Welcome back to the final part of my mini-series designed to help new players to X-Wing navigate their way through the maze of ships and upgrades released over the years that the game has existed. I've already looked at the Rebels and the Imperials and now it's time to close the loop by looking at the final faction: Scum & Villainy.
New X-Wing players may not know the background of Scum & Villainy so here's a quick history lesson. For the first two years there were only two factions in X-Wing: Rebels and Imperials, and then Wave 6 (Q3 2014) was dedicated entirely to adding pirates and bounty hunters in order to create 'Scum & Villainy' as a third faction. As well as taking over the whole of Wave 6 with their ships Scum & Villainy players also co-opted some existing ships from the Rebels and Imperials with new Scum pilots introduced for the Y-Wing, HWK-290, Z-95 Headhunter and Boba Fett's Slave I.
Despite arriving in the game with a bang the Scum & Villainy faction has still been playing catchup since then, getting two Ships in Waves 7, 8 and 9 while the Rebels and Imperials only get one ship (although the Force Awakens core set did give the Rebels and Imperials a bit of extra firepower with nothing for the Scum). Scum are still lagging slightly behind in the sheer number of options available, but it's becoming much closer and Wave 8 in particular saw Scum take a real step into the limelight.
This means my buying guide is slightly different for Scum than it is for Rebels or Imperials as I'm going to run through a few Rebel/Imperial expansion packs that have no Scum pilots but ships you can co-opt with pilots from Most Wanted.
IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION
Most of what I'm going to talk about is regarding rating ships by how popular they are in strong lists that have proven themselves popular in the X-Wing game, particularly those getting used frequently in competiive squads. The bar for entry in my mentioning a pilot/upgrade is set pretty high, therefore.
Many ships/pilots/upgrades can be played with and had fun with and done well with that I'm not going to mention, just because if you don't set the bar quite high you wind up talking about almost everything and it stops being a guide, just a list of contents.
If you want to explore a ship despite what I say, then please do! If you think I've ignored a great card you love to play with then please continue to play with and enjoy that card!
Remember: a guide is not a set of strict commandment, it's exactly what it claims to be... purely a guide.
Those who have read my Rebel guide will know that the Rebel Y-Wing has been almost entirely consigned to just being a body to strap a Twin Laser Turret to, and by and large that's all you're ever going to use a Scum Y-Wing for as well. Scum & Villainy do have the best Y-Wing 'ace' in the game with Kavil but as you get both a Y-Wing model and his pilot card in Most Wanted that's not an incentive for buying this expansion. Four Y-Wings with Twin Laser Turrets was a fearsome foe in late 2015 tournaments and Scum was better at it than Rebels because they had access to Unhinged Astromech - building that squad is pretty much the only time you'll ever want to buy a Y-Wing Expansion for your Scum fleet.
Also of Interest: Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing), Unhinged Astromech (Most Wanted)
Although Boba Fett debuted in X-Wing under contract to the Imperials he's at his best when working alongside other Scum & Villainy pilots as the version of his pilot card in Most Wanted is much better than the one in the Slave I expansion. The iconic Slave I probably sits just below being a genuinely great addition to your Scum fleet but it's a long, long way from a bad purchase once you've got Most Wanted, especially as it comes with some great upgrades (Veteran Instincts, Gunner). The other scum pilots like Kath Scarlett are worth a dabble on the table as well.
Also of Interest: Boba Fett (Most Wanted), Recon Specialist (HWK-290, TIE Phantom, ARC-170), Engine Upgrade (Hound's Tooth, Millenium Falcon)
The unloved HWK-290 follows the trend of Most Wanted letting Scum & Villainy access stronger pilots for otherwise weak ships and in Palob Godalhi you get probably the one HWK pilot who has really threatened to push through into seriously good squads. The HWK is still an utter dog of a ship but the Scum use it best and Palob's ability to steal an opponent's focus token has proven to have real use as an unexpected spoiler to some of the strongest tactics in the Wave 8 metagame.
Also of Interest: Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing), Attani Mindlink (Punishing One)
I'm not personally a fan of the Z-95 and felt conflicted in giving the Rebel Z-95 Headhunter a fair write up as they do occasionally find a role as filler. I've no such issues here, though, as if you want to play a Scum Z-95 you've no choice but to buy Most Wanted where you already get two Z-95 Headhunter models. Even if you want to build a scum Z-95 swarm you'll need to buy more Most Wanted instead to get the scum pilot cards!
