Wednesday, 28 September 2016

X-Wing Miniatures Buying Guide - Part III: Scum & Villainy

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.


SUMMARY




EXPANSION BREAKDOWN

Y-Wing
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)


Slave I
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)


HWK-290
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)


Z-95 Headhunter
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
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)


M3-A Scyk
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


StarViper
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)


IG-2000
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)


Hound's Tooth
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)  


Kihraxz Fighter
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


Mist Hunter
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)


Punishing One
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)


Protectorate Starfighter
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)


Shadow Caster
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)


SCUM ROUTES

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.


Double Trouble
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

Thursday, 22 September 2016

X-Wing Miniatures Buying Guide - Part II: Imperials

===== UPDATED APRIL 2017 =====

Continuing my mini-series looking at how new players should approach buying into a new Faction this is my buying guide for the glorious Imperial Fleet.  



As with the Rebels guide I'm going to do this a couple of different ways - a top level summary of what's in each pack, this is followed by a quick rundown of the pack so you get an idea of what you might want from it.  I'm going to talk about what other expansions you might need to get to really get the best out of the ships you buy, then go through a few possible routes for how to build your Imperial fleet from square one (spoiler: you probably start with Imperial Veterans).



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.


IMPERIAL SUMMARY





EXPANSION BREAKDOWN

TIE Fighter
The humble TIE Fighter remains as efficient and effective today as it was when the game was first released, with the basic Academy Pilot almost certainly the single best use of 12pts in the game.  If you are interested in building a TIE Swarm (or mini-swarm) at any point then you WILL need at least one TIE Fighter expansion pack for the utterly essential Howlrunner.  The main question you need to answer is how many TIE Fighters you think you will need and whether you're best sourcing them from the Core Set and Gozanti Assault Carrier, where you'll get some more variety in pilots than just bulk-buying this expansion.

Also of Interest: Crack Shot (Kihraxz Fighter, Hound's Tooth, Imperial Veterans)


TIE Advanced
The TIE Advanced had not aged as well as the TIE Fighter, at least until the release of the Imperial Raider breathed new life into the old ship.  The TIE Advanced has some interesting pilot abilities for casual play that might warrant getting a second ship but for competitive play you pretty much only ever see Darth Vader behind the controls and to get Darth Vader you'll need to buy this expansion.  Buying this expansion probably goes hand-in-hand with buying the Imperial Raider - you won't want to run the TIE Advanced without the Raider's upgrades but you also probably won't want to run the TIE Advanced model you get in the Raider without Darth Vader!

Also of Interest: Predator (TIE Defender, Kihraxz Fighter, Ghost), TIE/x1 (Imperial Raider), Advanced Targeting Computer (Imperial Raider), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon, Hound's Tooth).


Slave I
The Imperials introduced Slave I in Wave 2 but it's the Scum & Villainy faction that really gets the best out of it as their pilot card for Boba Fett is much better than what the Imperials get.  You're not really going to get much use from Slave I in an Imperial squad, no matter how cool it looks.  Bounty Hunters.  We don't need their scum.  But what we DO need are some of the juicy upgrade cards that come with Slave I, like Veteran Instincts, Gunner and Stealth Device.

Also of Interest: Boba Fett (Most Wanted) to use Slave I in Scum squads.




TIE Interceptor
The TIE Interceptor expansion is in a very similar boat to the TIE Advanced expansion.  You won't really want to play Interceptors without the Imperial Aces expansion, which includes two Interceptor models, but the best TIE Interceptor pilot (and arguably best pilot in the game) Soontir Fel is only available in this expansion.  You can pretty much open this pack and take out Soontir Fel's pilot card then put the rest of it back on the shelf to gather dust.

Also of Interest: Push The Limit (Imperial Aces, A-Wing), Royal Guard TIE (Imperial Aces), Autothrusters (StarViper), Stealth Device (Slave I, M3-A Scyk)


Lambda Shuttle
The Lambda Shuttle serves one key purpose - ferrying Emperor Palpatine into battle to spur your glorious Imperial pilots to even greater feats of excellence.  For its low cost the shuttle has some fantastic stats but is hobbled by one of the worst maneuver dials of any ship.  The shuttle's raw stats mean it's not a dead loss without Palpatine aboard - you can strap a cannon to it and use at long range artillery - but 99% of the time it's purely there for Palpatine, and since he received a bit of a nerf in March 2017 the Lambda has taken a real dip in popularity.

Also of Interest: Emperor Palpatine (Imperial Raider)



TIE Bomber
For the longest time the TIE Bomber was a ship that had no purpose as Bombs/Torpedoes were rubbish, so having a ship designed specifically to carry them didn't bode well. That all changed when Imperial Veterans brought new Bomber pilots and an interesting new title to switch your ordnance for crew slots.  Bombers have proven to have some good niche applications but the best pilots all seem to be those in Imperial Veterans so buy that first then come here if you think you need multiple Bombers.

