News for April 2014
Designed for Success
A Preview of the TIE Defender Expansion Pack for X-Wing (TM)
X-Wing | Published 09 April 2014

“Imperial High Command decided that defender pilots would only be selected from TIE interceptor pilots who had flown at least twenty combat missions and survived. We're either the best pilots in the Imperial fleet or the luckiest.”
–Onyx Squadron Leader Rexler Brath

One of the most recognizable of all Star Wars starfighters from outside the classic films, the TIE defender represented a major shift in Imperial policy.

Classic Imperial tactics relied upon massed swarms of relatively inexpensive TIE fighters, favoring quantity over quality. However, as the Rebel Alliance enjoyed more and more success with its more advanced starfighters, the Empire decided to reevaluate the cost of replacing its starfighters and pilots. It was this decision that led to the development of the TIE defender.

Upgraded with enhanced firepower and deflector shields, the TIE defender proved more than a match for its Rebel counterparts. In fact, when the TIE defender was introduced, shortly before the Battle of Endor, it was easily the most advanced starfighter in the galaxy. The addition of a hyperdrive allowed it to perform an even more flexible role within the Imperial Navy, though the significantly higher investment the Empire had to make in creating each TIE defender meant that only its best pilots would ever fly one.

A 360-degree view of the TIE defender.

Bringing the TIE Defender to Life

In X-Wing, as in Star Wars lore, the TIE defender represents a fundamental shift in Imperial military doctrine.

The game’s base TIE defender, piloted by the Delta Squadron Pilot, weighs in at a hefty thirty squad points – more than twice the squad point cost of the TIE fighter’s Academy Pilot. As a result, any Imperial squad featuring one or more TIE defenders will fly fewer ships, necessitating that each ship last longer and hit harder.

Fortunately, the TIE defender comes well equipped to boost Imperial squads that are designed to take advantage of its unique attributes.

While both the TIE fighter and TIE defender come with three actions in their action bars, the TIE defender trades away the TIE fighter’s ability to evade in favor of the ability to acquire a target lock.

The action bars of the TIE fighter (left) and TIE defender (right).

In conjunction with the extra die the TIE defender gains with its primary attack, its ability to acquire a target lock makes it a more potent attacker than the TIE fighter. It also supports the starfighter’s increased customizability. Whereas the base TIE fighter cannot equip any upgrades other than modifications, the TIE defender can equip both cannon and missile upgrades.

The Delta Squadron Pilot’s upgrade bar.

Here, it’s critical to note that the more you can customize your starship, the more its effectiveness is defined by its role within your squad. While you could assign a fully equipped and an outlandishly expensive TIE defender to Rexler Brath, it’s more likely that competitive players will experiment with squads featuring TIE defenders that carry just one or two upgrades.

While his TIE defender is equipped with an Ion Cannon, Ion Pulse Missiles, Engine Upgrade, and Predator, Rexler Brath is extremely lethal and slippery, but he also weighs in at fifty squad points, making him fully half of your total squad!

How Does the TIE Defender Fly?

So, if the TIE defender is a starfighter best used to fit a specific role within your squad, what are some of the roles it might play?

  • The TIE defender's maneuver dial.
  • One of the best uses of the TIE defender is to fly it as a flanker for a cluster of TIE fighters. In a squad designed to utilize this strategy, you partner the traditional threat of “Howlrunner” and her wingmen with a starship that can force your opponent to break formation or that punishes them for failing to break formation. With its agility, hull, and shield values of “3,” the TIE defender is a more durable flanker than someone like “Backstabber,” though you may find it rewarding to split your opponent’s attentions in three different directions by flanking with both a TIE defender and “Backstabber.”
  • You may also wish to explore ways to take advantage of the TIE defender’s unique maneuver dial. The first X-Wing starfighter to feature a white Koiogran-turn, the TIE defender excels at making quick strafing runs before it darts out of close range combat, then returns on an ensuing round. Indeed, the TIE defender’s maneuver dial is all about speed, and it may prompt players to consider the battlefield in entirely new ways. You’ll be covering greater distances every turn, and this may help you to close in for early shots at Range “1” or dart away from your foes, keeping them at distance in order to fire your Heavy Laser Cannon or Assault Missiles. In such a squad, you may wish to equip your TIE defender with an Engine Upgrade and partner your it with a Lambda-class shuttle that can help close up enemy flight lanes.
  • Moreover, any TIE defender pilot can take great advantage of an Ion Cannon and his ship’s white K-turn to establish an early tactical advantage. Once a TIE defender pilot has a lock on his foe, he can be extremely hard to shake.
  • Alternatively, you could simply utilize your TIE defender as a dangerous starfighter in a squad that showcases the individual talents of pilots like Rexler Brath or Colonel Vessery. Perhaps you’ll use Colonel Jendon to bolster their attacks, or you may simply take advantage of their high pilot skill values and the potent punch of the expansion pack’s elite pilot talents, Outmaneuver and Predator.

  • After all, X-Wing is a game of dogfights, and though most games are squad-based, the sooner your can splinter your opponent’s ships, the more important it becomes how well you can maneuver your ship and line up strings of impactful firing runs.

Another Cog in the Imperial Armada

All told, the TIE Defender Expansion Pack a tremendous host of new strategies and tactics that Imperial players will want to consider as they construct their squads. However, despite everything that the TIE defender has to offer, its greatest contribution to the Imperial armada may be that added versatility that it offers. The game’s standard TIE swarm will still be effective. It isn’t about to disappear, but it will become less dominant as other equally viable strategies become more prevalent.

That means you’ll want to craft squads with greater flexibility so that you can confront a greater variety of opposing squads, and few ships promote flexible squad designs as much as the TIE defender.

Don’t miss out on your first chance to get your hands on the TIE Defender Expansion Pack. Head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy today. Then, keep checking back for more previews and updated details on our series of Assault at Imdaar Alpha preview events!

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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