With the recent IG-88 previews, we see an exciting new type of ship emerging for wave 6: the large base fighter. With all due respect to the fast shuttle and its capabilities, the Aggressor has a much more impressive statline (3/3/4/4 vs 3/1/5/5), Elite Pilot Talent access and better action bar for a mere 10 points premium above PS6 Colonel Jendon. If it were just a bigger TIE Defender, that would already be interesting. However, we get something completely different to play with. If you haven’t seen the dial already:
Tons of greens, along with S-loops and K-turns. Oh, and it’s the only big ship in the game that comes with the boost action. So. Many. Options. Nothing else moves quite like it.
The pilots and their unique abilities will help shape the entire squad and how it behaves. Especially when you link multiple IG-88 models together via their IG-2000 ship title, which allows them to benefit from all of their innate special abilities (so long as they are alive). It’s also free, so just assume every list has it. There’s plenty of combos to be had.
IG-88A is great in a swarmy meta, as you can heal multiple shield points essentially for free. Stay on Target (to avoid blockers) or Predator (for maximum re-rolls against low PS ships) would synergize well if you optimize for taking down a swarm. Bombs will be good too. Potentially good value, but very situational; IG-88A doesn’t do you much good against a 2-ship list. IG-88B is one of the most versatile models, allowing you to fire a second shot with a cannon if you miss the first attack. It’s worth noting that the first attack doesn’t have to be with a cannon, and it doesn’t matter who you’re shooting at. You just have to miss to trigger the second shot, which does have to be with a cannon. This fella runs well with Predator, Lone Wolf, Fire Control System and Marksmanship since these will also apply to the second shot. It also can work with Opportunist, if your first shot forces them to spend all their tokens you can slam them even harder with the second (at the cost of a stress token for yourself). Kinda cool, but again situational at best. Just beware the Heavy Laser Cannon’s range 1 blind spot; you can take a primary attack at a model within range 1 but if you miss you’ll have to shoot someone else with your follow-up cannon shot. IG-88C simply performs a free evade action after boosting (note the FAQ, you can still get the free evade if boost was a second action you performed via PTL; you generate the stress after you’re done triggering free actions). He can be good if you plan on boosting a whole bunch. Not the pilot I’m the most stoked about, personally. IG-88D is one of the most intriguing, allowing you to use the hard 3 template when you select your S-loop maneuver. Having options after you select your maneuver for the turn is always nice, and can get you out of some blocking situations.
In addition to a pair of cannon slots (you’ll rarely ever use the second one, but it’s nice to have the option I guess) our new friend the Aggressor can take a system upgrade, including Advanced Sensors. Naturally this has led a lot of us to drool over the AdvS and Push the Limit synergy, a combo FFG themselves were pushing in their preview article, which lets you clear stress as you generate it by taking actions first then choosing a green move.
So a basic dual Aggressor PTL list would look something like:
IG-88B, IG-2000 Title, PTL, AdvS, HLC, Inertial Dampeners
IG-88C, IG-2000 Title, PTL, AdvS, HLC, Inertial Dampeners
Total = 100 pts
I chose IG-88B and C here because B is always good to have in your back pocket, and you likely won’t be doing as many S-loops when you build a squad around PTL. You have a bevy of actions available to you, free evades from IG-88C if you boost, a second shot with your HLC if you miss the first time, and the ability to stop on a dime if required. Might as well buy those Dampeners when you have mediocre PS, since an initiative bid isn’t necessarily as valuable to you (except maybe in a mirror match).
In a vacuum this is pretty great, you have two speedy ships that hit hard and can shrug off a lot of fire. But with so many previous generation pilots still rocking PTL (here’s looking at you, every TIE Interceptor pilot that can take an EPT) as well as some fairly fresh arrivals like Dash Rendar doing the same, control builds will continue to be a solid counter to deny actions. Stress and ion also disrupt AdvS temporarily, since you either don’t have a dial to reveal or still have stress when it comes time to reveal your dial.
Losing out on the ability to use all those funky red moves is also a big shame. IG-88D especially doesn’t want to be shackled by a PTL that limits his ability to dance around with those hard turn template S-loops. If you do choose not to use PTL on a given turn, you’re telegraphing your intentions to flip next turn.
In addition to all of this, you also have to consider the PS values you’re working with. Most positionally strong ships operate at a higher value than your PS6, which is a problem when you don’t have a turret or auxiliary firing arc. So the PTL Aggressor would have to contend with arc dodgers AND all of the builds that are designed to counter PTL builds. Maybe there’s another way to go here…
Enter the Passive Aggression Squads, as I like to call them. If you’re looking at alternatives to PTL, talents like Predator, VI and Adrenaline Rush spring to mind. VI is great to trump Dash, and put you on an even footing with many Dash counters like the Rear Admiral and Boba Fett. For PS9+ you’re out of luck, but at least it’s a cheap upgrade!
Beyond the EPT slot, you have things like Fire Control System and Autothrusters begging to be used. Both of them will prove valuable in matches against the large turret ships — FCS granting perpetual target locks as you surely won’t be killing them in one shot, and Autothrusters passively converting blanks to evades every time you are attacked from outside range 1-2 of their front arc, which is to say most of the time.
