Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Scum and Villains of X-wing's New Faction

 By CaulynDarr


I totally phone it in when I work for the Empire.

I've had a few games with the new faction.  The new ships are pretty fun, and they've rekindled my interest in the game after a few months of disinterest.  Phantoms and fat turret ships where dominating the game, and I prefer Rebel jousters.  It was a good time for a dedicated spoiler faction to shake up the meta.

Even borrowing 4 ships from the existing factions, Scum and Villainy feels very unique. It's lots of individual ships doing their own thing versus the cohesive synergies of Rebel and Imperial squads. There's potential in the faction, but I think it will take careful skill to get the most out of them.

Overall, the faction has low pilot skill and poor ability to shed stress. The faction has no green turns except on a Y-wing with an Unhinged Astromech. They'll lose a close in maneuvering dog fight with Rebels and Imperials, so hit and run tactics are key. When equipping these pilots avoid stress inducing upgrades like Push the Limits to keep your maneuvering option open. Go with passive offensive abilities like Predator.

He're a look at each of the ships, and what they do for the faction.

Z-95


The scum version of the Z-95 takes a hit in pilot skill compared to the Rebel version but gains an illicit upgrade option.  Otherwise it's identical in stats and maneuver dial.  The PS 5 pilot can steal focus or evade tokens from friendly ships, and the PS 7 one rolls an extra attack dice if there are no friendly ships withing range 1 or 2.

While the rebel version is cannon fodder with a side of missile spam, these guys are more fodder with a side of utility thanks to the illicit upgrades.  There are currently 4 illicit upgrades; Hotshot Blaster, Feedback Array, Inertial Dampeners, and Dead Man's Switch.  The blaster is a one shot range 1 turret shot at 3 attack.  The feedback array allows the ship that equips it to take an ion token and 1 damage to deal 1 damage at range 1 in lieu of making an attack.  Dampeners allow you to pull a stop maneuver, then gain a stress and discard itself.  Finally the Dead Man's switch deals 1 damage to every ship at range 1 when the equipped ship is destroyed. 

These upgrades make a Scum Z-Swarms really deadly at close range.  Especially to fast slippery arc dodgers like Interceptors and Phantoms.  Feedback Arrays being a particularly effective choice.  The named ones will probably end up being sidelined just like the named Rebel Z's.  You just don't want to put too many points in a ship that is agility 2, that can only take 4 damage, and has a mediocre dial.

Y-Wing


The scum Y is more like it's rebel counterpart than the Z is.  It does correct some of the mistakes with the rebel version.  Particularly in the case of the named pilots.  They are cheaper and the PS 7 pilot can take an EPT.  Scum Y's can't equip rebel astromechs. They instead have their own particular flavor that follow the more tricky design philosophy of the faction.  

The best thing about the new Y's is they come with a pair of upgrades that can be used on the rebel versions too, and make the ship more versatile overall.  The first allows you to swap torpedo slots for bombs for some interesting builds.  The second and probably one of the two most meta effecting cards in the new faction is the BTL-A4 title.  When you equip this, your turret weapons can only fire in the normal arc, but can be fired in addition to the primary weapon.  This upgrades the damage potential of the Y-wing significantly and makes it the bane of low agility large ships.  They''re still a Y-wing though and turn like a cow, but that first pass can be really nasty.  Especially with Ion Cannon turrets preventing the target ship from turning around to chase you.

HWK-290


The third scum copy of a rebel ship.  Gains an illicit upgrade, and their support abilities are geared to hurting the other guy more than helping you.  I'm not a fan of the ship in rebel squads, so I'm not to keen on them here.  They just don't do too much on their own without equipping tons of upgrades.  I don't find their abilities worth running a ship that can kill anything on it's own.  

They're spoiler ships though, so they will be handy in particular metas where you know you are going to see lots of the kind of ships they can screw with.  Fel and Whisper want to run from these guys in particular as they can mess with their defensive abilities.

Firespray


Hey, a ship stolen from the Imperials this time.  They gain the illicit upgrade as well as a new title that allows them to carry more bombs.  The generic guy is PS 5 with an EPT for 2 points over the Imperial Bounty Hunter.  There's a new unique that's all about the bombs.  He looks interesting, but I haven't had the chance to try him out yet.  And the scum versions of Fett and Kath put their Imperial versions to shame.  Otherwise they fill the same roll as the Imp version.

Scyk


The first of the new ships is a nasty little glass cannon.  Comparable stat wise to a Tie Fighter, but with a little slower dial.  They really shine when you give them the 2 point Heavy Scyk title.  This allows them to take either a missile, torpedo, or a cannon.  One of these is the right answer. Want to guess? Too late, cannon is the right answer.  Specifically the new flechette or mangler cannons.  

The flechette is the stress version of an ion cannon and runs only 2 points.  The mangler is a 3 attack range 1-3 cannon that turns a hit into a crit for 4 points.  The cheap generic with the title and a mangler costs 20 points.  It's going to die as soon as someone looks at it, but It's going to take some enemy ships with it.  Think of these guys as artillery.

