I’ll Show You the Power of the Dark Side!

Although I am mainly a Rebel and Scum player, I have invested in a few Imperial ships (mainly for specific upgrade cards, but some were to play in a squad like the Tie Phantom and some were just because (I had two Tie Fighters in the core set so it seemed only fitting to splash out £10 and get Howlrunner and Backstabber too!))

My main issue with Imperials is only about 10% of it seems to work in 100 point games. Palp aces is a thing. Three arc-dodging aces is a thing (a mix of Soontir Fel, The Inquisitor, Darth Vader and possibly Whisper or Omega Leader) and Imperial Veterans (usually Colonel Vessery and crack shot Tomax Bren.) Tie swarms aren’t as common but are still effective. But the thing is, you very rarely see anything else.

So I decided to have a ‘what the hell’ match with James. He let me pick an amount of points, and he agreed to match it. I flew every Imperial ship I had, including my favourite pilots and loadouts on Slave 1 and the the Tie Bomber that are too costly to be viable in competitive play, and worked out I needed 420 points. After some last minute tweaks I ended up at 419 points.

We went to York Garrison Wargames for the first time to try out the club.
My list compromised of:

Darth Vader: Tie/x1, Advanced Targeting Computer, Veteran Instincts, Engine Upgrade, Proton Rockets (38 points)
Boba Fett: Slave 1, Extra Munitions, Heavy Laser Cannon, Homing Missiles, Proton Bombs, Navigator, Engine Upgrade, Veteran Instincts (66 points)
Soontir Fel: Royal Guard Tie, Push the Limit, Autothrusters, Stealth Device (35 points)
Whisper: Advanced Cloaking Device, Fire-Control System, Veteran Instincts, Intelligence Agent (40 points)
Captain Kagi: Reinforced Deflectors, Heavy Laser Cannon (37 points)
Howlrunner: Swarm Tactics, Shield Upgrade (24 points)
Omega Leader: Comm Relay, Juke, Stealth Device (29 points)
The Inquisitor: Push the Limit, Concussion Missiles, Tie/v1, Autothrusters (35 points)
Major Rhymer: Extra Munitions, Proton Torpedoes, Assault Missiles, Deadeye, Proximity Mines, Guidance Chips (45 points)
2x Black Squadron Pilot: Crack Shot (15 points each)
2x Epsilon Squadron pilot: Weapons Guidance, Hull Upgrade (20 points each)

I knew James owns 6 Kihraxz fighters and 5 Protectorate starfighters, so I was prepared for a swarm of red dice. My biggest fear was Fenn Rau with Fearlessness, Concord Dawn Protector and Stealth Device. That thing is hard to hit, but also I only had two ships at a higher pilot skill and two fragile ships with the same pilot skill, so if he decided to give away initiative it could end up with Fenn Rau in Range 1 of Soontir or Whisper without a cloak token potentially taking 5 damage. I wasn’t too far off the mark- James decided to give his new Wave 9 ships a try, and I was up against Moralo Eval with a Heavy Laser Cannon, Asaji Ventress in the Shadow Caster ready to dish out stress, 6 Kihraxz fighters including Talonbane Cobra and Graz the Hunter, and 5 Protectorate starfighters including the 3 named pilots.

Setup I had to consider carefully. I had several ships that need to arc dodge and would just melt in a joust. I also wanted to protect Major Ryhmer, Howlrunner and ideally Boba Fett from target locks with Captain Kagi to try and keep them on the table longer. I new I had to spread my aces out otherwise I would get swarmed and my ships would be popped one by one (although maybe not as quickly as Rebel ships due to the fiddly nature of Imperial aces.) James let me decide initiative so I gave it away in order to arc dodge effectively.

img_0168Setup complete and ready to go. Darth Vader and Soontir Fel are in the bottom left (not pictured)

I had 4 ships to place first, so I began to build my mini swarm with my first 4 ships. James answered with two Protectorate starfighters, and Moralo Eval ready to bear down on the swarm. He placed a wing of Kihraxz fighters at the other side of the board, keeping his options open. I reinforced the swarm with Major Rymer, Howlrunner and Captain Kagi. I placed my aces to the left to deal with the Kihraxz fighters (Darth and Soontir to the far left, the other three near the middle), and James placed Asaji Ventress in the middle of the board, and reinforced the Protectorate starfighters with aces (including the dreaded Fenn Rau!), and I placed Boba Fett to reinforce the Tie Swarm. I was a little concerned about my aces of the left flank, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get behind the Kihraxz fighters, but that was a job for later!