Also of Interest: TIE Shuttle (Imperial Veterans), Guidance Chips (Inquisitor's TIE, Punishing One), Plasma Torpedoes (TIE Punisher, K-Wing, Punishing One), Extra Munitions (TIE Punisher)



TIE Defender
The TIE/x7 title in Imperial Veterans expansion transformed the TIE Defender from a bloated and overcosted nothing to a real powerhouse, and even after the /x7 title was nerfed a bit in March 2017 the Defender remains a solid piece of kit.  Much as with the TIE Bomber you will want to buy Imperial Veterans first but then adding a second TIE Defender with this expansion is certainly highly recommended.  You get 2x TIE/x7 titles in Imperial Veterans and Colonel Vessery works very well with Countess Ryad from Veterans so running the two TIE Defenders alongside each other is a very powerful combination. If it sweetens the deal for you then remember that you also get Predator, the go-to Elite Pilot Talent for improving the damage output of any ship.

Also of Interest: Twin Ion Engine MKII (TIE Punisher), TIE/x7 (Imperial Veterans), Countess Ryad (Imperial Veterans)


TIE Phantom
I love the TIE Phantom.  LOVE IT.  With it's cheeky cloaking/decloaking shenanigans there's no other ship in the game that can fly like the TIE Phantom and for that reason alone I would always recommend it as a purchase, just to broaden your horizons and switch things up a bit now and then.  We've moved on a long way from the time when TIE Phantoms ruled the skies of X-Wing but Whisper is still a strong pilot who creeps in and wins tournaments occasionally when people aren't paying attention.  Added gravy: you get Tactician and Fire Control System upgrades, which are pretty common additions to a lot of different ships.

Also of Interest: Veteran Instincts (Millenium Falcon, Slave I, Shadow Caster), Agent Kallus (Imperial Assault Carrier), Intelligence Agent (Lambda Shuttle, HWK-290)


Imperial Aces
Imperial Aces really served one purpose - making TIE Interceptors one of the most feared ships in the game.  The metagame wheel is always turning, though, and Interceptors are no longer flavour of the month and Imperial Veterans is likely your first stop before you get to the Aces.  A word of warning for prospective Interceptor pilots - aces like Soontir Fel or Carnor Jax are incredibly powerful if you get them right but die almost instantly if you play them badly.  There is tremendous power in this expansion, but it comes at a price of suffering through all your mistakes until you learn to fly them well.

Also of Interest: Soontir Fel (TIE Interceptor), Autothrusters (StarViper), Stealth Device (Slave I, M3-A Scyk)  



VT-49 Decimator
The VT-49 Decimator is a unique addition to the Imperial arsenal in that it's the only Imperial ship to carry a turret with a 360 degree firing arc - that turret means it transforms how Imperial squads approach games.  The Decimator is an incredibly flexible platform that can be built in countless different ways: maximising damage, maneuvering or survivability, and equally at home ramming opponents or speeding away from them.  It's one of the 'hubs' of competitive Imperial lists and the "Decimator & ???" squads have frequently performed well, with the Decimator appearing alongside top escort ships like Darth Vader, Soontir Fel or Whisper's TIE Phantom.  The Decimator is a ship I'm happy to recommend for both casual and competitive use, although bear in mind it doesn't really fit into other lists as much as it demands that other ships fit into its plan!

Also of Interest: Emperor Palpatine (Imperial Raider), Predator (TIE Defender, Kihraxz Fighter, Ghost), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon, Hound's Tooth), Rebel Captive (Lambda Shuttle), Gunner (Slave I, YT-2400), Hotshot Co-Pilot (Heroes of the Resistance), Kylo Ren (Upsilon Shuttle)


Imperial Raider
Once you step down this dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

The Imperial Raider marks a real decision point for anybody developing their Imperial fleet - it's an expensive purchase for an Epic ship you may never play but it's where both Emperor Palpatine and upgrades to make Darth Vader's TIE Advanced a potent threat come from.  Emperor Palpatine pretty much defined the Imperial faction for a while but errata in March 2017 pegged him back a bit and the Raider became a much less important drain on your wallet.

A number of other purchases really hinge on whether you've got an Imperial Raider or not - the Lambda Shuttle without Emperor Palpatine is pretty weak, and so is the TIE Advanced without the Advanced Targeting Computer so there's actually a bunch of ships that you probably want to buy at once.  That means the Raider is a big investment you should think carefully about making before jumping in.  

Also of Interest: Omicron Group Pilot (Lambda Shuttle), VT-49 Decimator (Decimator), Darth Vader (TIE Advanced)


TIE Punisher
The TIE Punisher looks awesome - it's this hulking ball of death that squats beetle-like on the table with weapon pods bristling with devastating ordnance.  Unfortunately it's also terrible and one of the strongest contenders for worst ship in the game.  The Punisher's dial is diabolical and the points it demands you spend to load up all those weapon pods are a huge risk considering how quickly it will die if your opponent decides to focus on it.  Casual players: Deathrain is really cool if you want to play with bombs.  Competitive players: you're more likely to buy this for two copies of Twin Ion Engine MkII, which only comes in this expansion and really helps the TIE Defenders out, or Plasma Torpedoes and Extra Munitions for your TIE Bombers.