Putting it all together, you end up with lists like this:
IG-88B, IG-2000 Title, VI, FCS, HLC, Inertial Dampeners, Autothrusters
IG-88D, IG-2000 Title, VI, FCS, HLC, Inertial Dampeners, Autothrusters
Total = 98 pts
This list can give Dash a run for his money, as the droids get the opportunity to move last, shoot first and hit very hard. They are also free to use their K-turns and S-loops with both offensive and defensive upgrades working just fine without actions. A good blend of offense, defense and versatility.
Speaking of S-loops, it’s worth noting that IG-88D really shines even more than usual at PS8. More of your opponents will have already moved at this point (including the ginger), so having that option to pick a hard 3 instead of a soft 3 for your S-loop may come in very handy indeed. I want to say that IG-88C is good here too, since high PS boosts are so awesome, but if you’re dodging arcs then does the evade really mean much? I dunno. Maybe against Dash, but losing the IG-88B ability to get a second chance to land damage sucks. I think it’s a tradeoff for hunting Dash or the lower agility Decimator/Falcon builds (where you won’t miss as often to trigger IG-88B). No clear winner.
The same list can swap Adrenaline Rush for VI, and lose out somewhat against PS7-8 in order to gain a lot of unpredictability against everyone else. With so many of their abilities working without actions, you can hang onto Adrenaline Rush the first time you do a red maneuver and use it to pull a red when you are already stressed. Keeping the card on hand as a threat is often as useful as, erm, using it. Sacrifice some of your actions to keep your opponent guessing sort of a thing.
Predator opens up a lot of possibilities as well, combining the reliable stream of re-rolls for all of your attacks, including the first one. FCS allows you to re-roll more dice on subsequent attacks, but you won’t always benefit from it. The enemy might die (taking all target locks with it), or they might have a way to shed your target lock (Countermeasures, Expert Handling, Wes Janson, etc.). Of course there’s also the chance they dodge your arc, and you are stuck shooting at a support ship you haven’t targeted yet. Predator is great because it’s pretty much always working, unless shoot at Dark Curse.
IG-88B, IG-2000 Title, Predator, AdvS, HLC, Inertial Dampeners
IG-88D, IG-2000 Title, Predator, AdvS, HLC, Inertial Dampeners
Total = 100 pts
I believe I’ve seen this list (or maybe one with different IG-88 models), and it looks very solid. Elite turret ships with Engine Upgrade will be a challenge, which might necessitate a switch to IG-88B and C so you can at least dodge a bit better as you jostle for position? C and D could work if you plan to boost prior to executing your reds a lot of the time, but that synergy doesn’t always work out. There’s pros and cons to each (gee, that seems to be a trend here, doesn’t it! A sure sign of good game design).
Mixing in some asymmetry into your list can also be valuable, or at the very least interesting! Want one to specialize in hunting a Phantom, while the other can go after big turret ships? This could work:
IG-88C, IG-2000 Title, Predator, AdvS, Mangler Cannon, Proximity Mines, Inertial Dampeners, Anti-Pursuit Lasers
IG-88B, IG-2000 Title, VI, FCS, HLC, Autothrusters
Total = 100 pts
The list allows some blocking and Proximity Mine tricks (dropping them before or after moving), at the cost of downgrading one of your big cannons to a Mangler. The nice thing is that the Mangler works at range 1, so you can fire again via IG-88B if you miss. Remember, Aggressors with HLCs can’t use the gunner-esque ability at range 1 due to the blind spot.
As we can see, the options just keep going and going. I haven’t even mentioned Hot Shot Blasters yet, which can be a great way to cover your blind spots when fighting elite arc dodgers. If your build has the points to spare for these one hit wonders, then they might just save your bacon when the enemy outmaneuvers you. In the asymmetrical list above, I was tempted to drop the APL and Inertial Dampeners for a Hot Shot Blaster, but without the extra point for a Munition Failsafe I couldn’t quite trust it to get the job done versus a cloaked Whisper or turtled up agility 3 ship with defensive tokens.
Anyway, my point here is that there is a strong argument to be made for lists that don’t stress out your Aggressors more than necessary. When you have passive offense and/or defense on your side, you can safely limit yourself to focus or boost with your actions, and your passive abilities can still help you out if you end up with no actions at all. Personally I’m leaning towards the list with VI, FCS, HLCs, Inertial Dampeners and Autothrusters for now. It should come in very handy as long as the turret meta persists, although I will be happy to experiment with the other builds… I’ve got a Naked Aggression list in mind with IG-88C and D, along with N’dru with Lone Wolf. The droids only have points for VI and AdvS, but with N’dru being such a deceptively strong ship for 19 pts it might make up for all the upgrades you aren’t taking on the Aggressors. IG-88C and D work well in any meta, and B is useless when you don’t have cannons, so you’re sorta stuck with this pairing. But that’s another list archetype altogether, and I’m trying to wrap this up here!
Overall, the IG-88s fly a helluva ship, and I can’t wait to fly the crap out of it (them?). With 6 combinations of models available in a dual ship list, and a staggering 28 points available for upgrades, there will surely be plenty of different builds that stick around in the meta. And with all those upgrade options, I’m sure it will stand the test of time as well, as the game continues to evolve beyond wave 6.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to post your thoughts on the new ship below. Which models do you like best, and how do you plan to equip them?