I've played with the TIE/D title much more than the TIE/x7. I'm of the camp that I'd rather be inflicting more damage than dodging. Seemingly ironic is the fact the ship is titled 'Defender'. I ran a very simple build against my son which I've had a dozen or so games experience with before, 3 x Delta Squadron Pilots, 2 x Ion Cannons, a single tractor beam and all the ships have the Twin Ion Engine MKII upgrade unlocking further green manoeuvres for the squad.
It's hardly aeronautical science to work out what this squad is going to do. It approaches, tractor beams you, ion cannons you, whilst the primary fire all take off chunks as well. 4K or chase, and repeat all whilst depending on a focus token and 3 green dice for defence. It does however have its glaring weaknesses and these became so obvious today playing against my son.
He was running Quickdraw, Backdraft, and Soontir Fel. If I was a betting man, on paper I would put my money on my sons squad. If two equal players were playing one another, then any day of the week I would think the higher pilot skilled ships would win the fight. Firstly, my son isn't as experienced as I, and secondly he was only paying attention to our game mildly as an episode of Ninjago was on the TV. Naturally I took full advantage of this!
I kept my Defenders in a loose group, on the initial pass I had my tractor beam TIE Defender on 2 hull points remaining. Oh dear. I focussed everything on Backdraft as to avoid Quickdraw getting another 'free' shot off on me. I returned the favour and although he didn't receive any tokens for my efforts, he lost 2-3 shields. Here I was suddenly thinking, as a long time advocate of the TIE Defender, when compared to a similarly costed chassis of the TIE/SF, I was struggling to come up with a solid reason to fly them any more (outside of the rule of cool that is.)
I then got the hell out of dodge and pushed my tractor beam Defender to maximum speed whilst a wing mate covered his exit. My shooting was below average thanks to fickle dice which is another problem of this squad. You normally spend the focus token on those green dice and have nothing left to modify the two attacks with which is disheartening especially when you roll those eye balls. Those eye balls tend to bore right into your soul when you know you have nothing to change them with. When compared to a TIE/SF with a Fire-Control System you simply don't have to worry about dice modification as much, oh and we're still way under the 30 points for a entry level TIE/D chassis.
Backdraft was the first ship to come crashing down but not before I had two of my Defenders reaching for the black tape to patch up wounded ships. I attacked Quickdraw and was lucky enough to completely kill the shields off netting only a single extra attack which still stung. An ion token however allowed me to zoom in taking no fire and provide the killing blow.
I still can't help but feel though the time (for me) of the TIE/D is coming to a close. From a points perspective there is a solid argument that the TIE/SF has a much greater capability than the TIE Defender. It's cheaper, it can practically have the same defence dice with a 2-point upgrade (Lightweight Frame) and still be under the 30-point entry cost of the Delta Squadron Pilot which has less pilot skill. I do love the fact that the TIE/D title exists allowing it to shoot some extra weapons, but in my case it just means missing more. Would I rather just the opportunity to shoot out the back? Maybe. Also, it's no surprise that the recently released TIE/SF has a superior movement dial. Now, I can hear everyone immediately cry 'White 4K' or something along those lines. To which I answer, if you can shoot out your rear then you don't often need to turn around. Besides, the barrel roll on the TIE/SF makes an incredible difference in swinging the rear arc into a position to have shots on target.
For 34 points, which would you rather?
Delta Squadron Pilot - TIE/D, Ion Cannon, Twin Ion Engine MKII
Backdraft - Veteran Instincts, Special Ops Training, Fire Control System, Lightweight Frame, Sensor Cluster/Weapons Guidance
I guess in a way similar to the fact that the ARC-170 has largely overshadowed the B-Wing, perhaps the TIE/SF has done the same to the TIE Defender.
Either way, I'm looking forward to more games of X-Wing in the near future. Thanks for reading!