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Star Wars: X-Wing - Imperial Raider

This past couple years, my girlfriend and I have been getting very into the Star Wars: X-Wing miniatures game. We've also been converting some of our friends into avid players as well. After sitting on my shelf for several years with only a couple play sessions under its belt, the set has been getting played every few weeks with regularity. As such, we've also been investing more and more into additional expansions beyond the set that I initially bought. Late in 2016, my local board game store put its Corellian Corvette expansion on sale, so I went ahead and snatched up a copy of that huge, epic expansion ship. The following year, I went on to pick up the Imperial Raider huge expansion (also on sale)..

It took a while for these two ships to get much play though (seriously, they were sitting around for years), since they don't slot into the X-Wing core rules as easily as other expansions do. Playing with the huge ships requires increasing the scale of the X-Wing game considerably. The huge ships, by themselves, cost well over 100 fleet points. As such, the basic 100-point fleets go out the window for the epic-scale matches. Instead, 300 fleet-building points are recommended if any epic ships are in play. In addition, a larger play area is needed for most epic scenarios. If you bought a play mat for X-Wing, you might need to invest in a second mat as well (and they ain't cheap).

Contents

Dogfighters with a little more punch

Since I was buying some huge, epic ships, I figured I would need some more smaller ships as well in order to more easily fill out the larger fleet size requirements. In order to possibly maybe hopefully counteract the raw resilience of the huge ships, I thought my best bet would be to try to add some fighters that come equipped with more heavy ordinance. I settled on an Imperial TIE Bomber, as well as rebel Y-Wing and B-Wing fighters.

Y-Wing is a bomber without bombs

MSRP: $15 (USD)

I guess the Y-Wing is a popular expansion. This ship was hard to find! It was sold out in both of the local board gaming stores that I checked, and even Amazon had dwindling supplies. Amazon also wanted over $25 for the thing! I couldn't even find it cheaper on eBay -- not even for opened ones. X-Wing is already an expensive enough game, so I wasn't willing to shell out for a 75% mark-up. So I looked around other online and local retailers, and eventually my girlfriend found some in stock at a local Barnes and Noble (yes, a bookstore). By the time I found those Y-Wings (and bought two at MSRP), Amazon's price had gone up to over $30. If you're in the market for a copy of this expansion, then I wish you good luck.

The reason that I wanted this expansion was because the Y-Wing seemed like the closest thing the rebels have to a dedicated bomber unit, and I wanted some more heavy ordinance for the large and epic ships that were being fielded. Unfortunately, the Y-Wing expansion doesn't actually include any bombs for the Y-Wing. If you want bombs, you have to buy the "Most Wanted" expansion, which includes a Y-Wing belonging to the Scum faction, and has a "Bomb Loadout" upgrade card for Y-Wings. I had no interest in buying the Most Wanted expansion at the time, so I just printed a copy of the card off from the X-Wing wiki instead.

The Bomb Loadout upgrade costs zero fleet-building points, but equipping a bomb weapon will cost you some points.

Star Wars X-Wing - Y-Wing upgrades
An upgraded Y-Wing can tank hits and deal out lots of heavy damage.

So if the Y-Wing stand-alone expansion doesn't come with a Bomb Loadout, then what does it come with? Well, it comes with torpedoes. Each Y-Wing includes two slots for torpedo upgrades, and the expansion package includes two Proton Torpedo upgrade cards. It also has an upgrade for a 360-degree Ion Turret. So even though these ships only have two attack dice, they make up for it with a payload of optional weapons (if you have the fleet points to spend).

The Y-Wing itself is also a durable ship. It has 5 hull and 3 shields, tying it with the B-Wing as the tank-iest fighter in my collection. To make it even tank-ier, it also includes a pair of astromech droids -- one of which has the ability to repair a face-down damage card, or you can equip the R2-D2 that came with the core set in order to repair your shields. Y-Wings are slightly cheaper than X-Wings, but in order to truly be viable, you need to invest in the upgraded ordinance. This can easily inflate the cost of the ship, but does make it a very powerful beast of a fighter that is well worth an investment in your fleet - which may explain why retailers seem to be having a hard time keeping them in stock.

Y-Wing grade: B+

Star Wars X-Wing - B-Wing
I was disappointed the B-Wing doesn't rotate.

