As if releasing the Corellian Corvette and Transport in 2014 wasn’t awesome enough news for X-wing fans, FFG has announced yet another expansion pack: Imperial Aces. This pack is due for release before the end of the year.
TIE Interceptors have been a very popular addition from Wave 2, adding the likes of Baron Soontir Fel and Turr Phennir, two of the more popular Imperial pilots in the game. The distinct markings of Saber squadron (blood red stripes across their panels) were a fairly easy re-paint, but now you’ll be able to field the Baron without having to lift a brush, and that will make some folks pretty happy.
In addition, the set comes with a shiny blood red Interceptor, denoting it as a Royal Guard fighter. These are the same guys in the red bath robes that were too cool to actually do anything in the movies. In X-wing, Royal Guard pilots are PS6 with a Talent slot for a meagre 22 pts, just a single point more than a Saber Squadron member with PS4. These generics can outfly some of the unique characters in the game, many of whom don’t get a Talent slot either.
The named Royal Guards are pretty interesting as well; Kir Kanos can spend an Evade token to add one free hit to his attack rolls at range 2-3, and Carnor Jax provides an area of effect debuff to the enemy, preventing them from performing Focus/Evade actions and spending Focus/Evade tokens. He’s a pretty rowdy counter to many builds, ironically including Soontir Fel who regularly uses Push the Limit to gain a pile of Focus tokens. The Wave 3 guys will not enjoy fighting Jax either, as many of them (HWK-290 especially) specialize in Focus token shenanigans, and Advanced Torpedoes need a Focus token to work at full effectiveness.
There also appear to be two more named members of Saber squadron whose cards FFG hasn’t shown us yet. They may or may not be Soontir Fel and Turr Phennir with new card art, but hopefully that’s not the case. They usually leave a few things to the imagination until closer to the release date.
In terms of upgrade cards in the set, you get two Royal Guard TIE Titles, which grant you a second Modification slot on Interceptors. To make use of these slots, they are throwing in a pair of Targeting Computer cards (which grant the Target Lock ability), two Hull Upgrade cards (giving you one extra hull point), and finally two of the previously available Shield Upgrade cards. Combined with the Slave I pack’s Stealth Device, you can make some really tough little Interceptors if you have the points to spare.
For Pilot Talent cards, there appears to be two copies of Push the Limit (possibly my favorite ability in the game) and two of the new Opportunist cards. While expensive (at 4 pts), this talent gives you the ability to receive a stress token to gain an additional attack die when attacking a target with no Evade/Focus tokens on them. I assume that this only applies to one attack per round… unless you have a way to mitigate that stress token (ie. Captain Yorr in a Lambda shuttle), in which case you could theoretically get multiple freebie attack dice against a relatively hapless target via Gunner, Cluster Missiles, or anything else that lets you attack more than once. If they give it a particularly favorable FAQ later on to give you +1 dice on all attacks for the round, then it could be an intriguing option but I don’t know if it’s better than existing Talents.
Update: Maybe Ibtisam (the PS6 B-wing pilot with the unpronounceable name) will like Opportunist over PTL; Focus as your action, fire off your HLC and stress yourself out to get an additional attack die and a re-roll from the pilot’s card text. That might be worth a test run or two.
The new scenario sounds pretty cool as well. It’s one big allusion to the TIE Defender program, where the Empire was trying to build a super-fighter combining the strengths of all the best fighters into one fast, shielded and lethal design. The Rebel objective is simply to kill the prototype, which gets to try and activate numerous special abilities that together are capable of turning it into a real monster of a ship. Obviously this won’t be an option for tournament play, but it should make for some fun one-off games and will likely inspire some people to try and cobble together a conversion of the three-winged Defender.
All in all, this sounds like a pretty awesome pack. It provides some unique looking ship variants, plenty of new pilots and cards, and a new scenario to play. I’d expect this to be a fairly cheap set as well; probably similar in cost to the Core set or a large ship like the Falcon, I would imagine. The only question now is how long until the inevitable Rogue Squadron expansion pack…