This post regarding Named Pilots 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.
Card Text: After you perform an attack, you may perform a free boost or barrel roll action.
Usage in game: Movement in the Combat Phase.
Breakdown: All right, let's get this out of the way right off the bat. Although I had separately thought of it too, my buddy Sean is the first person I ever heard actually bust out the whole Turr Phenir = Turd Ferguson joke. He hit me with it one night when we were playing X-Wing Miniatures over Google Hangout; preceding even his reference in the comments section of the Engine Upgrade article. I'm sure he won't mind you using his joke, but give credit where credit's due when you do. I've taken to calling Turr Phennir "Mr. Reynolds" instead, further prolonging the joke and making it that much more obtuse, obscure, and ob... funny. Sorry. I kinda have OCD when it comes to alliteration in sets of three sometimes, but unfortunately am cursed with a fairly limited vocabulary.
Anyway, ok- Turd Ferguson. Right. All the early press has been on Soontir Fel, but like me, you've probably seen a few people starting to warm up to Mr. Reynolds as folks become more comfortable with Wave 2 stuff. What's the story on this guy?
Turd's blessed with the pretty much unheard of option of moving during the Combat Phase portion of the game turn. Off the top of my head (read: I'm probably wrong about this, but I don't think I am), I can think of no other pilot who can move in the Combat Phase, stock.
Ok, sounds cool. Now how big of a deal is that actually?
Well, it depends on how effectively you can Boost or Barrel Roll. If you're one of those Empire players who pretty much lives and dies by it, you'll probably can't help falling in love with Turr Phennir after your first couple of dates. If you rarely if ever take advantage of those two maneuvers, you're likely a hater.
Let's say you're like most folks though and you're sort of on the fence with Boost and Barrel Roll- sure, you use them, but not like every turn or anything. Let's say you use them to get into or out of firing arcs mainly; you don't force it, and usually you maneuver effectively enough that you don't really need to Boost or Barrel Roll, but once in awhile a lower Pilot Skill guy makes a lucky maneuver you weren't expecting and ends up right behind where you picked to end up, so that's when you Boost or Barrel Roll. Is Turd worth it in that context?
Yeah, I think so largely because he gives you survival options on top of what's already available to you for a pretty reasonable cost.
Much has been said about the fragility of the TIE Interceptor. I think that's largely flawed perception based on people's experience with/ against Wave 1 TIE Swarms, but whatever- Who am I? I'm just this guy, y'know? Compared to say an X-Wing, yeah, they're definitely more fragile- no denying that, but luckily for you, the guy reading this article wanting to play Interceptors, you've got better maneuverability and more available stock Actions than an X-Wing, which in the hands of someone who knows how to maneuver well and use Actions contextually, really helps make up that difference in Hull and Shield points. Christ, that was a really long sentence; diagram that business, 10th grade English teachers!
So already Interceptors have some good options for staying around on the table longer- they're not one trick ponies by any stretch with so many Actions and maneuvers available. In addition to all that, Phennir has this extra Boost or Barrel Roll on top of that. Pretty swanky. Just remember that he's not a Token guy- his card text is a Free Action, so you can't Boost in his Perform Action step and then Boost again after you attack, same with Barrel Rolling, of course. I don't think that's a big deal though, and he gets even better when you recall he has access to Elite Pilot Skills.
Speaking of which, what goes well with him?
He's PS 7, so I'm not nuts about Swarm Tactics. Squad Leader has some potential if he's the highest PS pilot in your list as you can kind of make a Vader-esque debate for him passing off his normal Action to someone who needs it more then relying on the Boost or Barrel Roll to get himself out of trouble rather than Focus or Evade, and a very similar line of thinking could be made for giving him Marksmanship; also using his card text option to get out of the way and justify the use of Marksmanship over a more versatile Focus. Expert Handling is always handy on ships that can already Barrel Roll, just remember if you Expert Handling with your Perform Action Action, you can't then Barrel Roll as the result of his card text- you'd have to Boost instead. Veteran Instincts could be fun as you'd Attack earlier, so you'd get your card text move off earlier as well. Deadeye is pointless for obvious reasons and I don't really see the point in a card like Draw Their Fire on him either.
