10 June 2015 | X-Wing

Interceptors and Autothrusters

An X-Wing™ Strategy Article by Guest Writer Andrew Harding

The 2015 X-Wing™ Regional Championship season is in full swing, and ace pilots across the galaxy are leading their squadrons into battle in service to the Empire and Rebellion. Moreover, this year, the galaxy's Scum and Villainy have joined the fray to stake their claim on contested space, and that means players everywhere are enjoying the most diverse X-Wing metagame we've ever seen. That diversity isn't due just to the increased number of factions, either, but also to the facts that each faction supports its own, distinctive style of play and that many of the new upgrades from the game's sixth wave of expansions have reinvigorated other ships.

One of the ships that has benefited the most is the TIE Interceptor. It's a staple ship for today's guest writer, 2014 Ohio Regional Champion Andrew Harding, and it's one often favored by players who, like Andrew, revel in the risks and rewards that accompany successfully outmaneuvering their foes. Today, Andrew offers a closer look at how Wave VI has brought this Imperial fighter and other similar arc dodgers once more to the forefront of the metagame.

Guest Writer Andrew Harding on Autothrusters and the TIE Interceptor

The relatively recent introduction of Wave VI and the Autothrusters upgrade to X-Wing has allowed arc dodgers to make a huge return in the formerly turret-dominated meta. While the upgrade comes in the StarViper Expansion Pack, it has significant applications for a number of other ships, including the Rebellion's A-wing and the Imperial Navy's TIE interceptor, the fighter that has arguably benefited most from its debut.

More than that, the introduction of Autothrusters has wholly changed many gamers' perception of the TIE interceptor. A ship that was once considered extremely fragile with just three hull points and zero shields can now engage turreted ships by flanking them, and though it can't entirely avoid a turret shot, its maneuvering dramatically improves its defensive capabilities.

The Autothrusters upgrade triggers any time the ship is targeted by an attack made from Range "3" or made outside of the enemy's primary firing arc, and it allows you to change one of your blank defense dice to an evade result. When your TIE interceptor is outfitted with Autothrusters, you can fly it more comfortably in close engagements against turreted ships and explore new roles for the ship in a wider variety of attack formations.

Autothrusters and Soontir Fel

Since his release, Soontir Fel has proven himself as a true ace due to his brute strength, nimbleness, and his ability to survive enemy fire by dodging out of firing arcs. As a pilot with the highest available printed pilot skill value, Soontir Fel typically activates after enemy ships and can boost or barrel roll to reposition himself in response to enemy maneuvers, and with Push the Limit he can do both. Even when he uses Push the Limit to execute both a boost and a barrel roll, his native ability allows him to acquire a free focus token from the stress that Push the Limit induces.

Equipped with Push the Limit, Soontir Fel performs both a barrel roll and a boost to slip out of the X-wing's firing arc, gain a focus token, and line up a Range "1" shot.

Alternatively, he could boost or barrel roll and then use Push the Limit to perform the evade action, and he would end up outside of the worst of firing arcs with both an evade and a focus token. When his slippery maneuvers and focus are further paired with Autothrusters and Stealth Device , Soontir Fel becomes extraordinarily hard to hit.

  • Soontir Fel with Push The Limit, Royal Guard TIE , Autothrusters, and Stealth Device (35)
  • Rear Admiral Chiraneau with Expose , Weapons Engineer , Moff Jerjerrod , Rebel Captive , Seismic Charges , Experimental Interface , and Dauntless (65)

     Total Squad Points: 100

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. That's the idea behind this squad featuring Soontir Fel and the powerful VT-49 Decimator pilot Rear Admiral Chiraneau. While Soontir Fel flies about the battlefield, dodging arcs, setting up shots, and exploiting his natural synergy with Push the Limit, Rear Admiral Chiraneau can execute heavy attacks from any point of his ship, using Weapons Engineer to make the most of his target lock actions, and using Expose and Experimental Interface to add extra dice. The Dauntless Title ensures that Chiraneau gets the actions he needs to boost his attacks. Combined with his inherent pilot ability, this combination adds a measure of extra damage not normally available in a two-ship build.

Autothrusters and Carnor Jax

The Autothrusters upgrade has also helped the talented Royal Guardsman Carnor Jax . His unique ability denies all enemy ships at Range "1" the opportunity to perform the focus and evade actions or make use of their focus and evade tokens. However, Carnor Jax's ability has long forced him to fly into many high-risk situations, especially since getting into Range "1" often required him to use his boost or barrel roll actions – sometimes both. This meant he couldn't use his actions to focus or evade, and it left him vulnerable to turret fire.

With Autothrusters, Carnor Jax now gains an additional cushion of defense against powerful turreted ships, even when he isn't able to generate his focus and evade tokens. Now that Autothrusters can trigger for a free evade, Carnor Jax can use a Shield Upgrade and his ability to negate enemy focus tokens to survive longer and win the war of attrition.

