15 August 2017 | X-Wing


A Preview of the Guns for Hire Expansion Pack for X-Wing™

With its new paint schemes, ship cards, and upgrades, the Guns for Hire Expansion Pack ensures your Scum faction StarVipers and Kihraxz fighters will soon enjoy an all-new look on your table and in your X-Wing battles.

As we already learned from the expansion's announcement, many of the changes owe to the introduction of two new Title upgrades, one for each ship—the StarViper Mk. II and the Vaksai .

By reducing the number of squad points you need to commit to your StarVipers and Kihraxz fighters, these Titles add to their versatility, affording you more space to upgrade them, select more powerful pilots, and pair them with a greater number of wingmates. But they don't just increase your fighters' versatility within your squadrons; they increase the versatility of the individual ships themselves.

In our last preview, we explored some of the ways the StarViper Mk. II Title makes the StarViper a trickier and deadlier starfighter. The new barrel roll it forces upon the ship makes it harder to master, but it makes the fighter's maneuvers even harder to predict.

We also got a glimpse of how the Vaksai Title lends new customization options to the Kihraxz fighter, and fans in our community forums responded with a field day's worth of theorycrafting new ship and squadron builds. Accordingly, we'll continue this theorycrafting in today's article, even as we look at more of the new Kihraxz fighter pilots and upgrades.

Build a Better Starfighter

The Vaksai Title is something of a conundrum. Unlike the StarViper Mk. II Title, which applies a flat three-point reduction, the Vaksai Title starts at zero points and only gains squad-point value as you load your ship with upgrades. The more upgrades you add to your Kihraxz fighter, the greater the squad-point value your Vaksai Title offers.

Traditional wisdom, however, warns us against spending too much time—and too many squad points—loading our ships with upgrades.

At the end of the day, X-Wing is a game about lining up shots, aiming, and firing, and it behooves us to throw as many attack dice as we can reasonably modify toward success. At the same time, we want to defend against our opponents attacks with as many points of agility, hull, and shields as we can. Squad points spent on upgrades are traditionally less valuable than points spent on ships, then, because the attack and defense bonuses associated with upgrades tend to be more expensive than those associated with the ships themselves.

A 360-degree view of the Kihraxz fighter from Guns for Hire.

Accordingly, many of the game's most successful squadrons have featured relatively low investments on upgrades. This has been true from the time that TIE swarms dominated the game's early stages through the Attanni Mindlink synergies that have formed the base of many recent Scum squadrons featuring fewer than ten total squad points invested in upgrades.

Moreover, as three-time World Champion Paul Heaver has noted in his Turn Zero articles, upgrades can complicate games, and not always in a good way. In his article, "Assembling Your Squadron," Paul reminded us that upgrades are only worth their points if you make good use of them. If you forget their abilities or cannot coordinate them with all the other tricks in your squadron, the points you invest in those upgrades are points you fail to apply toward more powerful or defensible starships.

Loading Viktor Hel with Fearlessness , Ion Pulse Missiles , Scavenger Crane , Stealth Device , Vectored Thrusters , and an Engine Upgrade may make your Vaksai Title worth a total of six squad-points, but the ship will still consume more than a third of your available squad points.

The trick with the Vaksai, then, is to make sure every upgrade is carrying its weight. If they're not making valuable contributions to your overall strategy, you may even be better off avoiding upgrades that the Title can reduce to zero squad points—like a set of XX-23 S-thread Tracers or the Munitions Failsafe —and leaving those slots open, rather than filling them just because you can. The risk is that you start flying and attacking differently just because you can, and a ship that wants to deal damage does not want to fire its XX-23 S-thread Tracers.

The real power of the Vaksai is not the discount it offers you, but the ability to better customize your fighter for the role you want it to play in your squadron.

Perhaps you want to transform Talonbane Cobra into a late-game arc-dodging ace like Soontir Fel or Corran Horn . The Vaksai Title makes this a viable option by allowing you to outfit Talonbane's ship with Push the Limit , Ion Dischargers , Vectored Thrusters, Engine Upgrade, and Pulsed Ray Shield .

