25 April 2016 | X-Wing

Defend the Empire

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

It has often been said that the best defense is a strong offense, and there are few X-Wing starfighters with more offensive potential than the TIE defender.

At the time of its introduction to the Galactic Civil War, the Galactic Empire's TIE defender was arguably the galaxy's greatest starfighter. And with three attack, three agility, three shields, and three hull, the TIE defender is just as fearsome in X-Wing.

In both the Galactic Civil War and in X-Wing, however, the TIE defender has been hindered by a single drawback—the high cost of its introduction into a squadron. The addition of shields, a hyperdrive, and improved weapons, along with all the other upgrades the TIE defender enjoyed over other TIE models, raised the cost of its production high enough that it never saw widespread use. Likewise, the fighter's squad-point cost has historically limited its use in X-Wing.

While nothing can be done to impact the fighter's use in a Civil War that concluded a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, much can—and will—be done for its use in X-Wing. Soon, with the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack, everything changes.

A 360-degree view of the TIE defender from the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack.

Reinventing the TIE Defender

Perhaps the most noticeable addition to the TIE defender's repertoire are the two new TIE Defender only Title upgrades, the TIE/x7 and TIE/D . These were revealed in the announcement of Imperial Veterans, but both of them deserve more attention here.

Between the two of these Title upgrades, they fairly reinvent the TIE defender, dividing the ship's singular identity into two new identities. The TIE/x7 strips down the TIE defender's standard upgrade bar, but transforms it into a sleeker, faster, primary weapon-focused dogfighter. And the TIE/D Title goes in roughly the opposite route, re-emphasizing the ship's ability to equip cannon upgrades.

The TIE/x7

At the cost of your missile and cannon upgrade slots, the TIE/x7 Title gives your TIE defender a free evade token every turn that you perform a three-, four-, or five-speed maneuver. Notably, the Title does not allow you to perform a free evade action; it simply assigns the token to your ship, meaning it functions even when your ship is stressed. That is more than action economy; that is a fundamental revision of the TIE defender's very role: Fly fast; get slippery.

The TIE defender's maneuver dial

TIE defender pilots have long wanted to fly fast. Their speed "3" turns are white where their low-speed turns are red, and their signature speed "4" Koiogran-turn is also white. Accordingly, the TIE defender's maneuver dial has lent the ship to flanking maneuvers, and it has not been uncommon to see TIE defenders slotted into squadrons that also feature mini-swarms or other, larger ships that might draw fire away from the defender. With the TIE/x7, you find more incentive to fly straight at your foes.

In fact, longtime X-Wing players often refer to the "jousting value" of a given ship, meaning the raw efficiency of its attack, agility, hull, and shield values when compared to the ship's squad point cost and a valuation of the maneuverability of its dial. With the TIE/x7 Title, the TIE defender vaults to the top of the list not only for its combat potential but also for raw efficiency.

You can run a single Delta Squadron Pilot with the TIE/x7 at just twenty-eight squad points, or you can run a pair of Glaive Squadron Pilots with the TIE/x7 Title and the elite pilot talent Adaptability for just sixty-four squad points. Thanks to the TIE/x7 upgrade, you would even have enough squad points remaining to slap the Calculation , Twin Ion Engine Mk. II , and TIE/x7 upgrades onto a Maarek Stele , who could very easily end up spending each round of combat firing at an enemy ship that has already had its shields stripped by his wingmates' attacks.

The TIE/D

On the other hand, the TIE/D adds a new sheen to the ugprade slots the TIE/x7 abandons. By permitting your TIE defender pilots to fire twice each round—once with an equipped cannon of three or fewer squad points and once with a primary weapon—the TIE/D Title encourages you to explore what each of the low-cost cannons can add to your squad.

Currently, there are three different cannons the TIE/D can fire in combination with its primary weapons, the Tractor Beam , Flechette Cannon , and Ion Cannon . None of them can deal more than a single point of damage, and this has limited their use among competitive players, especially on the TIE defender which already boasts a potent primary attack.

