Welcome to another edition of my blog, today we will be taking a look at another of the Imperial Ships, this time a ship made famous by the dreaded Darth Vader. The TIE Advanced.
The TIE Advanced is a technologically superior version of the standard TIE Fighter, while not packing quite the same firepower as the TIE Interceptor the TIE Advanced has a better targetting computer and supplements the high agility that is the signature of the TIE Fighters with an onboard shield generator.
In terms of the Star Wars universe not many of the TIE Advanced were produced as the inclusion of the shield generator and an onboard hyperspace engine made the ship too expensive for mass production, however a number of its better qualities were included in the TIE Interceptor (which was the ship the Empire produced after the Advanced).
Let’s take a look at the stat line.
Upgrades wise it can take a Missile, Modification, Title and Elite Pilot Talent (depending on the pilot).
Actions available to the TIE Advanced are, Focus, Target Lock, Barrel Roll, Evade.
Finally the movement dial.
It’s actually quite a nice dial, the TIE Advanced is clearly at home in a dogfight, it moves fast with straights from speed 2 – 5 (with greens and 2 & 3), speed 1 banks are green but are the only speed 1 move it can do (TIE Fighters in general do not like to move as slowly as speed 1), banks and turns at both speeds 2 & 3 are white with a speed 4 K-Turn (red obviously).
So what we see here is a ship with pretty good movement options, there isn’t a massive amount of options for Green moves but then there is only 1 Red move so unless it is picking up stress from somewhere the TIE Advanced can storm around the engagement with a pretty solid set of options.
If you combine this with the statline and the available actions you see that out of the box the TIE Advanced is pretty badass.
Cost wise, the basic ship with the generic pilot (Tempest Squadron at Pilot Skill 2) costs 21pts with no upgrades, the highest skilled pilot is obviously Darth Vader himself with a Pilot Skill of 9 costs a perfectly reasonable 29pts.
It’s worth actually taking a look at the two unique pilots that come in the expansion. First up:
“When your attack deals a faceup Damage card to the defender, instead draw 3 Damage cards, choose 1 to deal and discard the others.”
This ability can be really good, it allows you to fish for the kind of crit you want, you don’t get to just pick one you want but you do get to draw 3 and choose which to apply, this increases the chance of you getting a direct hit or a being able to find the kind of crit you want. It does however rely on getting a crit past their defenses in the first place.
The other named pilot that comes in the TIE Advanced expansion is the fearsome sith himself:
So yeah, Darth Vader. He has what is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful pilot abilities in the game. He gets to take two actions. As we saw before the TIE Advanced has quite a chunky action bar, lots of options for things to do and Vader allows you to do two of them.
At this point it is worth taking a quick break in the normal flow to talk about something related to this ship. When it was first released the TIE Advanced wasn’t amazingly well regarded, its attack value of 2 meant that it often had difficulty getting hits through onto other fighters and while it could carry a missle it just didn’t seem very advanced.
Fantasy Flight addressed this by releasing a Title & a Unique System upgrade for the TIE Advanced along with a whole load of new pilots (both unique and non-unique), this was released as part of the Imperial Raider expansion. Opinion on this is mixed, the Raider is an epic ship (a larger ship designed to be used in higher point game with special rules that cannot be flown in tournaments) and as such costs more than the other expansions (around £60 when I brought it which is more than the base game). I am glad that they produced a fix but I can see the arguement that says these cards should have been made available in a standalone kit for people who don’t want to buy the Epic expansions.
Lets take a look at it shall we.
Adds a System Upgrade slot and allows you to equip a system upgrade with its cost reduced by 4 points. Right off the bat that is a free Fire Control System or Accuracy Corrector, but wait. That’s not all.
Remember earlier when it said in the fluff about the TIE Advanced having exceptional targetting sytems, that provides the basis for that TIE Advanced only System Upgrade.
A TIE Advanced only system upgrade, costs 5 points, but since you can only equip it along with the title you are reducing the cost by 4 points to 1 point. As long as you have a target lock on the target you can add a critical hit to your results, but if you do so then you can no longer spend the target lock to reroll.
This upgrade is amazing, it makes the TIE Advanced much more dangerous than before, it gets a guaranteed critical hit plus two dice, all you need to do is maintain a critical hit. This is where Vader becomes even more dangerous, remember those two actions, yeah he can barrel roll or focus or even evade and still get that target lock.
The next question then is how do you fly this thing.
I have two different ways of flying Vader (and we’re focusing on Vader here as he is the iconic bad guy pilot), Solo and with Wingmen.
Vader – Solo Build
Darth Vader (33)
TIE Advanced (29), TIE/x1 (0), Predator (3), Advanced Targeting Computer (1)
This is the basic Vader build, it uses the Advanced Targeting Computer & Title to add the critical hit, Predator for some dice re-rolling and with his two actions he can still bring in that focus for some more dice modding.
This could easily work in a couple of ways as well, you could swap Predator for Juke (another favourite of mine) and modify your opponents defense, you can also, if you have the points add a missile, I like using the homing missile on Vader as it doesn’t require you to spend the target lock.
Vader – Missile Build
Darth Vader (38)
TIE Advanced (29), TIE/x1 (0), Homing Missiles (5), Predator (3), Guidance Chips (0), Advanced Targeting Computer (1)
Obviously more expensive, 38pts is really a lot to pay for a small ship with 3 hull & 2 shields. However you can really kick ass with this build.
Finally here’s a couple of options for flying Vader with a Squad.
Vader – Squad Leader Build
Darth Vader (32)
TIE Advanced (29), TIE/x1 (0), Squad Leader (2), Advanced Targeting Computer (1)
This basically swaps the Predator in the first solo build for Squad Leader, this works extra well with Vader, his pilot skill of 9 means he can use Squad Leader to give almost any other ship an action. As Vader himself gets two actions he can use one for himself and then order a wingman into position with a well timed barrel roll or give them a focus or evade when they need it most.
Also, there is one other squad based option that uses one of the new cards. This is one I might well try for myself.
Vader – Swarm Leader
Darth Vader (33)
TIE Advanced (29), TIE/x1 (0), Swarm Leader (3), Advanced Targeting Computer (1)
Same basic build but the Swarm Leader cards means that if you fly him with other TIE fighters they can spend evades to give extra dice to Vader, so with two wingmen you could add two extra dice, bringing Vader to 4 attack dice with an added critical hit from the Advanced Targeting Computer.
There are 4 options for you. I would suggest that even without the Title & the Advanced Targeting Computer that the TIE Advanced is pretty damn awesome anyway, but with it the ship is really quite exceptionally lethal. The TIE Advanced is fast, turns quickly and easily, is reasonably durable and what it lacks in firepower it more than makes up for in versitility and agility.
My only complaint is that there should be a way for players to pick up the Title & Unique Upgrade cards without having to shell out on the Imperial Raider.