I have a lot of stuff I want to talk about this time! Well, two items, but I suspect I’ll be rambling for a while.
First: I saw a feat during the March 2015 store event at Games and Stuff that, had someone told me I’d see it, I would have laughed at them and said “nonsense!” What was that feat? I watched an 86 point, two-ship build win the event. Yep, a list running with effectively an outrageous 14 point handicap not only won the event, but never lost a ship, and twice table-wiped the other squadron. It was undoubtedly helped that many of our regulars were ‘away’ at an official Store Championship so that it only had to do battle three times – but it was still most impressive.
And the list was very simple, too: Echo and Whisper, both running with Veteran Instincts, Recon Specialist, Sensor Jammer, and Advanced Clocking Device, if I recall it correctly. Points-wise, not even close to a maximum possible build. It was a great display of the power of high pilot skill, the unpredictability of Phantoms, and the sheer lethality of their four attack dice, coupled to a player who really understood how his ships worked.
This was also due to a reaction in the X-Wing meta-game caused by the other topic I wished to look at –Scum and Villainy came out! This new faction has changed the X-Wing landscape extensively and brought us a whole new faction’s worth of toys to play with. Some of these are familiar – Firesprays, Y-Wings, and Z-95s – while others are new – the Aggressor, the StarViper, and the M-3A Interceptor (hereafter “Scyk” since, to me, there is only ONE true Interceptor!).
The ‘older’ ships got a nice face-lift, for starters: I love the new paint job on the Z-95s that come in Scum & Villainy’s base box, and have to admit even the Y-Wing paint job is excellent, even if I can’t bring myself to like it – but then, I’ve always considered the Y-Wing an ugly ship, so I suspect that’s where my dislike comes from.
The Z-95 has secured itself a good spot as the Rebel Alliance’s swarm ship, often used to escort a higher- value ship into battle as a weak but still useful extra set of attack dice. I suspect it will serve a similar purpose in the Scum lists, able to pack a missile along as some extra punch should the list call for it.
Some of the new Scum pilots also look to be great fun to fly – N’Dru Suhlak in particular, since he’s all about being a Lone Wolf (another fun-looking upgrade card). The Y-Wing has gotten a huge upgrade – it had long been rendered pretty much obsolete by its cousin, the B-Wing, despite its turret upgrade slot, because the B-Wing’s 2-K turn had allowed it to keep three attack dice on target even in a close fight – far better than the Y-Wing’s expensive turret upgrade. But with the advent of the zero-cost BTL-A4 title, suddenly the Y-Wing can potentially attack twice per turn through the frontal arc. The addition of a Blaster Turret or an Ion Cannon Turret means that suddenly being stuck in front of a Y-Wing squad is similar to being stuck in front of a TIE Swarm – there is just a lot of attacks coming your way. You can also add a modification that allows Y-Wings to carry a bomb, as well, which was a detail many Star Wars purists have long felt was lacking from the Rebellion’s primary bomber!
We’ve not seen much of the Firespray since the advent of the B-Wing; she was too big and expensive of a target for tournament play. But for the Imperial, the Firespray was the way you got a good all-rounder ship with many possible upgrade combinations on the table. It was rendered utterly obsolete by the Decimator, but now some old faces have appeared in the new faction with new abilities – and I dare say the Firespray will find new life in play with the Scum. It makes a great centerpiece ship escorted by Z- 95s and the new StarViper and Scyks. Kath Scarlet in particular makes me smile with her extra attack die out her rear arc!
The ship making the biggest splash in the new set is the Aggressor. It’s got an insanity-inducing maneuver dial, astonishing ship stats, a huge array of upgrades, and comes with a title card (IG-2000) that lets the four different IG-88 pilots share their special rules. It’s also very expensive to field. And the nature of the title card means you want to have as many Aggressors in play as possible – but in a standard 100-point build, that is just two. This ship’s immense strength is also its greatest weakness – you have to choose if you want two very well kitted out IG-2000 ships, or play with one Aggressor with a nice batch of escorts, or two naked IG-2000 escorted by one or two smaller ships. Most folks I’ve seen have gone the two IG-2000 route and report that it’s pretty mean.
The new Scyk is also getting some attention. It can be fielded as a low-cost swarm ship like a TIE Fighter, with similar stats and slightly lower maneuverability, or you can add the “Heavy Scyk” title card and slap a missile, torpedo, or cannon on the little punk for some serious firepower. Since the Z-95 fills the swarm ship role better, most folks are going the Heavy route and adding Ion Cannons, Heavy Laser Cannons, or the new and quite nasty Mangler Cannon to the mix. The ship remains quite inexpensive with this upgrade – even with the Heavy Laser Cannon, a Cartel Spacer Heavy Scyk weighs in at a mere 23 points. You can throw 16 attack dice at range three – with no bonus defense die – using a build of four of these. That’s a crippled Decimator, or a dead Falcon, on the first salvo. I expect to see one or two of these little ships escorting a Firespray in many Scum lists.
The StarViper is not getting as much attention as I think it deserves. With three attack and defense dice, and four hull points plus a shield, it can take some good punishment and dish it back – plus it has a very solid maneuver dial. I think the lack of high pilot skill is where folks are getting snagged on this ship: the most elite pilot, Prince Xizor, has a mere PS of 7. In a game environment where you have PS 7 or higher Phantoms and turreted ships running around causing havoc, it’s just not good enough. So I suspect we won’t be seeing much of Xizor and Guri… but we will be seeing that PS 1 StarViper being used as a blocker and general troublemaker. Despite this, people will be buying some StarVipers…to get their hands on a pair of cards from the box: the Autothrusters! This powerful defensive modification is very useful against turreted ships, and I think will become a standard card on fast moving, elusive flankers in many competitive lists. Like my Interceptors… and it can be paired with Stealth Device using Royal Guard TIE for even more insane green dice antics. A-Wings, TIE fighters, E-Wings, and TIE Advanced will also all benefit from this new modification… and the domination of big, turreted ships has been greatly reduced, which will be good for the competitive scene.
Overall I really like the new faction; while I remain a primarily Imperial player, I look forward to using these new ships from time to time and suspect they’ll give me a good surprise or two on the table.