20 September 2013

Wave 3- Initial Imperial Impressions

Ok, so I wanted to try out the new Imperial stuff as clinically as I could, and that generally means for me not indulging in the named pilots or a bunch of upgrades and stuff. I also wanted to get all three of my shiny, new Wave 3 Imperial models into the mix ASAP so creating a balls to the wall, super-efficient list wasn't a high priority for me. I didn't want the game to be a cakewalk for my opponent (Sean) by any means, but I wanted to spend some time with the ships in their most basic and generic form so I could see what aspects of them worked and didn't work for me and my own particular playstyle. That in mind, I selected the following as my 100 point dogfight list: 

Krassis Trelix w/ Ion Cannon (39 points)
Omicron Group Pilot (21 points)
Scimitar Squadron Pilot w/ Proton Torpedoes (20 points)
Scimitar Squadron Pilot w/ Cluster Missiles (20 points)

First, I was kind of surprised I could fit both a Firespray and the Shuttle into a 100 point list along with a couple of other ships. Admittedly, I have things pretty stripped down, and there's no Pilot Skill above 5 in the list, but that's a lot of hull and shields between those two ships. 

Sean was running a Chewie Falcon with a bunch of upgrades, a Jan Ors HWK-290, and a Rookie X-Wing, for what it's worth. Like me he wasn't the most competitive list ever, but with that tooled up Falcon, it was no slouch either. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the maneuvers available to the TIE Bombers. I never really found myself spinning the dials desperately looking for a maneuver that would ultimately prove nowhere to be found. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm normally a Rebel player, so I'm maybe biased towards movement options that don't involve the TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor movement dials. In other words, die-hard Imperial players may hate the TIE Bomber movement dial, but I had no problem with it whatsoever. I even had the opportunity to try out that speed 5 K-Turn a couple of times which actually worked fairly well at bypassing the almost inevitable ship pile-ups to came up.

The Shuttle was quite the opposite to the TIE Bomber. I knew once the point totals starting leaking out that the Shuttle would have a pretty rotten movement dial and I won't lie to you- it's pretty rough. I'd not tooled my Shuttle specifically for long-range duty in this game (and by that I mean I didn't take a range 3 Secondary Weapon System like a Heavy Laser Cannon), so I tried to fly it around a bit and get it into the action. The big base and high attack value helps to mitigate the limited maneuver options, but overall I did find myself looking for more maneuvers and feeling pretty limited as to what I had available. For one, there's just not that many moves on the dial to start with (12 total), and for two, nearly half of them (5) are red. Now, there again- there are ways to mitigate this through both playstyle and upgrades, but just be aware of what you're getting into here. 

As you'd expect, once you've fired off your ordnance loads, the TIE Bomber has the usual drawbacks of the standard TIE with few of the advantages. Of course, the 2 Attack is standard across most TIE variants, and the Bomber is no different in this regard. 

That said, it's kind of not as bad as I thought it might be. For 20 points (again, recall I took the very cheapest TIE Bombers available along with two flavors of the 4 point warheads), you're likely rolling 4 dice at Range 3, then following up with a couple of dice the next turn. That's not terrible for 20 points. I don't know if you guys regularly fly against Chewie Falcons, but in my opinion, they're probably the toughest ship to kill in the game because a Chewie Falcon is effectively all shields and no hull. The only way to take one down is to just pump tons of shots into it (there's a joke about sorority girls I could make there, but I'm going to hold back- you're welcome).

I managed to whittle it down to a single hull point at the very end, while destroying the HWK and taking the shields off the Rookie. I still lost of course, but all in all, I was impressed with the firepower the Bomber brings to the table for a relatively cheap price. I will say, as many pileups as we had, I do wish I'd have found the points for a Seismic Charge or a Proton Bomb. I was never that crazy about using Bombs on a Firespray, but I can completely see their use on a Bomber, especially after they've emptied their tubes. 

The Shuttle stock has an Attack 3, which of course is nothing to disregard especially since the big base makes it so much easier to get into Range 1. Using the Shuttle as I did- to engage rather than hang back and lob shots in, and at such a low Pilot Skill, I really should have looked into an Anti-Pursuit Laser. I think one could get ships to collide into that big base fairly routinely and for only a couple of points, it would have been worth it a time or two in the match. Overall, I don't have any complaints about the Shuttle's guns- stock or available as upgrades. 