Also of Interest: None.
Most Wanted was once the essential launching point for any Scum player but I no longer think that's true as many of the newer ships simply outclass what you can get from all but the very best bits of Most Wanted. That said, there is enough of a selection of decent pilots (Boba Fett, Palob Godalhi, Kavil) and upgrades (Autoblaster Turret, K4 Security Droid) that you're likely to get around to buying Most Wanted eventually. Quite when that happens will probably depend on whether you've already got Slave I and a HWK-290 lying around from your Rebel/Imperial fleets or if you'll need to tag them onto your purchase to really get the best from Most Wanted.
Also of Interest: Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing), Dorsal Turret (Ghost), Slave I (Slave I), HWK-290 (HWK-290)
The Scyk looks so much like the excellent TIE Fighter on first glance that you assume it must be good but a couple of key differences really render the Scyk one of the least effective ships in the game. The extra couple of points you pay for the addition of a Target Lock action on the Scyk's action bar make it that much more expensive to build a swarm the way you can with TIEs and the scum version of Howlrunner, Serissu, simply isn't a patch on the original. You wouldn't run a TIE Swarm without Howlrunner and you certainly wouldn't pay 15% more points for the privilege of doing so!
Also of Interest: None
If the M3-A Scyk manages to be a poor imitation of a TIE Fighter then the StarViper is a poor imitation of a TIE Interceptor. It has the stats to be great, it has the Boost and Barrel roll to be great... so what's missing? Well, like the Scyk the Starviper costs that little bit more than the equivalent TIE Interceptor pilots, and crucially for a ship that looks like it's desperate to dodge out of arcs it just doesn't have a pilot with a high enough pilot skill to really take advantage of that agility. Still, the model looks great and the StarViper is definitely more capable than the Scyk... it's just so average when it really promised to be something special.
Anyway, none of that matters because you're probably going to buy one anyway for the Autothrusters that come with this pack. It's why many veteran players describe this as an 'Autothrusters Expansion Pack' that comes with a free model of a Starviper.
Also of Interest: Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom)
It's pretty fair to say that, Y-Wings aside, until the Punishing One expansion came along the IG-2000's were the only genuinely great ship that Scum & Villainy had available. Running two IG-2000's is known as 'Brobots' because it's two robots who network and share their pilot abilities to make each other better. Because of this unique ability you very rarely see just one of these ships on the table and they pretty much always hunt in pairs. The IG-2000 is a very flexible platform and the specific upgrades you run on them can drastically change how they fly. You can pretty much create an entire career out of just playing different variants of Brobots, but because they're so insular they rarely fit into other squads. Buying the IGs, and the upgrades to use them properly, is more of a replacement for your Scum fleet than an addition to it!
Also of Interest: Veteran Instincts (Shadow Caster, Slave I, Millenium Falcon), Crack Shot (Kihraxz Fighter, Hound's Tooth, Imperial Veterans), Push The Limit (Imperial Aces, A-Wing), Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom), Advanced Sensors (E-Wing, Lambda Shuttle), Heavy Laser Cannon (Slave I, YT-2400, Lambda Shuttle), Autothrusters (StarViper)
Bossk's ride, the Hound's Tooth is a lumbering hulk of a ship but a big tough lumbering hulk that has done enough to prove it has a role on the table. You can ignore the Z-95 Nashtah Pup that comes with the Hound's Tooth (it's a trap!) but the basic stats of the ship and it's three crew slots are enough to make it a threat on the table. The ship's limited maneuver dial is it's weakness - anything that gets behind you will eat you up as there's no K-turn - but with potent new bounty hunter crew arriving in Wave 8 the Hound's Tooth has come back into fashion. Not an essential purchase but a very useful one to have up your sleeve and you can fit the basic Trandoshan Slaver into your squad for very few points considering just how big the ship is.
Also of Interest: 4-LOM (Mist Hunter), Zuckuss (Mist Hunter), Dengar (Punishing One), K4 Security Droid (Most Wanted), Heavy Laser Cannon (Slave I, Lambda Shuttle, YT-2400)
A poor imitation of an X-Wing the Kihraxz Fighter is pretty much a T-65 X-Wing but without an astromech slot or any of the great pilot abilities you use an X-Wing for, like Biggs, Wes or Wedge. Being able to field five naked Kihraxz Fighters in a list is a lot of raw effectiveness but there's no guile or subtlety here. Although the ship & pilots are pretty much the dictionary definition of 'mediocre' there are some good upgrades in this expansion (Glitterstim, Crack Shot, Predator) which is the main reason you'd have for buying this pack.
