I’ve talked so much about this squadron I think its about time I’ve shared it with you all. Here they are; the Clutch of Aces;
“Leave them to me. I will deal with them myself.”
- Darth Vader
The TIE Interceptor is a vicious offensive ship. Quick, agile and packing the punch that Imperial ships had been lacking before Wave II. It remains an offensive go to for Imperials, though its higher cost than a standard TIE Fighter has prevented it from taking over, which is good for Rebels because its difficult to compete with such speed, maneuverability and agility. Have no illusions, however. The Interceptor, just as its predecessor, the TIE Fighter, is a fragile ship. If you take one hit, you should be worried. Most Rebel ships can shrug off a hit or two; TIE variants are in trouble when they take damage. Despite this, they are still able to field with greater numbers and are hard to hit if flown right. I’d hate to come against a swarm of Interceptors. Here, we have two of the best Interceptor pilots in the Empire (until Imperial Aces comes out and Turr can be replaced with a more vicious pilot): the Baron, Soontir Fel and Turr Phennir. And the TIE Advanced is a shielded heavy TIE with the ability to equip a missile. It’s stats are comparable to the X-wing while still being more maneuverable, quicker and more agile. It swaps weapon power for agility and here we have one of the best pilots in the galaxy; Darth Vader. So let’s run down this list and examine these pilots and why they’re a dangerous combo.
“Glad to have you with us, Captain Phennir.”
- Soontir Fel
Turr Phennir was personally recruited into the elite 181st Imperial Fighter Group by the Baron himself, Soontir Fel. He rose through the rank to become executive officer of the Group and prided himself on the killing of Rebel pilots (after all, he is an Ace). Phennir is an elusive pilot (which makes me wonder why I have such bad luck with him) and with the Interceptors increased weaponry, he is a deadly predator. We’ve already touched on the Interceptor’s ridiculous maneuverability and speed. You can often get into firing range on the first move with these starfighters. It should not be hard getting into good positions on most ships, particularly predominantly slower Rebel ships. Turr is best at preying on lower Pilot Skills. The reason being is that you can bring yourself into the enemy’s firing arc and stare them in the eye with your guns. After Phennir takes his shot, he gets a free Boost or Barrel Roll. This is great because you can choose risky positions, then skirt away. And with Push the Limit on this ship, you can get even further away. Often, my plan is to fly into the opponent’s face, head on. I take my shot, then Barrel Roll, Push the Limit and Boost right pass them. It’s really frustrating for the opposing player, who was hoping they get to exact revenge for the damage you just dealt them, then my ship just buzzes pass them without a second though. Phennir should be used as a pest. It’s a common strategy, and a smart strategy, to focus fire, eliminate ships one by one instead of spreading the firepower around; but with Phennir, use him as an opportunist. This ability of his to keep moving after he’s taken a shot is very thematic of the films and highly useful strategy wise. Those of us who remember (and still watch) the films remember those TIE swarms coming as the screen, laying down stray shots and whizzing on by, not giving a second thought to us at all. That’s how Phennir should be used here. Blow through the field, laying down fire and running away after you tag a target. Make Turr an annoyance, forcing your opponent to decide whether to chase him or go after the heavier targets like Vader or Fel. This will split their focus, possibly disrupt their focus fire strategy, and keep your fragile ships on the board.
“Another day, another chance to kill Rebels.”
