When I first started playing X-Wing, I made a vow. That vow was to never own or run a ship that wasn't featured in the original trilogy. Vows are made to be broken, of course, and tempted by interesting builds and special offers, I broke this one a long time ago. What's perhaps more interesting is how much Wave 8 made me enjoy breaking it.
See, Wave 8 comes with the Ghost from the Star Wars Rebels cartoon series. I've never had much interest in the expanded universe, but I picked up series one of Rebels for my youngest, who loves Star Wars, and we've had a fantastic time watching it together. I always thought it was a bit unlikely that Obi-Wan and Yoda were the only Jedi who survived. Rebels neatly tells the story of another. Now we had the chance to game that together.
If that wasn't enough, it turns out that the Ghost is also irresistibly huge. Like almost Epic Ship huge. It's splashed over with bright varicoloured stripes making it stand out a mile in a huddle of gray and black Rebel and Empire ships. Like an oversize canary in a flock of seagulls. It's a wonder it balances on a standard Large Ship base, but with the help of a custom peg, it does.
With its boxy shape and pastel colour scheme it could also be said to resemble wrapped mystery gift. Which is appropriate, because that's exactly what it is. When you put this great square thing down on your side of the table, your enemies will have no idea what's inside. It could be a kitted out as a support ship, as a piece of long-range mobile artillery, as a close in dogfighter. It can be any of those things, and more things, and lots of things in between.
The secret to this flexibility is the way it intergrates with its companion heavy fighter. That's right: if getting one massive ship in the box isn't enough, you get a new fighter model too to represent the Phantom. It can be used independently if you want, but it's more interesting to keep it docked in the Ghost. When it is, it gives the bigger model a wider arc of fire and the potential for more turret shots. Then, when the parent ship is falling apart, you can launch it to carry on the fight. With zero agility and a diverse range of TV show pilots and upgrades for both ships, The Ghost is like the swiss army knife of X-Wing. It can do almost anything, but it takes skill and practice to avoid cutting yourself.
We haven't got to the point in the series yet when the Ghost's nemesis shows up in the form of the Imperial Inquisitor. But that hasn't stopped us putting him on the table opposite his quarry. He doesn't look up to the task, to be honest, with his tiny curvaceous TIE advance prototype dwarfed by the massive doorstop of the Ghost. But with the right support, he's a fun ship to fly. It's super maneuverable and has some great pilot abilities plus another munitions boosting card, Guidance Chips, which allows you to swap any one dice to a hit on a missile attack. However you run these ships, they're fantastic fun just for the chance to field your favourite characters from the series.
The last two models are both from the scum faction, which is still playing catch up with the other two in terms of model selection. Although the ships themselves, Mist Hunter and Punshing One, don't feature in any of the films, their pilots apparently do. Blink, though, and you'll miss them as part of the motley crew of bounty hunters that Vader hires to track down Han Solo. So, vow or no vow, it was pretty awesome to line them up alongside Fett, IG-88 and other members of that coterie for games against the Millennium Falcon.
Mist Hunter is probably the weakest ship in this wave. Although it's a nice model and has some nice stats, it also flies like an absolute dog. The "Mist Hunter" title gives you a thematic tractor beam that, realistically, is rarely going to see any use over the three dice primary attack. It is, however, a comparatively cheap ship to run. So maybe someone will find an interesting combo between one of the pilots in the pack and some other scum ship loadouts.
Punishing One also flies like a dog, but only in one direction. It's quite maneuverable turning left but not right which is bizarre but makes it surprisingly interesting to fly. Since it's got a 360 degree firing arc, kitting it out with lone wolf and making it circle on the right hand side of the board seems an entertaining way to go. Some of the upgrades add considerable spice to the mix. The title "Punishing One" costs a whopping 12 points for one extra attack dice which seems like madness until you see the pilot Dengar. He gets one free attack back per turn against anything which attacks him from his front arc. Piloted carefully, that can literally be a killer combo.
Sadly, Punishing One also works in waves. You can afford three of them in a single list, which seems to have become a new tournament favourite. Stick in feedback array and anti pursuit lasers, which actually make an advantage of the weak dial, and let four shield and five hull soak up the damage. It's a miserable way to fly. But while this wave may have temporarily broken the competitive scene, it's added a wealth of joy to those of us who want to fly it for the theme.