Model Quality-
As with the rest of the X-Wing ships, overall quality is good for pre-paints and I was impressed with the details on both ships. The Shuttle seems a little small when you're looking at it in the box with it's wings folded up, but once you get it out on the table with the wings out, you definitely get the idea that it couldn't be any larger and still really work on a big base.

I'm not sure of the reason, be it thick paint, whatever they use to seal these models, warped or flashy parts, but I got pretty nervous trying to fully drop the wings on my shuttle. If you simply must rotate the wings into their movie canon position, be prepared from some cracking and popping sounds. I managed to get mine into position, but I felt like I was going to snap something off the model at any moment. I just tried to be careful and apply even pressure along the length of the plastic on the wing that slots into the body of the hull. Other than that, and now that I've folded and unfolded the wings a few times it's going much more smoothly now, I've got no complaints. It's a nice looking model and while I have no idea about the scale on this one, it fits in nicely on the table with the other big ships (as you can see in the pics).

The Bomber is actually quite a bit bigger than what I expected. Again- I'm not a canon guy to the point where I can tell you how big stuff is supposed to be, but I just kind of assumed the Bomber with its bent solar panels and all, would be about the same size as a double-wide Advanced. It's not- the Bomber is bigger. Not a ton, mind you, but it is bigger, and if you've played with TIE Advanceds much in the past, you'll notice it right off the bat. The Bomber is also that darker, bluish-grey like the Interceptor rather than the lighter grey-white like the TIE Fighters and TIE Advanced. There's a good amount of detailing on the model, and on mine at least, the wash isn't quite so out of control the way it was on some of the Wave 1 and 2 stuff. Maybe I'm just lucky.

The ships are more or less what I expected. The Shuttle's dial is actually tougher to use than I thought it would be. In a list with other ships that can close with the enemy, a Shuttle would do just fine floating about your backline acting like a gunship. I could see it operating in a way similar to those Kath Scarlet/ Trelix lists that were popular for awhile there in Wave 2- stick a Shuttle with an HLC in backl and sick four or five TIE Fighters of various flavors on your opponent and you've got the foundation of a pretty solid list. I'm sure there are other ideas that make better use of the named pilots and various upgrades, but that's the initial reaction I have to seeing the capabilities of the no-name Shuttle. And really, against a decent opponent, it really is fairly balanced points-wise with the awesome guns and high durability balanced out by the limited maneuver dial. If you play against people who won't exploit poor maneuvering, you'll hear cries of undercosted, but against folks who've been playing for awhile, it'll seem pretty balanced for what it is.

The two ideas that occurred to me while using the Bomber were 1) You could make a list of just Bombers and Captain Jonus and it probably wouldn't be terrible against most Rebel lists that include a Falcon, and 2) If you were looking for a newer, fresher take on a TIE Swarm, you could trade out a few of them for Bombers with some warheads to taste and have a pretty nasty little list. And for goodness' sake- don't discount Cluster Missiles. They're great against ships with only 1 Defense- you know, like Falcons. They, much like Proton Torpedoes,  OH MY GOD, I FINALLY GOT YOU, YOU PIECE OF CRAP. Good Lord y'all, I have been flat out accosted by this housefly for like the last 20 minutes I've been editing this article and I just caught that bitch Mr. Miyagi style. Well, I mean, I didn't have chopsticks, but I did grab his ass right out of the air with my hand. Suck on that, fool. Ok, where was I? Oh yeah- Proton Torpedoes got a bad rap in Wave 1 that managed to stick for the most part even after the big ships came out. Now that we have more and varied ships, some of those rarely taken options are becoming more apparent in their use, assuming you can get old prejudices out of your head. Speaking of which, I do fully intend to go back and update those older Wave 1 and Wave 2 listbuilding articles at some point. Who the hell knows when, but I'll do it here at some point. 

While you can, and some certainly will, run multiple Shuttle lists, I could see picking up a third TIE Bomber before a second Shuttle, extra copies of all those cool upgrade cards notwithstanding. I tell ya though, I think a lot of other people have the same idea as some of the big online miniatures retailers are already sold out of the TIE Bombers, so if you're going to grab a couple of extras, assuming your FLGS is already sold out, I'd do it sooner rather than later.