Also of Interest: Guidance Chips (Inquisitor's TIE, Punishing One), Conner Net (K-Wing, Ghost), Proximity Mines (Slave I, IG-2000, Imperial Veterans)




Imperial Assault Carrier
If you're not going to play Epic games then the ideal time to pick up the Assault Carrier is when you're still looking to expand your TIE Fighter collection to a full swarm because that way you can sort of mentally discount about half of the cost of the Carrier as it's replacing two TIE Fighter expansions you were going to buy anyway.  The payoff for picking up the Carrier over two Fighters is mainly in new TIE Fighter pilots like Wampa and Scourge, with Agent Kallus a crew option that frequently goes into the TIE Phantom.

Also of Interest: Whisper (TIE Phantom)


TIE/fo
At the moment the TIE/fo is proving to be the poor cousin of the classic TIE Fighter just because it's that little bit more expensive, meaning you usually have to cut a ship from your swarm to play TIE/fos over the original TIE Fighters, and numbers count in a swarm.  That said, probably the two best TIE/fo pilots (Zeta & Omega Leaders) appear in this expansion.  Omega Leader is amazing and he alone means that at least one TIE/fo expansion is pretty much compulsory, with this expansion coming with all the cards you need to field Omega Leader at full strength (Juke and Comm Relay, only available here).

You're definitely going to buy one copy of this expansion (for Omega Leader) but any extra TIE/fo you need might as well come from the Force Awakens Core Set unless you need to pick up more Jukes.

Also of Interest: None


Inquisitor's TIE
The Inquisitor really hit the ground running, setting a new standard for how good a 'pocket ace' could be (just 31pts for The Inquisitor in his most common build).  The TIE Advanced Prototype has a great dial and solid stats for the price, with a nice Title as well, but so far any pilots but The Inquisitor have yet to find a clear role.  You're paying a lot more than a basic TIE Fighter but not really getting that much extra in terms of damage output unless you pay even more to load them up with missiles.

Also of Interest; Push The Limit (Imperial Aces, A-Wings), Autothrusters (StarViper)


Imperial Veterans
Imperial Veterans had an immediate impact on competitive play by thrusting the TIE Defender out of the shadows and into the spotlight, with titles that are both competitive (TIE/x7) and creative (TIE/D) and some solid new pilots.  What's especially great about the TIE Defender is that it's actually pretty user-friendly, which most Imperial ships aren't - they're flimsy things made out of papier mache and fairy wings which aren't very forgiving for new players.  By contrast TIE Defenders are rough and tumble and that makes them a pretty good place to start your career in the Imperial fleet.  Imperial Veterans also includes some new TIE Bomber toys and great pilots like Tomax Bren and Deathfire.

TL;DR: Imperial Veterans is going to be *very* high on your Imperial shopping list.

Also of Interest; Twin Ion Engine MkII (TIE Punisher), Extra Munitions (TIE Punisher, K-Wing), Guidance Chips (Inquisitor's TIE, Punishing One), Plasma Torpedoes (TIE Punisher, K-Wing, Punishing One), Ion Cannon (Slave I, TIE Defender, B-Wing, M3-A Scyk)


Special Forces TIE Fighter
It took a little while to get get traction but the Special Forces TIE Fighter (or TIE/sf its friends) is proving itself a versatile little pocket battleship and after the /x7 Defenders got nerfed in March 2017 could well be the best ship that the Imperials have available.  In truth the TIE/sf is something quite unusual for the Imperials and kind of feels... whisper it... a bit, well a bit Rebel.  Two green dice, six hull and shield, not hugely fast, it definitely has a different feel from anything else the Imperials have available, and it's well worth picking up.

Also of Interest: Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom)


TIE Striker
Float like a butterfly, sting like a butterfly.  The TIE Striker's unique Adaptive Ailerons title makes it faster and more maneuverable than pretty much any other ship in the game, but with just 4 hull and 2 green dice they're also flimsier and less durable than anything else.   The TIE Striker can be great fun to play around with as you zip about the board but there's little sign that it's anything more than a fast-moving distraction for your opponents and even though the top end 'aces' are attractively priced they still don't really add that much more in terms of survivability or damage output.  The Lightweight Frame modification may be a reason to pick one up as it's a decent addition to protect expensive TIE/sf and TIE Bomber aces.

Also of Interest: Predator (TIE Defender, Ghost)


Upsilon Shuttle
Kylo Ren's Upsilon Shuttle arrived in the game at just about the time that Emperor Palpatine's Lambda Shuttle was leaving due to his highness being dealt an errata nerf.  Superficially similar as they're both shuttles the Upsilon is really a different animal to the Lambda as with it's 4 red dice and superior maneuver dial it deserves to do more than just hide in the corner like the Lambda used to.  Truly competitive uses of the Upsilon Shuttle are still uncertain, but it looks awesome and certainly brings something to the table in casual games, both with those 4 red dice and with Kylo Ren or General Hux aboard.

Also of Interest: Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom), Rebel Captive (Lambda Shuttle)


IMPERIAL ROUTES

In general it's been possible to group all the various Imperial squads that have been popular into four distinct types, which I like to call 'hubs' because of the way they tend to revolve around a particular key ship or pilot.  These hubs are:

  • Swarms
  • Aces
  • Decimators
  • Duellists
These four hubs are absolutely NOT essential so please feel free to ignore them and grow your squad however you like, but it's striking just how consistently these structures appear and reappear in successful lists and that makes them a good basis for choosing  your career in the Imperial fleet.

