The TIE Defender is an interesting ship, for me it's a draw card because firstly not many people use it and I like to make unpopular things work (or at least attempt to). Secondly it was one of the very first ships I purchased so I have a bit of a soft spot for it. Thirdly in the Star Wars fluff it's perhaps the most formidable and expensive fighter ship in the Imperial Navy. Unfortunately this doesn't quite translate into game mechanics as well as most would like however it is the only ship at time of writing that can perform a white K-turn so that's a bonus.
Currently I've been exclusively using a 'Double D' list utilising the two named pilots that come with the expansion, that is Rexler Brath and of course Colonel Vessery.
I find Rexler Brath the least complex of the two so I'll start with him. I outfit him with the heavy laser cannon meaning he'll be always throwing 4 attack dice regardless of range. Combined with Predator for the elite pilot skill then he's consistently punching out some quality damage and simply can't be taken lightly. Just in a game last night I had he was dropping a headhunter every turn until I flew like a gumby and ruined my chances! I've also stuck an engine upgrade onto him for greater movement and as well as getting tricky to reposition after a K-turn making it a little more difficult to anticipate his movements. His text box ability comes in handy when facing down big ships or things with a few hit points.
Colonel Vessery on the other hand I'm starting to feel just doesn't fit my play style however much more playing to be done. Ion Cannon, Engine Upgrade and Cluster Missiles. Firstly the Cluster missiles I'm not sold on, he really needs Brath to get a target lock on his target allowing Vessery super accuracy with his payload however this means that Brath isn't focusing which is a shame. Secondly I'm not super keen on the range of the Cluster Missiles, I believe TIE Defenders should be at range 3 all game. They just can't afford to get in close and personal because chances are this list will always be going up against more than 2 ships. Ion cannon is great for dictating movement and combined with Lone Wolf there is a good chance that with a focus token his attacks are ringing true. This brings up some other options for the Elite Pilot Skill, firstly Outmaneuver for the inevitable K-turn and I think out of the two Vessery is the 'flanker'. I've also however been intrigued with putting Relentless onto Vessery. This helps quite a bit I feel as he's not sporting a 4 dice weapon so this essentially guarantees some splash damage even from the Ion Cannon helping the Imperial cause in a huge way. Of course there comes a problem if Brath is nearby to the target and he cops friendly fire, not fun on such fragile ships.
Either way if you have thoughts, suggestions or anything please comment away!
List is here: