Tie Defender upgrades incoming. Here is my two pence.
I’ve never been one to write articles on stuff that’s not completely released but this one is really exciting. The first ship Imperial ships I bought after the core set, was the Tie Interceptor and Tie Defender. The Defender has had a few games since its early forays but it’s never quite worked out.
After initially playing with the generic Defenders, I looked at the named ships. I had a go with trying to make Rexlar work with moderate success but never took the tournament plunge with him. This is what I tried:
Sontir Fel with PTL and Auto Thrusters
Black Squadron Tie Fighter with Wingman
Rexlar Brath with PTL, heavy laser cannon, engine upgrade.
The problems lay around the functionality. The black squadron pilot had to keep within Range one of Rexlar as much as possible, whilst Sontir free styled. Maybe I should have stuck with it more but the damage output was not all that and getting Rexlar’s pilot ability off was few and far between. Combine that by not having any green turns, only straights and you eventually become predictable.
Colonel Vessery on the other hand has a fantastic pilot ability and as I’m a fan of the Tie advanced and Advanced Targeting Computer makes Vessery very handy. I’ve run him few times in recent months with Vader and Colzet and I feel there is potential. As you are extremely unlikely to spend the target locks from Vader and Colzet in the combat phase, Vessery will gain his free target locks. The key thing here is it allows him to spend his action either on repositioning or focusing without harming his damage output.
The Dial does cause issues still as although you have a hard one and two they are red. Vessery’s ability does help mitigate that and its handy as it does free up his EPT slot for more options. Oddly, to an extent he does not really need the EPT slot.
Naturally I’ve got the Imperial Veterans on pre order and the new options available to the Tie Defender is intriguing. In my opinion we will see them flocking to the tournament scene, both generic and named pilots with the new Title TIE/D.
This title is a bit like the BTL A4 on the Y wing but better as it forces your opponent into choices as the secondary weapon shoots first. Of course the Defender player has similar decisions about whether to spend target lock or focus on the first attack or not. This is where Vessery will shine as he will get a target lock for both attacks providing that a wing mate has lit them up.
The Tie/D could be quite obnoxious with Ruthlessness, even with a tractor cannon as you could move a ship into range one of another for the primary attack to cause the splash damage.
Flechette Cannon: causes one damage and a stress if not already stressed. Its okay but won’t always hurt as much if the target is already stressed.
Ion Cannon: cause one damage and ionizes. Very useful especially against low agility ships with turrets and limited ranges. TLT Y wings, we are looking at you. Downside is if running just the one, then you need to hit large ships twice.
Tractor beam: no damage but assigns a tractor token. Reduces agility by one with no damage caused till the end of the round. Added bonus of being able to make a small ship barrel roll or do a straight 1 boost once regeadless of number of tractor cannon hits.
Some options being banded around are;
3 Onyx Squadron pilots with Tie/D and Tractor Beam 99 points.
Or one Onyx Squadron pilot with tractor Cannon and Tie/D and 5 obsidians 98 points.
Every time a tractor beam hits it makes the potential damage suffered greater, although it means putting all your attack modifying into the tractor beam attack to gain any benefit. Against lower agility ships the Ion and Flechette cannons can potentially do more damage and add a control element for the next round which is where the white 4 K turn can come into its own.
You could cover your bases and have three defenders with one of each weapon:
Onyx with Tractor cannon
Onyx with Ion Cannon
Delta with Flechette cannon.
Ideally you are looking to shoot with the tractor cannon first so that the rest of the squad can hit home with their shots. This will also apply to an ace build as well. My preference for an ace currently lies in and Ion cannon but tractor cannon could work on something like this:
Sontir Fel with targeting computer
Colonel Vessery with Crack shot and Tractor cannon, TIE/D
Two Black Squadron Tie fighters with Crack Shot
Sontir slaps a target lock down and goes defensive, Vessery tractors and the Ties pummel. Alternatively you could look at Rexlar with VI to boost him to PS 10.
Rexlar Brath with Veteran Instincts and Tractor cannon, TIE/D
Sontir Fel with targeting computer and Auto thrusters
2 Obsidian Tie Fighters
The TIE/D title does bring with it the benefits of the TLT with the bonus of the second shot being a primary weapon attack with all hits counting. The decision as the player is whether to opt for potentially more maximum damage caused directly by the Defender by running either an Ion cannon or flechette cannon or spreading the love with the Tractor cannon.
There’s another Title?
Ahh the TIE/X7. A minus 2 point card with the buff of if doing a speed 3,4 or 5 manoeuvre you get a free evade token. Possible garbage? I can see this of being of use on a Defender with push the limit and twin Ion engines to make all its banks green. A triple action defender could be handy on both Rexlar and Vessary although I feel Vessary would be the better option for it, as you could move, get a free evade, focus as an action, barrel roll if PTL is the EPT then get free target locks in the shooting phase if you have someone to do the honours.
Rexlar could be a bit more boss with it with perhaps predator so as to make it less stressful than running PTL.
When you consider the fact that it has a white speed 4 K Turn then it could turn out to be the hidden gem of the two titles in this age of TLTs and regenerating rebel scum. Personally I feel The TIE/D title has the more obvious and practical options but I would not completely dismiss the TIE/X7
Personally I find it hard to see past Colonel Vessery if opting for just the one defender in a squad. We don’t yet know the pilot abilities of Marak Steele and the other named pilot and its hard to tell by the text whether or not Steele has the same Pilot ability as he does in the Tie Advanced. Looking at the Ghost preview where they have duplicated the same abilities on different ships for the same pilots it’s a maybe. I would suggest he is better in a Tie Advanced with ATC if it’s the same.
The Royal Guard generics with PS 6 and access to an EPT slot sound good but will probably sit at either 33 or 34 points. Vessery is 35 points. I rest my case on that unless maybe sticking the TIE/7 title on them with a cheap EPT if running more than one.
The Defender with the Tie/D title does offer a good platform for the tractor cannon with the option of pulling an enemy ship into range one then hitting them with four dice. There is even the possibility of moving them out of arc on either the defender or other squad mates. I feel the gimmickry of the tractor cannon will sound better on paper than in application for the most part. Without sounding like a broken record or CD on repeat I feel that Colonel Vessary is still the best platform if you can get another ship to stick a target lock on the target.
The new titles will certainly fix the Defender and make it appear all over the shop but I would not get too carried away about it. It’s still a hard ship to fly in formation with only green moves being straight unless you opt for twin Ion engines.
All in all I’m looking forward to it and adding a defender into my squad again.