I'm going to tackle them out of the order I shared about, just because the Duellists is such a good 'starter' route that I want to talk about that first before we get into the more specialist squads.


Duellists
Signature Ships: TIE Defender, Special Forces TIE Fighter, TIE Bomber

The 'Duellists' hub is a pretty new development for Imperial Squads, springing into life almost entirely off the back of the recent Imperial Veterans and Special Force TIE Fighter expansions.  The main difference is in how rugged the ships are compared to the traditional nimble but flimsy TIE Fighters, and in many ways the Duellists play the game a lot more like a Rebel list might.

Imperial Veterans is obviously the place to start and then from there you almost certainly immediately add either a Special Forces TIE Fighter or a second TIE Defender from the expansion.  That gets you 2/3rds of your list straight away and you're just looking for a third ship to round it all out with.  That could mean speccing up a TIE Bomber for more firepower, yet more TIE Defenders, or adding Omega Leader who comes complete with his upgrades in the TIE/fo expansion.

As with the Decimator hub you're not really spending a lot to buy extra ships for the Defenders but it might be worth picking up a couple of expansion for their upgrades.  The TIE Punisher will add a second heavy ship and comes with Extra Munitions and Plasma Torpedoes for you to start making better use of your TIE Bomber you got from Imperial Veterans, and a pair of the important Twin Ion Engine MkII for your TIE Defenders.  

In fact you could build a pretty good 100pts list with just the contents of Imperial Veterans, a TIE Defender and a TIE Punisher expansion...
  • Colonel Vessery (TIE Defender) - Outmaneuer (TIE Defender), TIE/x7 (Imperial Veterans), Twin Ion Engine MkII (TIE Punisher) - 37 Points
  • Countess Ryad (Imperial Veterans) - TIE/x7 (Imperial Veterans), Twin Ion Engine MkII (TIE Punisher) - 33 Points
  • Tomax Bren (Imperial Veterans) - Crack Shot (Imperial Veterans), Plasma Torpedoes (TIE Punisher), Extra Munitions (TIE Punisher), Long Range Scanners (Imperial Veterans) - 30 Points


Swarms
Signature ships: TIE Fighters, TIE/fo

A swarm of iconic TIE Fighters is a hugely successful archetype that has stood the test of time.  Players are often unduly wary about flying swarms because of the risk of bumping your ships into each other as you've got so many.  You'll almost certainly crash a lot at the start but it's really not that hard to pick up - the learning curve is nowhere near as steep as it for learning to arc-dodge properly with Soontir Fel, for instance!

The main objective in building a swarm is to rapidly scale up the number of TIE Fighters you've got so start with a classic Core Set and then immediately buy a TIE Fighter Expansion so that you've got Howlrunner as well.  From there I'd look around for the best way to add a bunch more TIE Fighters, either through picking up more of the TIE Fighter expansion, another Core Set (maybe the Force Awakens Core Set for some TIE/fos) or the Imperial Assault Carrier if money really isn't an object.  It's probably a good idea to pick up at least one TIE/fo Expansion to get Zeta Leader and Omega Leader as they are both great options to have at your disposal.  

Once you've got to six or seven TIE Fighters and/or TIE/fo you can play around with lots of different combinations of pilots as TIE Swarms come in many different flavours - either lots of cheap Academy Pilots or fewer named pilots with neat abilities.  So long as there's a bunch of TIEs and Howlrunner is in there then you're going to be a threat!  The 'kicker' for the TIE Swarm is going out of your way to acquire a bunch of the Crack Shot upgrade in the Scum Kihraxz Fighter Expansion to use on some Black Squadron TIE Fighters.


Decimator
Signature Ships: Decimator (duh)

The VT-49 Decimator has a unique place in the Imperial arsenal as the only ship to come with a turret, and it's proven time and again to be a great platform for competitive squads in various configurations.  You're going to start out, unsurprisingly, by buying the VT-49 Decimator Expansion and then you look for something strong to pair the Decimator with.  The Decimator usually costs around 60-65 points once you've finished loading it up with gear so you want a strong partner that costs about 35-40 points, which is usually just about enough to invest in a top level ace of some description.   The most newbie-friendly option would be to buy Imperial Veterans for a TIE Defender, and the more advanced pilots you're likely to see with a Decimator are Whisper, Soontir Fel and Darth Vader (which requires buying the Imperial Raider), or even a second Decimator!

Unlike other hubs you're only going to be using a couple of ships so there's not many extra purchases you need to expand your fleet but there's probably a couple of good purchases you could make for key upgrades to maximise the pilots you are using.  It may not have much to do with the Empire but the Millenium Falcon expansion comes with Veteran Instincts (for Whisper) and Engine Upgrade (for the Decimator), or alternatively Slave I will also get you Veteran Instincts and Gunner instead of Engine Upgrade, for a Decimator that's less agile but has more guaranteed damage output.  The Lambda Shuttle also brings a host of crew options and other upgrades that can fit onto the Decimator, like Rebel Captive, Darth Vader, Anti-Pursuit Lasers and even has Intelligence Agent for Whisper.


Aces
Signature Ships: TIE Defender, TIE Interceptor, TIE Advanced Prototype, Lambda Shuttle

The true Imperial Aces like Soontir Fel and Darth Vader and co have all taken a bit of a back seat since Imperial Veterans made TIE Defenders the new big thing, but the basic squad shape of having two or three elite pilots remained unchanged.

