Profile photo of David Day By David Day On July 31, 2014 Posted In X-Wing Miniatures Game

Tie Defender thoughts…

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July 31, 2014

Originally when wave 4 was set to come out and the cloak/decloak mechanics were revealed I was initially just as excited for the Phantom as everyone else.  After playing with the Phantom significantly I love it just as I thought but I think I still prefer Soontir with PTL slightly.  However what I have begun to really be interested in far more than I expected is the Defender.  I know many people don’t like the Defender and I can understand why.  It does seem to be a little pricy for what it brings.  However I can’t help but feel that the Defender is still a powerhouse, just one that needs to be flown very differently than how most ships in the game currently fly.  I regrettably haven’t had as much practice with the Defender as I would like, however every time I have used the ship I loved it.  Even when it has got shot down quickly because my opponent didn’t want to deal with it for longer than two turns.

If anyone out there has had success with the Defender I would love to hear about the squads you have run.  It would be great to receive advice on the strategy you have used when flying the Defender, and asteroid placement when running one in your squad.  I have been thinking about how to pair the Defender with Soontir Fel (since he is still my absolute favorite pilot in the game).  A few squads I have been thinking of lately are:

Rexler Brath+HLC+Predator
Soontir Fel+RGT+PTL+SD+TC
Night Beast+TC

second is same as the first except Colonel Vessery replaces Brath and VI+EU replaces Predator also 99 pts

2x Delta+Ion Cannon

I think having the choice of initiative is highly important because if any other 9 pilot skills are flying I want Soontir to move second keeping him out of harms way.  My X-Wing group is small and I haven’t been able to try these specific lists yet but I would love some feedback as well as tips on using the Defender in general.

  1. The basic flight sequence I think is reasonable:
    -round1- Approach on flank, minimizing enemy fire.
    -round2- Shoot again at closer range.
    -round3- Bail instead of k-turn, in an ideal direction.
    -round4- K-turn.

    Sometimes that second step gets skipped when it looks like the Defender might become the target next turn.

    I really like adding HLC+Engine to this.

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    1. That’s pretty much the sequence I’ve picked up on. Trying to joust doesn’t work out too well, and the ship dies pretty quickly when you roll poor greens.

      The trick is running some sort of support that can make use of your Defender’s interesting flight patterns.

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  2. I ran this the other night:

    Rexler – HLC / EU / Predator
    Soontir – PTL / Royal / Computer / Stealth
    Dark Curse

    I’ve been having a lot of fun with the defender. I’m increasingly convinced, though, that EU is as much an autoinclude for defenders as PTL is for interceptors….

    The one thing I do go back and forth on is Predator vs Outmaneuver. Seems like whichever one I’ve got, I find myself needing the other :p…

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    1. That’s a 102 point list I would either replace Dark Curse with a Black Squadron or take the Stealth Device off Fel. I think Predator is better for this list. Predator is better the more attack die you have especially when attacking a pilot with skill 2 or 1. Predator also is better with Rexler because it’s less likely you need to use the focus.

      I agree about Engine Upgrade though it definitely covers the hard areas for the Defender to reach with those red 1 and 2 turns. The positions a Defender can end up when boosting after a k-turn are pretty crazy.

  3. I’m now 20-3 with:

    Echo + VI + AdvC + FCS
    Bounty Hunter

    Now obviously the star of the show is Echo, but the truth is that the Delta is an extremely important component of the squadron. The Delta is dangerous enough that it simply can’t be ignored, and resilient enough that it can take some shots.

    The thing that’s interesting is that I don’t think there’s another ship that can take the Defender’s place. Another Firespray would work, but it’s too expensive, and the double Large-base would get crowded. An Interceptor doesn’t really work because they’re not resilient enough to take fire from multiple guns, and if they arc-dodge, that just points the other squad away from them and maybe toward Echo.

    It’s really a good squad, and the Delta is a legitimate one-third of the reason. In fact, a variant I think COULD work is two Deltas, one with an Ion Cannon, but I am loathe to give up the intimidating BH with its butt-cannon.

    As far as asteroid placement, I place less for me, and more to deny options to my opponent. For me, all I look for is (1) a way for the Delta to bend toward the opponent and hit the jets, (2) proximity to one side for the BH to make an approach and then bank for engagement with good lines following, and (3) room in the mid-board somewhere for Echo to move 2-4, cloak, and have a full or nearly-full range of decloak options. This is pretty much the exact opposite of a formation-flying squadron, so it is largely immune to asteroid hate.

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    1. I like that a lot, I used something very similar once. I know the Phantom is super powerful but I have to say personally I still like using Soontir a little bit more. Maybe Echo built up like that is better it’s more a personal preference. What do you think of:

      Bounty Hunter

      1. I think it’s almost exactly the same squadron, yeah, with Soontir being the end-game piece in place of Echo.

        I love Soontir — and Interceptors in general — but I’m just not patient enough. Echo is protected enough — usually! — that he only takes moderate patience to fly safely, unlike Interceptors, which require extreme patience.