Also of Interest: None
Scum ships have a bit of a habit of retreading ground already trodden by Rebel & Imperial ships, and in most ways the G1-A Mist Hunter is the scum version of a B-Wing, with very similar stats and dials. Just as B-Wings are at a low ebb the G1-A has had a relatively quiet introduction in Wave 8, though ace bounty hunter Zuckuss has occasionally proven his worth in strong squads. Picking up at least one Mist Hunter expansion is a good call though, not just for Zuckuss as a pilot but because it comes with some strong upgrades only found in this pack: Adapatability and crew versions of 4-LOM and Zuckuss.
Also of Interest: Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom), Veteran Instincts (Shadow Caster, Slave I, Millenium Falcon)
The Jumpmaster 5000 from the Punishing One Expansion has launched not just one of the most dominant Wave 8 squads but two of them! The generic Contracted Scouts terrorised players with Plasma Torpedoes as they finally solved all the problems that had held ordnance back in the last four years. It took a bit longer for players to find the synergies of 'Dengaroo' (a combination of Dengar and Manaroo in their Jumpmasters) but once it was unlocked Dengaroo became the big bad boogeyman of X-Wing for the summer of 2016. Probably wanting to ensure that Scum players didn't just have the IG-2000 to play with it seems like FFG designers deliberately pushed the envelope of how good they could make the Punishing One... and they may have got it wrong and made something a little bit too good. Whether you subscribe to that theory or not there's no denying you get an awful lot of ship & dial for the points you spend on a Jumpmaster!
Away from all the bad vibes of whether Triple Jumps or Dengaroo are good for the competitive face of the game or not I can wholeheartedly recommend buying at least one Punishing One expansion as being good for YOUR game. Dengar doesn't just need Manaroo and sits very comfortably alongside another big bounty hunter like Boba Fett, Bossk or Ketsu Onyo. Manaroo is also a nice support ship for more creative or casual builds, and because FFG wanted to make absolutely certain you'd buy this pack they also threw in some great upgrades: Attani Mindlink, Guidance Chips, Overlocked R4, R5-P8, Dengar crew and Boba Fett crew! It's the closest thing to an essential purchase that Scum players have right now.
Also of Interest: Lone Wolf (Hound's Tooth, YT-2400), Extra Munitions (K-Wing, TIE Punisher), Glitterstim (Hound's Tooth, Kihraxz Fighter), Unhinged Astromech (Most Wanted), Zuckuss (Mist Hunter), Engine Upgrade (Hound's Tooth, Millenium Falcon), Countermeasures (Shadow Caster, YT-2400)
Do you remember how I described the StarViper as 'the poor imitation of a TIE Interceptor'? Well the Protectorate Starfighter proves that counterfeiting has come a long way in the last two years because it's a much better knock-off of that classic design. Coming with some unique abilities that encourage you to be more aggressive with the Protectorate Starfighter than players have proven with ace TIE Interceptors it seems likely that these little ships have been designed and costed in such a way as to go right into competitive play as the first genuinely good small ship available to the Scum faction.
Also of Interest: Push The Limit (Imperial Aces, A-Wing), Autothrusters (StarViper)
One of the most outright interesting ships released in a long time the Shadow Caster brings a whole new approach to turrets with a secondary arc you can rotate around your ship, and a trio of pilots who each promise to do great things if you can fly them well. I can't vouch for whether the Shadow Caster is great or not but it looks almost certain that it's at least good and it's certainly unusual, which are both reasons that mean I'm happy to recommend it. It also comes with some decent upgrade cards: Veteran Instincts is proven gold, Rigged Cargo Chute and Black Market Slicer Tools are both nice Illicits, and getting IG-88D as crew might finally prise the IG-2000 ships away from their mutual love affair to appear in lists with other ships.
