Both of these ships are fantastic for different reasons. The TIE Defender reached amazing utility with the release of Imperial Veterans whilst the TIE/SF Fighter has been a staple in a lot of top performing Imperial squads around the world. Why should you include them in your squad though? Read on!
After taking a long break from X-Wing, I finally had a chance to have a game with my son. We're both casual players and I decided to grab out one of my favourite squads, the triple TIE/D. This is what I discovered....
In part 2 of the 2016 Worlds Squads, we looked at a classic 'Rebel Regen' squad. If there is one formula for the Empire that is tried and tested, look no further than the headliner upgrade, Emperor Palpatine. When combined with the many different pilots available in various TIE's, the ability to change a dice each turn can literally be game changing. It is no surprise, then, that "Palp Aces" made it this far during the 2016 Worlds.
Duncan Howard - 2016 X-Wing Top 4
Despite its ubiquity, Palp Aces is probably one of the simpler squads I've looked at so far, but that takes absolutely nothing away from the lethality of the list. I use the word simple purely because there isn't as much going on in the way of upgrade cards. Don't confuse less complex with less effective, however, because it simply isn't the case.
Let's begin with the heart of the squad, the Lambda Class Shuttle. The Space Cow, as it is affectionately known across most X-wing circles, is the optimal carrier of choice for the Emperor. With a good chunk of shields and hull points, he certainly takes the bulk of an enemy squadron to take down, and it's not difficult to see why they would focus all of their fire on that task. The ability to change a red die to a critical hit at the right time is a devastating effect. Equally so when Omega Leader or Vessery survive thanks to a blank dice turning into an evade, saving their evade token, which in turn equates to Juke activating and destroying a ship.
Of course, the real skill with the shuttle is knowing when to commit. It can be used to joust with the opponent and attempt to utilise its 3 red dice for at least two turns of fire before having to attempt the slow turn around to re-engage. By that point, however, it's probably already dead, or the opponent's pilots are sitting on its slow tail eating away. Alternatively, it can be deployed to ensure the enemy has to give chase, allowing a few turns of cat and mouse hoping the 'aces' will inflict some much-needed damage. All the while placing target locks on anything Vessery will be going after.
Sensor Jammer, of course, is a welcome addition to the shuttle. By turning one of the attacker's hits to a focus, it really forces them to spend it in order to dish out the heavy damage. The great thing about this card as well: it isn't a 'once per round' effect, but rather 'when defending'. Combined with Palpatine's dice modification skill, it can be rather tanky. But let's be honest, you really want to be using it for critical hits.
Omega Leader's pilot ability is incredible and perhaps a little easy to overlook. It's not until you are attacking or defending against the First Order pilot when the sudden realisation dawns upon you that all of those points you spent on dice-modifying upgrades (Predator, Lone Wolf, Autothrusters, etc), and even that shiny target lock, are wasted. He becomes a thorn in the side that just won't go away and although his damage output isn't ridiculous, it's the 'death by a thousand cuts' principle that rings true. Those tiny stings of 1-2 hits each turn add up.
Juke is a wonderful elite pilot talent for Omega Leader. Increasing his dice variance by tinkering with the opponent's green dice results always hurts. With Comm Relay, you can be sure that the very first turn action will indeed be an evade. From there on, its primary goal is to get a target lock onto something dangerous for the glorious TIE Defender wingman to hunt down.
Now add Palpatine into the mix and even more devastation follows.
When ran in this combination, Colonel Vessery is incredibly durable. The infamous TIE/x7 title feeds him evade tokens all day, and when combined with Juke, you're adding in the dice variation mechanic once again and forcing the opponent to choose between spending a focus token or not. Whilst at pilot skill 6, it's not often the best way to utilise this combination (i.e - you may need to spend the evade token to ensure he survives a barrage), it still has the ability to demand attention.
Whilst Omega Leader and the shuttle are spreading target locks around, Vessery directly benefits, increasing his accuracy and ensuring consistent damage. From a defensive point of view, 3 green dice and an evade token, further with Palpatine's dark glances, you can be assured the dear Colonel means business regardless if he's attacking or defending.
Finally, the Twin Ion Engine Mk.II is a fantastic tool to shed any stress tokens, but it also opens up the Defender dial a little more. Before the Imperial Veterans expansion, you'd be hesitant to perform a red 1-turn or 2-turn for example; but with the engine, these problems are all but gone, allowing the next manoeuvre to be a stress-shedding one. The great thing about Vessery is that he can still inflict serious amounts of damage and modify dice even when he does carry a stress token.
So there you have it, the third Top 4 list I've reviewed and all with very different mechanics. So far, each faction has been represented. 'Palp Aces' seems to not only be extremely popular, but steadfast as well. If anything, it continues to evolve while Fantasy Flight drops expansion after expansion.
How would you combat this squad? Sink everything into removing the shuttle? Corner an Ace and hope for the best? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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I'm facing off against Mike and his Scum goodness with my triple TIE Defender build.
When recently exploring the FFG battle report forums, I stumbled across Squad Benchmark. This simulator pits your custom squad against an AI to simulate a game of X-wing, and although there are some tiny annoyances, it beats not having a game at all.
Of course the first list I immediately tried with was the Triple Defenders squad that I've become a big fan of. The amount of control the squad dictates on enemies is amazing and it is enjoyable to fly: boredom hasn't set in as yet after flying it half a dozen games back to back.
So far on Squad Benchmark I've played Brobots going 2-1, Palp Aces 1-1, TIE Swarm 1-0 and several other notorious builds. Of course, some of this can be discounted, because it is battling against AI. However, it does illustrate the fact that we have another weapon to continually sharpen our X-wing swords, which is great news for all. It could also serve as yet another resource for beginners looking to squeeze in an extra game against some of the better builds.
For anyone interested here is a link to a recent game involving the dreaded Brobots which demonstrates the capability of the squad nicely - or, my extreme luck.
Thanks for reading.
Hardcore war gamer at heart and a huge fan of tabletop games. I use any excuse to get my family involved. Join me as I play and review games while trying not to epically fail.