B-Wing is a beast of a fighter

MSRP: $15 (USD)

The B-Wing is also a very tough, very heavy-hitting ship. It has 3 hull and 5 shields for a total of 8 hit points, which ties it with the Y-Wing as the most durable fighter in my collection. It doesn't have any slots for an astromech upgrade, which means it can't repair its damage. It only has a single evade die and isn't particularly speedy or maneuverable, which means it will also take a lot more hits. So the Y-Wing still has the edge in survivability.

The B-Wings have a slot for the rare system upgrade, and this expansion comes packaged with the Fire Control System upgrade that allows the B-Wing to establish a target lock on a ship that it just attacked. Perhaps this ship's greatest strength is its Autoblaster upgrade. It only has a range of 1, but it prevents the target from canceling normal damage with its evade tokens. This, combined with the easy target locking, makes the B-Wing a slightly more reliable damage-dealer and negates some of the volatility of the game's dice - but only if you can keep your B-Wing(s) at close range to the enemy. The B-Wing can also be loaded with some heavy ordinance, as it has two slots for torpedo upgrades. The expansion also comes packaged with the crazy-strong Advanced Proton Torpedo, which attacks with a whopping five attack dice! It even allows up to 3 blank results to be flipped to focus results. If you have a focus token, you can then turn those into hits. This is the one weapon in which I actually expect to hit with every die. Like the Autobalster, the Advanced Proton Torpedoes can only be used at range 1.

I really like both the B-Wing and the Y-Wing. The B-Wing is expensive. With some upgrades, a single B-Wing can easily cost between 40 and 50 fleet-building points (or more). My only real complaint with the B-Wing is that the model sits straight up on its base. It can't be rotated, nor does the cockpit rotate. I understand that it would be difficult to implement such features on such a small miniature made of plastic, but it was still a disappointment. Considering that the only other ship with moving parts (the Lambda Shuttle) feels so flimsy, maybe its a blessing. At the very least, I wish the B-Wing model would sit on its base at an angle.

B-Wing grade: A

Star Wars X-Wing - TIE Bomber peg
I had to glue the base peg back on.

TIE Bomber is an actual bomber

MSRP: $15 (USD)

The TIE Bomber isn't a very sturdy miniature. It doesn't feel on the verge of falling apart at the seams like the Lambda Shuttle; instead, its peg is lazily glued to the bottom of a flat block of hull between the cockpit and the bomb bay. It isn't drilled into the plastic of the figure like other ships. The very first time we picked up the TIE Bomber to perform a maneuver, the glue came unstuck and the Bomber came right off of its plastic peg and base. I was able to superglue it back on, but the Bomber is now sitting a little lopsided on its stand, and doesn't feel like it's stuck on particularly securely. We played the first half of the game with just the Bomber's base while we waited for the superglue to dry.

Since the B-Wing stands upright and has a base peg that curves out from the back of the ship, I don't see why Fantasy Flight couldn't have similarly included an S-shaped peg that could be inset into either the cockpit or the bomb bay, which means it wouldn't be dependent on a thin layer of glue to hold the peg onto the ship miniature.

As far as how the Bomber plays: it's also a durable ship with a high payload. Each Bomber has two torpedo upgrade slots, two missile upgrade slots, and a bomb upgrade slot. That's a lot of ordinance on one ship. You'll have to make sure you keep the bomber alive long enough to deliver all that ordinance. Fortunately, it comes with a respectable six hull points to help it stay flying. It doesn't have any shields though, so it's vulnerable to early crits.

TIE Bomber grade: C+

Star Wars X-Wing - proton bomb
Perfectly-placed bombs can make or break a match -- especially ones that damage through shields!

Huge ships and epic games

If you're looking for an excuse to load up your Y-Wings, B-Wings, and TIE Bombers with missiles and torpedoes, then the huge (epic) ship expansions might be right up your alley. I recommend starting with some of the simple scenarios that come packaged in with the epic ships. These ships seem to be geared more for scenarios and campaigns (a campaign is also included in each set), which does add more structured play. The first scenario for either epic ship can act as a good introduction to the huge ships' rules -- if you have enough ships.

The Imperial Raider's first scenario features a relatively small-scale engagement that allows for the new rules and mechanics to be introduced without feeling overwhelming. The Corvette's first scenario, however, wants you to match the Corvette up against six TIE Fighters! I guess you could just add up the fleet points for any TIE Fighters that you can't field, then let the Imperial player substitute them for one or more other ships of the same cost.