    2. Very intriguing squad… tonight I flew

      Echo + VI + ACD + FCS + Rebel captive
      AP x5

      Against Etahn and 3 bwings blues. I won, but it was a bit close since those bwings just ripped in to my ties and scored a bunch of crits. I’m thinking replacing the APs with a delta and a BH like you’ve done could be very cool…

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    3. [I was asked, “But what about SuperChewie and SuperHan?”]

      SuperChewie and Bandits aren’t much of a problem. (I mean, SuperChewie could get lucky against your 4 green dice multiple times, and that’s the danger of the strong turret, which Phantoms — even Echo — hate. But it does take a fair amount of luck for SuperChewie to take out a cloaked Phantom — at Range 3 — before dying.)

      SuperHan is, of course, possibly the worst match for this list. That said, it can be beat, and the Delta and the BH are the reason.

      Against non-turret lists, what this list wants to do is present two targets — the BH and the Delta — and let the opponent think it’s his choice not to go after Echo. Whichever one the opponent picks, that ship is most likely going to die. You don’t want to sacrifice it needlessly, but while the opponent is killing it, you’re wreaking havoc with Echo and the other “tank.” When the dust settles, if you’ve flown the bait-ship well, you’ll be well ahead by the time it dies.

      That strategy doesn’t work against SuperHan, because you HAVE TO KILL SuperHan. One bait-ship isn’t enough to distract SuperHan from Echo. Echo is the entire reason SuperHan exists!

      So instead of providing a bait-ship for your opponent, intending that specific ship to die while your other ships massively thin the herd, you have to play smashmouth … you have to take both bait-ships into close range with SuperHan, FORCING him to deal with them, while Echo dances out at Range 3 taking strong shots.

      It’s obviously easier to say than to do, but it is doable. The reason the Delta and the BH are so important for this is because they both have something unique: the Delta has the 4-K and the BH has the rear arc. The reason this is so important is because both of them can keep guns-with-token on SuperHan every turn. Neither of them, flown properly, ever has to turn its guns away to turn around … one of them turns around without penalty, the other one fires out the back without penalty.

      SuperHan can choose to ignore them and go after Echo, and very possibly kill Echo, and you’re ahead. SuperHan can deal with the threat you represent and kill one, maybe even both, but die in the process, and you’re still ahead, because SuperHan’s escorts simply cannot touch a cloaked Phantom.

      Don’t get me wrong: again, SuperHan (and to a lesser extent SuperLando) is one of the few things that actually scares me with this list. It’s a tough fight, and you have to play it much more strategically than you do against most lists. Against most lists, I fly this one improvisationally … it’s different literally every time I fly it. Against SuperHan, you have to set rules and stick to them. Jazz guitar on the one hand, classical guitar on the other.

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      1. Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate it.

        So if I understand correctly, you’re starting the defender on the sides and banking in and then strafing. Echo obviously needs room to do his thing, and I imagine the BH gets right into the mix strafing as well, or do you keep him to the outside and snipe at R3?

        So you present a target either the BH or the Defender. That seems to be the strategy. And echo simply pounds from the outside. Very neat.

      2. My typical setup is Delta on one edge, BH on the other, Echo somewhere in the middle.

        Whichever ship (Delta or BH, pretty much always) the opponent goes after mixes it up at short range, typically. The other ship, plus Echo, picks targets of opportunity. It’s not that I stay at Range 3 and snipe … I just pick the best targets and destroy them while avoiding getting trapped.

        All that changes, as detailed above, when the opponent has a ship that’s actually capable of hunting Echo.

      3. I played a variant of this list at a tourney today. I have found that Echo is often troublesome for me to fly well because I don’t judge the 2 bank right. So instead I go with Whisper.

        Whisper with VI and ACD

        I went 3-0. I didn’t lose a ship in the first game vs Wedge, Etahn, and Blount. Second game I lost Whipser cause I landed her on a rock, but that was it vs Jax, Buzzsaw and 3 AP’s. Then third game was against Rurouni flying 3 Blues with AdvS and 2 Bandits. I only lost the defender after many rounds of concentrated fire. Generally I was able to spread the damage and shots between the Delta, the BH, and Whisper. But every round that they aren’t dead is another round they all are hitting hard, and they are all difficult to kill. It’s a tough list that can trade with most of them pretty well.

      4. FWIW, I call the list “Ghost Hunting.” (Or, in more whimsical moods, “The Bunnymen Cometh.” “Ghost Hunting” certainly fits your Whisper version better, obviously.)

      5. My findings have been similar to yours Jeff, I’ve been flying quite a few variants, including double defender.

        The defender has a lot of the advantages of the Firespray, while still being small based so that much better at going slow

      6. One big advantage double-Delta has over Delta-BH is that you could have Echo carry a Rebel Captive.

        “It’s not a hostage. It’s insurance.”

      1. Heh. I did fly Echo and a Delta at Imdaar Alpha. (I’ve forgotten the rest of the squadron.) I flew Echo through or on, no lie, three asteroids. I got off one shot.

        I lost. Badly.

        That was when I decided I was gonna learn to fly the ship.