A modern take on Imperial Aces is likely to be based on the powerful TIE Defender pairing of Countess Ryad and Colonel Vessery, so you'll need to pick up both Imperial Veterans and a standalone TIE Defender expansion.  That ticks off roughly two thirds of your squad and gives a really tough centrepiece to hang a third ship off.

The more classic versions of Imperial Aces put the appropriately-named Imperial Aces box at the heart of this hub as it unlocks playing TIE Interceptors to their maximum and it's pretty much unavoidable that you pick up a third TIE Interceptor because the expansion is needed for Soontir Fel.  These classic pilots walk such a thin line of excellence that there's very little room for experimentation in how they are loaded up so the buying list becomes very prescriptive.  Your aces will rely on maximum results from their green dice and to support them you'll almost certainly need Autothrusters from the StarViper expansion.

Whether you've gone for the modern or classic take on Imperial Aces you'll likely have around 30pts left to fill your list out with. If you've got the cash to burn this might be where you take the plunge with a Lambda Shuttle and the Imperial Raider to bring Emperor Palpatine to the table, if not then it's then your choice of which aces you want round out with, with the Inquisitor's TIE, Omega Leader's TIE/fo, or even a well-equipped TIE Bomber or TIE Striker as possible options. 



COMMON BUILDS

Darth Vader
Darth Vader (TIE Advanced)
Predator (TIE Defender, Kihraxz Fighter, Ghost), TIE/x1 (Imperial Raider), Advanced Targeting Computer (Imperial Raider), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon, Hound's Tooth)

Soontir Fel
Soontir Fel (TIE Interceptor)
Push The Limit (Imperial Aces, A-Wing), Royal Guard TIE (Imperial Aces), Stealth Device (Slave I, M3-A Scyk), Autothrusters (StarViper)

The Inquisitor
The Inquisitor (TIE Advanced Prototype)
Push The Limit (Imperial Aces, A-Wing), TIE/v1 (TIE Advanced Prototype), Autothrusters (StarViper)

Whisper
Whisper (TIE Phantom)
Veteran Instincts (Millenium Falcon, Slave I, Shadow Caster), Fire Control System (TIE Phantom), Advanced Cloaking Device (TIE Phantom)

Omega Leader
Omega Leader (TIE/fo)
Juke (TIE/fo), Comm Relay (TIE/fo)

Countess Ryad
Countess Ryad (Imperial Veterans)
Push The Limit (Imperial Aces, A-Wing), TIE/x7 (Imperial Veterans), Twin Ion Engine MkII (TIE Punisher)

Chiraneau
Rear Admiral Chiraneau (Decimator)
Veteran Instincts  (Millenium Falcon, Slave I, Shadow Caster), Rebel Captive (Lambda Shuttle), Ysanne Isard (Decimator), Gunner (Slave I, YT-2400), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon, Hound's Tooth)
Although as I said above the Decimator is a Swiss Army Knife of a ship you can build a hundred different ways and they'll all play quite differently.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

X-Wing Miniatures Buying Guide - Part I:- Rebels

=== UPDATED APRIL 2017 ===

When you first dive into a new collectible game, especially one with as many years and expansions under it's belt as X-Wing has, it can be very daunting... not to mention expensive!


As such there's always a market for a good guide to how important each set is and which you should buy first.  I'm going to break my guide down by faction, and then for each faction give you an overview of the highlights in each pack before giving you a bit more of a flavour of whether it's going to be a good pick for you or not.  Sometimes it might be that you need the ship to play with, but sometimes it will just be a particular upgrade or pilot that you desperately need from the expansion.

As well as the best bits in the pack I'm going to signpost some of the most common upgrades for those ships that you might need to hunt down from other expansions, even from other factions!

Lastly I'm going to give a quick a rundown of how I think those packs really come again and a couple of potential 'routes' through building and expanding your collection.


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.


REBEL SUMMARY





EXPANSIONS BREAKDOWN

X-Wing Expansion Pack
The iconic T-65 X-Wings might be the workhorse of the Rebel fleet in the films but in the X-Wing Miniatures Game they're showing their age - understandable as they're one of the first ships ever created.  Biggs Darklighter's pilot ability makes him one of the best in the game but you rarely see the other legendary X-Wing pilots played competitively.  Even if you're sticking to casual games and are dedicated to running X-Wings then this expansion pack has little to offer - your first X-Wing should come from the Core Set (with Biggs and R2-D2) and your second X-Wing should probably come from the Rebel Transport expansion (with Wes Janson and a host of good astromechs).

Also of interest: Integrated Astromech (T-70 & Heroes of the Resistance)




Y-Wing Expansion Pack
Much like the X-Wing the venerable Y-Wing is pretty limited, but the Twin Laser Turret upgrade (K-Wing expansion) gave the Y-Wing a second lease of life, either in the 'Stresshog' configuration with R3-A2 or just in a swarm of four Y-Wings.  If you go that route you'll probably want to stock up multiple Y-Wings but other than with Twin Laser Turret this classic ship struggles to find a role as the dial is very limited.

