This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.
Veteran Instincts (1)
Card Text: Increase your Pilot Skill value by 2
Usage in game: Functions as advertised- move later, shoot earlier by boosting your PR by 2.
Breakdown: I'll be the first to admit that I don't read every single X-Wing Miniatures forum or website out there, but I don't see many people talking about Veteran Instincts at all. It's all Expose this and Push The Limit that. I don't know that I've seen anyone really discussing Veteran Instincts. If I did, well, it obviously didn't make much of an impression.
That said, I can see why. It's a subtle, little 1 point card that you're most likely thinking to yourself, "So it buffs your PR by 2. Big deal. Most of the pilots who can take Elite Pilot Skills already have formidable PR ratings", right? So why would you get excited over a card like this, even if it only costs 1 point?
As usual, let's do some process of elimination here and first talk about what pilots we don't want to buy Veteran Instincts for and see if anyone's left standing at the end.
First and foremost, anybody who generally utilizes Swarm Tactics is off the list. So no Luke, no Howlrunner, etc. Gone also are the guys who can make use of several different Elite Pilot Talents depending on what fits your style- I'm talking about Wedge Antilles and Vader primarily here. We said yesterday that Draw Their Fire fits in nicely with Chewbacca, so he's gone as well.
On the Rebel side, all we've got left is Wave 2 stuff (which at the time of this posting, I haven't covered yet, but looking ahead). Solo already has a PR of 9 and a very offensive ability that can be further buffed by other Elite Pilot Skills like Marksmanship, so I'm not nuts about putting VI on him. Tycho Celchu, the A-Wing pilot, seems to have had Daredevil custom made with him in mind, and as he's already PR 8, I'm not really feeling it for him either. The Green Squadron A-Wing can take Elite Pilot Skills, but fall in kind of a PR no-man's land of 3. It's only a point, but I don't see the point (pun intended) of giving them a 5 PR. Early projections have them being great candidates for other Elite Pilot Skills like Deadeye, Daredevil, or Push The Limit depending on the role you plan on them taking for you on the table and the amount of A-Wings/ other ships you plan on fielding in your list.
So who have I left out on the Rebel side?
Lando has a Dreis-like Focus buff with a range of Range 1, but it's linked to a green maneuver rather than spending, so giving him Veteran Instincts would delay the gifting of this Focus token to another ship, which in this instance is useful as it'd be quite late in the movement phase now that Lando's stock PR has been boosted from 7 to 9, so ostensibly you could give it to the ship needing it the most. Lando also strikes me as one of those pilots that doesn't have a particular Elite Pilot Skill that works well with him; or to put it another way, has several available that are all sort of useful, but nothing just jumping out saying, "Pick me! Pick me!" like the nerdy kid in class that knows the answer to the teacher's question.
On the gearhead side of the fence, Mithel's a possibility as him shooting at the same PR as Wedge is scary to me as a primarily Rebel player. He's also one of those guys I don't usually give an Elite Pilot Skill to as none of them are flat-out obviously for him; you could always have a Black Squadron TIE take over his Swarm Tactics relay duty if you roll him like that. Speaking of which, what about a Black Squadron TIE? It'd kick them up to a PR of 6, which kind of isn't bad as they'd fire before any X-Wing except Luke and Wedge, and tie him with Garven Dreis. Not terrible for a 15 point TIE Fighter (total points, of course).
I think the main benefit here would be having an extra ship firing at that PR. If your usual Rebel opponent takes the usual compliment of Rebel stuff, he's probably got a ship or two firing at PR 8 or 9, then everyone else going at 2 or 4, with possibly one ship at around 5 or 6. Most Wave 1 Imp players have anywhere from 1 to 3 ships firing at PR 8 or 9, then maybe one or two at 5 to 7, then the rest firing at 4 or less. In other words, Imperials usually have the top and bottom of the shooting phase with Rebels going in the middle. Shifting one of those ships from the bottom of the pile to the middle could be fairly significant especially if you have nothing else in mind for that Black Squadron TIE as far as Elite Pilot Skills.
To put it another way, as an Imperial player, do you ever wish you could get Biggs out of the way a little slower? Yeah. Didn't think so.
As for Wave 2, like the Rebels, most of the Wave 2 stuff has other Elite Pilot Skills that are probably better suited for use. Fett's high PR and gigantic base making his Range 1 that much larger, should look at Swarm Tactics pretty hard. Of the Firespray pilots though, Kath Scarlet jumps out at me as being a big beneficiary of VI. First, it pumps her PR to a formidable 9. Secondly, it lets her put those Stress tokens on somebody early which gives the ships accompanying her more time to prioritize targets later in the turn and well, helps to ensure she's still around to put those tokens on somebody.
Soontir Fel, the TIE Interceptor pilot, dovetails so nicely with Daredevil it's sorta disgusting, so I wouldn't think of giving him anything else. but Turr Phennir has some potential as a VI candidate. He would boost up to a PR9, and as his special ability let's him perform a Boost or Barrel Roll after he attacks, why wouldn't you want to do it earlier rather than later? Saber Squadron Pilots wouldn't be stupid for thinking they ought to consider VI as they're probably roamers or at most, in a group of 2 with another TIE Interceptor. Obviously, if their wingman is somebody cool possessing Swarm Tactics, this probably isn't the Elite Pilot Skill they're looking for, but if it's just the Saber and another Saber or an Avenger, it just might be.
So who's left at this point? Poor old Maarek Stele. Is this the card that finally makes him work? Nah, probably not. It makes him more effective, sure, but again, for only one more point you've got yourself a Vader who is PR 9 without having to use his Elite Pilot Skill on VI.
I'ma keep lookin' for you though, Maarek. I'ma keep lookin'.