26 May 2015 | X-Wing

The Grand Design

A Preview of the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack for X-Wing™

"Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design."
     –Emperor Palpatine

In our recent previews of the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack for X-Wing, we've looked at what the Raider-class corvette adds to an Epic Imperial fleet and how players can utilize the expansion's new TIE Advanced upgrades and pilots in Standard Play. Today, we continue our previews with a look at another card from the expansion that can be utilized in Standard Play, but that is unquestionably the most Epic of all the expansion's upgrades.

Emperor Palpatine

Emperor Palpatine arrives to X-Wing as a crew upgrade in the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack.

As you might expect, the Emperor isn't like your standard Imperial crew member. First of all, he's the most expensive crew upgrade currently in the game. Second, he requires two crew slots all to himself. Nonetheless, in the right Imperial build, Emperor Palpatine is well worth his squad-point cost:

"Once per round, you may change a friendly ship’s die result to any other die result. That die result cannot be modified again."

In X-Wing, each of your ships has, effectively, four concerns each round: maneuvering, performing actions, attacking, and defending. Of these, two require you to roll dice. Viewed in this light, the Emperor's ability to change any dice of your dice results grants you an unprecendented measure of control over nearly one-half of the game. Convert a blank attack die to a critical hit. Convert a blank defense die to an evade. Did your TIE fighter accidentally clip an asteroid? The Emperor can ensure that you don't suffer damage as a result. Did you suffer a crippling critical hit? The Emperor can easily resolve a Weapon Malfunction or shield you from the brunt of a Minor Explosion .

Also, notice the range restriction – there isn't one. His ability isn't limited to friendly ships at Range "1," nor to those within Range "1–3." He can alter the result of any of your dice results, anywhere on the table. Thus, even though you can currently fly him only on a Lambda-class shuttle, a VT-49 Decimator, or your Raider-class corvette, his ability can impact any of your ships, wherever it's located, and when you need it most.

Should you want to bring the galaxy's most powerful dark side Force user to the battlefield, you'll find plenty of uses for him in both Standard Play and Epic Play

The Emperor in X-Wing Standard Play

Some call it luck. Some might call it destiny. Others may call it design. While there's no doubt that skill plays a massive part in X-Wing, there's always a chance that random dice rolls may help accelerate or unravel your plans.

It's not likely, but it's entirely possible for a Binayre Pirate to launch a single unmodified Range "1" attack at a cloaked "Whisper," roll two hits and a crit, catch her flat-footed and with nothing but blanks for defense, punch through her shields, land a Direct Hit!, and score a kill.

A Binayre Pirate lands a one-in-a-million shot, wiping out "Whisper" with a single shot.

Most skilled players have learned all manner of tricks to avoid such calamitous events. They practice their maneuvers. They identify the right times to use their actions in order to gain defensive tokens. Still, despite their skill, even the best players sometimes lose their ships to unlucky dice.

While the game's dice ensure a measure of tension in each attack sequence, they also steer a number of pragmatic tournament players away from ships like the TIE interceptor that rely more than others upon their dice rolls. One good shot from an X-wing and one moment of bad luck from the Imperial player can easily result in the obliteration of a TIE interceptor that may have just been lining up a kill shot against a Rebel ace like Wedge Antilles , Luke Skywalker , or Keyan Farlander . While the introduction of Autothrusters may help TIE interceptors to survive rounds of combat fought at a greater distance, Emperor Palpatine may very well be the keystone of the new TIE interceptor squad design.

Few ships exploit good dice better than the TIE interceptor, and few rely so heavily on their dice for defense. A TIE fighter may have the same agility and hull points, but it doesn't require the same investment of squad points. Accordingly, adding the Emperor to a Lambda-class shuttle may help stabilize your TIE interceptor squadron by giving you the opportunity to either push a mediocre attack into the realm of devastating or rescue a ship from brink of destruction.

Total Squad Points: 98

In this sample squadron, we pair theme and function, as two Royal Guard TIEs, piloted by a couple of the Empire's best aces, escort the Emperor aboard a Lambda-class shuttle. Appropriately enough, when you play this squad, you want to keep your shuttle out of trouble and let your TIE escorts take charge. With his ability, Emperor Palpatine can help Soontir Fel and Carnor Jax cripple their opponents, changing their attack dice to make them impossibly precise anytime they've managed to doge your opponent's firing arcs, or he can boost their defense by ensuring they roll evade results when they need them. With the Emperor in your squad, your Stealth Devices gain a renewed utility. He can even protect himself when necessary, ensuring your shuttle’s solitary defense die leads to an incredible string of evade results.

Of course, the Emperor can do far more than boost a squad of TIE interceptors, and he can fly aboard a VT-49 Decimator just as easily as he can fly aboard a shuttle. There, he benefits from the ship's fantastic resilience, and he can turn his attentions toward enhancing the attacks made by a TIE Advanced outfitted with the TIE x1 Title and an Advanced Targeting Computer . In such a case, the Emperor grants you the ability to convert one of your TIE's blank attack dice to a critical hit, even though you couldn't normally reroll it because you need to save your target lock to activate your Advanced Targeting Computer.

Total Squad Points: 100

In this sample squad, the Emperor can help you get the greatest possible impact out of the attacks that Darth Vader performs, starting with the Assault Missiles he’ll fire against a swarm or any other larger squad that flies in formation.

At the same time, it's just as likely that the Emperor may be able to propel you to victory by reducing the damage that Darth Vader sustains to his TIE Advanced, thereby ensuring you have all of your firepower in the fight for as long as possible.

The Emperor in X-Wing Epic Play

As awesome as Emperor Palpatine is in Standard Play, he's even more potent in Epic Play. Here, the game's larger scope ensures you'll have more opportunities to make good use of his ability each round. The increased number of available squad points means that his presence is less costly to the rest of your strategy. And you can fly him aboard the Empire's most resilient ship, the Raider-class corvette.

In fact, you'll find so many opportunities to make use of the Emperor's ability in Epic Play that it's likely less of a question of whether or not you should field him but of how you'll identify the most impactful uses for his ability each round. Will you try to push one of your early attacks to the extreme in order to eliminate an enemy ship? Or will you hold his die modification until you've safely defended your most important vessels? There's no denying the Emperor's power, but you still have to be intentional with how you use it. You can't afford to be overconfident.

The True Power of the Dark Side

No single individual from the original Star Wars trilogy better represented the power and evil of the dark side better than Emperor Palpatine. Soon, players everywhere will be able to field him in their X-Wing battles. Will you be one of those drawn to the power of the dark side? The Imperial Raider Expansion Pack is truly an epic addition to your games. Stay tuned for our final previews and news of the product's upcoming release!

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