The fact that the Title grants you a five-point discount on the upgrades is secondary to the fact that the Title allows you to transform the way Talonbane can fly.

As another example, if you use the Vaksai Title to load Graz the Hunter , the other ace from the Kihraxz Fighter Expansion Pack, with Harpoon Missiles , Guidance Chips , Munitions Failsafe, and Glitterstim , you'll end up with a wildly different ship and squadron than if you had equipped the pilot with Vectored Thrusters, Stealth Device, Hull Upgrade , and Scavenger Crane.

What Can You Do with Three Modifications?

So what can you do with three modifications? That's the question the Vaksai begs of you, and it can be answered in any number of ways.

Returning momentarily to Paul Heaver's squad building advice, we might consider our upgrades in terms of shoring up our squadron's defenses or maximizing its offensive potential.

Defensively, we can use Stealth Device to give our Kihraxz fighter an extra point of agility, and if the ship is hit and loses its Stealth Device, we can use a Scavenger Crane to recover it. We can use Vectored Thrusters and Engine Upgrade in combination to gain extra positional advantages after executing a maneuver, and because the Engine Upgrade adds the boost icon to the ship's action bar, it also allows us to upgrade our Vaksai with a set of Autothrusters , making it all the more difficult to hit.

With his focus token and Autothrusters, Graz the Hunter can convert this unfortunate roll into enough defense to completely evade the Upsilon-class shuttle's four hits.

Alternatively, we can simply opt for a Pulsed Ray Shield and Ion Dischargers, then play them on a Black Sun Ace with Fearlessness. The Vaksai Title reduces these upgrades to just two points total, meaning that we could recruit four of these Black Sun Aces into a squadron capable of getting the better of just about any head-on exchange.

Still, we don't need to think of our defenses simply in terms of a single ship's combination of agility, hull, and shields. Viktor Hel defends himself and his wingmates by stressing his opponents whenever he rolls more or less than two defense dice. The threat of this stress may discourage his enemies from attacking him, or it may limit their options in subsequent rounds. Either way, it changes the way your opponents interact with him just as much as another point of agility or shields might.

Similarly, you might trigger the discounted EMP Device on one of your Kihraxz fighters to limit your opponent's ability to fire at the rest of your squadron in the next round.

A Kihraxz fighter discharges its EMP Device to ionize an entire Rebel squadron.

This EMP Device trick might even prove to be one of the ways you increase your Kihraxz fighter's offensive potential, if you use it when the rest of your squadron can take advantage of your opponent's predictable straight "1" maneuvers.

But there are plenty of other ways the Guns for Hire Expansion Pack increases the Kihraxz figher's offensive potential, and not just through the Vaksai Title. It also introduces Captain Jostero , whose unique pilot ability can earn you an extra attack once per round.

Whenever an enemy ship that is not defending against an attack suffers damage, Captain Jostero is ready to pounce. And his ability isn't limited to any given phase. This means it works with Spacetug Tractor Arrays that slam enemies onto asteroids. It works with the splash damage from Assault Missiles . It works with bombs and mines. It works with Feedback Array . And it works with the splash damage assigned by the Harpooned! condition.

Given all the different ways you can trigger Captain Jostero's extra attack, he's likely to find his way into a wide variety of different squadrons, but it's notable that he can even use the Vaksai Title to trigger and modify his own attacks. Outfitted with Predator , Assault Missiles, Glitterstim, Guidance Chips, and a Munitions Failsafe, Captain Jostero can reasonably expect his Assault Missiles to hit any ship he can target lock, meaning he'll be able to deal splash damage to another enemy ship within Range "1," triggering his ability and allowing him to immediately turn his fire upon it.

Customize Your Scum

With all the strange and creative freedoms afforded by the StarViper Mk. II and Vaksai Titles, the Guns for Hire Expansion Pack promises to deliver an abundance of new ways to customize your Scum squadron. And the tremendous range of these options mean there's a greater chance you'll find exactly the ship—and exactly the squadron—that you want to fly.

How will you begin your experimentation? Share your thoughts with the other members of our community forums. Then head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy of the Guns for Hire Expansion Pack (SWX73)!

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