News for May 2014
Cloaked in Battle
A Preview of the TIE Phantom Expansion Pack for X-Wing (TM)
X-Wing | Published 05 May 2014

“With a fleet of such vessels, the Empire could devastate our forces with near impunity.”
    –Admiral Ackbar

Changes are coming. When they arrive at retailers, the starfighters that comprise the fourth wave of X-Wing expansion packs are going to promote an explosion of diversity and squad-building creativity that will reach from the most casual elements of game play to the highest tiers of tournament competition.

The squad-building rules for X-Wing allow players to pair their starship miniatures with cards that represent different pilots and upgrades. As a result, the game permits a tremendous variety of different potential builds for both Rebel and Imperial squads. Still, the game’s fourth wave of starship expansions is going to vastly multiply the variety of squads that you’re likely to face. This is because it places new emphasis upon the game’s ship cards and upgrades. Pilot skill is bound to matter more than ever before, and one of the key factors in this impending shift is the TIE Phantom Expansion Pack.


A 360-degree view of the TIE phantom.

New Ships. New Tactics.

Over the past weeks, we’ve explored the likely uses of the Z-95 Headhunter, TIE defender, and E-wing. Each of these arrives ready to maneuver, battle, and fulfill a specific role within your fleet:

  • The Z-95 Headhunter enters the Rebel fleet as an extremely efficient missile platform, better enabling the Alliance to match Imperial forces ship-for-ship.
  • TIE defender pilots serve the Empire as a heavy-hitting flanker who open up the battlefield with their fighter’s high-speed maneuvers, which include a white, four-speed Koiogran-turn.
  • The E-wing is a highly-customizable starfighter that can be outfitted to serve in any Rebel squad, whether it’s flown to force enemy ships into suboptimal flight patterns or to capitalize on moments of enemy vulnerability with potent alpha strikes.

Among the other things these starfighters do, along with their ship and upgrade cards, they promote a slight shift away from the game’s long-standing use of swarm tactics and pilots with low pilot skill values. Neither swarm tactics nor pilots with low pilot skill values are about to disappear, but they’ll become less ubiquitous due to the introduction of such potent combinations as Lieutenant Blount and Assault Missiles or Corran Horn and Predator. The result is that as more competitive options present themselves, you’ll enjoy more diversity in your games, and some older, overlooked upgrades may shine in the new environment.

There’s yet another element among the fourth wave of X-Wing starfighter expansions that promotes greater squad-building creativity and diversity: the TIE phantom.


Here, a Shadow Squadron Pilot is shown next to the TIE phantom's maneuver dial.

With its stygium crystal cloaking device, enhanced weaponry, deflector shields, and hyperdrive, the TIE phantom is one of the most menacing starfighters in the galaxy!

As it allows you to field this fighter in your X-Wing battles, the TIE Phantom Expansion Pack promotes a tremendous range of squad-building diversity through its introduction of the “cloak” action, the unique flight patterns the action permits, the way it encourages the use of different upgrades, and the emphasis it places upon high pilot skill values.

Cloaked in Battle

Each TIE phantom pilot is capable of cloaking his ship. In X-Wing, whenever a ship performs a cloak action, you place one cloak token near the ship. Cloak tokens are not removed during the End phase, and as long as a ship has a cloak token, its agility value is increased by two. However, any ship with a cloak token cannot perform attacks.

To be able to attack, a cloaked ship must first decloak. Decloaking isn’t an action or maneuver, but it comes with its own set of rules. A ship may only decloak immediately before revealing its maneuver dial. Then, as it decloaks it must either perform a barrel roll that uses the straight “2” maneuver template or execute a straight “2” maneuver.

Naturally, TIE phantom pilots want those windows in which their ships are decloaked and vulnerable to be as narrow as possible. This means they want as little enemy activity as possible between those moments within the Activation phases in which they decloak and perform their maneuvers until the time comes that they can once again cloak. There are a couple ways in which TIE phantom pilots can limit such enemy activity.

  • They can fire before their foes and eliminate the enemy starships that could target them before those ships get the opportunity to fire.
  • Alternately, they can fire before their foes and use the Advanced Cloaking Device modification to disappear immediately after firing.

In both instances, your TIE phantom pilots want to fire before their foes, and they thrive when they have higher pilot skill values than their enemies.

High pilot skill values become more important than ever, and the introduction of the TIE phantom is one of the key factors likely to mark a shift toward the game’s ace pilots and their high pilot skill values.

Accordingly, you may wish to consider using one of the two unique TIE phantom pilots. “Whisper” has a pilot skill value of “7,” and “Echo,” who must use the “2” bank template when he decloaks, has a pilot skill value of “6.” Both can also be upgraded with an elite pilot talent, meaning that for one squad point, either could benefit from the Veteran Instincts upgrade that comes with both the Millennium Falcon and Slave I.

In game play, the TIE phantom’s ability to cloak and decloak, combined with its primary attack value of “4,” makes it a fearsome predator. High pilot skill values make it even more lethal. If it’s threatened in the heat of battle, it can cloak, becoming a truly elusive target. Then, when the moment presents itself, it can decloak and pounce upon an unwary foe.

Appearing Out of Nowhere

Another reason TIE phantom pilots really want high pilot skill values is that it gives them a better idea of when and where to decloak. The cloak action isn’t just a defensive gambit; it’s also a bit of misdirection. Even though your TIE phantom miniature remains in place on the table whenever it cloaks, that miniature ends up representing the focus of a nearly unlimited potential range of movement. When it decloaks, your TIE phantom can appear in any of a great number of locations.

The higher your pilot skill value is relative to that of your opponent, the more your TIE phantom pilot will have knowledge of the battlefield and can reappear in an advantageous location.


Here, we illustrate a few of the many different locations in which “Echo” can end his movement after decloaking and performing a right turn maneuver with a speed of “1.” (Click on the image to view a larger version.)


Your opponent’s ability to anticipate his final position is further compounded by the fact that he can perform the barrel roll action. (Click on the image to view a larger version.)

Enemy ships with pilot skill values lower than those of your TIE phantoms will have a truly difficult time anticipating their movement, locking them down, and landing hits. In turn, you can expect players to experiment with more squad builds that feature unique pilots with high skill values. Will Han Solo shoot first? Will Darth Vader crush the Rebellion? Will Soontir Fel continue to lead the Saber Squadron to glory?

An escalation in pilot skill values would lead to fewer ships on the table at any one point, and that runs against the prevailing conventional wisdom. However, when the TIE phantom can perform such unconventional actions, how well will the conventional wisdom hold up?

The Galaxy Is Wide Open

With the introduction of the TIE Phantom Expansion Pack and the rest of the game’s fourth wave, there’s going to be more room in X-Wing for squad-building versatility than ever before. Whether you utilize pilots with high pilot skill values to get the most out of your TIE phantom and Advanced Cloaking Device or you simply upgrade your Sigma Squadron Pilot with a Stygium Particle Accelerator in order to gain free evade tokens whenever you cloak or decloak, the TIE phantom encourages new styles of play on both sides of the board, and that’s a good thing!

Head to your local retailer to pre-order your TIE Phantom Expansion Pack and other wave four expansion packs today. Then, keep checking back for more information about the upcoming Assault at Imdaar Alpha preview events, as well as other X-Wing news!

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!

© and ™ Lucasfilm Ltd.

 

    
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