  • Carnor Jax with Push The Limit, Royal Guard TIE, Autothrusters, and Shield Upgrade (35)
  • Kath Scarlet with Predator , "Mangler" Cannon , and Gunner (50)
  • Black Squadron Pilot with Draw Their Fire (15)

     Total Squad Points: 100

This squad utilizes Carnor Jax alongside Kath Scarlet to exert a measure of control over your opponent's movement, damage, and actions. Equipped with Mangler Cannon, Predator, and Gunner, Kath Scarlet can force some interesting scenarios against ships with high agility values where you get them to cancel the critical hit result you generate with your "Mangler" Cannon, give them a stress token, then follow up that attack with a primary attack via Gunner. Meanwhile, Carnor Jax can completely deny enemy ships the ability to spend defense tokens to block damage by moving into a flank at Range "1." His high pilot skill value of "8" most often allows him to maintain solid positioning over enemy ships, and his Autothrusters and Shield Upgrade make him extremely difficult to destroy, especially since his ability will thwart all your opponent's efforts to come after him at Range "1" with equipment and abilities such as the Blaster Turret , Garven Dreis , and Proton Rockets .

Autothrusters and the Other TIE Interceptors

The options now available to TIE interceptors equipped with Autothrusters don't end with just the top of the pilot list. Several other pilots also provide you options to pair elite pilot talent tricks with the enhanced survivability the Autothrusters provide. Turr Phennir has the ability to shoot, then boost out of arc or barrel roll. He could even trigger Push the Limit to perform both a boost and a barrel roll after firing. This effect can make Turr hard to pin down, and then even once your opponent gets a shot, Autothrusters makes it harder to damage him.

After attacking, Turr Phennir performs a free barrel roll to slip out of one X-wing's firing arc, then uses Push the Limit to boost out of the second X-wing's firing arc.

Tetran Cowall , Royal Guard Pilots , and Saber Squadron Pilots are your other options for fielding TIE interceptors with an elite pilot talent slot. They sit at pilot skill values of seven, six, and four.

Additionally, this means that any TIE Interceptor can now better rival the turreted YT-1300 light freighter and other turreted ships such as the YT-2400 light freighter, VT-49 Decimator, and any Scum ship outfitted with the newly available "Hot Shot" Blaster. These include many of the game's most popular ships, and Autothrusters increase your ability to evade all of their out-of-arc shots.

  • "Howlrunner" (18)
  • Black Squadron Pilot with Draw Their Fire (15)
  • Black Squadron Pilot with Draw Their Fire (15)
  • Alpha Squadron Pilot with Autothrusters (20)
  • Alpha Squadron Pilot with Autothrusters (20)
  • Academy Pilot (12)

     Total Squad Points: 100

With its three attack dice, the TIE interceptor can add a great deal of concentrated firepower to the traditional "Howlrunner" swarm, and this is often a necessity when facing other ships with high agility and health. Even without Autothrusters, you might find a pair of Alpha Squadron Pilots added to a group of TIE fighters. However, without any way to draw fire away from them, these TIE interceptor pilots are usually the first your opponent will target, providing you've kept "Howlrunner" out of harm's way. With the Autothrusters upgrade, your opponent's target selection becomes much more difficult. Your Alpha Squadron Pilots will be much better at attacking from Range "3" than your TIE fighters, but they'll also be much harder to hit. Then, if your TIEs ever need to scatter, the Autothrusters allow your pilot skill value "1" Alpha Squadron Pilots to fly like aces, flanking, dodging arcs, and finding evade results even when they roll blanks.

The Alpha Pilots also have access to the boost action, which allows them to excel as blockers, maneuvering and then boosting early in the activation phase to block the flight paths of ships that both the Academy Pilot and Delta Squadron Pilot would be unable to reach. This early boost can be a key tool in running a swarm. Blocking is an important part of limiting your opponent's options and planning your own, and the boost that enables your TIE interceptors to block distant ships is lacking in other TIE swarm builds.

Arc Dodging Resurgent

Autothrusters don't make the TIE interceptor invincible, and it still takes time and practice to learn the most effective battle tactics to employ against the wide variety of other competitive squads. However, even though the Autothrusters have only been around a short time, they have shifted the metagame. Turrets aren't as reliable as they formerly were, and other players must consider the impact of Autothrusters and elite TIE interceptor pilots while building their squads.

The Ever-Evolving X-Wing Metagame

As Andrew writes, there's no denying the impact that Autothrusters have made upon the ever-evolving X-Wing metagame. We've seen a tremendous amount of squad-building diversity throughout our ongoing 2015 Regional Championships season, and while much of this is owed to the entry of the game's Scum and Villainy faction, it is also thanks to the boost "arc dodging" strategies have gained from the Autothrusters upgrade.

Now, as we draw near the end of the Regional Championships and look forward to the North American Championships at Gen Con Indy, as well as the upcoming release of the Imperial Raider Expansion Pack, the X-Wing metagame is as diverse and vibrant as it has ever been, and the Autothrusters upgrade and TIE interceptor are playing a major part, led by the talents of ace pilot Soontir Fel. How do you see them being put to use in your area? Will you fly with Soontir Fel and Autothrusters? Will you add Autothrusters to another ship, such as the Rebellion's A-wing or the Scum's StarViper?

Head to our community forums, share your thoughts, and get the intel you need to prep for your next mission!

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