I'm not quite sure what they where thinking when they made those cannons.  Do they just not want people to run torpedoes?  They do slightly less damage than a flechette or proton torpedo, but you get them every turn and don't have the range restriction or lock-on requirement.   That makes them just so much better for the points.  It's going to take a second edition to make expendable ordnance good in this game.  Possibly giving each ordnance card a number of shots.  They can add little tokens, FFG loves little tokens.

Starviper


The much maligned fugly looking ship curtsy of Shadows of the Empire. It's comparable to a Defender or B-Wing but not quite as tough as either.  This is the only ship of the set where I think the generics are skippable.  Mostly because you need to have a PS of 4 to take the Virago title to make these guys really nasty.  This adds a system and illicit upgrade slot.  The system is the key, because these guys really shine with advanced sensors. Because...

This is one of the two ships that have the new Segnor's Loop maneuver on the dial.  It's basically a K-Turn that uses a bank template instead of a straight.  Being able to change direction and angle is a really handy ability in this game.  It effectively combines what would take two maneuvers( or ton of upgrades) on any other ship into one.  The advance sensors are a must here so that you don't loose your action when pulling this incredibly useful maneuver.

This ship adds the other big meta busting upgrade in the release: Auto-thrusters.  It's a modification only for ships that have the boost action.  When a ship equipped with this modification are at range 3 or outside the arc of the attacker, they can turn a blank defense die into an evade.  This card single handedly puts interceptors and other arc dodgers not called Whisper back on the map.

Aggressor


Finally, probably my favorite ship in the faction.  This is IG-88's ship and it can only be piloted by IG-88.  Seriously, the four pilots are IG-88 A though D.  It comes with the IG-2000 title that allows all ships with this title to share their pilot ability.  Since the ships cost 36 points each, you buy these guys in pairs and pick the two pilot abilities you like the best.  I particularly like B and C.  B gives you a free cannon shot when you miss your first attack, and C allows you to take a free evade action when you boost.    

They are large ships without any type of aux firing arc or turret, but they are maneuverable enough to make up for it.  Plus 3 agility and 3 attack.  Their upgrade bar includes an EPT, system, 2 cannons, a bomb, and an illicit.  Making them extremely customizable.  Their boost makes them deceptively fast even though their fastest printed maneuver is a 3 straight.  This is usually fast enough do dash out to range 3 so that auto-thrusters triggers.  The boost, plus system, plus s-loop and k-turn make them very tricky fliers.

You have to watch out for asteroids and blockers.  They fly like little ships, but have that big base getting in the way.  Inertial Dampeners and Advanced Sensors are needed to get out of sticky stations.  Their PS is only 6, so high PS arc dodgers are going to give them trouble as well.  You'll need to use the Aggressor's speed to get range and negate their ability to dance out of arc as much as possible.   

FYI, if you buy the Most Wanted box, you won't get many extra cards and base inserts to run more than 1 spare Y-wing or Z-95 ship.  There is enough to run two Firesprays or HWKs.  Most of the illicit upgrades are also hiding in the Aggressor box set.  If you are not interested in playing the faction directly, you may want to consider at least getting a Starviper and Scyk for the auto-thrusters and cannons respectively.  Rebel players want the Most Wanted box as well for the new Y-Wing title.  


3 comments:

  1. Ordnance (missiles and bombs) could be fixed easily by publishing zero-cost reload cards. Only the ships with multiple missile/bomb slots (Tie Bombers, B-Wings, Y-Wings) could make use of them, but you could discard the reload card instead of the missile/bomb card. Giving those ships an extra ordnance shot for free.

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    1. Still almost no reason to ever run torps on a ship that can only use one when compared to all the other upgrades they can take. And Munitions Fail-safe is fighting a lot of other really good cards for the modification slot. The cost of torps and missiles vs cannons is totally messed up. On ships that can take both, it's almost always cannons, especially since they just added two really good cannons for 2 and 4 points.

      Even getting an extra shot with a torpedo on a B-wing isn't enough. Just take the Mangler, It's going to work out better than Proton Torpedoes in just about every game because you can get the benefit of a target lock. Then you have to deal with an extra shot with and advanced torp should not be costed the same as an extra shot with a flechette torp.

      They need to give ordnance a number of shots so that Adavanced Torps can stay as one and Protons can go to probably 3 or 4. Or, they need to make them unlimited and adjust the points on some of the stronger ones like Proton Rockets and Assault Missiles to be more expensive.

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    2. Have to admit I was REALLY confused coming to X-Wing from STAW where things like Torpedoes were "not optimal", but for the most part were NOT one shot and discard... Have to agree, when given the choice of a Missile/Torpedo or a Cannon... Well, not really much of a choice with the nice new ones out now.

      REALLY excited about the bomb laying Firespray... And the Aggressor is just fun to fly around... I think the Auto Thruster card is going to be one highly sought after for A-Wings and TIE Interceptors :-)... And why a number of the "you cannot dodge this shot" weapons are being fielded here at least...

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