It is hard to sacrifice a shot at three or four damage in favor of the control provided by punishing your target with stress or ion tokens, but the TIE/D Title means you no longer have to sacrifice that primary weapon attack. Instead, firing your cannon just makes your primary weapon attack better; if your opponent spends any combat tokens to avoid your cannon fire, those tokens are no longer available to defend against your primary weapon.

A Glaive Squadron TIE/D pilot fires its Ion Cannon at Range "1" at an A-wing pilot who has used Push the Limit to get both a focus and an evade token. The TIE defender pilot rolls two hits, and the A-wing pilot rolls one eyeball. Now, the A-wing pilot has a difficult decision to make. He can spend both his focus and evade tokens to avoid being ionized, in which case he has no defense tokens against the TIE defender's modified Range "1" shot with its primary weapon. Alternatively, he can save his defense tokens and accept the ion token, in which case he won't be able to clear his stress next turn, and the TIE defender pilot knows he can whip around with his white speed "4" Koiogran-turn to set up his next shot.

Simultaneously, the TIE/D Title gives your TIE defender the freedom to limit your enemy's ships' maneuverability and actions by stressing them, ionizing them, or locking onto them with your Tractor Beam. Add an elite pilot talent like Lone Wolf , Marksmanship , or Predator , and you increase your chances of hitting with both your TIE defender's cannon and primary attack.

For example, no opponent is going to want to see you flying Imperial ace Maarek Stele in a TIE defender outfitted with the TIE/D Title, an Ion Cannon, and the Marksmanship elite pilot talent. Even at forty-one squad points, Maarek is well worth the investment, as he can easily cripple most ships in a single round of concentrated fire.

Alternatively, the TIE/D Title presents you with a singular opportunity to take advantage of the reduced agility an enemy ship suffers when you hit it with your Tractor Beam, as it guarantees you a follow-up shot. And given the fact that a Tractor Beam may allow your TIE defender to reposition an enemy ship onto an asteroid and deny it its shot, the higher you can get your ace's pilot skill, the better.

You might fly Rexler Brath with Veteran Instincts , the TIE/D Title, and a Tractor Beam, then accompany him with Maarek Stele, Veteran Instincts, TIE/D, and another Tractor Beam. Although you can only reposition an enemy small-base ship the first time you assign it a tractor beam token, flying these pilots together increases your chances of catching your opponents off-guard, and they still leave you twenty-four squad points that you can use to add a couple of TIE fighters, a Lambda-class shuttle, or a flanker.

Getting the Most from Your TIE Defender

Of course, the TIE defender offers more than just its new Titles, and you need skillful pilots to be able to get the most from your fighters. To that end, Imperial Veterans introduces both the Glaive Squadron Pilot and a new version of Maarek Stele. It also gives us Countess Ryad , who arrives eager to take advantage of the defender's notorious Koiogran-turn. In fact, she appears so eager to get behind her foes and pursue them across the battlefield that she can execute a Koiogran-turn anytime she reveals a straight maneuver.

Not only does this mean that Countess Ryad can perform Koiogran-turns at speeds "2" through "5," but it means that all her Koiogran-turns are green. Not only is she able to use the maneuver to catch her foes off-guard, but she can perform it so cleanly as to shed stress, meaning that she may be one of the few TIE defender pilots to benefit from Push the Limit. Equipped with Push the Limit, the TIE/x7 Title, and the Twin Ion Engine Mk. II upgrade, Countess Ryad is a potent adversary, capable of flying straight at a cluster of foes, withstanding their fire, hammering their ships with her primary weapons, and then racing past them on a speed "2," "3," "4," or "5" green Koiogran-turn to shed her stress, gain an evade token, and pursue her foes from behind their ranks and outside their firing arcs.

Day of the Defender

It is too late to change the number of TIE defenders that flew during the Galactic Civil War, but it is not too late to fly more of these astonishing fighters in your X-Wing battles. Pre-order your copy of the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack from your local retailer today!

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