img_0169Start of combat phase on turn 1

Turn one saw shots fired in the combat phase. The Kihraxz fighters had moved slowly, but Asaji moved faster and my aces in the middle of the board began to get in position. My mini swarm moved in, but because Captain Kagi moves so late, he was unable to stop a target lock on a Tie Fighter. Boba did a k-turn, ready to drop a bomb the next round.
All of the combat was on the right side of the board (this was very much a game of two flanks.) Using Deadeye and a focus token, Major Rymer fired a well placed Assault Missiles at one of the Protectorate starfighters, damaging another and Moralo Eval in the process. There were quite a few ships with shots, and by the end of the combat phase I’d lost a Tie Fighter, and James had lost the Protectorate starfighter that had been hit by the Assault Missiles. Moralo Eval had also had his shields chipped at, with help from a Crack Shot, Swarm Tactics and Howlrunner’s ability.

During the second round, the left flank began to move closer together. I bumped Vader into Soontir Fel, and he would loose a shield to a range 3 pot shot from a Kihraxz for this. Asaji Ventress moved closer and moved her firing arc to her left. Whisper, Omega Leader and The Inquisitor all lined Asaji in their sights. Unfortunately, Whisper ended up in the mobile firing arc, which ended up giving Whisper a stress token, so no free cloak later on. Fortunately, the dice were in my favour, and Whisper evaded the attack, whereas I managed to remove the shields from Asaji Ventress. On the right flank, Boba Fett dropped a Proton Bomb, and managed to deal faceup damage cards to three Protectorate starfighters, before moving and getting a shot in with his rear firing arc. Major Rymer managed to fire a Proton Torpedoes at Moralo Eval, but I split my fire with the ships that had arc between Fenn Rau and Moralo Eval, meaning he was still up at the end of the round. Again, the dice favoured me, and although no ships were destroyed, I had damaged two or three ships to near destruction. James was getting very irritated with Major Rymer at this point, and tried to focus him down, leaving with with a console fire crit and two hull remaining. Captain Kagi was now in position, meaning James couldn’t target lock the ships he wanted, and his blank rolls were useless to him.
However, the right flank was now quite tight, and I had to evaluate my next move quite carefully. I opted to k-turn the Tie Swarm, and get Major Rymer out of the way as best as I could. I did a sharp turn, dropping a Proximity Mine hoping to trip up one of this ships. But while the mine was perfectly placed to trip up any of 3 ships either this turn or next, I forgot Howlrunner was yet to move, and she set it off, destroying her. Whoops! My mini swarm instantly lost some punch!

On the left flank, the Kihraxz fighters closed in, and my aces started to take formation. Whisper cleared the stress from Asaji Ventress (I love how Imperial ships generally have a nice amount of green on the dial), and I started to find my stride with my formation. Omega Leader and Ventress exchanged shots, and Darth Vader lost another shield to a pot shot (he would’ve been dead without his two actions.)
On the right flank, Moralo Eval was destroyed, as well as a Fenn Rau. I took damage split across my ships, but Major Rymer hung on with one hull left and I only lost a Tie Fighter.

img_0172A closeup of the right flank at the start of the combat phase in round 3

img_0173End of combat phase after round 3. James looks sad after heavy losses!

Turn 4, and the game started to focus on the left flank. Whisper, the Inquisitor, Vader and Soontir all ended up at Range 1 of Ventress. Ventress gave Soontir a stress token on top of the one he already had from Push the Limit, which made me concerned for his next round. However, the aces finished off Ventress, and with efficiency from things such as Advanced Cloaking Device and Tie/v1 (as well as some lucky rolls), the aces brushed off the attacks from the Kihraxz fighters. Mopup duty began on the right flank, dealing with two damaged Protectorate starfighters. Quite a successful round for me, and I was enjoying a comfortable lead.

img_0176Combat in turn 4

Round 5, and the aces began to engage the Kihraxz  wing. Whisper and the Inquisitor lined up at Range 1 of a Kihraxz fighter, and destroyed it before it could fire. Boba came round for another pass, and the large ships were ready to fight. Captain Kagi had largely been bumping, but Heavy Laser Cannon with 4 dice meant one or two damage was still getting through. Darth Vader did not survive the round, falling to a good shot with a target lock from Graz the Hunter.