As far as the Stress-out skills, with as many green maneuvers (7) as TIE Interceptors have, you can't really discount any of these, but you're potentially going to negate Phennir's card text if you use them; remember you can't perform Actions, even Free Actions, if you're Stressed, and his card text specifically calls out his ability as a Free Action. Now, Push The Limit can trigger from his card text Action, and that's not bad if you suddenly find yourself on the business end of some good maneuvers by your opponent, but Daredevil is definitely out, and I think Elusiveness is similar to PTL in this context- it's not bad, but ideally, if you're doing it right, you're spending those points more wisely elsewhere. I think unless you're just really dead-set on a worst-case scenario contingency themed list, leave the Stress-out skills for somebody else.
The only Elite Pilot Skill I haven't mentioned yet (I think, I didn't miss anything else did I?) is Expose. I actually think this works particularly well on Phennir and is the card I'm definitely going to give him the next time I roll an Imperial list. My thinking behind this is, of course, if I can Boost or Barrel Roll out of my opponent's firing arc with some careful maneuvering and or board edge hugging, who cares if I have one less Defense die? It also gives me 4 Attack dice at ranges 2-3, which takes some of the pressure off getting close and risking running into other ships. And hells bells, worst case scenario, I'm still rolling a couple of Defense dice to mitigate Attacks anyway.
As for Mods, Engine Upgrade is of course redundant, which leaves you choosing between Shield or Stealth. To me, it's Stealth all day, every day, on a TIE Interceptor, but honestly either of them would work.
What are the things we need to watch out for if we're using Turr in our lists?
Well, first and foremost, his card text is tied to an attack so obviously he needs to be firing as often as possible in the Combat Phase if you plan on him using his card text in order to justify cost, which means you need to keep the enemy in his firing arc, which means probably not rushing in close willy-nilly. With the maneuverability of the TIE Interceptor and 3 Attack dice standard, that shouldn't be a problem, but a cagey Rebel player who generally keeps his ships together and flies in a formation that produces overlapping firing arcs may very well still have a bead on Turr, even with the Boost or Barrel Roll.
You'll also want to be extremely careful of things that deny you your attack for that round- namely hitting another ship or overlapping an obstacle with your ship base. Nothing is going to get Turr shot out of the sky more quickly than denying him his card text, his attack for the round, and his Action via Perform Action for the round because you overlapped an obstacle or you bumped into the one ship still in his firing arc. I know you want to get in close to get that extra Attack die, but I think most folks will need to play Phennir a little conservatively to get the most out of him and not go screaming down the middle of the board hoping to jink out of the way at the last second.
The good news here is most of the tournament list meta I run across right now is going in basically one of two directions- either a Firespray plus 3-4 TIE Fighters or a 3-ship faction agnostic list where all the pilots are named and have multiple upgrades. That's good news because for the most part, there are less ships for you to plan around when it comes to not running into stuff with Mr. Reynolds.
Time to get down to brass tacks though- is he worth the points? The closest thing to Turr is the Saber Squadron TIE Interceptor. Like Turr, it can take Elite Pilot Skills, and is uh, well, also an Interceptor. Unlike Turr it costs 4 points less, has 3 less Pilot Skill, and doesn't possess the move in the Combat Phase deal. Personally, I think you could justify the cost for Turr just based on the fact that he's PS 7, but that's just me- your mileage may vary.
I think once you get used to him, Turr Phennir is actually a really, really handy pilot to have in your list because his card ability is so kinda off-the-wall, you're not really forcing yourself into any particular Elite Pilot Skill the way you are with say, Soontir Fel. Because of that, you can tailor Phennir to address whatever shortcoming you might have in your list or overall strategy and not feel like you're purposely not optimizing. Having trouble downing ships fast enough? Give him Expose or Marksmanship for a game or two and see how that treats ya. Having trouble keeping your ships alive? Try giving him Squad Leader and play him more conservatively than the ships in Range 1-2 of him. There are a ton of different ways you can fly this guy and have it work out well and I don't think there's a stock answer to be found for the best way to use him in your list other than trying a few of them out yourself.