“No ship that small has a cloaking device.”
    –Captain Needa

In earlier previews of the fourth wave of X-Wing expansions, we’ve taken closer looks at each of the starfighters:

We’ve explored the new technologies and tactical options that each of these ships will add to the game, but what impact are they likely to have upon the larger X-Wing metagame?

How will these new starfighters fare against or alongside such ships as the X-wing, TIE fighter, and Millennium Falcon ? We put that question to the game’s two World Champions, and today we’re presenting the first of those responses.

Without further ado, 2012 World Champion Doug Kinney explores how the TIE phantom and TIE defender are likely to be incorporated into the Imperial metagame.

The TIE Phantom

With the release of the game’s fourth wave of starfighter expansions, the Imperial fleet gains exclusive access to the cloak action, with its new starfigher, the TIE phantom.

A 360-degree view of the TIE phantom.

This starfighter is a deadly predator with a base attack of four dice, and while it has a cloak token assigned to it, it will pair that attack with a base agility value of “4.” That makes it not only a powerful attacker, but also a difficult ship to hit, especially if it is equipped with the Stygium Particle Accelerator (SPA), which grants it a free evade action whenever it cloaks or decloaks. However, TIE phantoms cannot make use of their potent primary attacks whenever they have cloak tokens assigned to them, so the real trick to flying these ships will be learning when to cloak and when to decloak throughout a battle.

One modification that will help you make the most of your cloak action is the Advanced Cloaking Device (ACD). This modification allows your phantom to perform a free cloak action immediately after it performs an attack, and phantoms equipped with the ACD will want to attack early to make the best use of their increased agility against incoming fire.

You can generally expect TIE phantoms to perform cloak actions on their first activations, when they aren’t likely to be attacking enemy ships. Then, because of how phantoms decloak, players will have to plan out how and when they want to decloak, so that their “2” barrel rolls or forward “2” decloaks allow them to enter battle where they want.

This also means the decloak action will impede formation flying, forcing Imperial players to fly differently than the ways to which they are accustomed. As such, I believe the TIE phantom excels as a flanking ship, not only to avoid disrupting your formations, but also because you’re going to want to keep it on the flanks to minimize the attacks against it. Phantoms only have two hull and two shields, so they can’t afford to be the target of focused fire, even while cloaked. To keep your opponent’s focus away from the phantom, you’re going to need a supporting cast that cannot be ignored. This is where the mini-swarm comes in.

“Whisper” leads the charge in one such squad, complemented by a mini-swarm of “Howlrunner” and three Academy Pilots:

    Total Squad Points: 98

While I’ve been building squads with the new Imperial ships, I’ve discovered some new priorities. Winning initiative is more important than ever. Especially if you upgrade your phantom with the ACD modification, you want to attack first so that you can immediately cloak. Then you get your increased defense dice, even if there are enemy ships that can attack simultaneously. Winning initiative, however, can work against you during the activation phase because you would prefer to see where your opponent’s ships end their maneuvers so that you can better decide how you want to decloak.

At 98 points, this sample squad should most often win the initiative, but I have also included an Intelligence Agent. That way I can see where one of my opponent’s ships is going to end its activation, so I can better decide how I want to decloak. Veteran Instincts gets “Whisper” up to a pilot skill value of “9,” further helping to ensure he will attack first, and Sensor Jammer will further increase his survivability.

And to accompany him, I have included a mini-swarm of “Howlrunner” and three Academy Pilots. My goal is to force my opponent to decide whether he’ll go after the heavy-hitting phantom, which will be cloaked after he attacks, or going after the mini-swarm and its barrage of eight quality attack dice. Either choice is good for me, because I will still be getting good attacks regardless.

The TIE Defender

Along with the TIE phantom, Wave IV brings us the TIE defender, which has the distinction of being the first ship to feature a white Koiogran turn on its maneuver dial. This means that it will be very difficult to predict where its final position will be. Its only green maneuvers are straight, though, so it loses some of its unpredictability and effectiveness when it becomes stressed.

A 360-degree view of the TIE defender.

To keep the TIE defender fully in the action, then, Imperial players may want to consider adding a Black Squadron Pilot Wingman into their squads. You can find one example of how the Black Squadron Pilot supports the TIE defender in the following squad:

    Total Squad Points: 99

Again, this squad pairs a big hitter with a mini-swarm. I believe the TIE defender’s white Koiogran turn begs for the ship to be equipped with an Ion Cannon. Essentially, you can ionize a ship, then get behind it, take an action, and then lock it into a series of “1” maneuvers that face away from you, preventing it from attacking you for many turns. Meanwhile, the Black Squadron Pilot with Wingman can remove a stress token from any ship at range “1,” which I think will be essential whenever you fly a TIE defender, especially with all the stress effects the Rebels have gained with the Rebel Transport Expansion Pack .

Finally, the Academy Pilots not only make great blockers, they make great “lockers” to help put Colonel Vessery’s pilot talent to good use. I also included Outmaneuver to help make sure you the shots you fire with your Ion Cannon will find their targets.

Predicting the Metagame

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

With each successive wave, the X-Wing metagame becomes more and more difficult to predict due to the increasing number of available squad combinations.

After the release of Wave IV, I think the metagame is initially going to shape up around mini-swarms, but they’re not the only type of squad I’ve envisioned. I think a number of squads may include the Delta Squadron Pilot . With its attack, agility, hull, and shield values all of “3,” and all at thirty squad points, the Delta Squadron Pilot is a force to be reckoned with, especially since it has both a cannon and a missile upgrade slot. Then, whether you use the defensive TIE phantom or the offensive TIE defender in your squads (or both), the new Wave IV ships and upgrades will continue to offer a wide range of new and enjoyable experiences every game.

Have fun!

Thanks, Doug!

As the 2012 World Champion, Doug knows a thing or two about successfully building and flying Imperial squads. Is it time to start practicing your “mini-swarm” tactics?

Share your thoughts on our community forums, and keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming look at the Wave IV Rebel starfighters by reigning World Champion Paul Heaver !

X-Wing is a tactical ship-to-ship combat game in whi ch 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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