X-Wing™ 101: Imperial Veterans
Guest Writer Zach Bunn Offers an Introductory Imperial Squad Build
Are you new to X-Wing™? Did you get the Core Set, fall in love with the game's fast-paced dogfights, and now you're looking to take your next step? Or maybe you've seen others play it, and you've wondered what it would take for you to play the game at the level you'd enjoy?
If you've answered "yes" to any of these questions—or you're looking to grow your local player community—then we welcome you to our X-Wing™ 101 series of articles!
In our X-Wing™ 101 articles, we turn to different members of the fan community and ask them, "If your friend was interested in getting into X-Wing for 101 USD, what sort of squad would you recommend building? What purchases would you recommend?"
Today, we put the question to Zach Bunn, a multiple X-Wing Regional winner and founding member of Team Covenant. As an avid tournament player and a fan of the Empire, Zach offers a squad that aspiring Imperial players can throw together on a tight budget and still fly to great effect.
Welcome to the Imperial Academy
When I was first asked to contribute to the X-Wing 101 series, I knew exactly what I wanted to attempt. Could I build an X-Wing squad for just $101 that I would feel comfortable taking to a tournament? I decided the best way to approach the challenge was to focus on a single faction and—like any good citizen of the Empire—I picked Imperial as my faction.
Imperial ships tend to have less hull and shields than their Rebel and Scum counterparts, but they gain increased agility and mobility in exchange. This makes them particularly apt at two cornerstones of X-Wing: swarms and aces. Their mobility makes Imperial swarms a work of art, as you might expect from a squadron of TIE fighters. Aces, on the other hand, rely on high pilot skill values, and their ships are generally filled to the brim with upgrades. Legendary pilots like Darth Vader and Soontir Fel fill the upper ranks of the Empire. These aces pose serious threats and sometimes seem impossible to hit!
I started my journey by looking at which Imperial aces I could put together on a budget. Very quickly, I realized that most of the typical aces, like the previously mentioned Soontir Fel and Darth Vader, required several expansions to build for the top tiers of tournament play. So if not aces, how about swarm? The reality is you can actually build a pretty good swarm for $101. But I’m not prone to flying swarms, so I was looking for another route.
What else could the Empire offer on a budget?
I decided to take a look at every Imperial ship, and after hours of puzzling together the pieces, it became clear that the best place to go after a Core Set was the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack.
This expansion is great for a number of reasons. Not only does it have a lot of great pilots and upgrades, but the TIE defender is the perfect ship for the aspiring Imperial pilot. It doesn’t quite fly like a traditional ace, but it gets close and is one of the most well-rounded ships the Imperials have. It also doesn’t require too much in the way of upgrades to be a great ship. This means I can field a highly effective ship without needing many expansions.
The only problem with using Imperial Veterans at the core of my squad is that it only comes with a single TIE defender, so the next addition to my buy list was the TIE Defender Expansion Pack. This expansion offers a suite of additional defender pilots along with great upgrades. As I started constructing a list from a Core Set, Imperial Veterans, and a TIE Defender Expansion Pack, every list seemed to want the Push the Limit upgrade.
By the time I decided on this list of products, I all but knew the list I was going to construct. After a bit of back and forth on what exactly to include, I built the following list:
Countess Ryad with Push the Limit and TIE/x7 (35 squad points)
I’ve outfitted the Countess with Push the Limit and the TIE/x7 Title. This allows her to get a focus token, evade token, and target lock all in the same turn. The fact that the Countess can acquire a target lock is crucial, as it is also how Colonel Vessery will end up with all three tokens as well. It also allows both ships to use their focus and evade tokens on defense, if needed, and still use their target locks to modify their offense.
Colonel Vessery with TIE/x7 (33 squad points)
The Colonel pairs nicely with the Countess. As I mentioned, he looks to grab a free target lock each turn—assuming Countess Ryad has her own target lock. His unique pilot ability, along with the evade token he grabs from the TIE/x7 Title, means he should also start combat with a focus token, evade token, and target lock. This makes both defenders difficult to hit and lethal enemies.
"Mauler Mithel" (17 squad points)
"Mauler Mithel" is a fantastic flanker. He’s able to put out enough offense that your opponent can’t just ignore him, but they also can’t turn their entire squad to face him. While he poses an offensive threat, don’t be reckless with Mithel. A single bad roll can easily mean the end of his duty!
Black Squadron Pilot with Crack Shot (15 squad points)
The Black Squadron Pilot is effective for blocking enemy ships and soaking enemy attacks. You should welcome any attack directed against this ship, but that doesn't mean you should look to give free attacks to your opponent. You can use Crack Shot early to score a quick damage, but leaving it on your Black Squadron Pilot makes him a more attractive target for enemy attacks.
Playing the List
Some ships, like a Lambda-class shuttle with Emperor Palpatine on it, are just asking to be attacked first. One of the key decisions this list forces on your opponent is to decide where to attack first. The truth, though, is that there isn’t a great option!
Your opponent may attempt to create a tempo advantage by going after your weaker ships, the TIE fighters. If they do this, they risk ending up in a position at the end of a game where they don’t have enough dice to actually deal damage to your TIE defenders. If they choose to go after the defenders, this buys you significant time with the TIE fighters, so use it wisely!
This list seeks to play defensively and, ultimately, kite an opponent based on the targets they choose. Against ships with higher pilot skill values, it may be tempting to save your focus tokens for offense by taking a damage or two, but don’t do it!
I do not recommend trading damage on your ships for a chance at doing damage to an opponent later in the round. Against lower pilot skill ships, don’t be afraid to do less damage and save your focus for defense.
In the early parts of each game, you want to focus fire when possible. This list can deal a lot of damage quickly, particularly to less agile targets like a VCX-100 or Lambda-class shuttle. There are few ships that the TIE defenders can’t take on at the end of the game, either as a pair or even one-on-one. Be wary of enemy ships that you might not be able to take out with diminished firepower, such as particularly agile aces like Soontir Fel or Poe Dameron .
The goal of this list is to function as a jumping off point for aspiring Imperial players that reinforces the fundamental strengths of the faction.
After a few games, you’ll start to learn how to use its ships to create and exploit combat advantages. If you’re looking to add to this list or modify it, I’d take a look at the Imperial Aces, TIE/fo fighter, and Inquisitor’s TIE Expansion Packs. I always recommend playing ships you’re excited about, though, so that is another route for what to add next!
Best of luck and and welcome to the Academy!
Your Greatest Battles Are Yet to Come!
With its myriad ships, pilots, and upgrades, the X-Wing Miniatures Game is nearly as rich and diverse as the Star Wars universe itself. So if you're looking to get into the game—or you've already picked up the Core Set and are looking to take that next step—it's natural to want a guide.
Zach's Imperial list represents just one of many possible directions. In future X-Wing 101 articles, we'll find advice for aspiring Rebels and crime lords, as well. We'll also run across a wide range of opinions about what makes the game shine and what ships might help you best enjoy its various strengths.
Ultimately, we believe the best step for you to take after the Core Set is whichever one will give you the greatest enjoyment of the game. What that step may be, however, will vary from player to player, and we hope our X-Wing 101 articles may help you determine which step best suits you. So keep your eyes open for more X-Wing 101 articles and other X-Wing news, and in the meantime, you can always find more advice on our X-Wing community forums.
Remember: your greatest battles are yet to come!