Anyone who comes to Games and Stuff for one of its X-Wing nights and runs into me will happily tell you: I’ve got a thing for TIE Interceptors.
It is easily one of my two favorite symbols of the Empire – the other being the Mark II Imperial Star Destroyer. But I’ll talk about that after that expansion for Armada has been released.
Why? There’s a story to it, but we’ll start with appearances. And you have to admit, it looks cool! The pointy, forward-facing solar arrays look nicely menacing, the narrow profile from any angle makes it a hard target, and you can easily spot those four laser cannon on the arrays are visible and add to the dangerous look. The Rebel nickname – “squint” – nicely alludes to Clint Eastwood’s most famous character, the Man with No Name, whose trademark squint was nearly always a precursor to some quick and deadly violence. Quick and deadly…like this starfighter.
But it’s not just the associated symbols or looks of the Starfighter that make me so crazy about it. No, my love for this craft is something that evolved over time. I first saw the Interceptor in The Return of the Jedi, like everyone else, during the movie marathon that really got me started on my fandom journey. I would encounter them many times as my new friends and I ran through huge campaign of West End’s Star Wars RPG. It was my experiences with the X-Wing versus TIE Fighter [http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars:_X-Wing_vs._TIE_Fighter] game that really got me interested. We’d play head-to-head in our dorm, and the others would select much tougher ships – X-Wings, A-Wings, TIE Advanced, TIE Defender… but I didn’t find those ships fun to fly. I cycled through ship after ship, looking for one that seemed challenging but not as reliant on shields or missiles to survive. And ultimately I settled with the Interceptor. Fast, well-armed, and seemingly capable of dodging around laser blasts, I enjoyed flying it. I died in our sessions. A lot. But I kept at it. And my friends continued to clean my clock.
Later that year, I went to Gen Con – I think it was 2001. Some guy had set up a large number of desktops – I think it was 16 or 24 of them – in one hall, and was charging something like $20 for 30 minutes of game time. And on one day, the game of the day was X-Wing versus TIE Fighter. I happened to wander by, looking for a game as one set finished. I paid the man the money, and grabbed a seat. I looked at the gamer tag already assigned to the computer, shrugged, and let it fly as it was. Other folks were sitting down, and I could see what they were selecting as their ship for a sixteen-way free-for-all. X-Wings, A-Wings, TIE Defenders, and TIE Advanced. All the stuff my buddies flew.
I waffled for a moment – there was going to be a lot of ships to fight – then chose the Interceptor anyway. After a few moments, consternation could be heard at some of the other player stations. “Who’s the idiot with the Interceptor?” was one of the more distinctive comments. I chose not to reveal myself.
Then the battle started. With no missiles and no shields, I knew I was at a massive disadvantage in the initial moments, so I simply ran away and refused to engage for the first thirty seconds. I instead circled away and looked for a vulnerable target. I quickly spotted two X-Wings in a joust, picked the less hurt one, and roared in. He died without even knowing he was in trouble. His opponent only had a few seconds to realize what was going on – and by then I was behind him and blew him out of the sky as well. I then started just racing through the furball, juking like crazy to make myself a hard target, picking up vulnerable targets, blasting them apart, and then racing away. I died a few times. Missiles, torpedoes, laser blasts all claimed my fragile craft. But my kill-count was excellent. I was easily getting three to four kills per death. Sure, it’s not USAF awesome, but good for a game! And after about ten minutes the consternation was back amongst the other players.
Confused and perplexed: “Dear God, killed by the Interceptor again!”
Incredulous: “Where the **** did that Interceptor come from?!”
In pursuit: “Why can’t I hit this **** Interceptor?!”
Just killed…again: “******** ******* Interceptor *****!”
You get the idea.
I ended the 30 minutes with top kills and fewest deaths. By a large margin. The invective from and attitude of some of the other players made me decide to not volunteer that I had been the Interceptor pilot, and I sauntered off with a highly satisfying win.
As a final note, my love for the lethal Interceptor also led to me finding my favorite Legacy character: Baron Soontir Fel[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Soontir_Fel], the Imperial equivalent to Wedge Antilles. But I’ll leave that to a future article.
So should you ever drop by Games and Stuff on our Wednesday night X-Wing events, you should find me easy to find. Odds are I’ll be the fool flying nothing but Interceptors.