Star Wars X-Wing - Maiden Voyage
The first scenario for each ship acts as a simple introduction to epic play.

A lot of the scenarios are also asymmetrical and have different win conditions. The first scenario for the Imperial Raider, for example, puts a few rebel fighters up against the raider and two TIE escorts. The rebels are severely outmatched, even though the Raider only has a few upgrades equipped. So their objective is simply to destroy any one Imperial ship and then escape at least one rebel ship off the play area. It's actually harder than it sounds.

Epic ships have a unique maneuver template and introduce an "energy" mechanic. Different maneuvers regenerate different amounts of energy, and energy is consumed by secondary weapons and by certain abilities and upgrades. Managing energy is critical to using your capital ships effectively. Each secondary weapon can store a small amount of energy, and firing the weapon consumes that energy. If you don't have energy banked on the weapon, then it cannot be used, even if there's a target completely exposed like a sitting duck.

These ships are also slower and more lumbering. Collision rules are also very unforgiving. If a capital ship runs over a small fighter or large ship (or obstacle), it instantly destroys it! The capital ship will also potentially take damage during collisions, but you have to be very careful about getting into a capital ship's face. The capital ships don't move until all smaller ships have moved, so you always have an opportunity to try to get out of the way. When a capital ship turns, it's back end also swings out a bit, so you also have to be careful about hovering around their back ends.

Star Wars X-Wing - turn collision
The back end swings out when the capital ship turns, which can potentially destroy smaller ships.

Each capital ship has two hull sections (including two ship cards): a fore and an aft. Each section has its own stats, abilities, and upgrade slots. If one section is crippled, its corresponding card is flipped over to the "crippled" side. This reduces its capabilities considerably, including forcing the discard of most upgrades attached to that section. Both sections must be crippled in order to destroy the capital ship. The sections aren't exceedingly durable on their own. They have hit points and shield strength on par with a Millennium Falcon. The tricky thing is that they are more durable than their stats make them seem. In addition to powering weapons, energy can be used to recharge shields, which makes the capital ships very tough to bring down. You have to focus-fire with multiple attacks in order to get through the shields and do any lasting damage to the hull.

 

CR90 Corellian Corvette (Tantive IV) is a pot-shooter

Star Wars X-Wing - CR90 product contents

MSRP: $90 (USD)

I've found the Corvette to be a rather difficult ship to use. It has a 360-degree turret as its primary weapon, but all of its secondary weapons act as broadsides. Positioning the ship so that it can shoot at enemies without going off the board can be tricky. You need to position the ship so that it can fire broadsides at a long distance.The turret only functions at range three through five, so once the enemies get in close range, you're stuck having to use the side-facing secondary weapons. This leaves a lot of blind spots, and you'll need to have some escort fighters positioned to protect the ship. You can also use the Ionizing Ractor upgrade card to cover your close-range blind spots, but it's only a one-time use attack.

The Corvette seems to be mostly designed as a support ship. Most of its crew, title, and upgrade specializations are focused around clearing stress from nearby fighters and granting extra actions. It's not a push-over in combat though. It's primary turret has a max range of five, and the pilot skill allows the Corvette to spend an energy to increase its hit dice from four to five. This ship can easily take a weaker opponent out of play long before that opponent has a chance of getting in range to attack.

Star Wars X-Wing - Corvette v swarm
The Corvette is vulnerable to swarms of fighters that get into close range.

Once the enemies do get within range three, however, those blind spots start to come into play, and effective use of your energy-consuming secondary weapons becomes critical. Be sure that you've positioned yourself so that you'll be able to hit enemy ships, or else you'll get pecked to death.

A big downside to the Corvette (for me) is that the scenarios included in the campaign booklet require much more ships than I own. Even the first scenario is supposed to require six Imperial TIE Fighters. That would require either buying three copies of the core game, or spending another $60 on stand-alone TIE expansions. I only have 3 Imperial TIEs, plus one Sabine's [Rebel] TIE Fighter. The Imperial Raider scenarios at least gives the rebels a squad total to build their own fleet. For the Corvette's scenarios, I guess I could refund the squad points for the TIEs that I don't own and let the Imperial player substitute TIE Advance or Interceptors (which is exactly what we did). Nevertheless, having some scenarios that are actually playable with a reasonable number of ships would have greatly improved my opinion of the CR90 package.