- Turr Phennir
The Baron, Soontir Fel, grew up a Corellian farmer, eventual reviver of the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing, and went on to be bestowed the title of Baron by the Emperor himself. Fel is an explicitly excellent pilot in anybody’s hands. It is difficult to be bad when you have Soontir Fel at the helm. First and foremost, there is rarely a situation where he will not receive an Action. You receive a free Focus anytime you gain a Stress, giving you an incentive to perform red maneuvers. And even if you don’t perform a red maneuver, Push the Limit allows you to tack on a stress anyway, allowing you to do three Actions (technically). In any given situation, you will have a Focus at your disposal. I said before that I have a high survivability rate with Soontir and that is because he has so many tokens on him. He has three Agility, which is great by itself. I wise choice to keep him alive is select a Dodge token as your first Action, guaranteeing you one cancelled hit. Push the Limit for whatever you like, a Boost or Barrel Roll to get into better position or get out of someones arc, or even a Focus. That extra action earns you another Focus. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how great that is. Let’s say you roll a dodge, a Focus and a blank on defense. You have two dodge, thanks to that Dodge token, turn that Focus into another dodge, thanks to your spare Focus. You’ve evaded the average attack despite a poor dice roll. That’s just the survivability aspect. You have a spare Focus for offense, you have your ridiculous mobility and the fact that you move last and attack first places you in prime position to dismantle the opposition. The Baron is nearly untouchable and difficult to get away from. I’ve pulled into Range 1 of heavy hitting Rebels like the YT-1300 or X-wings with full confidence that I’d survive because Soontir has so many skills on him that it would be really difficult to take him out. I’ve run alternate builds where I’ve put Elusiveness and Stealth Device on him and it made him that much more difficult to kill. Soontir Fel is going to be your leader in this group, and undoubtedly the prime target, despite not being the right hand of the Emperor as our next pilot is.
“Fel is the best Imperial pilot alive.”
- Tycho Celchu
An ace pilot since his childhood and dark lord of the Sith, Darth Vader is clearly one of the best pilots in the Empire and galaxy. Vader’s dual actions makes him an incredible pilot. I will mention this; I had push the limit on him before. Three actions is ridiculous. I will explain why I swapped it for Daredevil in a moment, but imagine that many actions from a single ship. Just like Soontir Fel, Vader becomes a difficult target to hit and an offensive threat on the same hand. However, I chose Daredevil to better suit his combat maneuverability. Concussion Missiles are a sure hit with Darth Vader. With two Actions, you can Target Lock and Focus in the same turn. This is important because you cover all your bases on the Concussion Missiles. You can get one of three results on that attack dice (I say three instead of four because we’re only concerned with hitting the target right now, the difference between a hit and a crit is unimportant right now); hit, focus or blank. One of your blank results become a hit, so now we’re down to two outcome; hits and Focus. You have a Focus token to spare. You’re nearly guaranteed four hits with these missiles coming off of Vader. Against most targets, this is lethal. Against Rebels, you’re eliminating shields and possibly destroying smaller ships like A-wings and X-wings, if one of the two damages that get through the shields is a critical hit/direct hit. And we’re talking your first shot, here. You’re getting a charged up shot off at Range 3 before anyone else can shoot. Now here is why I swapped Push the Limit for Daredevil; after a TIE Advanced gets off those Concussion Missiles, your firepower reduces significantly. You want to be able to get off a significant amount of shots without having to sacrifice your own. Daredevil allows you to perform some spectacular flying and positioning. For example, you can bank for two pass or by someone, Barrel Roll or Focus and then take a hard one. That virtually turned you around and gave you an action. A lot of time I would do a two hard turn, Barrel Roll in and then hard one turn and that would give me a turn-around and place me into great range of a ship. It’s something I would suggest trying because it makes for very unexpected maneuvers that your opponent cannot predict. I really liked the Push the Limit on Vader, but the maneuverability that daredevil gives you makes you hard to keep up with and a lethal threat. Again, you shoot before everyone else and with your superior ability to move about the board, you are rarely in a bad position.
“I have you now!”
- Darth Vader
I’ve had tremendous success with this list, despite my misfortunes with Turr Phennir. This group mobility about the board makes it hard for Rebel and Imperials alike to keep up with you and bring their guns to bear down on you. I’ve played several games where the opponent has not been able to shoot back at me for several turns. This Clutch of Aces is as a great offensive list and has a high success rate for someone who has great piloting skills. Its fun to dart around the board and see just how diverse of a position you could end up in with the abilities of all these pilots. Try it out and see how it works for you!