Sonofa… so I was just about ready to start a post series on my custom X-wing ships and stats when they go ahead and launch wave 4 previews on the Fantasy Flight website!
These things look pretty awesome! The E-wing is pretty much exactly how I pictured it, a (very expensive) blend of the A-wing and X-wing. The Defender as well, although I didn’t expect it to lack the evade action. Should make them less capable of turtling via Push the Limit… giving them a different role compared to Interceptors (more pure offense and less ability to turtle up). Z-95s are exactly what I had envisioned, including the points cost and exact specifics of the ion pulse missile. Seriously, exactly the same as the rules and costs that I was making for the ion missiles.
The TIE Phantom is something I didn’t see coming. Some folks online were assuming this would be a logical future expansion, but since I haven’t encountered any of the books or comics that feature the Phantom, my money was on the TIE Droid instead. I figured that a swarmy TIE Fighter alternative would have been more feasibly than a cloaking fighter with absurd firepower, but I was wrong… these things also pack a crew slot, sensors and natural FP4, which is an X-wing first. These Phantoms could be absolutely lethal depending on maneuverability and their new rules.
One thing that I haven’t talked about much yet is my spreadsheet for calculating costs of ships. I know a few folks have already tried to reverse-engineer a formula for pricing ship stats, but they had some fundamental flaws that I tried to address. Instead of just focusing on stats independently, my formulas link maneuverability (including expanded firing arcs, boost and barrel roll) to firepower, and agility (with a small bonus from boost and barrel roll) to the hull and shield stats. In other words, firepower is worth more on a ship that can deliver firepower where you want it most, and the hull/shield points are worth more when you have a strong agility stat. The cool thing about my formula is that the numbers also matched up nicely with real world usage. Ships that are the most popular tended to show up as slightly undercosted, while the less used ships (especially the naked HWK) showed up as very points-inefficient. I’m pretty confident in my spreadsheet as a quick way to evaluate a new ship (although the maneuver dial is obviously the huge question mark at this point).
Number Crunching Time
So let’s compare the printed stats and points costs to what my spreadsheet says and see how they look!
The official E-wing clocks in at 27 points for 3/3/2/3 and PS2, while my spreadsheet calculates the cost of the official E-wing as 26.01 plus the standard 1 extra points for the PS1 rating on the Knave Squadron (I think it says Knave…) pilot. So right about where I would expect them to be. The high agility, barrel roll action and sensor slot will make these things incredibly flexible, and their flechette torpedoes should in theory do splash damage and ignore shields. A 3-red dice assault missile that ignores shields would be an awesome upgrade vs. swarms or tight formations of any kind. The generic R7 astromechs will also give any rebel fleet a few more options; can’t wait to see what they do. If the unique R7 is any indication, they should be bloody awesome. Dutch Vander is gonna love the R7-T1…
The Z-95, with its 2/2/2/2 statline, weighs in at 12 pts for the BS2 Bandit Squadron member. My spreadsheet says it should be 11.1, plus 2 for PS2 rating. So again, it’s right in the butter zone of being maybe a tiny bit more efficient than the average ship. They need to be, since they lack the astromech droid slot for a 1 pt massive upgrade in their maneuverability. My homebrew rules for the Z-95 were 2/2/3/1 with a PS1 Trainee pilot for 12 pts, so again it should in theory be an efficient little fighter.
The Elite Pilot Talent in this expansion seems to be “Wingman”, which could be interesting. I assume it would be some kind of buff for a friendly model within range 1, which would be an interesting upgrade for formation flying. The ion pulse missile being able to ionize a large ship in a single shot is very cool — this is exactly what I was writing ion pulse missiles to do. 3 dice, 2 tokens, 3 points is exactly what I had in mind. Uncanny stuff, man. Looks like some New Jedi Order era pilots are in store for us, maybe Jacen or Jaina Solo if you squint at the named pilot cards hard enough.
The legendary TIE Defender — 3/3/3/3 makes for one scary ship. It should be about the most maneuverable thing in the game, and with a previously unseen manoeuvre on its dial (I assume a 1 K-turn) it will be pretty tough to catch. No ability to evade is shocking, and probably a balance issue so a PTL Defender isn’t just unkillable. In terms of cost efficiency, my numbers say it should cost 28.28 plus 1 for PS1, when the official ship costs 30. Again it’s right in the ballpark, although maybe not quite as much bang for your buck as some ships in the game.
Missile and cannon options will give it many options, and I’m a little bit glad that they don’t have the modular warhead launchers that could take torpedoes, missiles or bombs. That would make them a little too rowdy IMO! It’ll be interesting to see what the unique pilots and EPT skills do. “Predator” and “Outmanoeuvre” seem to be the titles.
Finally we come to the TIE Phantom, with its crazy 4/2/2/2 statline. These things are the real wild-card in the wave; they are possibly the biggest glass cannon in the game. At 25 points for a PS3 pilot, they could really be nasty. Assuming they fall somewhere around an X-wing or TIE fighter for maneuverability, my spreadsheet says they should cost between 24.08 and 25.88 before factoring in their better than most PS rating… so they appear to be at a bit of an advantage right from the start. The crew and sensor slots will make them very adaptable. Add in the mysterious cloak action, which could add agility dice and/or prevent enemy target locks (if Attack Wing is any indication), and they could be off the charts good all of a sudden.
Changes to the Current Meta
In terms of the meta, it’s obviously way too early to see how things will change (we also have the new X-wing pilots coming right away in the GR-75 kit, remember). It is interesting to note that the pilot ratings for the new elite ships are mostly odd numbers for the generics (1 and 3 mostly, with a possible generic 5 Phantom). This should help keep the PS4 builds solid, even with the advent of Imperial Aces and the PS6 Royal Guards. So all you guys rocking Dagger Squad B-wings may be able to hold on to that build for the foreseeable future.