Round 6, and the Protectorate starfighters started to chase down Boba Fett. However, Boba was ready, and was able to drop a Proton bomb which hit both of them, and he was able to finish one off with his rear arc. However, Talonbane, now pilot skill 0 from a crit, finished off Boba. I didn’t know it yet, but this would cost me the game. I thought I was still winning at this point.
The aces swarmed another Kihraxz fighter, and destroyed it. At this point, I was loving the manoeuvrability of the aces. Generally, I couldn’t avoid all of the arcs, but I could make sure I could avoid some and still take a shot, with a nice amount of them at range 1. Abilities such as Soontir’s pilot ability made sure I was never at a disadvantage, still able to defend with tokens even after a boost or barrel roll.

img_0179End of round 6. Down to my aces and my shuttle

At this point, we were running out of time, so played one more round. James was left with one Protectorate starfighter, chasing down Captain Kagi who was slowly heading to support the left flank with his Heavy Laser Cannon. Most of the Kihraxz fighters had done a k-turn, and Whisper and Omega Leader were looking at two firing arcs. I damaged a Kihraxz but didn’t destroy it. The game ended with 5 of my ships on the board (the shuttle just being on half points having taken damage but also got a shield back thanks to Reinforced Deflectors) and 6 of James’s, but I was confident I’d won it as they were all my expensive aces that were still on the table.

We began to tot up the points, but as it happened James had stolen it by 23 points (the cost of the Kihraxz I’d failed to blow up.) It didn’t help I’d sunk 111 points in two ships that weren’t that agile (Boba Fett and Major Rymer) as they hadn’t touched half their ordnance, but they were a lot of fun to fly! Destroying them allowed James to easily rack up points.
The Inquisitor had lost two shields, but Soontir, Omega Leader and Whisper were on full health. The Kihraxz fighters had a lot of firepower and health between them, and it would have been interesting to see where the game would have gone with a bit more time.

Thoughts on the game

The game was a lot of fun. I love Major Rymer with Deadeye and Guidance Chips, but it’s just too easy to pile points in to a crit magnet. Captain Kagi did his job nicely when he got in to range, and helped keep Rymer alive. Boba Fett was my man of the match- the Proton Bombs and Extra Munitions were fantastic, delivering a total of 5 faceup damage cards, and pretty much every turn he took a shot from his rear firing arc. Navigator was only used once though as I got the manoeuvres right each turn, with Navigator merely helping me adjust range on that turn.
The aces were a lot of fun to fly, though they had the higher pilot skill which made it easy to flank their prey. It’s surprising how much ground they can cover with push the limit. I remembered to decloak Whisper consistently (the main problem Tie Phantom pilots face) although one turn I did cause a friendly crash by blocking with my decloak.

This was the second time I’d fought against the Shadow Caster, and I’m still not impressed. The abilities look nice on paper, but both times I flew against them they were merely an annoyance. The mobile firing arc makes it predictable, and moving the mobile firing arc on a 3 speed or higher move at the end of the combat phase seems under-powered considering the new Tie Defender Tie/x7 title that gives an evade token you can use the same turn.

James wasn’t very impressed with the Protectorate starfighters. I personally felt they did quite well, and kept my right flank occupied for a long time, but they suffer a similar flaw to the Tie Fighters I guess- if the green dice fail you then you are looking at squishy hull, which isn’t helped by the fact they have no evade action.

York Garrison

This was out first visit to York Garrison, and I was very impressed. We pre-booked a table, and they fitted us in despite having a Guild Ball tournament on that day. They had a 6′ x 4′ table we could use which was ideal. The guy in charge of the club game over to introduce himself and tell us about the club, and the first session is free which is a bonus!
But I will definitely join up and play more epic X-Wing there.

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