Assault Missiles and give Imperial swarms a reason to reconsider flying in formation.

  • When Lieutenant Blount fires his Assault Missiles, they always deal splash damage. Even if he rolls nothing but blanks and his target rolls nothing but evade results, the attack is still considered a hit. This means that all those TIE fighters flying within range “1” of each other are effectively guaranteed to suffer one point of hull damage as soon as they come into range of Lieutenant Blount’s Assault Missiles.
  • Moreover, Lieutenant Blount is a potent answer to all those Imperial squads that equip “Howlrunner” or Soontir Fel with a Stealth Device. Even without a missile, he can strip those ships of their extra agility and set them up for later hits from his squadmates.
  • Of course, there’s more than one way to cut through a swarm, and you could rely upon Lieutenant Blount’s ability to land a hit on “Howlrunner” with your Ion Pulse Missiles. Then, because you’ll be better able to anticipate your opponent’s maneuvers in the next round, you’ll be able to maneuver your ships in range to tear through “Howlrunner” and then, later, through the rest of his TIEs.

Even as Lieutenant Blount permits a wide range of new strategies that all hinge upon one vital hit, Airen Cracken encourages Rebel players to re-examine the possibilities inherent to squads designed to fly in formation:

“After you perform an attack, you may choose another friendly ship at Range 1. That ship may perform 1 free action.”

While a number of other pilots reward you for flying your squads in close formation, and some of those pilots even permit their squadmates to take free actions, Airen Cracken adds another wrinkle by triggering those free actions during the Combat phase.

As an example of a basic use of Airen Cracken’s ability, he could help one of his squadmates establish the ever-popular target lock and focus combination. Here, we can imagine that one of Airen Cracken’s squadmates, like the Bandit Squadron Pilot, might maneuver early in the Activation phase due to its low pilot skill value. Though it ends up in a position too far from its intended target to establish a target lock, the Bandit Squadron Pilot can still perform a focus action. Then, if its target flies into range later in the Activation phase, the Bandit Squadron Pilot can acquire a target lock during the Combat phase, after Airen Cracken fires.

Alternatively, if Airen Cracken selects the elite pilot talent, Wingman, he can set up actions for friendly ships within Range “1,” even after they perform Koiogran turns in the Activation phase. After a friendly pilot performs a Koiogran turn and ends up within Range “1” of Airen Cracken, it can remove its stress token at the beginning of the Combat phase and then, later, take an action after Airen Cracken attacks. In this way, you can even permit your pilots to perform boost actions after their Koiogran turns.

Upgrade Your Fleet

As one of the game’s most efficient and effective missile platforms, the Z-95 Headhunter provides Rebel X-Wing players a whole host of new squad building options. Will you disrupt opposing swarms with Lieutenant Blount and his Assault Missiles? Will you coordinate your attacks with Airen Cracken and the free actions he can pass to his squadmates? Or will you find some other use for this versatile starfighter that continued to serve a valuable role in the Rebel Alliance, even after the introduction of the X-wing?

Share your thoughts on this starfighter, its pilots, and its upgrades with other members of the X-Wing community on our community forums. Then, keep your eyes peeled for more wave four previews, including a look at the technologically advanced TIE defender and its unique maneuver!

X-Wing is a tactical ship-to-ship combat game in which players take control of powerful rebel X-wings and nimble Imperial TIE Fighters, facing them against each other in fast-paced space combat. Featuring stunningly detailed and painted miniatures, X-Wing recreates Star Wars’ exciting space battles. Select your crew, plan your maneuvers, and complete your mission!

© & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

 

    
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