Corellian Corvette grade: C+

 

Imperial Raider is a sleek monster

Star Wars X-Wing - Imperial Raider product contents

MSRP: $100 (USD)

The Imperial Raider is a completely original ship that was conceived and designed for the X-Wing game (and which has since been ported into the Armada miniature game and has been featured in the Star Wars: Battlefont II video game). I really love its aesthetic design. The ship looks totally badass! It's also a formidable beast when played in X-Wing. But it's firepower comes at a high cost, as a fully-equipped Imperial Raider can cost well over 150 fleet points!

I've found the Raider to be much easier to use (and much more potent) than the rebel Corvette. It has forward and side-facing primary weapon arcs that have a range of two through four. It doesn't have the maximum range that the Corvette has, and won't be picking off ships from afar, but it makes up for it by having fewer blind spots. If you can't get right behind the Raider, you are in danger.

The Raider also comes with overwhelming firepower. Its pilot skill allows it to spend stored energy to make a second primary weapon attack in a single turn, which allows it to concentrate fire on a single tough target, or potentially take out multiple weak targets. You'll need multiple fighters making simultaneous bombing / strafing runs in order to have a chance against this thing, otherwise, the Raider can easily pick them off as they approach.

Star Wars X-Wing - Raider's overlapping firing arc
The Imperial Raider can focus a lot of firepower on a single target.

The Raider also comes packaged with a bonus TIE Advanced fighter, along with some unique pilot and upgrade cards. So if you don't already have a TIE Advance, then this could be an opportunity to get one. There's also some impressive crew cards, including Grand Moff Tarkin and Emperor Palpatine himself! Palpatine is an insanely-powerful crew upgrade that allows you to change a single one of your dice to any result that you wish -- every turn! He's very expensive though, costing 8 fleet points and consuming two crew slots.

The Raider is a pricey expansion to buy, and costly ship to field in battle, but it's powerful, sleek, and a whole lot of fun to use. The first scenario is also a much better way to learn the epic ship rules than the Corvette's scenario (which requires a lot of extra Imperial fighters.

Imperial Raider grade: A-

Epic rules should have been better written

While X-Wing certainly has the occasional combination of ability cards that interplay with each other in un-intuitive ways and lead to confusion over how to resolve them, the core X-Wing rules have always been pretty easy to understand and follow. As the previous expansions have come out, they've done a very good job of remaining consistent with the core rules and being very easy to integrate into the rest of the game without having to learn lots of new rules. Huge ships, on the other hand, have enough sequence-breaking rules minutia to cause some confusions. It's not nearly as bad as, say, Star Trek: Fleet Captains -- in which half the game feels like it's spent looking up rules clarifications, not finding them, and then arguing over interpretation -- but it'll be a major hangup in your first few games with these ships and rules.

For one thing, the huge ships have their own activation phase that happens after all other small and large ships have complete their movement. So we ignore pilot skill for huge ships with regard to movement. This is seemingly done in order to protect low pilot skill ships from being run over by the huge ships, which would instantly destroy the smaller ships. Moving all huge ship activations to the end ensures that all small and large ships have time to get out of the way. This all makes enough sense on its own, but the rule book doesn't clarify when huge ships get to attack. I'm assuming that since the rule book doesn't specifically alter the core attack rules, that we would follow the regular rules, and that huge ships would fire in descending pilot skill order along with all the other small and large ships. But there was disagreement on this point in the first game that I played.

Star Wars X-Wing - six feet apart
Don't start at opposite ends of a 6-ft table.
It took us over an hour just to get ships into firing range of one another.

There was also the question for play area size and setup. When I bought the huge ships, I was under the impression that they required a larger play area, so I also went out and bought a second play mat to create a 3'x6' area. But after setting up that initial game, I realized that the rule book doesn't actually say anything about playing on a larger play area. Furthermore, each scenario in the scenario books were played on areas of varying sizes. There's a 3'x3' scenario, a 3'x4' scenario, a 3'x5' scenario, and a 3'x6' scenario. So for a regular skirmish, how big is the play area supposed to be? The rulebook doesn't say. It also doesn't specify how many points to use if you want to use fleet-builder rules to create your own skirmish. This seems like a pretty significant oversight...

It also doesn't clarify what edges of the play area to use as each faction's deployment area. In a 3'x6' play area, do the two factions start three feet apart? Or do we start all the way at six feet apart? Not knowing any better, we started at six feet apart for our first game, and it took us an hour and a half just to shamble our ships into firing range of one another! So I'm guessing that we should probably be setting our ships up only three feet from each other. I'm gonna need a bigger table...

