This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 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.
Card: Darth Vader (29)
Card Text: During your "Perform Action" step, you may perform two actions.
Ability is an Action?: No.
Excels at: Being the black private dick that's a sex machine with all the chicks.
Quick Take: Vader is like the John Shaft (and I'm talking Richard muhfuggin' Roundtree here, y'all) of X-Wing Miniatures Wave 1. He's a bad mother- shut your mouth. No doubt about it. Two actions every turn? Right on. Pilot Rank 9? Can you dig it?
Unlike Shaft, Vader is understood by everybody, not just his woman. Having two Actions is simply massive in this game and to be totally honest, you really have to screw something up to even get Vader's shields burned off, let alone get him killed. You can't repeat the same action twice, but even if you just Evade and Focus every turn for your two actions, you're unlikely to get hit by much of anything as you've still got the usual 3 Defense dice on top of that!
Personally, I like letting him roam around the flanks of a TIE Swarm filling in where necessary, but really you can use him just about anywhere and have him excel in the role you give him.
Elite Skills/ Upgrades: Who is the man who will risk his neck for his brother man? Shaft! Er, Vader with Squad Leader. So you give up an action- big deal. Vader still has one, and whatever lucky bastard with an Imperial Gear on his helmet at Range 1-2 now gets to pretend like he's Vader for a turn, pulling a Free Action in addition to his own. Recall this Free Action kicks in immediately, so you can use it to fake out your buddies too. Declare a Focus on that lead TIE, then before the fun begins, have Vader throw an Evade on him.
Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about? Vader with Expert Handling. I know, I know. I said I'd be unlikely to pay 3 points for an ability I already have (Barrel Roll), but you can bet any Rebel worth his Jawa Ashtray will be gunning for Vader first and foremost if at all possible. As such, you're likely to get Target Locked quite a bit even by dudes who aren't carrying Proton Torpedoes. Expert Handling removes some of those worries. Vader pulling an Expert Handling barrel roll and declaring an Evade is unlikely to incur any significant damage unless he's getting focused on by three or four Rebels, and flying a TIE Advanced, you just gotta not let that happen.
Of course Swarm Tactics is always an option on high Pilot Rank named pilots, but really I think you can do better with Vader than just letting someone shoot earlier. Go for Squad Leader or Expert Handling and mix it up a bit.
If all that isn't enough for you, there's always adding Concussion Missiles or Clusters. Either are fine options on Vader and increase that measly 2 Attack he's got going on. Again though, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter- Vader could have a 1 Attack and he'd still smoke fools because he's just so damn hard to hit.