Also of interest: Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing), BTL-A4 Title (Most Wanted), R3-A2 (Rebel Transport)


Millenium Falcon 
The Falcon has been around since Wave 2 but still finds it's way into strong squads as a testament to it's enduring appeal.  It's a great expansion that comes with most of the cards you're going to want to use on it and and even with the Heroes of the Resistance expansion bringing the updated Force Awakens pilots like Rey there is a lot to be said for the original Millenium Falcon in the hands of Han Solo or Chewbacca.  The classic Falcon plays very differently to the new one and comes with enough excellent upgrades (particularly Engine Upgrade) that it's still a solid purchase even if you've already got Heroes of the Resistance.

Also of interest: Predator (Ghost), C-3PO (Tantive IV)



A-Wing 
The major problem with the A-Wing expansion is that all the best reasons to play A-Wings are in Rebel Aces along with another A-Wing model.  If you're only going to play one A-Wing then I'd recommend Rebel Aces but if you're looking for multiple then the right thing to do is alternate between Rebel Aces and the A-Wing expansion as you get 2x Chardaan Refit and 2x A-Wing Test Pilot in Rebel Aces.

Also of Interest: Jake Farrell (Rebel Aces), Chardaan Refit (Rebel Aces), A-Wing Test Pilot (Rebel Aces), Proton Rockets (Rebel Aces), Crack Shot (Kihraxz Fighter), Autothrusters (StarViper)

NOTE: The A-Wing expansion does have Push The Limit, though, which is arguably the best Elite Pilot Talent in the game and only otherwise available in Imperial Aces.


HWK-290
A slow and rarely-played support ship, the HWK-290 is the butt of a lot of jokes and only occasionally sees play, and the best pilot is probably Palob Godalhi for the Scum faction.  If you are playing casually it's a fun ship to add because it does things other ships can't but it hasn't found a competitive Rebel home.

Also of Interest: Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing), Palob Godalhi (Most Wanted)



B-Wing 
The B-Wing is a brawling hog of a ship that trades on it's relatively high Hull/Shields and tight turning circle in a dogfight.  It's at a low ebb at the moment but B-Wing swarms have been very strong in the past and could easily come back.  If you're already getting A-Wings then you'll pick up B-Wings in Rebel Aces, but the B-Wing expansion is one of only two places to find a Fire Control System, which is an excellent System upgrade.  

Also of interest: None


Rebel Transport
You remember that butt-ugly slug-shaped ship that briefly flew past an ionised Star Destroyer in Empire Strikes Back?  Now you too can own this Rebel icon!  Excited?  Although on paper the Rebel Transport should be a rubbish expansion it's almost a compulsory purchase for Rebel players trying to be competitive in tournaments because it comes with a suite of fantastic Astromechs that unlock a lot of the best builds for the best Rebel pilots.  R3-A2 (the 'stressbot' in several builds including Wes Janson), R5-P9 (the ideal partner for Poe Dameron) and R4-D6 (for Biggs Darklighter) make the Rebel Transport a 'luxury' purchase that you're going to get A LOT of use out of.

Also of interest: Integrated Astromech (T-70, Heroes of the Resistance), Poe Dameron (Heroes of the Resistance), Biggs Darklighter (Core Set)




Tantive IV 
The opposite of the Rebel Transport, the Tantive IV is an iconic Rebel ship that, unfortunately, has very little to offer if you're not playing Epic games.  Primarily this is the source of C-3PO, who is excellent crew for the Millenium Falcon, but since FFG made C-3PO available as a promo card for playing in tournaments it's been possible to track him down without having to blow a huge wad of cash on the Tantive.

Also of interest: Ebay, to get you a C-3PO without paying for this!



Z-95 Headhunter 
Once a common sighting on the table as a cheap annoyance the Z-95 has become a more rarified sight.  Wave 10 brought Sabine's TIE Fighter as a better cheap option for Rebel squads but having at least one Z-95 in your collection is probably a good call for those times when you've got 12 points dangling at the end of your squad, and the 'aces' like Airen Cracken do have moments when their pilot abilities can really help.

Also of interest: Guidance Chips (Punishing One, Inquisitor's TIE)


     

E-Wing
At the moment Corran Horn is the only reason play an E-Wing as they're potentially very good ships but far too expensive.  The expectation is that at some point there will be a 'Rebel Veterans' expansion that will give the E-Wing a boost but until then it's one to avoid unless you want to play Corran, who is an excellent Rebel ace.

Also of interest: R2-D2 (Core Set), Push The Limit (A-Wing, Imperial Aces), Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom)


Rebel Aces
This 'patch' expansion was intended to help out the A-Wing and B-Wing.  The A-Wings really benefited from it but the B-Wings not so much.  It's pretty much essential for using A-Wings, especially as it contains the best A-Wing pilot in the game: Jake Farrell.  If you're not in it for A-Wings there's a couple of new crew for big ships, with Jan Ors maybe the one who gets played most often.

Also of interest: More A-Wings! (A-Wing), Autothrusters (StarViper)




YT-2400
A lot like the E-Wing the YT-2400 is a ship that basically only ever gets seen in one pretty specific configuration - 'Super Dash'.  Dash Rendar makes for one of the most powerful and annoying Rebel pilots in the game once you assemble all the necessary pieces from other expansions, but you pretty much never see anything else from the YT-2400.