Star Wars X-Wing - Corvette weapon value
Only the fore section lists an attack value, so can the aft section fire primary weapons?

We also had questions about weapon arcs and whether the printed arcs are only for primary or secondary weapons. For all the previous small and large ships, the solid lines indicate a primary weapon arc. Even ships that have turrets still have a primary weapon arc, but the turret allows them to fire outside of that arc. So are the huge ships allowed to fire their primary weapons from the arcs? This confusion came about because only the fore section has a printed attack value, so there was disagreement over whether the primary weapon could be fired from the aft section.

The Corvette has a turret in the fore section, and the rules specify that its turret can't shoot through its aft section. But it also doesn't clarify that the weapon arcs shown are only for secondary weapons. Can the Corvette fire its primary weapons from its broadside firing arcs (including the ones in the aft section)? The design of the ship seems to imply "no", but the rules don't clarify. The Raider has a complicated, overlapping set of arcs on the fore and aft sections and doesn't have a turret. So can the primary weapon be fired from both the fore and aft sections? Or can it only be fired from the fore section because only the fore section pilot card shows a weapon value? But energy generated in the aft section can be used by fore section abilities and upgrades. So the Raider is even less clear about this point than the Corvette.

Can the primary weapon be fired from all the indicated weapon arcs?

The Raider's rulebook also states that the Raider may make up to two primary weapon attacks, and the Raider's pilot card says that after it makes a primary weapon attack, it can spend two energy to make another one. So do the two attacks in the rulebook take this pilot ability into account? Or is the Raider capable of performing two primary weapon attacks per the rules and then spend two energy to make a third attack? We erred toward the more conservative answers in both cases, and only allowed the Raider to make a single attack, and then spend energy to make a second attack, and all primary weapon attacks were only performed from the fore section's arc.

So moral of the story: if you plan on playing with the huge ships, be sure to download an FAQ or open up some rules forums before you start playing!

The rules also don't specify whether epic ships start with energy already on their ship card. It doesn't say that you should, so I assume that you don't.

Big and expensive, and maybe not worth it

Both the Corvette and the Raider play differently enough from one another that they feel very distinctive and interesting to play. Each requires a completely different strategy in order to set itself up to be a potent threat on the field. These things are beastly, and having multiple attacks per turn also means that you'll either want some well-shielded fighters to take on the huge ships, or you'll want a very large contingent of expendable ships to throw into the meat-grinder.

Do the huge ships start with energy already on their ship cards?

There's certainly fun to be had with the huge ships, but I'm not really sure if they're worth an investment for any but the most hardcore X-Wing aficionados. The ships complicate the rules and increase the scale of the game such that they take up a lot more physical space to play, as well as take a lot more time to set up and complete. If duking it out with capital ships is your thing, then you'll probably be much better served by picking up the (also very expensive) Star Wars: Armada miniature game.

X-Wing is certainly at its peak when it's staying within its wheelhouse, which is fighter skirmishes.

That being said, I still wouldn't mind seeing an Imperial Walker and snowspeeder expansion...

PROS

  • Very nice, detailed, collectible-quality plastic miniatures!
  • Allows for larger fleets and wider gameplay variety
  • Imperial Raider is an interesting addition to the Star Wars ship roster
  • Rebel Corvette and Imperial Raider play different enough from each other to feel distinct and interesting
  • Greater emphasis on campaigns and scenarios adds more structured play

CONS

  • Rules for huge ships add complication and aren't very well-written
  • Rules don't include guidelines for custom fleet-building and play area set-up
  • A larger play area is recommended. Do you have a table big enough?
  • Huge ships are very expensive!
  • Also requires a sizeable investment in other expansions to fill out 200-300-point squads and scenarios

FINAL GRADE FOR HUGE SHIPS AND EPIC PLAY : B-

Note: This is a review of expansion content only.
Please click here for my review of the base game.

Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight
Lead Designer: Jay Little
Original release: Tantive IV (Corvette): May 2014, Imperial Raider: August 2015
Player(s): 2-players
Game Length: 1-3 hours

Comments (1) -

03/22/2018 00:39:48 #

For detailed, clarified huge ship rules visit FFG's official x-wing page ( www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/x-wing ), scroll down and open Rules section. (The rules shipped with the huge ships are junk, nobody should read them...)

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