Also of Interest: Glitterstim (Hound's Tooth, Kihraxz Fighter), Engine Upgrade (Hound's Tooth, Millenium Falcon)
I'll be blunt. Until Wave 8 brought us the Punishing One expansion Scum & Villainy had been largely absent from success at big tournaments, with 'Brobots' the only Scum squad to regularly perform well. Punishing One has since created two great Scum squads - Triple Jumps (or 'U-Boats' if you prefer) and Dengaroo - but I don't want this buying guide to basically read 'here's what you need to buy to play Dengaroo' either. Instead I'm going to be a bit more general about putting together the pieces for you to start enjoying and exploring various Scum combinations that aren't necessarily the stock tournament lists.
In general you can classify most of the best Scum pilots by whether they cost around 50 points and work as a pair with another expensive ship, or whether they cost around 30-35 points and thus you build a team of three ships.
One wrinkle in Scum & Villainy as a faction is that their large ships tend to be a lot better than their small ships. Although there are a host of little pirate ships available it tend to be the ships belonging to iconic bounty hunters like Boba Fett or Bossk that are the strongest options and a lot of players have found good success by just putting two of these guys together in various combinations. Dengar & Bossk, Bossk & Boba, Asajj Ventress & IG-88, Dengar & Boba... putting almost any two big Scum ships onto the table alongside each other can pose a threat to the opponent.
If this is your chosen route then you should probably start with the Punishing One for Dengar as he's one of the best all-rounders of the big ships, and then Hound's Tooth makes a good addition not just because the ship itself is a threat but because in Engine Upgrade, K4 Security Droid, Outlaw Tech, Lone Wolf, and Glitterstim you get some great upgrade cards to load onto your big guns.
Once you've begun your big ships collection then adding the Shadow Caster or Slave I just gives you more options to switch around with, although adding Boba Fett to Scum requires you to buy both the Slave I expansion for his ship and Most Wanted for the scum pilot card. At any point in this process it can be a good call to add a couple of strong crew options from the Mist Hunter expansion, and maximising your two ships might mean picking up either an A-Wing for Push The Limit or a Kihraxz Fighter for Predator, two staple Elite Pilot Talents that improve almost any ship..
Three's A Crowd
Although a lot of the strength of Scum & Villainy lies in the big ships there's now enough strength in depth to go about building a good squad with three cheaper ships, not least because you can field 'pocket battleship' versions of a couple of the big bounty hunter ships and squeeze them in at discount prices!
When assembling your trio of terror there's no right or wrong way to go about it, just styles of pilots involved. Kavil and Palob are both ships that can equip turrets, the Protectorate Fighter pilots like Fenn Rau or Old Teroch are aggressive fighters living on their agility, like Guri's StarViper, but Zuckuss or a Trandoshan Slaver are big brawlers. Behind any of these ships you've got the option of running Manaroo, who tends to sit around at the back and support the rest of her team. Which three should you put together? Well, that's really a call for you to make for what sort of squad you want to play and what you'll enjoy, but there are some cases where ships come with complimentary upgrades.
The Protectorate Starfighter is a fragile ship with a Boost action which means it's a prime candidate for equipping the Autothrusters that come on the StarViper, while Guri will enjoy running with Fearlessness as her Elite Pilot Talent because she already wants to be at Range 1 of an enemy. Where does Fearlessness come from? That's right, the Protectorate Starfighter.
That's not the only synergetic purchases you can create if you spend a little time planning ahead. For example Palob Godalhi likes to play tricks with your opponent's Focus tokens and that makes him an excellent candidate for an Attani Mindlink that comes from the Punishing One expansion if you wanted to add Manaroo. If you want to play Palob Godalhi then you're going to need to buy Most Wanted as well as the HWK-290 expansion, and in Most Wanted you also get Kavil the Y-Wing ace who likes turrets. Buying a K-Wing pack would then equip both Palob and Kavil with Twin Laser Turrets, so you get a 2-for-1 there, and then as if that wasn't enough your Most Wanted also gives you an Unhinged Astromech and K4 Security Droid for Manaroo!
In fact by also using the Torpedoes and Guidance Chips from your Punishing One you can create a pretty solid 100pts list just from those four packs...
- Palob Godalhi (HWK-290/Most Wanted) - Attani Mindlink (Punishing One), Recon Specialist (HWK-290), Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing) - 30 points
- Kavil (Most Wanted) - Attani Mindlink (Punishing One), Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing), Plasma Torpedoes (K-Wing), Unhinged Astromech (Most Wanted), Guidance Chips (Punishing One) - 35 points
- Manaroo (Punishing One) - Dengar (Punishing One), R5-P8 (Punishing One), Feedback Array (Punishing One) - 35 points