Ever since I first saw the astonishing detail of an X-Wing model, all I've wanted from the game was cool ships copied from cool films. That well ran dry within three waves of expansions. So, as the game as continued to sell, the publisher has mined Star Wars trivia for new ships to flog. A lot of them were fun to run but they didn't scratch that core itch. They just weren't quite Star Wars.
Now, seven waves later there are new films. And they bring with them new ships for the game. It's a fresh injection of the drug that got me hooked in the first place. But the play is very different now than it was: are the new ships up to scratch?
The one we've all been waiting for is Kylon Ren's shuttle. It's Upsilon class apparently. I don't know what order the Greek alphabet runs in, but with four attack dice and six shields and hull, this wipes the floor with the Lambda shuttle. It's also enormous, a dark and threatening sculpt that will intimidate most other big ships. Something you want to build a list with just so you can see it on the table.
Thankfully, there are many other reasons to use it. Besides the stats, it's got some interesting powers and upgrades. For starters it has a "co-ordinate" action like some huge ships, allowing friendly units to take a free action. That makes it an ideal support ship, as you might expect from a shuttle. Two of the pilots fit this build. Dormitz allows you to deploy ships up to range 2 in front of the shuttle at the start of a game. Stridan allows you to treat all friendly ships within range 3 as range 1 for the purposes of supporting actions and upgrades.
With that statline, though, it's tempting to use the shuttle as an attack boat. Here, you can have Kylo himself as a pilot. His special action allows you to pick a critical pilot damage card from the deck and assign it to a target. The first time it takes critical damage, it gets the selected card. In truth, it's too unreliable to be useful unless you build a whole list around inflicting criticals. But it's thematic as anything, and will create some memorable moments if you're playing friendly with flavoursome lists.
In-between builds are possible too, since the thing has two crew and two tech upgrade slots. It's a veritable Swiss army knife, something you can tool up to suit any occasion. Expensive points-wise (and price-wise) as you'd expect. But the flexibility here will have veteran players salivating. And for neophytes there's now enough ships to consider collecting just ships from the new films. Especially when you throw in pilot cards like Rey and Snap Wexley from the Heroes of the Resistance pack.
Those new films include Rogue One. It adds two new ships to the canon, the TIE Striker and the U-Wing. The latter looks great and its pivoting wings have an actual in-game effect. Swept forward means the ship can turn 180 degrees if it selects its zero move maneuver on the dial. Pushed back and the U-Wing benefits from an extra agility die. You can change the wing position after you execute a maneuver.
The real interest in the U-Wing is in the crew cards it offers. Bodhi Rook as crew gives the same long-range target locks as his pilot card. So anything with a crew slot can now be a backup boat to a missile fleet. And if you want fun and flavour over practicality, check out Cassian Andor. If you can guess the maneuver dial choice of an enemy ship, it lets you change the maneuver of the ship he's on board.
Pilots for the U-Wing cover blocking enemies, removing stress and handing out target locks at long range. That, plus the two crew upgrades, positions this as a support ship. Yet, like the shuttles, it's not a combat slouch either. This flexible positioning is useful but it also highlights a thematic issue with the ship. It's actually supposed to be a ground landing craft, a role that has no place in the space-based game of X-Wing. Instead, it seems to work best supporting missile ships, but even then it feels over-costed.
The TIE striker has only a fleeting appearance on screen, but it stands a better chance of being a fixture in the game. It costs five points more than a standard TIE, for which you get an extra attack dice and hull, one less agility and a Title slot. Not a great trade off until you see the adaptive ailerons title only it can take. This gives you a free boost but with a kicker: it's not optional. You have to move. This adds maneuver choices and has given me some interesting conundrums. The ship feels over-costed, especially for ace flying but, oddly, it has the potential to make a powerful swarm. Five hyper maneuverable ships with 4 attack each and have the potential to be a huge headache.
What may prove to have more impact than the ship itself is the card that comes with it. Lightweight Frame can be equipped on any TIE model with less than three agility. It gives the model a bonus defense dice if the attack is rolling more dice than it is. This has the potential to make TIE bombers, punishers and - in particular - s/f models much harder to kill and therefore more tempting to run. The longer they survive, the greater chance they have of delivering ordnance payloads.
Scum and Villainy weren't going to miss out on the new films in their entirety. The Quadjumper put in an appearance in The Force Awakens and now can put in an appearance in your Scum lists. With it appears a new maneuver for the game: the ability to fly backwards. A small thing, but it has the potential to cause abject confusion for your opponent's planning. They no longer have any idea of what maneuvers to pick if they want to be sure of avoiding hitting your Quadjumper.
One of its new upgrades, the Quadjumper-only Tractor Beam Array highlights this as a deliberate design choice. It gives an automatic tractor beam token to ships within range one. That's nuts. There's also a pilot that hands out tractor tokens to any ships it's touching. And another that can drop bombs in front of the ship as its reversing. Plus the upgrade and the ship itself are cheap as chips. It looks like the Quadjumper's central role is to let players troll their opponents. On a more sober note, it does offer an interesting antidote to ace lists.
This seems a lot of text to go over just four ships. But two of them are great ships, and all the greater for slotting into the mainstream Star Wars universe instead of grubbing around in obscure spin-offs. Every time I start to think X-Wing has run out of ideas, it surprises me with innovations that add a lot to the game without adding too much to the rules. I wish the baffling array of upgrades in the game didn't get more baffling with every release. But there's no denying that this wave adds some crackers to the pack.