Also of interest: Push The Limit (A-Wing, Imperial Aces), Kanan Jarrus (Ghost), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon, Hound's Tooth)


K-Wing 
At time of writing (April 2017) K-Wings are almost certainly the strongest ship in the Rebel arsenal, so much so that if you can actually find a K-Wing expansion pack in a store you should snap it up as there seems to be a worldwide shortage!  2016 finally made ordnance like Bombs, Torpedoes and Missiles playable and the K-Wings took that and ran with it, to the extent that Miranda Doni is arguably the single best pilot in the game regardless of whether she's loaded up with turrets, torpedoes or bombs.  The cheaper Warden Squadron Pilot has also become a terror of the skies when loaded up with bombs or missiles, although flying a bomber is a very different way of playing X-Wing that's not everybody's cup of tea.

K-Wings: their time is now.

Also of Interest: Sabine Wren (Ghost), C-3PO (Tantive IV), Cluster Mines (Ghost, TIE Punisher, Imperial Veterans), Guidance Chips (Punishing One, TIE Advanced Prototype)

Note: The other big reason to buy the K-Wing is that they are the only way to get of the fantastic Twin Laser Turrets, and one of only two sources of Extra Munitions for your missile boats.



T-70 X-Wing
When it first landed the T-70 X-Wing made a real splash.  Poe Dameron and Red Ace proved two of the most durable pilots around thanks to their shield regenerating shenanigans, although they quickly disappeared when bigger torpedo and missile attacks which could overwhelm their defenses become more common.  No longer a competitive ship the T-70 remains a fantastic all-rounder that can do a bit of everything and is a great starter ship for new players to learn the game.  Much like the original X-Wing Expansion, though, the T-70 X-Wings you most want to play don't actually come in this pack and you'll probably want to pick up the Force Awakens Core Set (for Poe Dameron and BB-8) and Heroes of the Resistance (for a bunch of great pilots like Nien Nunb and Jess Pava). 
Also of Interest: Poe Dameron (Force Awakens Core Set, Heroes of the Resistance), Autothrusters (StarViper)


Ghost
The Ghost is a fantastic purchase for both competitive and casual play.  The basic Lothal Rebel is one of the most cost-effective ways to spend 40-ish points because you buy a lot of raw power for not a lot of points, and you see it paired frequently alongside either 'Super Dash' or the Millenium Falcon.  With interesting pilots like Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus there's options for casual play as well, and that's even before we get to all the ways of using the Attack Shuttle as well.

Also of Interest: Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom), Autoblaster Turret (Most Wanted), Recon Specialist (HWK-290, TIE Phantom, ARC-170)


===== COMING SOON =====


Heroes of the Resistance
Bringing us all the best bits of The Force Awakens movie to you game, the Heroes of the Resistance expansion is a great way to start expanding your Rebel fleet.  Although they didn't quite manage to transform the competitive metagame Rey & Finn make a great partnership in the new Millenium Falcon and there are several interesting new pilots for the T-70 X-Wing.  If you're being hardcore competitive then this pack falls just a tiny bit short of the mark, but if you're in the mood for a whole bunch of cool stuff to play with then this has to be one of the best value expansions in the game.

Rey, Finn, Nien Nunb, Snap Wexley, Jess Pava, Smuggling Compartment, Pattern Analyser, Snap Shot... there are A LOT of good reasons to buy this expansion.

Also of Interest: Kanan Jarrus (Ghost), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon, Hound's Tooth)


ARC-170 

The ARC-170 sits somewhere between the X-Wing and the Y-Wing - tougher and slower than an X-Wing and with a rear gunner where the Y-Wing has its turret slot.  What really makes the ARC-170 worth playing is the combination of upgrade slots available (it's the only ship with an astromech slot AND a crew slot) and this has allowed it to find a niche as bit of a rugged brawler, especially when Norra Wexley is the pilot.  Filling out all those upgrade slots with the right bits and pieces means the ARC-170 works best when you've already got a few expansion packs under your belt, but even if it's not quite optimised a new player will usually find the ARC to be a solid pick.

Also of Interest: Push The Limit (A-Wing, Imperial Aces), R2-D2 (Core Set), R3-A2 (Rebel Transport), Gunner (Slave I, YT-2400)



Sabine's TIE Fighter
Whether or not you think it's controversial that the Rebels now get to use TIE Fighters (courtesy of a stolen TIE in the cartoon series Rebels), this expansion is VERY cool.  The upgrade potential that Sabine's Masterpiece and Captured TIE offer have led to some extremely creative uses, the pilot abilities are pretty interesting and the Rebels have been crying out for a decent ship that costs less than 20pts.  To be honest the best reason for not buying this expansion is that the idea of Rebels flying TIE Fighters makes you want to vomit into your hat... and even then you may have to suck it up because your list is 86pts and Captain Rex to finish it off is just that much better than a Z-95 Headhunter.  Oh, and it's the cheapest place to get Veteran Instincts.

