A Preview of the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack for X-Wing™
Rule the skies!
December's announcement of the pack received a fantastically enthusiastic response from the fan community, many of whom were particularly impressed by its introduction of two new Title cards for the TIE defender. Still, the expansion has a lot to offer the TIE bomber, as well, and that is where we start our previews.
Slower and bulkier than other TIEs, the TIE bomber plays quite differently in X-Wing than its cousins the TIE fighter and TIE interceptor. Whereas those ships are better able to weave across the battlefield and dodge enemy fire, the TIE bomber generally has to rely more heavily upon its six points of hull. Similarly, its reduced maneuverability makes it more of a blunt weapon, and clusters of TIE bombers are more likely to focus on launching alpha strikes before plowing into their foes than they are to engage in protracted dogfights.
Still, even as the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack looks to enhance the TIE bomber's traditional strengths, it will also expand the ship's role, making it a more useful craft in those protracted dogfights.
Acing the Alpha Strike
If you are a longtime Star Wars fan, the words "TIE bomber" likely trigger flashbacks to the scene from The Empire Strikes Back in which a pair of TIE bombers pepper an asteroid with proton bombs. And you will likely appreciate the ways that Imperial Veterans encourages similar bombing runs through the introduction of its new pilots and upgrades.
Providing arguably the most impactful support for your alpha-striking bombing runs is the new Long-Range Scanners modification. While it is always a trick to balance your squad point investment in upgrades against the purchase of more or better ships, the Long-Range Scanners make your life easier by weighing in at zero squad points. The only thing they cost you is the modification slot, meaning that if you equip them to a TIE bomber, you can no longer upgrade that ship with a Hull Upgrade , an Engine Upgrade , or Guidance Chips . In return, however, you gain the ability to acquire a target lock on your first round of play, before any of your ships end up in firing range, and that allows you to enter your first round of combat with both the target lock and focus tokens.
Of course, if you enhance your TIE bomber with a Long-Range Scanner, you will likely want to equip some ordnance and the cost-effective Extra Munitions upgrade. Thus equipped, a Scimitar Squadron Pilot with Concussion Missiles and Seismic Charges might weigh in at a modest twenty-four squad points, meaning you could get four of them into the same squad.
In either case, such a squad would likely charge forward as a group, acquiring target locks on the first round and firing their missiles as soon as they get into range. Then, they would deploy their bombs as they race forward at top speed and acquire new target locks before performing Koiogran-turns to set up their second round of missile fire.
Even if you choose not to build a whole bomber wing devoted to delivering a concussive alpha strike, the Long-Range Scanners upgrade lends itself well to the creation of a threatening flanker. The "Deathfire" build listed above could fly into battle from a flanking position just as easily as it could fly in formation with a trio of other bombers, and because it costs you just twenty-seven squad points, you would still have plenty of room in your squad for a small swarm of TIE fighters, a couple of aces, or a pair of TIE defenders upgraded with either the TIE/D or TIE/x7 Title upgrades.
Your Budget Shuttle
Even as the Long-Range Sensors upgrade plays straight into the TIE bomber's traditional strengths, the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack allows you to explore a range of wildly different bomber playstyles with its new TIE Shuttle upgrade. This zero-cost Title upgrade allows you to equip up to two crew, neither of which can cost more than four squad points. The drawback is that you have to sacrifice all your ordnance slots.
Still, a good number of X-Wing players have made clever use of the TIE bomber in Imperial squads, even without ordnance. They have made frequent appearances in swarms, as players were willing to trade away the extra attack dice and maneuverability they could gain by flying TIE fighters in favor of the greater consistency afforded by the bomber's six hull.
Within such a swarm of TIE bombers, the TIE Shuttle adds a new measure of tactical flexibility, especially through the use of the Tactician upgrade. For just two points, a Tactician transforms the attacks you make with your TIE Shuttle from raw damage potential to damage and control, and a pair of these shuttles can provide your squad a decided advantage against any ace whose actions they can deny.
Meanwhile, while Tacticians may rate among the Empire's top crew options for its TIE Shuttles, they are certainly not the only options. You could get a couple shots out of Darth Vader or chase your opponent's ships with a Saboteur to flip face-up the damage cards your other ships have dealt it. You could also use your TIE Shuttle to support the rest of your squad by crewing it with a Fleet Officer or the Systems Officer from the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack, or both.
Finally, you could simply improve your bomber's combat potential by adding a crew member like the Recon Specialist or Agent Kallus , and a squad that features a bomber with this focus and with the control provided by a pair of Tacticians may provide Imperial players with an entertaining new approach to TIE bomber and swarm tactics.
- Tomax Bren with TIE Shuttle, Crack Shot , Agent Kallus, and Twin Ion Engine Mk. II (26)
- Scimitar Squadron Pilot with TIE Shuttle and Tactician (18)
- Scimitar Squadron Pilot with TIE Shuttle and Tactician (18)
- "Howlrunner" (18)
- Omega Squadron Pilot with Draw Their Fire (18)
Boasting a solid pool of ten attack dice, along with a total of twenty-five hull and shields, this squad excels at barreling straight into combat and loading an enemy ace with stress, and even though those aces often excel at dodging fire, Tomax Bren pretty much guarantees that you will land consistent damage, thanks to his ability to use Crack Shot each and every round.
Return for a Second Pass
With its new ship and upgrade cards, the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack is bringing the TIE bomber around for a second major bombing run, and the possibilities are far more explosive and varied than ever before. Will you acquire target locks with your Long-Range Scanners and then bombard your foes with missiles, torpedoes, and bombs? Will you fly "Deathfire" as a menacing flanker? Will you explore the options afforded your squads by the crew on your TIE Shuttles?
No matter which of the new materials you examine, you will find that they also cast new light upon existing pilots and upgrades. For example, the Gamma Squadron Veteran's elite pilot talent slot and relatively low squad-point cost makes it an excellent target for the Adrenaline Rush upgrade found in the TIE Bomber Expansion Pack. Equipped with Adrenaline Rush, Long-Range Sensors, Extra Munitions, and some ordnance, a Gamma Squadron Veteran can easily fire off a series of punishing bombing runs in quick succession.
Get ready to load your bombers with new tricks when Imperial Veterans hits the shelves. Until then, keep watching your scanners for signs of more X-Wing activity, including a look at the new TIE defender pilots and upgrades!