Now that we know the TIE-phantom’s dial and pilot abilities, as well as the decloaking mechanism, we are able to truly explore the phantom menace. Oh. Sorry… I won’t let that happen again.
Although FFG provide us with TIE-phantom miniatures (for a fee, unfortunately), key to flying the phantom is the recognition that the cloaked TIE-phantom is not actually where the miniature has been placed on the table. Instead, it is potentially in one of a number of locations, depending on the specific phantom. A normal phantom can be in one of three possible locations as it decloaks. For convenience, I suggest we label these L for Left, S for Straight and R for Right:
“Echo,” however, has the potential to decloak to one of 6 differing locations. For convenience, I suggest these are labelled A-F:
We now know that there are 15 maneuvers on the TIE-phantom dial. Yes, that’s right, maneuvers. I’m moving to Santa Fe in a few weeks so I have to let go of French loan-words like manoeuvre. But I won’t let go of the accent. I’ll still be saying it in the Queen’s English. You can’t take that from me, FFG.
I digress. Given that we now know that there are 15 maneuvers on the TIE-phantom dial, that means that the basic phantom can decloak and move to one of 45 differing locations while “Echo” can reach 90 differing locations. Because of the enormous number of possibilities of the final location of the phantom and the difficulty describing them briefly, a consistent nomenclature is extremely helpful when discussing this ship. My hope is to demonstrate the clearest nomenclature and use it to show how powerful I think the TIE-phantom is. To make the most out of this missive, you need at least one set of range rulers and some ship bases. Go and get them, now. Go on! I’m not kidding.
“The Phantom of Fear”
In the TIE-phantom nomenclature, we start with the decloaking point – either L, S or R, or A-F, followed by a dash. The ensuing maneuver is then quoted as one of four letters – B for banking turn, H for hard turn, S for straight or K for Koiogran and then the number on the dial. Finally, for Banking or Hard turns, an extra letter or L or R is added to indicate left or right. Of course, variance exists in where the decloaking barrel roll starts and ends but this is not described in the notification to ensure simplicity. If there is a barrel roll action after all the movement, we add -bl for a left-sided barrel roll and -br for a right-sided barrel roll.
Do we need this nomenclature? Yes, without doubt. Compare the two modes of description for the same decloaking action and maneuver:
- A: The phantom decloaked to the left and then did a hard 1 turn to the right.
- B: L-H1R
- C: “Echo” decloaked back and left before performing a banking 2 maneuver to the right, followed by a barrel roll to the left.”
- D: A-B2R-bl
There is no doubt that this notation simplifies descriptions significantly and also avoids any kind of confusion (for example, if Echo decloaked “forward and left” would that be position B or C?).
“You Dear, Sweet, Tantalizing Phantom”
It’s time to put this into practice in order to learn the nomenclature and to explore the potential of this wondrous ship. So get out your rulers and may the Force be with you!
Pictured above you see the L-H1R, L-H2R and L-H3R maneuvers. To perform this action in reverse would be the R-H1L, R-H2L and R-H3L. This is a very powerful maneuver because it allows the phantom (represented here by an Obsidian pilot because I haven’t yet won an Assault on Imdaar Alpha tournament) to rotate 90° on an axis. No other ship can turn like this. Of course all ships can hard turn, but not without committing themselves forwards at the same time. With your rulers, now map out an L-H1R maneuver and then turn it into L-H1R-br by barrel-rolling to the right. Nice, huh? Now here’s something to blow your mind. Over two turns, a regular Phantom can return to exactly the same place it started. How? L-H1R followed by R-H1L. Try it. You should get this…
Very cute. Imagine putting that in the corner of the predicted combat zone and just firing away with 4 dice at range 3. However, the TIE-phantom isn’t just about performing hard turns. It also has great range. With your rulers, try S-4S. How far has your ship gone ahead? Go on… try it! Yes, it’s a record-breaking 7-ahead. Which means that if you really, really need to K-turn (and I wouldn’t advise it in a TIE-phantom unless you really have to because you really don’t want to be stressed), then you can perform a staggered K7. I say “staggered” because the 2-ahead has to be clear as well as the 4-ahead after that. This is the furthest K-turn possible in the game and ensures that your K-turning phantom is as far as possible from enemy fire. Let me repeat, though, that you really don’t want to be doing this unless in an emergency because, when stressed, you can’t recloak.
So… here are some maneuvers to try out yourself because they’re just so lovely:
- L-H3R-br (this should overlap your original ship)
- L-H2R-br (this can put the front of your ship where the left-hand side of your ship was previously).
“Let Echo, too, perform his part”
If you thought the regular TIE-phantom was impressive, prepare to be blown away by “Echo.” With 90 potential maneuvers, not including barrel-roll positions, “Echo” is unquestionably the most maneuverable pilot in the game. Let’s see how…
We’ll start with a tight turn, B-H1R, as pictured below
What’s amazing about this is the “Echo” has essentially K-turned without taking stress, meaning he still has an action if he wishes. Now try B-H2R and E-H2L. You’ll want to put this on the table to really believe it. In both cases, assuming you get the start and end barrel roll positions correct, your final turn point should overlap your starting position. You’ve just performed a 0.5 angled white K-turn! This is essentially a full K-turn because you’ve got the choice of angle to face. And you thought the TIE-defender was the only ship that could perform a white K-turn!
Some ships can move one ahead and then barrel roll back in order to gain very little forward but with Echo more thought is required to achieve a similar thing. The A-B2R-br maneuver gets you as close as possible to this, as does its mirror counterpart F-B2L-bl.
Of course, if “Echo” wants, though, instead of performing an A-B2R-br, he could reverse the barrel-roll and perform an A-B2R-bl. Try it. You’ve now moved laterally more than any other ship. Now imagine “Echo” at the very back of your squad, moving laterally left and right with almost no forward movement while dumping 4 red dice on targets caught up in a furball ahead. That’s power.
And if you thought that was nice, now try…
- C-S4 (you could reverse this to C-K4 for the game’s first angled K-turn)
Flying “Echo” leads to extraordinary possibilities but also involves a great deal of thought. For example, what if you want to perform the B-H1R (or B-H2R) maneuver we looked at before but you can’t because there’s an asteroid in the way? People are already talking about blocking the TIE-phantom’s decloaking positions. Well, with Echo it really won’t work. See if you can work out why before looking down at the answer. Remember, you want to end up in a similar position to B-H1R or B-H2R… close to your original starting point and facing back and to the right, but you can’t use the A- decloak because there’s a giant rock in the way.
The answer is to try something like D-H1R-br. It’s not exact, but it’s pretty close. So while it’s true that you need to have a lot of room to maneuver when decloaking a phantom, even being blocked on one side doesn’t always stop you from essentially making the maneuver you want.
And Now Over To You…
This has just been an introduction to the suggested nomenclature of TIE-phantom decloaking in order to help facilitate clear conversation in the future. Using your rulers and ship bases, which maneuvers (either from the few we’ve looked at or from the many others that exist) impress you? In the comments, feel free to share them and why you think they’re so impressive.
Get this ship wrong and you’re going to maneuver onto an asteroid after decloaking and probably get blown to pieces. (At least once you’ve chosen your maneuver on the dial if you realise you’ve made a mistake you can always change the decloak position. Nonetheless, that doesn’t prevent mistakes from happening). Get it right and your opponent won’t even get a shot on you while you dump 4 dice at range or 5 dice up close before disappearing into the void. Yes, there will be turret ships. Yes, there will be other ships with even higher PS. But this ship looks like the ship of the future and hopefully this post will help us plan for its arrival even better.