Also of Interest: Sabine Wren (Ghost), Cluster Mines (Ghost, TIE Punisher, Imperial Veterans), Scavenging Crane (Quadjumper)


U-Wing
The U-Wing is just really really... average.  You can't argue with the stats you're buying for 23 points and the dial isn't bad, it's just that although there's nothing wrong with the U-Wing there's not really anything great about it either.  The pilot abilities are pretty poor, the party trick of a 0 speed K-turn has turned out to be a great way of getting shot in the back and the crew options are very uninspiring so there's not much that your other ships will want from this expansion either (apart from Expertise, a great Elite Pilot Talent).  If you've bought a U-Wing expansion then don't be sad - it's fine, it'll do a job on the table - but if you've not bought a U-Wing expansion already then I think this is an easy one to skip and there's better things to spend your money on.

Also of Interest: Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom)




REBEL ROUTES

Assuming you're going to start with a Core Set... which Core Set is best?  Well until Heroes of the Resistance came along I might have pointed you in the direction of the original Core Set but I think that T-70 X-Wings are going to be so good that you'll probably want to have a couple and that means the Force Awakens Core Set is the place to start.

From there I think it's going to be hard to justify having anything other than Heroes of the Resistance as your second purchase.  It's a biggie but with both the Millenium Falcon and Black One in the pack it brings you a whole slew of iconic characters who are going to be both powerful on the table and amazing fun to play with.  I genuinely think FFG have done a great job in making Heroes of the Resistance the perfect first step into expanding your Rebel collection.


At that point you've probably already got the building blocks for some pretty good squads just by fielding the Millenium Falcon and a couple of T-70 X-Wings.  Your next choice is probably whether you want to continue improving your X-Wing strike force or expand to new ships.

If X-Wings are your thing then probably the next key purchase is actually the Rebel Transport - it will give you a classic T-65 X-Wing to fly and most of the best astromechs in the game to slot into your T-70s.  Rounding out your collection of small ships with Rebel Aces and an A-Wing expansion will leave you in a pretty nice place - you'll still have the Millenium Falcon, some great X-Wings, a pair of A-Wings that can be played either cheaply or specced up as aces, and a brawling B-Wing comes as a little extra in Rebel Aces for a change of pace if you need it.  If you can afford a little extra then your T-70s and A-Wings would appreciate it if you head over to the Scum side long enough to acquire some Autothrusters from the StarViper expansion.

However, if after buying Heroes of the Resistance you want to head in a different direction than X-Wings then you might prefer to add a second large ship in the shape of the Ghost, which is practically a flying fortress on it's own and could either replace the Millenium Falcon in your squad or sit alongside it.  It's always going to be a good move to add A-Wings by picking up Rebel Aces and an A-Wing expansion, but if you want something a bit different then a K-Wing and an ARC-170 would be a good start on building lists using turrets and rear firing arcs, which is a very different way of flying.  A good supplement to these ships would actually be to pick up a TIE Phantom - you might not be able to fly the Phantom in your Rebel squad but in Fire Control System and Tactician it has some good upgrades for your Ghost, K-Wing and ARC-170.



COMMON BUILDS

"Stresshog" Y-Wing
Gold Squadron Y-Wing (Y-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret (K-Wing), R3-A2 (Rebel Transport), BTL-A4 Y-Wing (Most Wanted)

Poe Dameron (Core Set)
Poe Dameron (Force Awakens Core Set)
Veteran Instincts (Millenium Falcon, Slave I, Shadow Caster), R5-P9 (Rebel Transport), Autothrusters (StarViper)

Corran Horn w/Veteran Instincts
Corran Horn (E-Wing)
Veteran Instincts (Millenium Falcon, Slave I, Shadow Caster), Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom), R2-D2 (Core Set), Hull Upgrade (Imperial Aces, StarViper)

Corran Horn w/Advanced Sensors
Corran Horn (E-Wing)
Push The Limit (A-Wing, Imperial Aces), Advanced Sensors (E-Wing), R2-D2 (Core Set), Hull Upgrade (Imperial Aces, StarViper)

Fat Chewie/Fat Han
Chewbacca (Millenium Falcon) or Han Solo (Millenium Falcon)
Predator (TIE Defender, Kihraxz Fighter, Ghost), Luke Skywalker (Millenium Falcon), C-3PO (Rebel Transport), Millenium Falcon (Millenium Falcon), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon)

"Super Dash"
Dash Rendar (YT-2400)
Push The Limit (A-Wing, Imperial Aces), Heavy Laser Cannon (YT-2400), Outrider (YT-2400), Kanan Jarrus (Ghost), Engine Upgrade (Millenium Falcon, Hound's Tooth)

Jake Farrell
Jake Farrell (Rebel Aces)
Push The Limit (A-Wing, Imperial Aces), Chardaan Refit (Rebel Aces), A-Wing Test Pilot (Rebel Aces), Proton Rockets (Rebel Aces), Veteran Instincts (Millenium Falcon, Slave I, Shadow Caster), Autothrusters (StarViper)

Lothal Rebel
Lothal Rebel (Ghost)
Hera Syndulla (Ghost), Autoblaster Turret (Most Wanted), Fire Control System (B-Wing, TIE Phantom)


Anyway, I hope you find this guide useful.  If you come across anything that you think is a glaring error or omission then please let me know so I can correct it. 

Up next I'll be looking at something closer to my own heart - the glorious might of the Imperial Fleet!