  4. Last night I ran Vessery with HLC, Delta with HLC and Mauler with Squad Leader. Mauler gives away his action and in return you get target lock on both HLCs.

    The amount of damage you can dish out is just nuts. Mauler might as well be a black squadron. Draw their fire and wingman go really well on Vessery.

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      1. Hoping to give it another spin this week. I need to practise my formation flying. They way I run it is triangle firmation with defenders in front protecting Mauler in the first round of firing. If you are successfull with your first one or two salvos you can “unleash” him and send him in close. Squad leader is really forgiving, working at range 1 – 2. Also, unlike fwhen flying Jonus, feel free to split them up at anytime if you need to try and force your opponent to switch target

        A mistake I keep making is forgetting to grab my target lock when Vessery scores four naturals on occasion.

      1. I know, difficult choise. It will help you if the Delta is the first one to go down. Then again it is often not him your opponent is gunning for. My reasoning is that Mauler either supports the Delta or Vessery by giving his action to them if in range, at other times the focus action will serve him better.

      2. I like Mauler in this role. He’s hanging back when he runs as Squad Leader, putting his 4 dice Range 1 attack into the back of a k-turned enemy ship (unless they’d rather ignore your major threats to target Mauler). It’s pretty ideal for such a squishy ship. The key in my mind id watching you line with your other ships, so that you don’t get shot by too many guns. Having them not want to be facing Mauler is important.

      3. Which leads to the next problem I am having. Since Mauler does not have the bank 1 move he ends up swingibg back and forth like a bowling ball on a rubber band once the defenders decide to hit the brakes.

      4. I chalk it up to poor formation flying on my part. I try to stay at range 3 if I can making good use of the HLCs, doing a bank 1 then barrel rolling back again. This usually makes it difficult for me to find a good spot for Mauler that does not expose him. Or point him the wrong way. I guess I could just bump him but Iosing his action really hurts.

        Maybe we’ll get an Engine Downgrade card (“Lemon”?) with the VT-49.

      5. I will suggest that you fly Mauler sideways. Don’t fly at the enemy ships, but out and around them avoiding combat. Just trail the Defender, skirting farther and farther off to the side. Then when the Defender passes the enemy, come into combat range with Mauler then. They’ll either have to ignore the Defender or ignore Mauler.

      6. Thanks for the advice, I’ll try and set that up the next time I play. That is part of what I love about x-wing. There are so many ways to fly the same squad and things to try.

  5. I always thought that the Defender was the sleeper ship compared to the shiny (well cloakey) phantom. It’s great to see that is has started to perform. I am a dire hard rebel fan but that ship has always been my favorite sw ship since the Tie Fighter video game. With the HLC it’s very potent and can actually withstand some punishment. The white turn is a thought breaker and almost always catches the opponent off guard.

    It has actually become a little depressing to hear about all the feats of the imperial ships. I guess the rebels are still waiting out for their hero to emerge…

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  6. Huge fan of the Defender, especially since I suck flying the Phantom. I am now 6-2 on this list. Lost to triple BH and Super Han with 3po and chewy
    Rexler Brath (47)\
    TIE Defender (37), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Predator (3)\
    Carnor Jax (29)\
    TIE Interceptor (26), Push the Limit (3)\
    Academy Pilot (12)\
    Academy Pilot (12)}

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  7. I’ve got an idea for a list I’m calling Imperial Fists, as it’s all heavy brawlers. I’ve not gotten a chance to use it yet, but hope to soon.

    Omicron Group Pilot (21) (Buzzsaw Shuttle)
    Fire-Control System (2)
    Gunner (5)
    Engine Upgrade (4)

    Colonel Vessery (35)
    Engine Upgrade (4)

    Turr Phennir (25)
    Push the Limit (3)

    Total: 99

    The idea is that either the Shuttle or Defender draws the early attention, but everyone dishes out the damage as much as possible to whittle their list down.

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  8. Just for fun I ran:

    Rexler w/ HLC + Engine Upgrade + Predator (51)


    Dark Curse

    Night Beast

    Rexler came in behind a screen of the three ties and caused a lot of mayhem with engine upgrade. Dark Curse spoiled the party a lot because I was up against a blaster turret and Night Beast had a lot of survivability with his evade and focus combo on green moves.

    Good fun but not sure how it would hold up against really serious opposition.

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  9. I’ve been up running Rexler, a Delta Squadron Defender, and Fel with Push It and a Stealth Device.

    A lot of success. I actually haven’t lost a Defender yet. Rexler has been great against things with lots of hull, with all his damage essentially being crits if I save his focus. With a strong and fast front line and a very survivable (4 defense, evade token, and focus token) and maneuverable maneuver element (boost+barrel roll, being out of los is the best defense), I’ve been doing very well.

    I tend to deploy spread out and try to get my opponent to match my deployment, then I change course and focus on one flank, focus firing down one ship at a time, preferably low pilot skill pilots so I can kill them before they shoot back.

    I tend to tear through TIE swarms.

    I’ve also found that low pilot skill defenders actually work well, being able to k turn or whatever without worrying about someone getting in the way.

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